Put Your Middle of the Funnel Sales on Autopilot

If you know that SEO is about the lead, and not the “rank,” then you also know that not every lead becomes a customer.

What are you doing with all those email addresses you collect from leads? Are you losing valuable opportunities because you just gave up on them?

I’ve used his Creator Quick Start system and think you will benefit from it, as well.

Video Transcription

So, we’re here to learn about middle-of-the-funnel email marketing with Jason Resnick. Jason is a (believe it or not) recovering Web developer, and as part of his recovery, he has turned to email marketing and especially email automation. And so, Jason, I’m looking forward to hearing what you have to say to us today. And I’m going to leave it to you.

Awesome. Well, thank you, David, for having me here. As David mentioned, I am a recovering web developer, and what that really means is I don’t do web development work for my clients anymore, mainly because I fell in love with email.

If I had entrance music, it would be New York-related, as well. Because I am a New Yorker, which really means that I’m going to talk fast, and I might be blunt on some occasions – make some assumptions. I want to make sure that you walk away with any answers to questions that you might have, so I’m going to leave time at the end. Feel free to drop the questions that you have in the chat, and we’ll go through them. Or, if something comes up after the presentation, feel free to reach out to me. So, what I’m going to talk about today is, like I said, email and New York – two things that I absolutely love. And if you’re like most people, when you hear New York, you think of things like the subway, or maybe greasy pizza, maybe seven dozen bagels. You might also think about guys in suits, and those guys are always in a rush to just about everywhere.

New Yorkers are also very opinionated about everything, including their sports teams. And I’m going to want you to take a mental snapshot of this because I’m going to show you something a little funny in a moment here. New Yorkers are also pretty rude. If you’re not from the city or around New York City, what you see here is this gentleman walking in the bike lane, looking down at his phone, obviously not paying attention to what’s around him. The biker is coming by and throwing him an elbow. So, yeah, that’s New York. New York is impersonal, and some New Yorkers curse like every four seconds. We’ll give this guy a pass, even though he’s from Jersey. See, those people exist. That New York exists. And quite frankly, sometimes I’m that New Yorker, and I love it. I’m from there.

I love New York, but I also love email. See email has enabled me to design a business around the life that I want to live. I don’t have to make any sort of cold calls. I don’t have to attend local business meet-ups or things at the local Elks Lodge or Chamber of Commerce meetings. I don’t have to do the expected traditional kinds of sales processes as most small businesses are almost expected to do. And I’ve never run ads before. See this picture? I’m a diehard Met fan. My wife is a diehard Yankee fan. So, yeah, summertime is fun in our house. So, I told you about New York on one hand, and I told you about email on the other. And what I want to do is actually bring those two together for you today. You see, my observation is that most people, most small businesses, and most online businesses use email, much like a New Yorker. Rushed, impersonal, filled with stress, rude…basically, bludgeoning people over the head just to make a sale. When what we actually have to do is the inverse. So, if our perception of New York is rushed, impersonal, and rude, it’s my contention that we do the complete opposite approach when it comes to email. Doing that is one of the best ways that you could build a business that never has to rely on ads, never has to make a cold call, and never has to wonder about where the next lead is coming from. You don’t have to worry about that feast or famine or the ups and downs of the business world. And I know this because I’ve spent the better part of the past twelve-plus years perfecting this with my clients while not ever having to spend one single dollar on ads.

But it didn’t start there. See, in about 2015-ish, in my inbox, there was a single email that had three words to it, and it was in reply to a newsletter that I was really just sending to about 50 people at the time. And that email said, “We’re ready now.” See, with my newsletter at that time, there was really no strategy to it other than sharing interesting articles that I was reading, sharing some of the things I was doing for clients, some of their stories, some of their wins, and some of their problems. This reply, though, landed on the desk of a lost lead that I hadn’t spoken to in probably well over a year. And they basically said that they’re ready. When we first spoke a year prior to that, in their words, I looked it up in my CRM, and they said their ducks weren’t in a row. They felt that they weren’t ready for what I could help them with. Now at this time, we then hopped on the phone, and as a result of that conversation, they became a longtime client of mine, with several one-off projects underneath our belt and several retainers over the course of a couple of years. Just this one client brought in over six figures alone.

