The Freelancers' Show 102 - Copywriting with Joanna Wiebe

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The panelists talk to Copy Hackers founder Joana Wiebe.

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JOANNA: What's this show about? I don’t really have any –. I know what the show, in general, what the Freelancers’ Show is about but what are we talking about? CHUCK: Copywriting. ERIC: D&D. CHUCK: [Chuckling] JOANNA: Excellent! You chose the right person to talk D&D today. [Hosting and bandwidth provided by the Blue Box Group. Check them out at BlueBox.net.]  [You're fantastic at coding, but do you have an action plan to take it to the next level? The upcoming book, Next Level Freelance will help you optimize your freelance business for happiness. The book is packed with actionable steps to make more money, case studies, tips to find more clients and exercises for you to establish your desired lifestyle. Extras include nine interviews of freelancers who make great money while enjoying great work-life balance, videos on strategies to find quality subcontractors, and videos on making more free time by outsourcing your daily tasks. Check it out today, nextlevelfreelance.com.] [This episode is sponsored by Planscope. Planscope is a project management and collaboration app built for freelancers and the way they work with clients. It makes it easy to price up new estimates, and once you're underway, helps answer the question, “Will this get done on time and under budget?” I've been using Planscope to do my estimates and manage my projects, and I really, really like it. It makes it really easy to keep things in order and understand when things will get done. You can go check it out at planscope.io. ] CHUCK: Hey everybody, and welcome to episode 102 of the Freelancers Show. This week on our panel we have Eric Davis. ERIC: Hello. CHUCK: Reuven Lerner. REUVEN: [Inaudible] CHUCK: I'm Charles Max Wood from DevChat.tv and we have a special guest this week and that is Joanna Wiebe. JOANNA: Hello. CHUCK: Joanna, do you want to introduce yourself for us really quickly? JOANNA: Sure! Yep, I'm Joanna. I'm the founder of Copy Hackers, where startups learn to convert like mofos and yeah, we’re all about copywriting on the web and doing things to increase your conversion rate. That’s what I do. CHUCK: Awesome. So I have to say, I was going to ask you why am I so terrible at copywriting, but I think you're going to tell me that I have to read the books, not just buy the book. JOANNA: [Laughs] Yeah, the classic challenge, right? I bought the books, now where’s the learning? CHUCK: No, I bought your book. JOANNA: Yeah, but you have to read them too, right? Yeah. REUVEN: I put the Kindle under my pillow; I didn’t do anything. JOANNA: [Inaudible] just seep in, osmosis. Yeah, yeah, well, we’ll talk about it today and then you won’t have to read quite as much maybe. CHUCK: I'm pretty well hopeless, so [chuckles] I might have to read it anyway. JOANNA: That’s a challenge; I like a challenge. CHUCK: So let’s go ahead and get started. I think one thing that I run into a lot on my websites is like I’ll put together a course, and so I’ll tell people, “This is why you should take the course, and it’s a course” and then nobody is excited about it. JOANNA: Shocker. CHUCK: Yeah! I had a funny feeling you were not going to be surprised by that. JOANNA: Yeah, no, I think you're not surprised with them, yeah, not surprised about that. Well, do we wanna dive right it? Because that’s all so [inaudible] broad, but we can talk, yeah. CHUCK: Yeah, let’s go for it. JOANNA: For real? Are you kidding? Or do you actually just put up a course and wait for them to come – if you build it, they will come – and they will understand immediately? CHUCK: Well I tweet it, but yeah, that’s basically what I do. JOANNA: What do you do for email marketing? CHUCK: Yeah I need to work on that. JOANNA: [Laughs] REUVEN: [Inaudible] JOANNA: Okay, here’s your to-do list, it’s kind of major. Yeah, it’s really hard to say, but obviously copywriting is a big part of marketing. It’s a question of whether you're doing any marketing. Are you marketing your courses? How are you marketing them? CHUCK: I share it with the Users Groups that I am a part of. I have fairly well-known podcasts in the areas that I do the courses in, so I announce them on there. But yeah, the mailing list – I know I need one, I just haven't done it yet. JOANNA: I don’t know what to tell you – do it! You have the tools, right? It’s a classic thing; you have the knowledge,  you have the books at your disposal that you could be reading, but it says a lot about whether it’s a priority, so you must be pretty happy with your courses, with how they sell, if you don’t feel the need to do anything more than that, right? CHUCK: Yeah, not so much. How do you tell people that they want to get on your mailing list? I mean, do you just put a form up