MD06: Autoresponder Email Sequences With John Dennis
This is an amazing episode not only in the sense of what autoresponder email sequences can do for you for you and your business but because of John’s story. The first dollar he ever made online was by selling an account, and not any account but a gaming account, sort of like World of Warcraft, which John sold for a bit under $5000 to buy his first car.
Email marketing is the number one thing you should have in your mind when you create a blog or website for your business, because email allows you to create a strong relationship with your readers and audience, create trust and raving fans who will ultimately become customers and advocates of your business.
By having the email of your audience you have the power to connect with them personally with the click of a bottom. They wake up and see you right there at their inbox.
If god forbid something ever happens to your website, you can start from cero more easily because you will still have the email of your subscribers and you will be able to notify these people of your new location.
There’s a number of reasons as to why you should not procrastinate on email marketing, and today we go through the most powerful strategy that email marketing allows you to do which is automate your communications with your community.
In This Episode You Will Learn:
1. Where to place your optin sign up forms in your blog to start your sequence.
2. What to say on the first email of the sequence, and the benefits of being unique.
3. Why an auto sequence is so important.
4. How to communicate with your subscribers.
5. How many emails to set up on your sequence.
6. How many days in between each email.
7. What to say on each following email.
8. [as always] Who is John’s avatar and what does he do to serve him.
Aweber (email marketing software)
SmartTimeOnline (John’s website)
LeadPages (Lead generation software)
If you are in the middle of creating an autoresponder email sequence and need help, don’t hesitate to ask for it over twitter. Click here and scream for help.
Thanks again for tuning in.
Hello amigos, welcome to another episode of the Money Diver podcast. I am your host as always, Borja Obeso and today we’re going to be talking to John Dennis about autoresponder sequences for email marketing. And what autoresponders can do for you is that they can help you build relationships with your audience before you introduce your offers to them. You can provide content and valuable information in an automatic way without you having to send email after email manually to create this rapport, this relationship with your audience, create trust. Before you ultimately introduce your offer or your products, your services to them. You can set up emails to go out automatically every two days, every three days, every week from the time they sign up to your list. And ultimately you get them to become part of your loyal community, raving fans and sell everything that you have to sell to them as long as you’re providing value of course. So for example if you’re using the Cerebro WordPress framework by Smarty.com or the Cerebro plug-in, you can display different sign-up forms to each of your different segments in your website, in your different versions of your website and create different autoresponder sequences to each segment of your audience to connect on a deeper level and create messages that go out automatically that are exactly related to the topic they are interested about your business, about your blog. And if you’re not yet a member of Smarty.com, today we’re running a contest where you have a chance to win a lifetime premium membership. So head on over to smarttimeonline.com/moneydiver to learn more about this contest and the guidelines. So without further ado, let’s dive right into the interview with John from SmartTimeOnline.com.
Borja: Hey, what is up John, I thank you so much for coming to the show man, I really appreciate it.
John Dennis: Oh thank you for having be Borja. Happy to be here.
Borja: My pleasure man. So John, let’s take a second to go over as to why should people listen to what you have to say. I want you to tell them, our listeners how did you get started, how did you end up as an online marketer and why they should listen so that they get an understanding of who you are and why they should listen to you. How did you get started?
John Dennis: How I ended up where I am today is kind of a little bit of trial and error, a little bit of luck but really just the sheer desire to do what I’m doing now. You know, when I was younger, I had my first computer donated to me. I was 12 years old. It was an old Dell 386 DX processor and one off my mother’s co-workers suggested that we buy a computer and my mom didn’t make much money and I wouldn’t say poor, we were rich if you kind of consider we had each other, we had a house, we had food on the table, but we didn’t have much money growing up. And so she said “right now I can’t afford to buy a computer” so he said “let me give you my old computer.” And he did that. He brought it over, he set it up and again, I was 12 years old and I just lit up. I was so excited. And it’s funny because I actually ended up ripping this thing apart, reverse-engineering it to see how it worked and everything. And that was really the introduction into what I do now at such an early age. So by the age of 15 I was doing website design, I was learning Flash and back then I think it was like Flash 2 that had come out and it was like the new thing. And I ended up getting into video games. Specifically I’d gotten into MMO RPGs that stands for Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Games. And this one particular game called Asheron’s Call, I had amassed quite a following actually, about 5,000 people were in my guild is what it’s called, a sort of allegiance and this monarch and I was at the top and everyone underneath me kind of basically followed me. We had our own town in this game and everything and it was a complete social structure and it was very fun. And it came time to get a car. And I thought I should try to sell my account. And so I sold my account on eBay at the time and I was 16 years old and I made $4,800 with my Asheron’s Call account. At the time it was the second highest gross in digital pixellated thing that had was ever sold. And it was second to another Asheron’s Call account that a guy had sold for just under $10,000.
