159 FS Email Marketing with Rob Walling

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01:47 - Rob Walling Introduction

02:46 - Rob’s Background in Email Marketing

04:32 - Email Marketing ≠ Spam

  • Personalization
  • Small vs Large Companies

10:07 - Drip Features

  • Tagging
  • Targeted Emails

14:25 - Templates

19:20 - Best Practices    

25:58 - Frequency and Growing Your List

29:01 - Exclusivity

35:20 - Updating Content

40:06 - Vanity Metrics

46:07 - List Segmenting

52:04 - Lead Magnets (Opt-in Rewards)

Saas Marketing Essentials by Ryan Battles (Rob)Bloxels: Build Your Own Video Games with Blocks by Pixel Press (Rob)Circa Notebooks from Levenger (Jonathan)Book Yourself Solid: The Fastest, Easiest, and Most Reliable System for Getting More Clients Than You Can Handle Even if You Hate Marketing and Selling by Michael Port (Jonathan)Content marketing isn’t the dirty word you think it is (Eric)LEGO Mindstorms (Reuven)Brixton Brothers Books (Reuven)Pleco (Reuven)


REUVEN: Welcome to last week’s episode plus one.[This episode is sponsored by Hired.com. Hired.com is offering a new freelancing and contracting offering. They have multiple companies that will provide you with contract opportunities. They cover all the tracking, reporting and billing for you, they handle all the collection and refund your paycheck, they offer legal and accounting and tax support, and they’ll give you a $2,000 when you’ve been on a contract for 90 days. But with this link, they’ll double it to $4,000 instead. Go sign up at Hired.com/freelancersshow]**[This episode is sponsored by Elixir Sips. Elixir Sips is a screencast series that will take you from Elixir newbie to experienced practitioner. If you’re interested in learning Elixir but don’t know where to start, then Elixir Sips is perfect for you. In two short screencasts each week between five and fifteen minutes, Elixir Sips currently consists of over 16 hours of densely packed videos and more than a hundred episodes, and there are more every week. Elixir Sips is brought to you by Josh Adams, expert Rubyist and CTO of a software development consultancy, Isotope Eleven. Elixir Sips, learn Elixir with a pro. Find out more at elixirsips.com] ****[This episode is sponsored by LessAccounting. Let’s face it. There are a lot of things about being an entrepreneur that we all hate. One of the things that I really hate is bookkeeping. LessAccounting has just started a new service where you can get you bookkeeping done for a really low cost each month. If you're interested, go to freelancersshow.com/bookkeeping to go check it out.]****REUVEN: Hey everyone and welcome to the Freelancers’ Show. This week on our panel we have Eric Davis. ERIC: Hello. REUVEN: Jonathan Stark. JONATHAN: Hello. REUVEN: And I'm Reuven Lerner. And we also have a special guest, Rob Walling. ROB: Hey guys. REUVEN: Rob, please introduce yourself to the folks out there who possibly have not heard of you. ROB: Sure. I’m a co-host of a podcast called Startups For the Rest of Us that talks about self-funding or bootstrapping small software projects. I run MicroConf with my co-host, Mike Taber. And – let’s see – my most recent project is Drip which is email marketing and marketing automation and that’s a SaaS app that we launched about – we’ve been working on it for about 2 and half years, and we launched it about a year and a half ago. REUVEN:**Wow. It’s been that long? [Chuckles] I didn’t realize.**ROB: Yeah. It goes back – it goes quickly. There's a bunch of other stuff that I work on but that’s the high level – I guess I’m an advocate for bootstrapping, for self-funding. I'm a developer myself; been writing code for 15 years, a lot less over the past 2 or 3, as I’ve ramped up businesses but that’s where I've come from which obviously is a lot of the folks that are listening to your show. REUVEN: So I guess just to start up a ball rolling here, Drip is for email marketing. How did you get into email marketing? How did that become the focus of what you want to spend enormous amount of time on? ROB: To be honest, I – coming up as a software developer and having a bunch of small little software projects and products making a thousand, 2,000 bucks a month each, allowed me to quit my job and quit consulting around 2008. One of the things that I learned to utilize during that time – I learned to do some SCL, I learned to do some AdWords, and I learned to do email marketing. And, I realized email marketing had a substantial impact on sales because you can build a relationship with folks, you can follow up with them, you can remind them to do annual upgrades, you can – even with one-time apps that I had back then, it made a difference to my bottom line. And it occurred to me – I think it was at 2009 or 2010 - I did a talk at Business of Software. It was one of my first big talks. I was nervous as hell, but I talked about the power of email marketing and how, really, more software company should be using it because at the time, no one – there weren’t all these opt-in boxes, there weren’t the mini-courses, there wasn’t – all the email talk you hear today was nonexistent. And so I actually got mixed – really mixed reviews at that conference because some people said, ‘boy, this guy’s really off the rails. Email’s for spammers’. I kept hearing that. Only the big spammers send email. And I kept plugging away and doing my own thing. Every app that I launched, I eventually used email marketing to get bigger returns to just outsize my returns. That’s really what led me to coming up with the idea with Drip back in 2012 – I think it was – and exploring it and validate that market. JONATHAN: Spinning off of that of a comment you made about people associating email marketing with spam, what do you say to people now to refute that? ROB:**Yeah. It’s funny. We had a booth at the Microsoft Build Conference a couple of weeks ago which is a developer-heavy conference. Developers specifically tend to think of email as a bad thing – email being spam. If we talked to folks in most other areas of the company, they don’t necessarily think that; Or non-technical users, sometimes they link it with spam. But developers specifically think of it as a lower form of communication. And so what I found was interesting as we would say, ‘hey, we’re Drip. We’re like email marketing and marketing automation’. And a few people said, ‘oh, so are you the guys that send the spam?’ And my response was, ‘no, we’re actually the guys who make it so you have to send less email because our emails are more targeted and it’s like the better you get at email marketing, the less it becomes marketing and the more it just becomes sending people what they want to hear and when they want to hear it’. I think that’s the key is it’s not [chuckles] having a list of 10,000 people and blasting out a big broadcast to everybody. It’s segmenting your list into, ideally, 10,000-individual list and everyone getting exactly the email that they want to hear when they want to hear it. So that’s what I’m striving towards. That’s my ultimate goal is to make the internet a better place by making email better.**JONATHAN: What are the lower forms of communication – like you said that they consider email a lower form of communication – compared to what? Their website or something? ROB: Yeah. I guess they consider it a mass email – maybe I should say that – they consider mass email like a spam-my market-y thing. When you say, ‘hey, we’re an email marketing company’, a lot of developers think, ‘oh, so like when Verizon and United Airlines and Groupon and whoever else is sending up this big blast that I’m getting all the time; they're such a pain in the ass.’ They're not thinking about the individual contact of you and I emailing together, I would look forward to receiving an email from one of you guys’. It’s such a different bar. And so, that’s where personally, having marketed all my products via email over the years, I tried to shoot for that latter bar of ‘I want you to look forward to any email you get from me or any of my products’ rather than think, ‘oh man, here’s a big mass blast someone sent out that’s totally irrelevant to me’. REUVEN: I must admit, I’m new to the whole email marketing thing and new to having a newsletter and I'm not as good as I should be by any stretch of the imagination. But I was convinced that people would sign up for my newsletter and then send me hate mails saying, ‘oh my god, I can’t believe you're sending me this stuff. How did I ever get on this?’ And on the contrary, it’s been such a flattering, pleasant surprise I sent mail out and I get responses from people that are like, ‘oh wow, this is really interesting’, and I really feel like it’s a conversation and it’s shocking to me because I really – I've been very, very pleasantly surprised to see how people take to it if they self-selected. ROB:**Yeah. Email is a unique form of communication in that respect because if you have an RSS feed and you have 20,000 folks reading it, they are reading it, consuming it almost like a newspaper. It feels like mass media when you're reading it in Google Reader – rest in peace. Email’s [chuckles] not like that because when you get it in your inbox, if you're doing a good job, and as the person sending the emails, even if they are bulk emails, if the From name is you, and their Reply To is your email address, and you write it like the person on the other end is a person and you say, ‘hi, so and so’, ‘hi Jonathan, here’s this thing this week that I’m interested in and here’s some of what I have to share. I hope you enjoy that. Feel free to reply if you have any questions or comments. Rob’. That’s how I do it. Traditionally, if I'm going to write an email and put it in my newsletter, I will crank up Gmail, I will compose a new window and I will put one person’s address in there whether it’s for a friend of mine or Eric Davis or whoever and I will type that email as if I’m typing it to them, then I copy and paste that, put it into Drip or what used to be – I used to use MailChimp – because that’s how I like to be communicated with. I think that’s how most people like to be communicated with. It’s an individual basis. And you may have to think of one or two things once you copy it into more of a broadcast form but I think that's a helpful paradigm if you haven’t thought about it before. Email marketing and these newsletters are not – it’s not the fixed width newsletter-looking thing that you get from a big company. I think it’s changing. I think that if you're going to do it right, you're thinking about it in that respect.**REUVEN: Do you think that it’s only a small company thing? Do you think that big companies are inherently unable to take advantage of this in the same way? ROB:**Yeah. I think that’s an advantage that we have as a small company. It’s like you look at using a big company’s weight or size against them. This is a really good way to do it because I haven’t – I can’t think of a big company who does this well. There may be examples – I could see 37signals doing it well, but they're not even that big on the global scheme of things. If we’re talking about enterprise like 42,500 or 1,000, if someone – if anyone has seen an example of them doing this well, I would love to see it just to have it as a counter-example to tell, but overall, the big companies [inaudible] is not great. You know who has done it reasonably well, although they're not big either –Hipmunk. They're a YC company and then they do the airfare stuff, they're the airline ticket seller – they do a good job because they have humor. And actually, MailChimp does it pretty well, and they're pretty damn big. They know email marketing. And when you get an email from them, it’s good stuff. But yeah, I haven’t seen many hundred-million dollar companies – I haven’t seen any that I can think of – a hundred-million dollar company, aside from MailChimp, who have the personal voice.**JONATHAN: Speaking of MailChimp, I've used Campaign Monitor in the past, I've used MailChimp and I've migrated to Drip and I know the difference. There's a significant difference between those services but the listeners who might only be familiar with one of the other ones probably don’t get what we’re talking about exactly – how Drip allows you to not be that way, not be that bulk email broadcast person. Can you, in a nutshell, explain to people just so they are – so we’re all on the same page and they understand what the features are and how they're different from things they might be familiar with? ROB:**Yeah, for sure. I’ll start by saying I’m not – I like to help people get better at anything they're doing to help their startup or their business. I’m not like a product [inaudible]. If someone wants to use MailChimp over Drip, they're some good reasons to do that. But I built Drip because of the need to be able to communicate more directly to people, like I said. The biggest difference between Drip and MailChimp, or any MailChimp, AWeber, [inaudible], they all operate on this concept of a list. You have multiple lists in your account and you put people on those lists and pretty much, you don’t get a single view of a customer. You have – if same email address is on 3 or 4 different lists, you can send them the same email 3 or 4 different times. You can’t really customize the emails based on what they have done or who they are. You basically just send out a static email newsletter. There is a tiny bit of automation they built into it but in general, that’s the paradigm that we’ve lived under for the past 15 or 20 years. Drip, which is marketing automation and there are other tools that do this similarly. Drip allows you to basically say, ‘you don’t have lists, your count is one big list’. So if you have one email address, that is a person; it equals a person. And if they're a part of 5 or 6 different lists or different campaigns, they're just attached to that person. It makes a lot more sense when you think about it. And then, you can add tags based on what people have done. And then when you go to send a broadcast or an autoresponder sequence, you can send that only to the people who have expressed an interest in that topic. So if someone has clicked on links about SCL or AdWords or PHP or Node, in the past, they might be tagged without as an interest. When you go to send your next thing that’s about Node, you don’t send it to everybody. You just send it to the people who are tagged with Node. And even a further example, if someone has already signed up for a trial of your product or they already are customer, you tag them as a customer. So the next time I send an email to everybody, in the footer I can say, ‘hey, if’ –I literally have liquid tags in the email – ‘if person is not a customer, then put this line that says, ‘hey, sign up for a free trial’, else ‘you’re already a customer. Would you like to refer someone?’ So you can actually have logic in there. It’s going from one-to-many to one-to-few, ultimately, to one-to-one communication, which is where I think email’s going. Was that a reasonable explanation? Because as a new user, you might even have a better way to explain because I’m so mired in it after 2 and half years.**JONATHAN: That was good. REUVEN: I've used AWeber a bit over the last year and a half, I guess and I've been migrating over to Drip. This was one of the things the whole multiple lists versus – multiple separate lists versus one global view. It totally confused me when I was starting in AWeber. I've no idea why these people were on separate lists and why I couldn’t look at a view of them. And at certain point, I guess over the years, I said, ‘well, I guess that’s just the way it is’. And so that’s actually been a nice thing in Drip that I can get. I can see what people subscribe to and not. ROB: Mm-hmm. JONATHAN:**Agreed. I had the same experience when I started with MailChimp. I actually contacted the support. I was like, ‘where’s the master list’ and they're like, ‘there isn’t one’. [Laughter]**ROB:**And that’s a legacy of email marketing starting in the late 90’s and that’s just how you thought about it then. It was newsletter management. It’s really what email marketing started as. And so now, you have a legacy database that’s developed [inaudible] understand this. I think MailChimp now sends 600 million emails a day, I think. And you can’t refactor that. That’s just too big. So that’s where they're not able to – I think they're not just able to get the master view. And so when marketing automation started coming out around – I think it started coming around 2005 to 2007 – they rethought this paradigm and I think it’s helpful.**JONATHAN:**I have another question that is a comparative, and you actually touched on it briefly earlier which is one of the features of a lot of these things is a really fairly robust wizzy-wig template editing environment where you can pick different templates like 3-column template, 1-column template, [inaudible] – all these different things and it seems like Drip is – it pushes you to be like, ‘No, just type a regular email’. Can you – my background is very, very mobile focused – so can you talk about the benefits – I assume you think it’s a benefit to just stick with the more of a plain text style – the benefits of that in general and also in the context of mobile.**ROB:**Yeah, for sure. I’ll start by saying you can if you wanted to import an exotic template, you totally can into Drip. But you're right. By default, we try to encourage folks to use a more plain text version. It’s obviously not true plain text. It’s HTML; it looks like plain text but the idea is to keep it more personal. In my testing and in other tests that I've seen, the more personal email templates tend to resonate more if you want to build a relationship over time. Now, there are exceptions to this. I think that Groupon and a lot of e-commerce sites do better with the fancier, nicer looking things. I think if you're catering to a non-technical audience and in more of a female audience – my wife is an example, really likes the fancy email templates that she gets [inaudible] but they have to be really nice. But in general, overall, the more personal email templates tend to connect with people more and it builds a relationship. In terms of mobile, like you said, we spend a ton of time testing – trying to figure out the best way to make something look gorgeous on both mobile and in web-based Gmail and in Outlook and in all these things. And frankly, it is pretty dang hard to do that with an exotic template. Somewhere, you're going to sacrifice it. You're going to sacrifice the either the usability or the visibility or whatever. Gmail on the iPhone, as an example, is now auto-expanding text if you put certain tags and certain queries – media queries and such – and it just makes it look nice for you. But you really can’t do that if you have a more exotic template. And so, if you want to have a responsive – for lack of a better term – responsive on all email clients and a tablet look good, we found that this thing is a no-brainer to just have a more of a plain text look. And I put a lot of images in my emails. I don’t think that you can have a header and a footer. There’s ways to make it nice without cluttering it up. I think that as soon as you’ve gone to a 2-column format that you’ve probably lost because you're separating your called action, you're making people read into columns.You're not just used to doing that in email; it’s not well set up for that.