You just need a simple email strategy when it comes to your business that is going to unlock your goals as well as your clients’ goals. This simple email strategy is a salesperson campaign. Now before you get all cringy about salespersons or salespeople or salesmen or whatever the case, the negative connotation around that, I want you to take this idea of a salesperson campaign, and I want you to turn the page on that. I want you to think about the middle of the funnel, right? Not somebody who’s found you for the first time. Not somebody that has opted into your brand-new lead magnet or video read your latest blog post and thought all of the exciting things that you have for them ready to consume. This is the person that is sitting on your list, getting your weekly updates and things of that nature. See, this salesperson campaign is basically a sequence of emails designed to reach multiple subscribers. If we break apart the two words of the campaign here, and we talk just about a campaign, it is just that. It is that sequence, right? It’s a marketing effort that is designed to generate revenue. And it has a very specific goal in mind. Right? So, it might not even be generating revenue directly, but it might be getting people on a call with you or into a webinar or something of that niche. The beautiful part about campaigns is that they’re on autopilot.

Now, let’s take “salesperson” and define that. I found this definition a number of years ago, and it really unlocked it for me. The definition is a salesperson is an ambassador of their company to the external world. See, all they’re really trying to do is sell products and services in a helpful way to customers. Above any other skill, a salesperson needs great human relations skills. Now, if we combine those two words together, we get a salesperson campaign. You can build up a sequence of emails that basically appear right when that lead is most likely to buy. We’ll get into how to identify that in a moment. But what do you want to do with this campaign? It’s not just, hey, come check out my thing, and here are the latest questions that I got, and here are testimonials of 47 different people that have bought from me. This is giving subscribers more. It answers objections. It gives them key testimonials that are relatable to them. It ultimately makes it easy for subscribers to buy. There’s no false sense of urgency or scarcity in this. It really just helps the subscriber make the buying decision.

Now what you see here is a salesperson campaign, and you can see only about 500 or 600 sends. And yes, it tails off because people buy in the middle, and they get removed. So, the bottom email isn’t going to get as much as the top. But you can see that this campaign, in and of itself, in twelve months, netted six figures. You don’t need a huge, huge, massive list for this to see the benefits.

The benefits of a salesperson campaign are that there’s a chance to personalize the campaign. So, as I said, if you look at a TV in Best Buy for any length of time, a salesperson is going to come up to you and talk to you about it. They’re going to ask what room of the house it is going into and what kind of TV you watch, and if you watch movies. All of these are personal questions that aren’t on the little card with the price. This is what you want to do based on what you have learned about your email subscriber. It deepens the trust and the personal relationship that you have with all of your subscribers. You’ll stand out from the crowd, as well, because over the course of my career, I’ve been trying to see how other agencies, how other client service businesses, and even just online businesses do this. And not many are doing it. In fact, I can name one, and that’s Amazon.

You can maximize your revenue opportunities because once you build one for one product or service, you can build one for all of your products. And it’s on autopilot, right? What we’re really talking about here is a purchase-based interest campaign, which is a really big fancy marketing term for hand-raising. We have all experienced it. If you think about shopping cart abandonment, this is one of those kinds of campaigns, one where somebody visits the sales page multiple times but they don’t purchase. Well, you’ll get that email if you’re on their list. Amazon does a great job at this. I can’t leave anything in the cart for longer than five minutes before I start getting emails all over the place. But the thing with online businesses, especially services, is that a lot of times, we might not even have a sales page. It might be a booking link. It might be something else, like a piece of content that’s related to the service we offer. It could be a client testimonial video or something of that nature. What we’re really trying to do here is to start to tally those clicks because what happens is something ultimately stops them, and we don’t want to let them go, right? It could be their kid grabbed them. Maybe construction on a house, something like that. But we don’t want to let them go because what happens is consumers buy on emotion and justify with logic. What that means is that when you’re reading an email, you are inside of your inbox. There are words on a white screen. Sometimes, there might not be a logo or anything, but it’s your personal space. You’re looking at the words on the screen. Imagining it, you start to feel a connection with the writer. Then all of a sudden, that connection breaks when you click the link because now you’re leaving your personal area for that business’s personal space. Their logo, their colors, their price, their website, right? All of the things that happen now are to their benefit, not yours. And naturally, your brain starts to put in defense mechanisms and starts thinking about, do we really need this thing? Do I have the time to book this call? Do I want to spend? Do I even have the resources for all of this kind of stuff? So, what we want to do is marry those things. We want to bring them together because, ultimately, the sale is made with a handshake. This handshake is the action. What we’re going to do is track the action of the subscriber that expresses interest. Depending on your platform, it’s called a link trigger or trigger link. Basically, what you want to do is track that click and then tie that tracking to the inaction of not buying. So, however you tie purchases up with your email platform, you want to see if they bought or booked that call. That’s when the salesperson campaign kicks in. We want to meet them where they are and add a personal touch because now we know exactly where they are. We know their mindset. They were interested enough to click the link. But what happened?