Borja: That’s crazy.
John Dennis: Yeah. And it was sort of this aha moment at a pretty young age. I was 16 years old and I realized holy cow I can make money online doing things that I enjoy doing and it worked. And I actually re-rolled a new character and I ended up selling that character, too for just under $2,000, so I made quite a bit of money at an early age online. And granted, it wasn’t a website that was monetizing passively or anything, but what it did make me realize is I was doing something that I loved doing. And I took that passion and I was able to turn it into money and that’s how I bought my first car. It all started outv with this old Dell 486 DX processor that was donated to me and at an early age it made such an impact on my life. And so moving forward that’s sort of what guided me. It’s that giving back has been such an integral part of my life and how I was able to do what I was able to do. And so the process of how it all happened, it’s what kind of guided me. And so sort of fast forward and I ended up doing I think whatever a young person does, trying to figure out what I wanted to do in life. At one point I wanted to be a computer science major, I wanted to be a programmer, I wanted to be a fighter pilot, you know, I wanted to be all these different things and I was going in all these directions and I met a guy. And his name was Mark and he said I want to teach you how to operate a business. And I learned early on sort of the intricacies of operating a business and I learned to trade and this was actually a physical labor trade that I had learned. So it’s unrelated to internet marketing or making money online. But it was very related to learning how to start and grow a business. And so I was able to kind of couple that with my passion for doing things online. And I took that business, I had started a business at a really young age and gosh from that, just to make a long story short, it segwayed into becoming a general manager for a restaurant and I had learned how to operate a multi-million dollar facility, and I learned more of the intricacies of sort of corporate America and what it takes to run a successful restaurant that was top in the company and we really kind of led the way in terms of all the areas and the company would get satisfaction scores with surveys and employee attrition rates, we were highest, we were top three. Yearly profit growth, we were among the top five. And so I learned sort of pretty quickly at a young age what it takes to operate a successful company. So moving into the online space for me was more of kind of marrying those skills and experience with what I knew I was passionate about. More passionate about than running a restaurant. More passionate about than you know, staying in concrete driveways. And I just kind of went into it, man. And in 2007, I started working on this product, it was a credit repair info product. And eventually I ended up making close to a thousand dollars a day with that during its peak. And that was another aha moment, it was that wow, I can do this again. And this time I can do it with info products. It’s not something that I have to work hard to create and then sell and then it’s gone. But rather I can work hard to create and sell and then sell again and then sell again and so on and so forth to the point where it creates this passive income stream. And so that’s kind how I got into it. I learned a tremendous amount of stuff on the side, I mean getting hacked a couple of times actually. I lost a lot of money from being hacked, you know, the early WordPress days, I’m sure you know Borja were kind of the wild wild West days for hackers and the challenge was getting into WordPress sites. But…
Borja: It’s way more difficult today. Thank God.
John Dennis: Yeah, definitely, definitely. Way more difficult today. So yeah, that’s kind of how I got into it. And since then I’ve been dabbling in what I’ve been doing online ever since.
Borja: How long did it take you to build those accounts? Those gaming accounts?
John Dennis: A good question and here is why it’s a good question. Because it didn’t happen over night. You know, I actually, we’re talking about two years in the making and it’s funny because I was so young. I would pretend to be older in this video game. You know, I started playing when I was 15 and just to kind of get followers in this video game because I kind of wanted to be a leader and I wanted people to look up to me and I was young and who knows where that came from but I would actually lie about my age and I would tell people that I was 18 in this game.