there? JOANNA: The presence of stuff, as of course you’ve already seen, just putting it out there is the starting point, right, saying that you have a mailing list. Of course, the copywriter would come in and – people are going to tell you where to put your invitations to mailing lists. Do you use some giant email bounce exchange sort of capture, to get people to kind of guilted into signing up, or do you put it like Derek Halpern, put it in your Heroes section, in the pop up, and people get to your site, and then your site – blah, blah, blah. There's all these places to put it – that’s something you can find out in any blog post, just Google it. But the question really that I can help with is more around how to position your lists so that people actually want to be on it and to word it in such a way where it doesn’t sound like, ‘subscribe now,’ which nobody wants to do, but something that’s more about what your prospect actually wants and how you're going to deliver on it. And of course, doing something in such a way that people grasp it quickly, so you don’t have to spend a lot of time telling people what's so great about hearing from you on a weekly basis or a semi-weekly basis, or whenever you have good shit to share. That’s really the question is, what is your value, then? What would you provide to your subscribers? REUVEN: [Inaudible] I have a small mailing list; I'm trying to build it up. I have a huge [inaudible] of more than 200 articles that [inaudible]. I have probably 10 to 20 people [inaudible], maybe even more. And so I put on those articles, “Hey, if you like what I wrote maybe you should subscribe to my mailing list!” [Inaudible]. JOANNA: Yeah, it can be hard, right, in the blog post – you have to have an awful lot of traffic, or a really motivated audience. I know Lance, from Copy Hackers, he does a bunch of consulting, and one of the groups he does it with provides nutrition coaching to people who are trying to lose weight. That is a space where if you get a thousand people to your blog post, 300 of them would sign up for the newsletter. It doesn’t take a lot for them to sign up, but then you see other people, usually in information spaces and business, where they are so overwhelmed already by the amount of information that’s out there, and every blog post they're going to is asking them to opt in, so you kind of have to rise above and give them bigger reasons to sign up and more value that’s not just implied, but that’s really directly communicated in that pitch to get them to sign up. Which is problematic, because a lot of these opt in boxes don’t really give you the space to talk through what people are going to get from you, but that is kind of a big part of it, right? If you're getting 100 or 1000 people to a blog post, and you're only getting four or five sign ups from it, then clearly that means –. It could be a couple of things – people who are coming there reading it are the type of people who want to hear from you on a regular basis. They’ll come back, they’ll read your blog, they’ll bookmark it or something, or it can mean that your offer isn’t very compelling. Simply having a newsletter isn’t compelling, right? But telling people that they're going to get something, of course there that opt in bait that you could be using, like a free course or whatever, something better than that. Of course, the free course is again, kind of [inaudible] where everybody expects it – what's better about yours? A competition not just to get that person to sign up to your list, but to sign up to your list instead of choosing the hundreds of others who are trying to get them to sign up too. ERIC: Not just that, but also signing up and reading it, because I've signed up to a bunch of lists and I never actually read any of the newsletters and eventually I just unsubscribed, not caring about it at all. But then there's a few where I read every one as it comes out and if they link to something, I click that link and I read that right away [inaudible] paper. JOANNA: Which are the ones that you do read? Do you notice anything in common among the ones that you do? ERIC: Yeah, the once I really like they were long-form, a lot of content – I mean stuff where basically half a dozen of those emails could be in a [inaudible] book. They were that good, that useful, and they're very focused. I felt like the author was talking to me; it wasn’t just a –. Like you talked about the weight-loss industry, just like, “Hey, you need to lose some weight. Eat more vegetables.” It was like, “Hey, you're a male, you are semi-active, here’s how to lose weight.” So it was very specific. JOANNA: Ah, yeah. And the content, I think, is really interesting that you brought that up that they’ve got in the newsletter themselves, they’ve got a decent amount of content. Ramit Sethi, of course, does them and people tend to like his I think, or you just don’t completely like them and