I want to talk to you about the sales campaign. So, this is what you’re going to put into this sequence of emails. The first email specifies you want to call it out. You want to go deeper into why this product, service, or program exists. You want to call it out in a way, to be quite frank, to be very blunt. One of mine says, “My system tells me that you’ve checked this thing out several times. I just wanted to open up the line of communication to find out why you haven’t bought.” Don’t be creepy, right? They know they’ve looked at the product sometimes several times. You know they’ve looked at it. Let’s just have a conversation about it, right? You want to actually land in their inbox, leveling the playing field.

The next email that goes out tells a story of the transformation as it relates to the subscriber themselves. You want to use words like “imagine.” That’s a powerful word because if I say, “Imagine a pink elephant,” your brain can’t not think about a pink elephant. So, you want to start to tell the story of the transformation as it relates to the subscriber. So, if you know that, they are a lost lead, like in my previous story about the one that sent the email. I knew that they weren’t ready. They didn’t have the ducks in a row, so they were premature for the services that I offer. So, my salesperson campaign can talk to that because I’ve marked that individual subscriber as to why I didn’t have the sale in the first place. So, we can go deeper with that. Now you want to link to why your product, course, program, or service is made – from your perspective. Why did you create this thing? Why are you doing this thing? It could be your mission. It could be solving your own problems. Use feelings and results. Bring your own personal story to the conversation. You want to use emotion and empathy as well because now they’ve seen your thing upwards of 5, 7, or 10 times by the time they get this fourth email. They are starting to think, hey, maybe this is just too much for me. Maybe Jason is overkill for me. You want to bring it back down to Earth, bring it back down that you don’t have all the answers, but you do know this one thing, right? This is why this product exists.

Then finally, you want to share another story. You want to show them that you understand where they are if they’ve gone this deep with you. They’re probably really on the fence. They might be comparing you to one or two other people or things. If you know what those are, call them out in this email, right? It really surprises people if you call out something that they’re already looking at. I don’t mean that you have to say that you’re better than them. You could contrast the two. Let them make that buying decision for themselves. And it really hits home because then they’re like, they’re reading my mind. How do they know this? It’s because you understand your customer.

So, some of the best practices that I want to share with you are:

  • You want to write it very conversationally.
  • Lay off the graphics lay off the heavy design.
  • You want to make sure that you’re straightforward and not creepy. As I said, you don’t want to show up in the inbox, just talking about the thing and not addressing how you got there in the first place.
  • Every single email is a single call to action. Don’t link to your blog. Don’t link off to an article or podcast or a video or something of that nature. That single call to action should either be the sales page or the checkout page. Or the booking link on your calendar. It should be the exact single thing that you want them to do.
  • You want to showcase your authority, your testimonials, and your expertise when it comes to testimonials. If you can, align the testimonials. If you can, share objections from clients on what they thought about before buying but then got this result. Those are powerful. For example, if they say they don’t have time for this, you can say, “Well, Mary said that she didn’t have time or the resources to do this stuff, but Jason took care of everything, and it was a minimal lift on Mary’s side.” Those kinds of one-line testimonials go a long way.
  • Be really intentional about the content. You don’t have to be salesy about it, but make sure that the content aligns with those products.

I love when a plan comes together because when you keep doing what you’re doing, when you’re intentional about the content you’re sharing, and you have a salesperson campaign set up, it becomes super easy. It’s natural for your subscribers to find themselves in the salesperson campaign. It can happen on any given day. That lead generation for that hot lead starts to do the work right. You start to move that hot lead into becoming a customer, and it starts to create sustainability for your business. This can happen at any point in time.