Borja: So that people would like trust you more…
John Dennis: And so for two years I was 18 years old, right? But yeah and looking back it was silly, you know. But it took me a couple of years to amass a following enough to where they enjoyed being in the guild that we were in and there was a lot of experience I think, early leadership experience that really in my opinion sort of lended a hand to what I ended up doing with becoming a general manager of a restaurant. It really did. And so I’m a huge proponent of early on gaming for children and of course like anything it needs to be in moderation, but it really helped me develop leadership skills early and it really helped me develop business skills early. And it made me realize that you know, I can’t just go and try to make money instantly. It takes time to develop something. And the reason – it wasn’t – what sold on eBay was essentially all the credibility and trust that a community had kind of built up. And so the gentleman who was from the UK, I remember his name even, his name was David who bought the account for $5,000 or just under, he purchased an experience. I truly do feel this way. He purchased the idea of being someone who might have a little bit of rapport. And so you know, it’s just one of those things. And he ended up not being successful with it because as soon as everyone found out that it wasn’t the original MeenStreak – that was my name – they kind of disbanded from underneath that guild and moved on. And that was a realization in and of itself. So a couple of years to build up this character and just in the matter of a couple of weeks it all kind of dismantled because it was the person behind it that had kind of built it. So, anyway. I’m kind of ranting on but yeah it was a couple of years, it really was. And then the second time around it was over a year to build the second character. So yeah, early on experiences.
Borja: Yep, so today you’re the owner of Smart Time Online which is a website and a podcast, correct?
John Dennis: Yes.
Borja: You also talk about online marketing and growth hacking.
John Dennis: Yes.
Borja: Yes, so John today I want to get into a very specific topic in online marketing, a very specific strategy which is autoresponder sequences which is part of email marketing.
John Dennis: Yes.
Borja: So my first question is, which are the favorite places in your site to put on sign up forms?
John Dennis: You know, that’s a good question. I think it’s important to put them in multiple places on your website. You know, early days when I was doing web design, when I was young, when I was a kid, I don’t know if you remember the term splash pages?
John Dennis: They were like all the rage, you know? Especially with Flash websites. But splash pages were all the rage and what a splash page is for those who are listening and who might not understand that term is, it’s just a portion of your site. It’s most of the time it’s a single page of your site that first time visitors see and before they move onto your site and into the content and can kind of select from the navigation menu, it’s an information piece. Maybe it’s a video or maybe it’s an opt-in box or an opt-in screen or some sort of thing or maybe highlighting a business’s unique selling proposition. But I’ve noticed these are making a come back. And I think they’re making a come back because designers and developers are understanding that there were some mistakes from the old version of these things and if you do it right, a splash screen is really a good place to have an email opt-in. Now I don’t have it on my website personally. And for me it just depends on the application and sort of the niche that I’m in but that doesn’t mean that I won’t one day. That’s an option and if you don’t have it there then I would highly suggest it. At the top, above the fold of someone’s website. Somewhere prominent. And it absolutely needs to be there. That’s probably the first place a website owner, especially someone who is new to this should consider putting an opt-in box. And we can get into sort of strategies for making sure that it’s actually used, that people are actually signing up but that’s probably the first place. And then I would say two more very important places – I’m sorry, three more very important places would be on the sidebar of your website, especially if you’re using a WordPress site is very important. And I would recommend making that the first and foremost spot on your sidebar. So upper portion. So whether you have a left or right sidebar, make sure that it’s at the top. That way you know, it’s most likely above the fold. And then I would also put it in line with your content on your articles or your blogs posts or your podcast show pages. And the reason is, if you think about AdSense ads, you know you go to these sites, these blogs and they kind of interrupt the content with these AdSense ads, those are some of the highest converting clicks as far as ad revenue. And there is a reason for that. It’s because they kind of look in line with the blog post. And
Borja: They sort of blend…
John Dennis: Right, they kind of blend in. And so I subscribe to the notion of making sure that your opt-in box is sort of blended in. And I know there’s a lot of people out there that say “I’ll make it stand out.” Sure, making it stand out is a smart idea but I think you should make it stand out at the end of your blog post. But there should also be somewhere in the middle of your content, somewhere relevant that blends in. And you’d be surprised at the conversions from that spot. And then the last place and this is something that I see a lot of people get wrong is you want to have it in your footer. And the reason is because your footer follows you everywhere. Every website that you’re on, your footer loads. It’s like a header, you know. And so I’ve tested this on multiple clients’ sites of mine and there are a few of my clients who get most of their sign-ups from the footer. You never would have imagined or guessed that would have happened.