you leave mean comments and then he’ll comment about your mean comments, so hopefully you'll unsubscribe by the time that comes up. But there's those long ones, or Naomi from Ittybiz, she also does long newsletters and they find those easy to read, but those are somewhat infrequent. Like these are people who only write to you really when they have something that they're building up to sell, and that’s kind of the beauty of what they're doing is that they are not inundating you, but then you don’t get that weekly kind of, the behavior that’s developed with people who open your newsletter, let’s say, every Tuesday or whenever it might be. You miss out on that if you're only doing the sales, which is about maybe – and that’s where it’s about figuring out for your particular list. If you're trying to get people to buy from you, like a course, if you have a course [inaudible] or something like that, then maybe going the Ramit Sethi way or the Ittybiz way where you're writing a newsletter that’s rich with content, because you're kind of giving away 99% of your best content and then asking them to pay for the remaining 1% or more, but that 1% is super high-value or whatever. Or versus doing something that KISSmetrics does where they’ll do a blog post, they’ll send you a paragraph, and then you just click to read it. Or Jon Morrow, also a copywriter, a great content marketer, will send you three tiny sentences with a link, but how that works for different audiences really depends again, on the audience, on what you're trying to – how much your goal is as well for those newsletters. So figuring out what you want to do in those newsletters, or what your point is in building a list, is a huge part of the battle. Building a list is not the goal; the goal is not to build a list. CHUCK: Right. So then how do you –. Let’s say that I decided that I'm going to put together a list, I'm going to give people a lot of content on how to do some of the things that I teach in my course. How do I do that without it being boring? Because in a lot of cases, it’s “Okay, now go do this. Go try this. Go download this library. Go do this other thing.” How do you make it engaging or interesting, something that they're going to want to read instead of, “Okay, so here’s another boring lesson from Chuck”? JOANNA: Yeah, totally. That’s really about finding your voice, and I tend to think that people are pretty scared of sounding like themselves for some reason, but if you just write the way you talk, which could be when you're training yourself to do that, it’s as simple as talking. Like record yourself actually saying what you want to say about this thing, and then basically transcribe that as it is without tweaking it and let that true voice of yours kind of shine through. And then see if it works; see if people respond well to it; get a bit more friendly and personal and real and tell stories. People don’t want the facts, but they do logically think they want the facts. Of course, we make decisions based on emotions, and then we justify those with logic, so you have to give them all that emotion up front which really does oftentimes include stories from your own life, stories from people who have taken your courses, stories from other businesses, and things like that. Write in an honest voice or real voice – whatever your voice is. If you're like a Dungeons & Dragons dude, then make references to Dungeons & Dragons throughout if you want to, and people will be able to connect with you and understand you. If it’s wrong for your audience, you'll see, because you'll get a lot of unsubscribes, and then you'll know, “Okay, well do I care about those unsubscribes? Would I rather just write these emails that feel like me and that other people are responding really well to?” These are, again, more decisions that you have to make, but really, you have to find your voice or else, people will just feel that they're opening some sort of lesson-y email, which feels a bit like college with the bad professor rather than college with the cool professor. CHUCK: I like that. College with the cool professor is something that I can definitely identify with. JOANNA: Yeah. CHUCK: I had plenty of the other ones. JOANNA: I know, right? We all have the lecture theater guy who droned on and you just didn’t wanna go at all, but then you had the cool one in your fourth year who had a small class size and you got really direct and they told stories and you learned about crazy shit that they’ve done in their lives and they were way more engaging – you wanna stay in touch with them for the rest of your life. That’s, I would think, a much better goal than being the droning lecturer at the front of the room. CHUCK: So how do you tell stories on something that’s highly technical? Because that’s what a lot of my material is about. JOANNA: What might be an example of something you would send out in an email, a newsletter