**ERIC: I think it also depends on the relationship, too. If it’s like an e-commerce where a lot of that is – mostly it’s transactional and both parties know that you're doing transactions. You might love the company who makes your shoes or whatever but you're there for the shoes versus a lot of stuff like I do and consultants would do it. It’s a relationship building. It’s education. And so when that’s the purpose of your emails: having a very easy to read, having it clean, that caters to that primary benefit. ROB: Yeah. I think there’s also something to be said for trying to remove excuses for people to get started, and obviously, now that I have an email marketing app, I hear a lot of reasons why people never get it started: ‘I don’t have the time, I don’t have this, I don’t have that’. And one of the reasons if you log into MailChimp or AWeber or whatever is you can get stuck trying to figure out which template to use trying to perfect your template, trying to design one from scratch – all those things are reasons not to get started and if you just get started and you maybe want to use a fancy template down the line – and that’s fine – but it really removes one more reason not to just start plugging away and actually get the text in the email which is really at the end of the day what has the most impact. ERIC:**I've actually seen some people use plain text, not the HTML version but actually just real plain text. And these are even like [inaudible] email and they work – the audience are just like – they just don’t care about the template; that’s not important to them and their audience.**ROB:**Yup. I used to send mine as all plain text through MailChimp, actually. Now, you lose a few things there. You can’t track Opens because you don’t have the pixel and you can’t track Clicks unless you want your URLs to look all junky. So that’s why in Drip we don’t – originally, I told Derrick and I, co-founders of Drip – and I told him, ‘just build it plain text’ and we got 2 days into it and he's like, ‘you realize we’re going to lose all of our marketing data’ And I said, ‘yeah, everybody’s want [inaudible]. We need that’. So that’s where we decided to make a HTML email that looks essentially like plain text. It’s pretty [inaudible] and it has the response of mini courses and stuff but beyond that, it really does just look like you type in plain text.**JONATHAN: So speaking of the different types of businesses, Eric mentioned if you're buying sneakers, it makes sense to have big, gorgeous product images in there because that’s what you're interested in if you're interested in sneakers. But for people who are selling professional services, like freelancers, solo consultants, maybe boutique agencies, are there other best practices that you can share? You probably have a million of them but ones that we haven’t touched on already for those specific categories. ROB: Yeah. For professional services, email marketing and specifically some lightweight marketing automation is super powerful. We’re working on some case studies of how to do this. But the basic best practice is to get a form on every page of your website or as many as you are comfortable with – you may not want it in your contact form as an example but get a little email capture form everywhere. And even if you build a tiny, tiny list, you don’t need many people listening to you and thinking that you're an expert in this space to land enough gigs to keep you busy for a long time. You don’t have to build a 10,000-person list. I’ve seen 100-person list with some of these firms. If they're educating them and they're pinging them regularly, it can lead to – you can get a 10-20,000 dollar project overnight if you suddenly don’t have any work. And that’s really the power of it. So the first thing is get started and get an email capture form up there. Beyond that, one thing that Drip does well is autoresponders and you can set this up in MailChimp, as well; it’s a little more complicated. But basically, just get an autoresponder. It’s just a sequence of emails – it’s like a campaign of emails that you send over time – and get a couple of those written that go out every week. Or you're blogging about Node and it’s something you think might be relevant to clients, then when someone clicks through that link, tag them that they clicked through. When it comes time – and oh, I guess the last thing is there's something called lead scoring which helps you see who’s engaging the most with your content. And right there, if let’s say, you only have a hundred people on your list, there's going to be 10 of them who are engaging most with your emails and those are the ones that you can totally touch base one-on-one if you do start to run out of work. If your pipeline gets thin, you can send that broadcast to all of those guys, you can touch base one-on-one and just be like, ‘hey, I want to let you know I see you’ve been reading my emails. I have an opening – availability – next week to write some codes. Are you interested in getting started?’ The basic thing is to get some basic tagging and some basic emails out to people just to start building that relationship. And like you said, there's more beyond that. REUVEN:**Right there, I have to say, I don’t think I would’ve thought of trying that. And perhaps, that’s incredibly naïve of me but I've now got – I don’t know – close to 300 people on my mailing list. It’s not huge but it’s a number. And I guess it never even occurred to me to write to a list and say, ‘hey, I have availability. Try to hire me’. I guess [chuckles] I figure, well, I’ll just keep writing and if people are interested, they’ll buy my products, they’ll ask me for things. Is that a classic mistake to make where you lead them to where you want them to go but then you don’t actually do the final ask?**ROB: Yup. That is a classic mistake. It’s not asking for the sale. And you don’t have to do it in a way that it’s cheesy. Do what feels good to you. My personal thing when I’m writing copy whether it’s in an email or on a website is I will never say anything there that I wouldn’t say face to face with someone like at a conference or in a meeting if I was trying to sell my services to someone. And so, you don’t even have to ask it like a sleaze bomb – have the big JavaScript timer counting down: ‘I’m only available for this’ – you don’t have to do that. You're going to say, ‘hey, I see you’ve been reading’ – again, email them like you would in person. Open up Gmail and imagine you're emailing a past client. What would you say in that email? It’d be 2 or 3 sentences, right? And then say, ‘hey, I happen to have some availability’. That's all it takes. Eric just messaged us here in Skype. He said that he won a $5,000 project with a 100-person list and Barebones emails. This is not uncommon. There are people doing more than that with a list, like you said, that are 2 and 300; it’s not hard to make this work. ERIC: It depends on how busy I am. Either every month or so, I’ll send out an email and I just pull it up, it’s like, ‘hey, I have some availability coming up in whatever month it is. If you need help with whatever the service I do, reply, let’s talk’ and that’s really all the email is. And I set it up in the early part when people subscribe, I say, ‘hey, I don’t have a lot of availability to work with people but I will email you occasionally when I do. If you're interested at that time, respond’. So I actually set the expectation that I’m going to tell you when I’m available and then I actually deliver on it. It might be once a month, it might be once a quarter and that’s all it is. ROB:**What you’ve done, Eric, is probably a textbook case of how people can think about getting started. So if you haven’t gone through Eric’s autoresponder sequence – I’m going to wreck all your metrics here [chuckles] – but you should go to littlestreamsoftware.com and you can sign up for his list and see how he nurtures. It sounds – it’s very much Eric’s voice; so very personal; I've been through his sequence and he’s right. He pings, he hits you up every once in a while when he has some availability and it feels very natural. It does not feel like anything that makes you feel icky or sales-y.