So, as I mentioned before, everyone needs email help. I know this because, as I said, I’m on a lot of lists. I did a lot of emails. My wife looks at my phone, and she’s like, how do you have 1100 unread messages? That’s insane. It’s because I just learn from it. I reverse engineer things. That’s why I know that there are a lot of lists out there that could be doing a lot better. So, how can I help you? For some of you, signing up for my email list might be sufficient, but I wanted to help you even further with whatever I can do. I want to be able to answer some questions. I want to be able to get you on stock if you’re already emailing Jackie or if you haven’t even started yet. I have products around these things. I have free content. I have a YouTube channel and an email list. I want to be able to give you what you want.

But before I do that, I just want to share one of my favorite email stories. In February 2020, a growth marketing firm called Common Thread Collective hired me. They know their thing, but like many businesses, they provide services and digital products, including membership as well, and they collected email addresses from the top of the funnel, from all different angles, blog posts, ads, webinars, workshops that they ran – live events, and everything, social. They had all of these various landing pages, but yet there was nothing that naturally led those new email subscribers to become a customer. From time to time, they would shake things up and just blast out to the list things like the membership is open, or here’s a product that we have, or call our sales team, that kind of stuff. But over the course of the project, we wound up putting a salesperson campaign in place. We tweaked their regular email strategy. We played with some of the timings of their sales cycles. In the context of the project, their sales team admitted to me with all of the things that they were doing at the top of the funnel, they felt they weren’t busy enough. They were waiting for the phone calls, but they weren’t coming. I didn’t write a single email for them, but what I did was help them figure out their segmentation, figure out their timing, and figure out the mechanisms by which people click on certain things that led to them becoming customers. Then, a few months later, when the project was complete, I got pinged on Twitter by the VP of Marketing, and he basically told me through the tweet that their investment was paid back in less than one month from the project we worked together. Within three months, they saw a lift of 780% of inbound leads. Now, take whatever your numbers are. If you just align 780%, what would that mean for you if you had that increase of work of inbound leads into your sales pipeline within three months? Just to be clear with all of this, your results may vary. I’m not saying that everybody’s going to get this. But I just wanted to show you what’s actually possible for people who take email seriously and have a plan. It’s a simple strategy.

So, let me leave you with this quick secret. This isn’t just about email or New York. It’s not even just about answering questions or objections and the desires of your subscribers. It’s actually about the humans, the human behavior as a result of putting something valuable in front of those humans. And email isn’t the only method where we can achieve predictable and recurring income. But it’s a way of being helpful when someone’s ready to be helped. It’s a way of building a business designed around the life that you want to live. It works for me. It’s worked for my clients. And all I can say is when you treat your email lists like humans, amazing transformations happen. So, let’s jump to the questions.

See a Live Campaign on Curious Ants

If you want to see a live example. Of some of the things that Jason talks about, you can sign up for Curious Ants for free. And you can see the drip campaign I used based on what he did. Of course, I didn’t do it nearly as well as he’s going to teach you how to do it. So, take advantage of his deal here and learn how to do it yourself. It’s really great. I really think that as I went through your system, Jason, you could really see this is definitely about a personal handshake. This is not about some anonymous conversation. That’s what I really like about the model that you’re using. Let’s get to the questions.

How do you come up with your consistent content with such a consistent stream of content, Jason, without spending all your time working on it?