Borja: I have a pretty high conversion rate from my footer. And I never would have thought of that before.
John Dennis: Me neither, honestly. And it seems to be for some reason going up since I started making that a standard practice. Conversion rates continue to climb with the footer sign up rate. So it’s just another place, another touch point, another conversion point and I think it’s important that you know, everyone have a sign-up form in the footer.
Borja: Yeah. So it is actually a topic that we could go into as an episode itself, sign-up forms is such a large topic. But I want to go into the next step which is the autoresponder sequence. And would you mind telling whoever does not know what an autoresponder sequence is, would you mind telling him what it is?
John Dennis: Sure, so an autoresponder sequence is in layman’s terms is a sequence of emails that get delivered automatically to someone who signed up to your list. And this is typically fulfilled by a third party email marketing service provider like AWeber or Mail Chimp or GetResponse. And essentially what you do is you sign into these email marketing service providers and you write emails and you load them into a sequence. And so when someone signs up to your email list, this sequence is sent to them in order depending on how often or when you schedule these emails to go out. Typically I recommend people at least, if we’re talking about like a first time sequence. I call it a nurture sequence. Like if you have a stranger who’s coming to your site and they signed up then I recommend going at least three to five days of an autoresponder sequence and what this does is it nurtures your new subscribers. And once you write this sequence of emails one time, they work for you on automation forever.
John Dennis: And they’re just, it’s an integral part of starting a blog or a website or a podcast or a business even and I think everybody, anybody who is online – which should be everybody – so therefore everybody should have an autoresponder sequence.
Borja: That’s right. And this would be helpful because you’re like creating a relationship with your audience through your email responder sequence.
John Dennis: Yeah, you know, your list is, people who are signing on to your list, they’re doing it for selfish reasons. It’s because you’re promising to give them something that they want. Whether that’s a resource or an ebook or a video series or a checklist or you know, even something physical like a free book. They’re doing it because they want something. And there’s typically no established trust, there is no established good will. There is no established rapport. And so it’s smart to put people into this nurture sequence because you’re nurturing that relationship that you have with them through an autoresponder series. And you’re kind of opening the door and you’re saying hey, I’m John, this is what I do and here is how I want to help you and here is how I’m going to help you. In fact, tomorrow I’m going to send you this email on how to do X by making sure you do Y and Z. And you kind of open the door into that relationship. And you’d be amazed, by the end of that sequence how much more trust and good will you’ve established in your marketplace by implementing like that.
Borja: That’s right. So when people sign up what do they get in their first email? What do you put in that first email?
John Dennis: Well, I recommend people implement a welcome email. And essentially what the welcome email is, it’s kind of a welcome to the family email. “Hey, welcome to the email list.” Well, you don’t want to say email list but welcome to the family, welcome to the tribe. You want to make them feel invited into a community. You want to make them feel part of a community, not just another number on an email list. Because most people who sign up for an email list these days, they understand that it’s an email list and so what are you doing differently then most people? And I think one of the ways to stand out and really make it clear that you are different than most is to make them feel that they’re part of a community. You know if you have a Facebook group for example, highlight the Facebook group in this welcome email. Invite them to come over, invite them to hit the reply button. Make sure that you’re using an email address in your autoresponder series that people can actually reply to. I have a huge problem when people actually use like [email protected]. You know, that’s one of the stupidest ideas because that’s a sure-fire way of making someone feel like they’re just a number.