**ERIC:**Yeah. And actually, just last night I redid it. I was testing about this stuff and I’m actually going to [inaudible] it out instead of being like, ‘you're on it for 5 days, 7 days’ and they just get these occasional messages. I’m going to – I'm copying it from a friend of mine, Kurt. I’m basically going to make it about a year’s worth of content of my target market; here’s what they want to learn about and do a very long term nurturing just because I've seen the value in it. And literally, I wrote these emails 3 or 4 years ago, probably took me about a week to write them all and they’ve just been sitting there running. I haven’t done anything, I haven’t optimized anything. I guess I have just one project directly. I was like, ‘how did this person find me? Oh, they replied to a Drip email’ And it’s probably going to be a 10k or a 15k project because it’s going to be a repeat customer but I know a lot of people who get on my email or I can see, ‘hey, this person looks like – that’s a lead I just contacted and I can see them going through the system’. It works; you don’t need a lot to get it set up or going.**ROB: That’s a thing I like that you did, Eric, early on, is you just got going right. You put the form on and you wrote an email or two and they weren’t very long and you just had to get it out there, and you start building a list. Once people get on the list, you start getting some replies. It’s motivation to do a few more. You don’t have to sit down and write a year’s worth of content to start with. You start with 5 days or 7 day. And the nice part of it is a flywheel because I have courses like you that I wrote years ago and I may have tweaked them every once in a while if something changes but other than that, I don’t have to pay attention to them. REUVEN:**What about – I guess this is a two-part question. One is: how often should you engage with your list? And the other is then how long should these messages be? Because I tell you, I keep hoping to do it once a week or once every 2 weeks. It’s probably closer once every 3 weeks or so. But once I send something out, it tends to be really long and involved and people respond to it very well but I feel like I’m just doing way too much. [Chuckles] I could write once a week if I were writing a thousand words. But if I’m going to write 5,000 words, for crying out loud, of course it’s not going to be every week.**ROB:**I think as long as you set the expectation, I don’t think there's a right and wrong answer to that. If you look at Patrick Mckenzie’s list – or not his list, but his style, his emails – I think they're 5 or 6,000 words and that's [chuckles] how he does it. My emails tend to be pretty short, and that’s my style. I will sometimes even write a short email and then link out to a blog post with more info. Other times, I’ll include the entire thing in the email but it might only be 4 or 500 words. I don’t think any of us has time to really do it every week religiously and I think that’s where – if you go to softwarebyrob.com – and that’s my blog – you sign up for the list on the right hand side, you will get an email every 2 weeks right now. But it’s not because I’m writing them; I wrote them a year or 2 ago and they're in this sequence that follows it. If you don’t have time to do it, you totally can make it work that other ways. Anyway, I tend to tell people it’s about expectations. I tend to tell them, ‘I’m going to be in touch with you every 2-3 weeks’ is what I say early on just to set the expectation. So if you are once a month, or once every 3-4 weeks, just say that early on and let folks know. In all honesty, I think the optimal way would be to do either once a week or twice a week. I see people doing a – James Clear is building a very nice list and emails every Monday and every Thursday like clockwork, and he writes really long posts and he’s growing his list very quickly. But that’s his whole business. That's what he does; that’s his whole [inaudible] stuff. And he’s content’s awesome. But he spends time to do that, whereas you or I, like I’m running Drip, and so to write a post on Software by Rob – I’m sorry, an email by Software by Rob list – takes time away from that. So I’m not able to do it twice a week. And my guess is that you are neither because you're busy writing code. So you have to do the best you can do and set the expectation as best as you can.**REUVEN: Well, let me ask you about that then because you said that he – this guy, James Clear, who I just heard his name earlier today, so clearly I have to look into it if it’s twice in one day. You say that he’s writing twice a week and he’s growing his list really rapidly. Is there a correlation between writing frequently and growing your list? And how does that happen? Is it from people passing the note along? ROB: Sure. It’s like anything. If you put out a podcast every 2 weeks versus every week versus every month, you're just going to get to more people’s ears if you do it every week. It means that you're putting out good material that people are going to tweet about, that people are going to talk about. I think he probably republishes these on his blog, as well. And then that gets people to tweet about them and get it on the social stuff. You have a bigger footprint; you have a larger look surface area. JONATHAN: I’d love to touch on – you’ve mentioned twice now the correlation – not the correlation but the connection between the email and a blog post. And I would love some personal advice on this because I feel like I want to send my list personal premium content. First, I want them to have first access to expertise or cutting-edge research that I’m doing. And I feel like it makes it less special if it’s also on my blog. But when I started doing that, people started emailing me back and being like, ‘where can I link to this?’ because I want to share it, and I felt like saying, ‘well, forward the email’ But that’s not the way they want to share it. They want to share them on Twitter or Facebook or whatever, so I followed Nick Disabato’s lead where at the bottom, he’s got a permalink for the email which, in fact, links – I don’t remember what service he uses; it might be – it doesn’t matter but it’s that self-published MailChimp style, just generic – it’s not his blog. There’s 3 things going on there; there's the ‘don’t make it available as a link immediately’, there's the ‘make it available on your blog as a link immediately’ and just like ‘have a link to the actual email online’. ROB: That is interesting. Here’s my thought. I have – geez, how many email newsletters do I have? Probably, I have 7 or 8 across all the products. And now, I have more than that including MicroConf but some of the bunch of lists that I managed and I do it different ways with each of those. I’m trying to think of why I do that. Your relationship with your blog readers or your email newsletter subscribers is that you want to give them premium content. So one way you could do it is to email it; just set the expectation early on that they will receive, basically, the first access to the cutting-edge research. And that you could either send the email out with the info and then publish it on the blog a week or two later, so it’s just a delayed thing or you could even publish a private – assuming you're using Wordpress or something like that – you could have a category on Wordpress that – it’s like your email newsletter category and you hide that from your main feed, and you hide that in the categories list. But it’s still publicly accessible if you have the URL. ERIC: That’s public, but not visible. ROB:**It’s public, but not visible. Exactly. So it could potentially be discoverable in Google and that kind of stuff but it’s not like when people hit the blog, it’s right there in the main feed. So that could be another way to – and to tell people that, ‘look, you're getting access to this, and here’s a link to it if you want to share it’ – that type of thing. That's a way to keep it more – [crosstalk]**JONATHAN: That's a great answer. Yup, I like that. ROB: Yeah. And so with Drip, we have a – if you go to getdrip.com and visit most pages except the Home page, you can sign up for our 7-day marketing automation course. After that, you're going to get an email every week. What those emails are is a quick snippet and then a link to a blog post for the full info because these blog posts are really long and I don’t like to put it all in the email. That is the way we do it there and it seems to work for us; we got a lot of click through and then we can get people sharing because we have the Twitter and the Facebook and the whatever else – LinkedIn buttons on it. But it isn't the exclusivity that you're looking for. So I think – I don’t think there's a right and wrong answer here. I think it’s trying to figure out what feels right to you. JONATHAN: Right. ERIC:**I've done the exclusivity on mine. I have a freelancing list where it’s for freelancers and consultants. Just this week I did the 81st week for the autoresponder, so it’s like over a year of content. Originally, I want to make stuff exclusive. It was actually just stuff that’s only for my list. I never publish it anywhere else. And I got – I still do – I got a lot of people asking, ‘hey, what’s the URL for this? I want to share it for a friend’, and I’m like, ‘for the email or I can send you a draft’ and what I’m doing now is I’m going back through and actually taking all those emails and putting them on my blog and I'm going to set up permalinks later. I think you might have to check it but I think the exclusivity maybe not make it to content but make it like it’s called like a content upgrade like my picks are going to be on content [inaudible] as opposed to I found –. So that’s the email and that's what’s on your blog. But if you're on the email, maybe you can give a PDF and have a link for the newsletter people to get a PDF. Or even something I do with my other list is you can [inaudible] and be like, ‘hey, I’m writing a new post on, let’s say, some Android stuff that’s coming out. Click here and I’ll give you that stuff before it’s even published anywhere else.’ And then you could do tagging and send a special broadcast just to that segment. But I think we’re in about exclusivity like publishing newsletter a week ahead of time and on the blog, that might not be worth the effort to maintain that. It might actually be like some people want to share it outside.**ROB:**Yeah. I think missing out on the social shares is not a good thing. I have tradition with my personal blog, as well –The Software by Rob blog – I have tried to keep everything super exclusive and not publish both. I have [inaudible] about 6 months ago, I realized this is not the right approach, and I’m slowly trying to pivot to [inaudible] purchase that we’re talking about here where it’s exclusive but it’s maybe an exclusivity window or it’s something to that effect because keeping that content hidden in your mailing list really keeps it out of Google, it keeps it out of the social shares and there's a lot of value in that.**REUVEN: Have you considered making it available web-wise via Drip? ROB: I have. We have the permalinks to the emails. If you actually go into the email editor in the upper right, there's a – I forgot what we call it but it’s just a permalink, in essence. I guess I could link to that from somewhere but it’s like my blog is what gets indexed. My blog is what has the social share buttons on it. That’s the place where I think it belongs, if it belongs anywhere. ERIC: Also Drip – your service alone, there's a lot of magic stuff where they’ve come to the blog, they visited other pages. So you want them on your property. You don’t want them on the Drip permalink. ROB: That’s right because you can’t get the information out of it. In addition, a lot of – if it’s truly the email, I have so many customizations to these emails now, like I said, a liquid statement in it, that if you look at the permalink, it can get weird because it’s like, ‘what did you spit out in that permalink’ because you don’t know their information, you don’t know if they're tagged with this or that one if it’s one of those things. JONATHAN: It’s come up a couple times that Eric and Rob both have content that’s years old. Do you have any advice about authoring stuff in a way that will make it evergreen? ROB: Yeah. I think about that when I’m writing and then folks let me know – I typically will get replies if something starts to get older like, ‘hey, the interface changed’, except screencast that I've done and that’s probably not the best way to do it in retrospect because I've a lot of screencasts that are just getting long in the tooth. So I think I would stick more towards text works really well because you can easily update it. Screencasts are a pain to update. I think any time I have to rerecord audio or video or recreate PDF. The odds of me actually having that original source of material is tough. I don’t have better advice than that. I don’t think. ERIC: Just last night, I redid my stuff. I had 7-day courses, and so in a lot of those, it was sent one day after the other day and that’s how I reference it like, ‘yesterday, you learned about x. Tomorrow, you're going to learn about x’. And I changed it to be weekly, so I can go through and triple that out. It was a pain but it was just text format, so it wasn’t really that hard. And I think I haven’t done it because I don’t have the time. But I'm going to go back through my big list and actually review it, figure out, ‘this is now aged or this called action doesn’t make sense; I’m going to change it around’. But the nice thing is I have over years with the metrics and I can see, ‘ok, no one’s opening this email, so I’m going to try to optimize the subject line a little bit better.’ So it gives me an opportunity to go back and make my work a bit better. ROB:**Yeah. I think I should probably have a calendar reminder about every 6 months to go through and reread my old autoresponder emails one year at the most. I think you just need to reread because a) you get better at this stuff, so I’ll go back and read emails I wrote a year or two ago and it’s be like, ‘what was I thinking here’ – fundamental classic beginner mistake – and update that or you'll click through a link and it’s a 404 now, and say you update that, and I think it does need some refreshing but it’s definitely not an intensive ongoing effort.**ERIC: One thing – we've had him on the show, Michael Port, he's like a – he helps consultants. I liked his emails. I think at the bottom – not the PS, but at the very bottom – he goes Unsubscribe or all that. He has something along the lines of ‘if you find a typo in this email, they're my gift to you. But please let me know if you find it’. And so he made it funny of if there's a mistake but he also was asking for you to help him out with it. ROB: Yeah. That's cool. I get a lot of – I won’t say a lot –as soon as one of my links says a 404, I’m going to hear about it within a few days. That’s typically how it is and then I can go out and fix it. And when stuff starts getting old, if your list is engaged, they will let you know. REUVEN: Maybe it’s just me but it seems like to some degree, it’s almost the chicken and egg problem with email marketing where the more people you have on your list, the more these metrics can really inform you. But you need the metrics in order to build your list. ROB:**I don’t think you need the metrics to build your list. I think you just need to get starting, get a form up there. And you need a bit of traffic; that’s about it. The metrics don’t make sense when you have a hundred people on your list. Because if 2 or more people click that – like Roxy world [chuckles] – and that’s not – what do you call it – it’s not statistically significant when you only have a hundred people. You need to get bigger before you can do split testing reliably or before the metric should really matter. I think before then, it should be – when you have that few people, the advantage you have over someone with a hundred thousand-person list is that you can engage every one of them individually if you needed to. And so I think, early on, encouraging like, ‘hey, reply back. Let’s get in a conversation’. Really encouraging participation, that’s the unique advantage that I would do on my list if your list is really small. And as it grows, you have to pull some of those out because you just get too many replies; that’s a good problem to have.**ERIC: Yeah. You just have to have different metrics. When I was in AWeber – I just have imported the script – but I was in Aweber, I had a command line script that would basically increment a custom field. It would basically say, ‘this subscriber replied to one of my emails’. And so I focused almost all my effort to get replies or if it’s actually a sales email, I’ll get a sell. But replies were the one metric I wanted because that was engagement; that was trying to get feedback and getting conversations with people. And so I was actually carrying – I didn’t care about open radar. I have very little links, so clicks are almost always zero for my emails. But the reply was what I really cared about. I didn’t do it but I would want to track it by email if I could. I was doing that and then – especially when you're really small, like I said, I have a 120 or 130 or more now on my client list from my consulting stuff and I know I got one sale from that. So track bigger metrics are the ones that actually affect you and that’s a bit better to do than worrying about Open rates or Click rates or stuff like that especially when small. JONATHAN: That’s a good question: is vanity metrics. Can you talk about that a little bit because I see that a lot on websites? And as I get more familiar with the marketing automation, I look at my website more and more and I’m like, ‘this is not that useful. The analytics are not that useful because everybody’s anonymous. And that is – I think before you reference in newspaper analogy, it’s like, ‘I want to have a conversation and websites are a horrible place to do that.’ I’m a web developer and so for me to say that, it’s like a major identity – foundational identity shift to say that email is better at something than a website. But it seems to clearly be that way. ROB:**Yeah. The nice part is that, as you said, it’s not anonymous. Once someone subscribe to your list and they get cookied and then every time they click through a link they get cookied again if they're not cookied, you really can start to see what folks are doing: the activity feed in a marketing automation app is pretty cool. And to look – I’m sure you look at the Drip activity feed where you can say, ‘hey, so and so, this person with this email found me – found my website – from this search engine or from this referral link on this date and this time. And then at this date, they signed up for the list, they’ve received these emails, they’ve clicked these 6 emails, they eventually purchased this ebook by clicking on this email’ – you can – on and on and on. And that’s where the lack of anonymity is helpful. [Crosstalk]**JONATHAN:**Sorry, let me – I just have to decrypt [inaudible] that for the audience [chuckles] which is that sounds creepy or it can sound creepy to people that they're being watched. But the flipside of it is it allows you to not send spam because you can put in the effort to look at the behavior and say, ‘hey, I know this person is interested in these things. They’ve already bought this ebook, I’m not going to bug them with that. I’m going to let them know about some different opportunity that there's probably – they're 100% ready for.’ And that has been a real revelation for me because I used to be that guy that at Microsoft Build that was just like, ‘oh, you're a spammer? Great.’ I have gone 180 on that completely when I started to see tools like Drip and you can actually send – you're sending personal email – they're personalized emails, so that’s the polar opposite of spam.**REUVEN:**I must say before I started using email marketing in any way, I was always confused by a few things. One was – mostly, I guess, just the weird URLs that were in these emails that I was getting. Why if I were to hover over the email, if I were to click – copy the link, was it not just going directly to the site but it was just bizarre long thing? And now, of course, it’s all incredibly obvious. This is the way that the tracking is done. It all goes through the marketing engine. But yeah, I think it can be a little creepy but it is really useful. And it’s not only useful, I think it’s useful, not only for the company marketing, but Jonathan said for the person who’s getting the email. You're less likely to get broad messages result. That said, I do think some of it is [inaudible] necessarily hidden from people. They don’t know until they do it themselves what’s going on. But I don’t think there's any way to avoid that.**ROB:**I think that’s a really good point to bring up – the differentiator of how it is actually better than getting broad emails from ebooks you’ve already purchased [chuckles] which I get all the time. Again, they're not using marketing automation. But back to vanity metrics, I think with websites, most of them – a lot of metrics are vanity metrics – unique visits or whatever; what is that matter if the quality of the traffic isn't there? I think that with email, you could say that Opens or Clicks are vanity metrics but I found that Opens help tell you if your subject lines are good. I think you could over exploit that and write ridiculous subject lines to get everybody to open and abuse it. But if you stay within the realm of sanity, then Open rates help you figure out if your subject lines are good, and then click rates help you figure out if your emails are being read and if your called action is reasonable, if you're getting folks to click through and do something. So I don’t think either of those are vanity because they are actionable for you. Vanity metrics – the definition of vanity metric is it’s a metric that sounds good but has no corresponding action to it if it’s low or if it’s high. And so, Opens and Clicks could be considered that. I don’t think they are because of the reason I just said. And then the other metric we look at a lot, which is one of the reasons I recently build Drip is because it is goals; it’s actually conversion tracking. It’s like, ‘hey, they actually bought something from me’. The conversion certainly is not a vanity metric, and that is something I was having a tough time wiring up to an individual person based on Google analytics and that’s one of the reasons that I like marketing automation for that purpose is to be able to identify who bought and why – what led them to purchase?**ERIC: I think a big thing is to really figure out what you're using your metric for. If you're bragging about your list size or the Open percentages you're getting to someone else in a different industry, different market, that’s vanity in a bad thing. But if you're looking out and you're seeing you're getting 40% Open rates on average on every email but this one’s getting 10%, that gives you data to, ‘oh, that's email not doing as good as my other stuff. Why is that?’ I think if you use it that way and compare it against yourself or your previous results and experiences, I think that’s a good way to use them. ROB: Yup. I agree. And we've seen – I've had some emails where I’ll accidentally make something that gets caught in the spam filter. You'll just see that the Open rates are substantially lower. And it could just be something as simple as that. It’s not even that the subject’s not good; it’s just not even getting to the inbox, and so I’ll go on and try to scan through and see if I’ve made a dumb mistake. JONATHAN: You got to stop writing about see how a list did. ROB:**Seriously [chuckles]. All my Viagra emails are [inaudible].**JONATHAN: I have another selfish question, if you don’t mind. ROB: Sure. JONATHAN: I have a, maybe, 13, 14, 1,500-person list in MailChimp. And it’s been gathered over time and my career has pivoted a couple of times through that. It sounds like you’ve had just similar situation. What I would like to do is move those addresses into Drip and then do something to segment them based on their interests. So some of them are going to be more interested in web development, some are going to be more interested in desktop software development, some are going to be more interested in coaching and building their software business. I want to be sending relevant emails to the right people. So what is the approach? Do I send out link-o-rama email with 3 different categories of stuff and tag people based on the links that they clicked on and then I’m good or – what would you do? ROB: How long has it been since you’ve emailed the list? JONATHAN:**Ah, don’t ask. It’s embarrassing. [Laughter] It’s been at least 6 months but I've been in touch with many people – obviously not 1,500 - but they're warmer than you might think.**ROB:**Ok. I've had to deal with this exact scenario twice in the past 4 or 5 months. And the way I handled it – the example was my book Start Small, Stay Small – I had a list of folks who had bought it and I really hadn’t done a good job at keeping in touch. And so it’s a similar thing where it had been a long time. I didn’t have to segment them – so I’ll talk about that separately – but what I would do in your shoes is send an email to the entire list and say – write it like a human – here’s what I’d do: I’d open Gmail and I would type the subject line of, ‘hey, sorry I haven’t been in touch recently’ and then – or whatever comes out naturally to you. And then write the email and be like, ‘look, I know that you signed up for this and I haven’t emailed you recently. I just wanted to touch base; let’s you know I'm going to start sending more frequently. If you would prefer not to hear from me, click this link and unsubscribe, and you’ll never hear from me again. No hard feelings, but I may cry myself to sleep tonight [chuckles]’ If you want to add the humor – I wasn’t [inaudible] to that – and then say, ‘I've realized that you may have signed up to hear about one thing and don’t want to hear about others, so here’s a couple of options. Click any of these links to pick your track’, and you figure out how you want to state that in the email. If you don’t choose any of the above, figure out a default. Just say, ‘if you don’t choose any of the above, then I’ll just continue sending blah blah blah. But again, if you don’t want to hear from me, click the unsubscribe link. Thanks for being on my list’. That’s generally what I would do. And then each of those links is, like you said, it’s a tag, and now you have these folks categorized. My guess is if you have 1,500, you're probably going to get 3 or 400 that actually click. You're going to get a couple – a hundred or two that are going to bounce if it’s that old – if the list is getting older, and then you're going to get a bunch that – maybe a hundred that unsubscribe. And then you're going to have a bunch that are just going to go into the default thing. And you can decide – you can decide if you wanted to opt them in or opt them out. You could just day, ‘if you don’t click anything, I’m just going to stop sending’. That’s up to you if you feel like it. I have not run in – you would think that opting folks in automatically would get a bunch of people pissed off or whatever but it’s not – they already signed up to hear from you. They're not going to be that, so I think you're on the right track and I would just keep it super casual and let them decide for themselves.