Well, when I started emailing, it was one-ish times a week. It was Tuesdays and sometimes Fridays. Fridays were very inconsistent. But as a result of working with clients, I saw the power of daily emails. I had several clients that were doing daily emails, and they were solo business owners or maybe a team of two. I saw the impact that it not only had on their subscribers and how engaged they were but also how it impacted their business in a positive way. So, I was like, I have to figure this out. I have to figure out what the heck I’m going to talk about every day. Just Tuesdays are even hard. So what I wound up doing was really putting constraints around the time without spending all my time. So, I read Atomic Habits, and what James Clear said in the book was you basically create a framework around the habit that you want of the person that you want to be. So, if you want to go to the gym, put the sneakers by the door. You’ll see the sneakers. You’ll at least go to the gym. I always had a cup of coffee every morning. Always. There’s no way that I wasn’t going to. So, what I did was write my email for the first cup of coffee of the day. It’s about 20 minutes. When I’m done with the coffee, I better press send. That was the constraint that I had, so there were imperfect actions. Believe me, I want everything to be Pixel perfect. But yes, links went out that were broken. Typos happen, especially early on. But I wanted to show up daily because I knew that this was the kind of person or business that I wanted to be. And this is where my main course of communication is going to be. And that’s kind of what I started off with was, can I do this for 30 days? And I did it. At the end of 30 days, I saw the engagement go up. I didn’t know if I was going to burn my list, though. A whole bunch of people unsubscribed. But I told everybody, this is what’s happening. They knew what was happening. At the end of 30 days, I made more sales, and I made more affiliate money, and more replies in my inbox. Yeah, there were more at-bats, sure. But everything was for the better. And so, I was like, okay, let’s just keep going with this. And sure, there are days when the blank page stares me right back in the face, and I don’t know what I’m going to talk about. But what I always think about myself is what happened yesterday, what happened last week, or what happened with a client. What happened with my kids? I bring my kids into my emails all the time. And I just think about that and then, like, okay, well, my kids are young. They’re six and four, so it’s like, yeah, I could talk about that. They’re chaotic. They’re running around, and they’re messy. They’re kids, right? They’re inquisitive. So, it lends itself to email marketing and online businesses and stuff. I have this little cheat sheet that I kind of have written down here that basically says five things. If I have a blank page and I don’t know what I’m talking about that day, answer a question in one share. What I’ve done is another one. Ask a question is a third. Introduction to an advanced aspect. And the final one is to share other people’s content. So, if I completely have no idea what to do, I pick up this piece. I’m like, oh, you know what? Share Other People’s content. I saw an interesting tweet yesterday. Let me go share that. And so, I share that, or I ask a question or something of that nature. So, you know a lot, right? You know, if you’ve been in business any length of time, you have got stories to tell. You have the content. It’s just a matter of putting some framework around that content so that you can get it out the door and ship it.

Do you use ChatGPT to help streamline that a little bit?

Truth be told, what’s interesting is that I’ve kind of had this framework prior to ChatGPT, but I’ve tried using it. I’m not going to say that I don’t use it. But what I use it for is more for ideation, brainstorming, almost as a colleague. I want a different point of view on this topic, right? For example, to find what things are opposed to my point of view so that I can make the content even better. So, I use it for that kind of purpose. Versus like, hey, I needed an email on double opt-in. I want to send this out to my list. I just find that that’s not a good use of that tool, but that’s just for me. It sounds very robotic and not like me. Even if I tell it to be more friendly and personal and stuff like that, it just doesn’t come off the style that I like.

If someone clicks the unsubscribed button and there’s an option to receive fewer emails, but the person still wants to stay connected, is there a sequence that can be set up for that? Or is there a sequence you recommend?

Yeah. Absolutely. So, when you sign up for my emails, depending on how you come on the list, most of the places will tell you that it’s a daily email. But at the bottom, right next to the unsubscribe link, I have an option there that says if the daily email is too much, just come to the weekly, which is the Saturday email. It’s a little bit more lengthy. There are curated links in there, but yes, you get the lesson of the week, so to speak. So that’s just a trigger link that says, okay, this person’s a weekly person. So all the emails that go out are daily. That’s the recipient segment. And then everybody that’s daily and weekly will get the Saturday email, and so that goes out right. About eight or 9% of my list is just for the Saturday email. So vice versa, too. Like on the weekly emails, right next to the unsubscribe link is, hey, if you want all of the emails that you’re missing out on, click here. And so you go back into the daily as well.

Is there some sort of way to watch someone who fills out a step but doesn’t complete the step, to enter into a campaign? Are there tools or software that you think are really easy to start with for the salesperson campaign to work?

Yeah. I mean, for the salesperson campaign to work, you kind of have to have an email platform. That’s the premise of it. So, I like to use ConvertKit. It’s simple. It’s effective. It’s fast. And most importantly, what I use email platforms for is to deliver an email, right? I’m not looking for all the bells and whistles of it, like, I need you to deliver the email and consistently ConvertKit deliverability reports on a month-to-month basis. They’re either number one or number two in the big market of the big ESPs. So, I use ConvertKit because those are the emails that are going to get delivered. And so for me, that’s what I suggest to go with now. Other people like other platforms. And that’s fine, too. I’ve used just about every single one out there. But as far as storing information based on when they fill out a form on your website or a contact form, there are several form fields and that sort of thing. This isn’t a pitch for ConvertKit. It’s my experience that ConvertKit will help you get going pretty quickly.