John Dennis: Yeah and I would, I recommend personally using your name. So you know, if you’re name’s David, [email protected], make that your email address. And so when someone hits reply to your automatically sent email in you’re autoresponder series, you’ll still get it in your inbox. And you can then carry on a private conversation with that person. And so in your welcome email I would invite people to write you back, hit the reply button. You know, kind of tell you what they’re struggling with. Invite them to get vulnerable. And it’s one of the best ways to establish rapport and trust by the way. One is to get vulnerable with someone and the other is to have someone become vulnerable with you. And if you do this ethically, then you’ll position yourself as someone who can really help somebody. You’ll position yourself as someone who can provide immense value. If you know what you’re talking about. So that would be my first step. So it is your welcome email. And I think it’s important to just briefly outline what a welcome email looks like and – so you want to have a really compelling headline that kind of invites them in and says welcome to the club. And the very first step in this welcome email should be delivering what you promised. So if you promised them some kind of resource in exchange for signing up to your email list, for putting in their name and email address, then make sure that’s the very first thing you do. You deliver what you promised. And then you can go into the section that says “Here’s what you can expect moving forward.” And in that section you just kind of tell them “Here’s how I want to help you, this is why you should pay attention” and you kind of outline what’s going to happen in the next few days. What they’re going to receive in terms of content from you. And then I would kind of invite them to get a little more involved in your brand, so invite them to listen to your podcast if you’re a podcaster, invite them to get involved in your Facebook community if you have one on Facebook. And then I would in the last step invite them to reply. And just kind of make them aware “hey, I’m a human being and I love to get feedback. And I would love for you to introduce yourself. Tell me what you’re working on, tell me what your struggles are, tell me what your desires are. And if there’s anything I can help you with, I would love to be that person to help you. ” So it’s really humanizing the relationship. That’s the first step, that’s the first email.
Borja: Yes, absolutely, it makes complete sense. It’s like when you meet a person for the first time, you want to establish a good relationship…
John Dennis: Yeah, you don’t want to say “hey, buy my stuff. Hey, welcome to the club, can you buy my stuff? That’s like going in for the kiss on the first date.”
Borja: Terrible. Yeah. It might work, it might work, you know.
John Dennis: Sometimes, yeah.
John Dennis: If you’re good-looking enough. Yeah. Good luck with that.
Borja: So how many emails do you send out there for this first one automatically?
John Dennis: Yeah, automatically I recommend sending 3 to 5 as part of your nurture series. And it could be longer. You know, I’ve got lists that have up to 20. I have clients and friends and colleagues who – gosh, one has like 40 something emails in his autoresponder sequence that goes out over like a year’s time, you know. And that might be a little much but the idea is to not make it overwhelming. It doesn’t have to be a huge burden. And if you’re getting started, especially. Or if you’re a business owner who’s looking to perhaps leverage the internet a little better and kind of get rolling with email marketing. The idea is to not make it something that’s just overwhelming. And so I would always recommend starting with 3 to 5 emails. And I think it’s really important for this nurture series to make sure you’re making it about nurturing your list. It’s about providing value. And it’s not about asking for the sale. Now don’t get me wrong. There is a time and place for asking for the sale and there are methods and strategies for selling hard and selling aggressively, making sure that you’re making money with the value that you provide. But when it comes to your email nurture series, regarding that you want to make sure that you’re providing them pure value and that you’re enhancing the relationship. So I recommend 3 to 5 and it could be a series of habits, it could be a series of steps, like 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5. Or 1, 2 and 3 and it could work beautifully, either one of those.
Borja: And how many days in between do you set up…?
John Dennis: Yeah I like to stay relevant. And I recommend going one day after another.
Borja: One day after another.
John Dennis: Yes, correct. Now if you look at email open rates across various industries, you’ll notice that the weekends are typically lower on the open rates. And so a lot of these email marketing service providers, they allow you to exclude certain days and even times. So for example AWeber is my choice – I use actually both AWeber and MailChimp and both of them allow this but you can go in and say I only want this email delivered on a weekday. And you can go even further and say I want this email delivered on a weekday between the hours of 8 am and 9 pm.
Borja: And you can even select the specific days you want to deliver it.
John Dennis: Exactly. And so if they sign up say on Wednesday and you have a welcome email that goes out that day and then starting Thursday you have a 5 part email series, then it’s not going to get sent to them over the weekend because likely they’re busy, they’re doing something with their family or they’re taking the weekend off and open rates tend to take a break for the weekend. Especially on Sundays by the way.
Borja: Especially on Sundays, yeah, absolutely. And you want to make sure that you set those times, especially in the morning – it’s going to vary, it’s going to be different depending on what part of the world your listener or your audience, your subscriber is. But I would say if you’re serving an audience that at a specific time you know where they’re at, make sure that day they’re getting that email early in the morning. Or at least that’s the experience that I’ve had.