**JONATHAN: Yeah. Your overall advice – it sounds so obvious when you say it. It’s like writing an email like a human talking to a human, as in don’t overthink it. ROB:**It works. They sign up to hear from you, they want to hear from you, and they're not going to be upset if you email them [chuckles].**ERIC: That’s actually exactly what I did. I had a – I just get closed off one of the services I was providing. And then I split my main list because there's – that one became – was like freelancing and consulting advice, but I had clients in there and it felt weird. So I basically sent an email – 3 options like, ‘hey, if you're interested in this old service, I quit it, I'm not doing it, you probably want to unsubscribe; you could follow me if you want to stalk me; I don’t care’ Second one was like, ‘hey, are you going to be a client of mine type of thing, click this. I got a new newsletter. It has a lot more value for you over here.’ And then the third option is ‘if you still want to stay on this list and get advice about freelancing just to hear .’ And I can actually track where people come through and I would see – maybe even 8 months down the road, some people who were for the option 1 that I killed off, they would unsubscribe. They were getting a bunch of content that wasn’t valuable to them, and they didn’t get mad at me. They didn’t yell at me. They just unsubscribe on their own later on, when they realize, ‘oh, he's really not focusing on that anymore’. JONATHAN: That is very helpful. I think, probably, there's a fair number of people out there who do have a list but they have let it go cold. So that’s probably very helpful. ROB:**And that’s a way that you – we all let list go cold. I've done it with a few, with a handful, and you can email that list and try to rekindle that. You just got to be nice about it and apologetic and let folks know what they originally signed up for and let them up that really easily if they don’t want to. One thing I would say is if your list is sizable, if it’s several thousand, and it depends on how cold you get, but if it’s been a year, you're going to get a lot of bounces out of that, and that’s not good. So there are some services I could recommend. There's one called neverbounce.com where you can just push your list into it and it will spit back only the good email addresses. That will keep you for getting banned because MailChimp – pretty much every provider is going to – they're going to block your account if you send to 3,000 people and you get 300 bounces. That’s way too high. [Crosstalk] Yeah. So [inaudible] any of those thing, so NeverBounce is something I – they're not cheap, but if it’s a one-time thing for you, I’d forget it. You might pay $20 or something or 30 bucks to have them scan through a couple of thousand person list.**JONATHAN: We haven’t talked at all about lead magnet type stuff. Is that a dirty work for you or is that a – you think that’s a good thing? ROB: Yeah. I used the term opt-in reward. But yeah, either way. I like lead magnets. It did – the concept is you're giving – you're offering something to someone in exchange for signing up for your list. JONATHAN: Have you seen patterns of stuff that works really well for people or does it just depend on what kind of –? ROB:**No. I think the patterns that I've seen are – I like the idea of a 5-day or a 7-day email mini course, like a crash course. You can see examples of these; go to hittail.com. We have one there; you go to getdrip.com. The reason I like them is because it gets your subscribers used to hearing from you on a recurring basis. It gets them used to opening emails. And then at the end when you say, ‘hey, you’ve gotten some great stuff. I’m going to keep emailing you every week unless you want to opt out here’. That’s a little different than if you have a tools and tips sheets – you can do a one-page PDF that they can download. But if they download that and then you say, ‘hey, I’m going to continue to get in touch with you’, it feels a little more forced and you haven’t gotten them used to getting multiple touches from you. But I do know that having a top 10 tools for doing [inaudible] like a nice PDF that you put together has a really high opt-in rate. I just don’t know about the ones you have [inaudible] versus a more of a mini course thing.**ERIC: I've done a lot of the – Clay Collins, I don’t know if he came up with the idea but he popularized it. I basically followed his pattern. He's talking a couple of days ago, one of my – the top 3 server hosts I recommend to clients. And if it was like a 50% opt-in rate on a pretty large number, it wasn’t like a low volume page but yeah, it – I’m sending it to a list where it’s not really a good fit. I can see – you're only touching them once and you're not doing a once every 7 days or a couple of weeks. And one problem I found and this was most – it was more of my fault because of the integration, I would say a lot of people opt in, get the PDF and never double opt-in or never even do anything and just unsubscribe. So they just wanted the PDF, they don’t want my emails. And that was like a wasted effort and boosted the metrics of some of those without it actually being the results that I really wanted. JONATHAN: That makes sense. The other thing that I a lot of times see: some of these PDFs that I’m really interested in, I download them and I have big huge folder of them that I've never read. ROB:**That's the other thing I was going to say. I do the same thing. And if you get a big PDF or an ebook or whatever, people don’t read that on the spot. So they archive it and they never get to it. Whereas, if you're sending them emails, they have a little more likely – because emails – instead of sending them a big PDF, you send them 5 small emails. And you do – [crosstalk] – yeah. You tend to scan through them, you're on your phone, you're waiting in line, ‘I’m going to read Eric’s email, blah blah blah.’ I think there's more of a higher likelihood that someone’s going to catch a little more of your content. I don’t have metrics on that, but it’s my gut feeling, and I'm all in on the email on mini courses. I do like the tools – the tools list, but I think they're potentially [inaudible] as well.**ERIC:**It’s really good. I've had some of my [inaudible], they're going to send me 8 emails. So actually I’ll wait to get all 8 and read them all at once, so it’s like a PDF for me but it’s really nice because its – I can archive it if there's no actionable things in this one but oh, less than 4 is really good. I’m going to put that in a folder to work on later, stuff like that. And you can even do both. It’s not hard to throw up the PDF on one thing and then have your– split in to 6 emails on another and just see what works for you and your audience, too.**REUVEN: Alright. Any other questions for now, guys? JONATHAN:I feel like I can keep going all day, but [crosstalk] the lemon has been squeezed really well. [Chuckles] Tons of great information.REUVEN: Yeah. And this is definitely inspiring me to get back to writing and then also tinkering with all the automation stuff that I, quite frankly, haven’t even touched. I know it’s there and I know it’s magical and amazing but so far, I've just been dealing with lists and autoresponders which by themselves are pretty amazing to me. It’s like what you guys were saying before that I’m amazed that this text that I wrote, I guess a year ago, a year and a half ago, continues to get subscribers and people continue to respond to it, which is fantastic. ERIC: That's one thing that really hint on is no matter what size the list you have, it’s not emails you have. You actually have connections with people, or potential connections. And I think if you have 10 people on your list – a hundred, 10,000 – doing stuff that helps them and build a relationship with them, I think that’s the most important thing to do. But tactics and technology, that doesn’t really so much as you're connecting with these individuals. And it could even be like you just email people. You have an address book and you just send an email individually to each person every week or so. I think focusing on the relationship and focusing on what can I do to make the relationship better is really a guiding principle to what you should have. ROB: I think that’s a really good way – a really good point to end on. REUVEN: Excellent. So let’s move on to picks. Rob, our guest, what picks do you have for us? ROB: Alright. I have two picks for you today. The first is a book that I really enjoyed. It’s by Ryan Battles and it’s called SaaS Marketing Essentials; obviously, only interesting if you're thinking about one day starting a SaaS app but found a lot of good information in it. And actually, I’m looking at rewriting my first book. And I had updated the outline after reading this because he covered so many topics so well that I don’t need to cover them again. So I recommend it. And then, my second pick is actually more for those who have kids. I’m a Kickstarter junkie, but it’s called Bloxels – obviously, we’ll link this up in the show notes – and it essentially allowed you to