where you're trying to teach something? CHUCK: And I'm trying to think of how to explain it in such a way that somebody who’s not familiar with Ruby or Rails or programming would kind of understand it, but you have a lot of assets to go into a webpage, and so sending out an email explaining to people how to manage these assets and why you put certain things in certain places and how they get into the webpage, once the webpage is actually brought up in a web browser? JOANNA: Right. For me, when I hear that – again, it depends on your audience which is probably a bit more technical then, right? Are they? CHUCK: Yeah, usually. JOANNA: Yeah, I would imagine. The question is whether you put all that content in the email itself, or you put it on a landing page and try to move people to that. So if you're walking people through steps, are they ready for that in their inbox? Or do they want to be drawn into something that they then click to, read more about, and bookmark that and share that around, things like that. For me, on instinct, when I hear that it sounds quite technical and trying to get through a lot, like you probably would not want to cover up a lot of steps in the newsletter itself, but rather introducing what you're about to share with a story which you can talk about, but then maybe putting the more technical stuff on a landing page like a blog post, or a video. If you're doing how-to’s, of course, videos can be a lot more helpful in a lot of cases than just writing it out, but both are good, write transcripts and things like that. But it feels to me if I were coaching you or consulting for you with whatever, I would definitely try splitting it up so you have maybe even just an [inaudible] with your newsletter where one has all the information in the email itself, and one has an introduction that’s kind of interesting that leads to a landing page that has more technical stuff, places to comment, places to ask questions, things like that. That’s what I would do, but then the story is really – how did you get into it? What have you encountered while trying to do this thing that you're about to do? What was the outcome you were trying to reach? What would you tell somebody when you're sitting around having coffee with them, some other startup founder that you're trying to teach this to or something like that? What would you talk about when you're not talking about the technical stuff? And not Dungeons & Dragons either, what would you be talking about that’s related to that? REUVEN: I could jump in there a little bit because I do a lot of in-person training. I found over the years that using this sort of hook with a story that’s not necessarily technical but helps to put it into context, is really useful. So yeah, I could just talk to people about hashes and name value pairs and so forth, but it’s way more interesting if I start it with a story about my deadbeat uncle for whom I worked for two summers and the work that I had to do for him, and let’s now do an exercise that uses this technology to do the sort of work that I did then. And people seem to really take to that much better. JOANNA: I think that’s a great example, and people learn by stories, right? I mean, there are certain developer types in particular who really like to head to the facts, but it doesn’t mean – I mean, I always say there's a reason people love reading Harry Potter. People love escaping into stories and our brains work really well with storytelling as a way of passing down information or sharing information, so I think that’s a great point CHUCK: So could you use an obviously made up story? JOANNA: Yes, make it up all you want! It doesn’t have to be real! It might sound more authentic if it actually is real because you'll have that quirky detail that was part of that versus trying to making it up, which might not always sound that authentic or be as easy as when you're actually living that experience. But yeah, whatever it takes to feel comfortable doing it; this is –. Email marketing is really good because you put it out there and then it’s gone. And then you can try something new the next time when you can learn from it based on analytics or whatever, but it’s not like putting something that’s going to be evergreen out there. It’s just like a one-time hit, right? So try something, see if your [inaudible], see if your unsubscribes are better or worse and what that might mean for you, see if your click-throughs are better than you’ve seen before; you can of course test this stuff too, instead of just doing a before and after – but just try it out! You know it’s really good if you're just trying to discover things about yourself, your business and your audience. ERIC: Right. One of my emails I've done that’s been pretty good, like I've got a lot of replies to, is actually a story of when I first got a Nintendo and I was playing a Nintendo game and how I had no idea what I was