John Dennis: Yeah. And a lot of them do allow you to set their local time, too. So you can even say you know, 9 am to 9 pm local and they’ll make sure it’s delivered on their local time.
Borja: Yeah, it makes sense. So what do you say in the following emails? Do you promote or do you just give tips to stay in touch with your subscribers? Or what do you do?
John Dennis: You mean following the email nurture series?
John Dennis: Well, typically I will either move into providing more content-based emails and I’ll put that on to the end of the nurture series so that it’s connected to the autoresponder. So it’s delivered automatically. It’s automation-based. But also I will then continue into broadcasts. So scheduled broadcasts depending on what I have going on. If there’s a promotion, if I have a product coming out or a service that I’d like to highlight, you know, I might schedule out a broadcast which you can do with any of these email service providers. But it’s just important to remember that your prospect, the person who’s on your list is on your list to receive value from you. And if you have a product that is of value, then there’s nothing wrong with moving into a promotion series email sequence where you’re promoting something through the course of 2 – 3 – 4 days. But you just have to take into account that it’s really easy to lose trust. And you don’t want to come off as someone who’s only concerned with making money. So just make sure that you put value first. And with every email I send out to any of the niches that I’m in. Or even clients. I think about the avatar. I think about what it is they signed up for. And I ask myself does this provide value? At the end of the day does this provide value? Or what it’s linking to, does this provide value? And so if I’m linking to a webinar and that webinar provides value, then the answer is yes, then I feel comfortable with sending that out. And so on and so forth with any other marketing medium or content medium that you choose to promote.
Borja: Yeah, that’s right man. And you mentioned avatar which brings me to my favorite question of the show. Because Money Diver as an online marketing brand has a very strong focus on the audience part of things; research, segmentation, content personalization. So my question is as a business owner of Smart Time Online, who is your avatar? Do you have several avatars? What do you specifically do to serve him?
John Dennis: Yeah. I have an overall avatar. My overall avatar is a 38 year old male who’s a small business owner or a solopreneur who is at a point in their business where they’ve realized they need to leverage the power of the internet and specifically digital marketing and automation. And they’re ready to take that step. But they just don’t know how to take that step. They don’t know what direction they want to move in. And then I do have kind of segmented avatars as well. And one of the really important parts of email marketing is list segmentation. And so with that I have avatars that are related to – you know, maybe it’s someone who does very well online with their business but wants to get better with their email marketing. And so they want to learn how to create a lead magnet that properly puts people into the top of their funnel. You know, how to construct that lead magnet. Or how to construct a lead nurture series which is what we’ve been talking about. And so I’ve got resources that I have on my website that people can sign up for and they’re filtered in through my brand through a different segmentation – so an entirely different email list so to speak. And they go through a different process in terms of what their nurture series might be. And that happens because I’ve identified who that avatar is. So it’s really important to be specific with your avatar. That’s a really good question. It’s not – I think if someone’s listening who might think well, what does that have to do with me? I think it has everything to do with you because if you don’t have an avatar, if you’re not aware of who you’re speaking to when you’re marketing or when you’re writing or producing content, then you’re really speaking to no one. So it’s really important that you kind of hone in on that. And that’s my thought on the avatar. Good question.
Borja: Yeah and that’s the type of information that I want people to get away from this. You see guys, I’m not crazy, I’ve been saying that for quite some time now. So John, once again thank you so much for coming to the show man. I appreciate your time. And I hope to see you, to get you back on again on the next episode.
John Dennis: Yeah, I look forward to it, Borja. Thank you so much for having me.
Borja: Yeah, thank you man.
Okay divers, I hope you enjoyed that interview with John. And let me know how you plan on applying these strategies in your business. Let us know on Twitter, use the hashtag MoneyDiver6 and let me know how you plan on implementing these autoresponder sequences strategy to your business. If you have any questions, just use the hashtag and let me know and I or John will try to help you as much as possible with whatever problems you’re encountering with this strategy. And head on over to rebelgrowth.com/episode6 to read the show notes for this episode and once again, thank you so much for your time, go out and implement this strategy.