build your own video game with blocks. And so you get something that looks a little bit like – it’s like a plastic tablet and you're just put chicklets in it and depending on what chicklets, which colors you put in, it makes different things on the screen. And then you take a – you just take a screensnap of it with an iPad – obviously, it’s there an iPad or another Android tablet, and it obviously has something that interprets that, and it builds that simple maze game. And what I like about this kind of stuff is I like doing things with my kids. I don’t have a lot of time. When I'm with my kids, I like doing things that are creative and that stimulate them to use technology well rather than just play games and consume. I like first to build things together. So this is like Legos on Steroids, I think. And they’ll be able to play the games. The drawback is it’s not cheap. Including shipping, it’s $60 to do it. But for me, it’s an investment and good memories with my kids. REUVEN: Wow. Amazing. Jonathan, what picks do you have for us this week? JONATHAN:I've got two, as well. First, I previously – on a previous episode, I picked a fountain pen called Dignitary by a company called Allegory and I absolutely loved using it. I don’t even like to call it a pen. It really – for the first time ever, I understand what people mean when they a writing instrument because it feels like a musical instrument. And what that has led to is that now, I’m super picky about my notebooks. And I went on a notebook safari the other day and finally settled on a notebook called The Circa notebook by a company called Lavenger which I’m sure people have heard of. And it’s a cross between a ring binder and a spiral-bound notebook. I got the 8 ½ x 11 one. The paper feels great, it’s all blocked out in ways that make it very easy to take notes, and most importantly for me, the pages lay perfectly flat whether it’s open all the way on the desk or if it’s folded in half on the desk because with the fountain pen, if the pages don’t lay flat, it’s just a complete disaster. They're a little bit pricey; I think I paid 30 bucks for the notebook and then you buy paper replacements. They have a really clever – the paper fits in very cleverly. You can rearrange the pages like you would do with aring binder but you don’t have all of the yucky-ness of the ring binders, like the pages getting caught and stuff like that. So it’s a very clever design, and I really recommend people trying it. If you're a notebook junkie, you might want to try it out. The other thing is a book called Book Yourself Solid by Michael Port who came up on the episode, actually, and in fact, some of his [inaudible] were mentioned. So I think this is a really good show for mentioning it. It’s about creating relationships with your potential customers and with your customers more than the tech, the tools, and techniques and everything because really it all boils down to making that connections like Eric said at the end there. And it’s – especially the first half of the book is incredibly powerful for building a business for any kind of service, professional or freelancer. It’s a little self-help-y; he seems like a very big heart type guy that gets a little self-help-y, But if you just accept that, and I think, actually, it’s relevant because really we are partnering – if you really are partnering with your clients and you're creating trust and you want to become a trusted advisor, there's a lot of soft skills involved. So, I highly recommend reading that book, particularly the first 2 chapters – the first 2 modules, I should say – the first half of the book. The 2 second modules of the book – for example, there's like a pricing section, I honestly think is not the strongest part of the book but the first half is absolutely a must-read. So, that's my second pick.REUVEN: Excellent. Eric, what picks do you have for us this week? ERIC: So keeping in the theme here, I got a pick from Paul Jarvis; it’s called Content Marketing Isn’t the Dirty Word You Think It Is. Paul runs a very large – very well good written newsletter. He’s been doing a lot of content around freelancers but the big thing I liked about it was he gives you a formula he uses for not so much like to write it but here's an outline, here’s how to make sure it’s actually valuable for your reader, and I have my own that I use, and basically, this last week, I used his and overlaid it in mine to see what it did and it actually worked out pretty good. It had a decent piece. I already got people replying to it today and I’m going to probably spend one piece into two more pieces and walk people through the process of what I was writing about. But it’s really nice, especially if you have a hard time writing or you have a limited amount of time to write. I found having a formula, having some consistent way of producing content really helps out. And I think Paul even has a spreadsheet to help you with it or if you want to plan out multiple pieces or something to – so that’s it. REUVEN:Excellent. I've got a few picks for this week. First of all, Rob, this thing – this Bloxels that you mentioned seems super, super amazing. I’m totally [chuckles] going to check it out, and it reminded me that we just got in the last week Mindstorms for my 9-year old son. And we are so not the first people to get interested and started to use it but he has just been obsessive over it, and I mean in obsessive in a good way, I think for now. It’s really impressive to see how easy it is for kids to pick up and use – even for not big readers, even if they’ve never really done programming or other stuff before. I've been extremely, extremely impressed by how little I've needed to guide him for him to do stuff and be excited about it. Another kid pick is – I've picked a few weeks ago this book called The Terrible Two. So, my son and I had such an amazing fun wonderful time reading it together that I looked up the books that the same author had written or the authors had written. And one of the authors – his name is Mac Barnett and he wrote the series called The Brixton Brothers. I so, so, so highly recommend this series. We’re only partly way through it. It’s for anyone who – it’s about this boy who wants to be detective. But the fun part is he grew up, or – he is still a kid, right – memorizing and loving what is clearly a parody of the Hardy Boys books. If you ever read the Hardy Boys, then you will be just laughing out loud at the excerpts from this fictional series they have in this series. And he basically reads these books. He says, ‘Well, now I know how to be able to be a real detective’. And he goes off and has adventures and it’s just hysterically funny and very clever and definitely great, great to read with your kids or have your kids read. My third pick is – as many of you know, I’m obsessive about China and Chinese and trying to teach myself – I take Chinese lessons, and I've heard for years about this program called Pleco, which is an app for your phone to help you practice. And I kept poo poo-ing how great it could be. Well, I've been using it; it’s really, really great. So if you're interested in practicing your Chinese reading or understanding, I warmly encourage you to try out Pleco. Anyway, that’s it for this week. We will be back – actually, I’m not sure if I will be back next week because I’ll be in China, But the rest of them will be back next week with a Q&A segment. So if you're hearing this before we go on, which is probably not likely, then please join us. And otherwise, we will all speak to you next week.[This episode is sponsored by DevMountain. DevMountain is a coding school with the best, world-class learning experience you can find. DevMountain is a 12-week full time development course. With only 25 spots available, each cohort fills quickly. As a student, you’ll be assigned an individual mentor to help answer questions when you get stuck and make sure you are getting most out of the class. Tuition includes 24-hour access to campus and free housing for our out-of-state applicants. In only 12 weeks, you’ll have your own app in the App store. Learn to code, it’s time! Go to devmountain.com/freelancers. Listeners to the Freelancers Show will get a special $250 off when they use the coupon code FREELANCERS at checkout.]**[This episode is sponsored by MadGlory. You've been building software for a long time and sometimes it gets a little overwhelming. Work piles up, hiring sucks and it's hard to get projects out the door. Check out MadGlory. They're a small shop with experience shipping big products. They're smart, dedicated, will augment your team and work as hard as you do. Find them online at MadGlory.com or on Twitter @MadGlory.]**[Hosting and bandwidth provided by the Blue Box Group. Check them out at BlueBox.net]**[Bandwidth for this segment is provided by CacheFly, the world’s fastest CDN. Deliver your content fast with CacheFly. Visit cachefly.com to learn more.]**[Would you like to join a conversation with the Freelancers’ Show panelists and their guests? Wanna support the show? We have a forum that allows you to join the conversation and support the show at the same time. 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