So much of this process of sending emails is iterating, testing, and seeing what works. You’ve made some suggestions, like your list really responds to text links better than maybe a big button or something like that. What kind of metrics are you using to judge effectiveness on this kind of iteration?

Yeah, it’s a great question. When I do my review process of any sequence or any email, I look at two things, how many eyeballs looked at it and how many converted. Now that conversion could be different, but it doesn’t necessarily mean a monetary value or anything like that. It could be like my latest video went up. I want to see how many people clicked over to it. I look at a high level that way. Then I look at what the details are. So, the open rate is a fuzzy metric. It lies. Especially nowadays, iOS, really an Apple Mail and all that stuff. They kind of put the kibosh on open rates, but click rates are still trackable. Your sales, your bookings, and whatever your call-to-action is are trackable. Google Analytics is trackable. So when you send an email, I start to look at questions that I want to be answered. One. How many people converted? How many took the action that I wanted them to take? Is that number good for me? And you start to learn your own baselines over time. If that number is good for me, great. Then I go to the next question. Okay. Well, what was my open rate? Okay, if it’s 45%, great. All right, that’s fine. That’s on par. But if it was 35%, why? What was it about the subject line that didn’t work right? And then, I basically look for the fall-off, right? I look at where the thing that I’m trying to measure, the metric that I’m trying to measure, didn’t at least meet the baseline. So, when I start to test things like text links versus buttons, I will do like a 50/50 split. I will take my list, and I’ll say, okay, half of you are getting buttons, half of you getting text links. It’s the same content, same sequence, subject line, same everything else, but with the button and the text link different. Then I can look at it, and if I see a big enough disparity between the two, I will run the test again. And again, a 50/50 split. So not saying that the same; there are going to be overlaps, right? So I’m not doing the exact same 50/50 split again. It’s a mix. It’s really just putting them in the jar and mixing them up, and throwing them out there again. So, I want to see if that pattern still exists. And if that pattern exists, then I’ve learned something about my list, and that’s for me. Where I start to really look at the analytics from a perspective of giving me the answer that I’m looking for. Is there a fall-off? How do I improve the fall-off? Or what am I testing? What am I trying to learn about my list so that I can better educate myself? So that when I do want them to take action, should I be putting a button or should I be putting a text link? I test things all the time. I call my list of sandboxes, and then I apologize. David, you’re on my list. So you’re part of that sandbox. But I test that, really, because it’s, like, my build in public. As you said, I walk the walk. So when I share stats where I share things like that, I want to know that this is true. And I don’t want to just regurgitate somebody else’s learnings. I want to see what I can do, too. So for me. Yeah. It’s super important to try to figure out. What resonates best with your list? Amazon does tons of testing. Google does tons of testing. They have the data to do it. But your email list. You don’t need hundreds of thousands of eyeballs. You have 500 people on your list or 150 people on your list. That’s 150 captive audiences. Members. That you can learn something from. And why not go ahead and try?

Exactly. That’s awesome. Thank you so much for all your time, Jason. I put the links to a couple of things so people can keep in touch with you and check out some of the things that you might be able to help them with. In the chat, I’ll send a follow-up email when I post this on YouTube so you can all reference this because I know there are slides. I want to go back to myself here and improve, so we’re glad that you’re all able to join us today. This is what we call the fifth Wednesday meet-up. Because every week, we, as the Curious Ants group, meet to kind of have a brainstorming session where we kind of bring our SEO, Analytics, and Web marketing questions together. That’s all from members of Curious Ants. And every fifth week of the month, we open it up to the public and bring a guest speaker like Jason. So check out Curious Ants if you’re interested in learning SEO, whether you need to provide it for your clients or work up your own website. We’d love to have you. You can sign up for Curious Ants to give you access to all the processes I use for all my main clients, and you can follow those yourself. And start offering it to your clients, too. So hope to see you there. But thank you all for coming today. I was so glad to have you all here to turn out. And I hope you’ll keep in touch. I had a great time today. See ya, bye.