doing and how I learned. And then I directly related that to learning a business. And a lot of people liked that. For me, it sort of seemed to make the lessons more memorable; the story might not be teaching you what you wanna learn, but you're going to remember the story and then you're going to remember the lesson connected to the story. JOANNA: Totally. Exactly. Right? And then once you can start telling some stories, then in words, it’s a matter of just really letting your voice shine through. Your real personality is really what ‘voice’ is, right? How do you talk? Who are you? Does Chuck talk this way? Does Eric talk this way? Does Reuven talk this way? How do you guys communicate? What do you sound like to your friends? How would your friends describe the way you are? And making sure that that comes through, because then people can actually connect with you, and again, emotion is far more powerful than anything else you can worry about in marketing. Emotion is what you should be focusing on and sharing your personality is a great way to get that emotion, to tap into that. REUVEN: It’s funny you say that. A few weeks ago, my 11-year old had a school assignment where she had to advertise something. And so she decided to advertise potato chips. She started saying, “These potato chips are yummy,” and I said, “You know, what you really wanna do is think about the experience that people are going to have with the potato chips. What is it going to do for them? How are they going to feel?” She said, “Where do you hear this?” I said, “There's this show called Mad Men –” JOANNA: [Laughs] Nice! REUVEN: And it totally worked! She came back from school, she said, “Wow, this is totally different than what the other kids did.” JOANNA: That’s a lesson, right? And your story is, like, that was a great moment. Right now I'm not telling you guys stories; I love that you're able to chime in with your own anecdotes to kinda liven up the facts that I'm sharing here, but yeah, I think that’s a really funny example. CHUCK: Do you do the same kinds of things with landing pages on your –. You know, you get people on the list, they think you're awesome or they like the stories – they identify with you, I guess, is really what I'm trying to say. So then they go to the website, the landing page, how do you put things together there to convince them that the value’s there for them to sign up? Do you do the same kinds of things, or do you do things a little bit differently? JOANNA: Well, I mean, it depends. There are different ways that you can go about it; there are all sorts of different ways, but there should be that match, of course, between the email and the landing page. So if I read an email with one kind of voice and I click through, not only –. That should say to us, if someone clicked through, they probably liked what they were seeing and if they were just curious – forget about those people aren’t worth worrying about – but the people that clicked through who liked it, and so clicked to land on your landing page, then they probably wanna see things that are similar to what they saw before. Otherwise, they wouldn’t have clicked. They would have just shut it down if they didn’t like it. So the liked, so repeat what they liked – don’t try to guess or make things up from scratch. Just keep doing what you were doing that they liked in the first place. So yeah, I’ll take that same tone, but now it’s a matter of not just –. Before, your goal was to get people to click, right, to click to go to the landing page. Now, what's your goal for the landing page? If it’s to sell, then you have a lot of different things in your toolbox that are at your disposal and it’s just a matter of what you are trying to sell. This is branching into the part of the conversation that is really, really broad, talking about the various ways to sell mostly along form sales page or some sort of sales page, is that right? You just wanna talk about selling on a landing page. CHUCK: Yeah, I think the long form landing page is kind of where I'm looking. ERIC: I think I mentioned in a previous episode about how really email is used to build a relationship, and so, like you're saying, someone clicks and that kind of expresses an interest in the link, what I've found to work really well is, someone clicks and they don’t go to the sales page. They go to a second sub email list where it’s another set of stories, information, all that stuff that’s kind of centered around that. I use the example, if someone clicked a link to a landing page blog post. Well I’ll send them five emails about how to optimize your landing page, and so by the time they get to the fifth one, they kind of learned a little bit. They know I know landing page stuff, and if they're going to buy a landing page product, like if they're trying to actually do it, and they're also more qualified to actually want to buy it and ready to buy it –. I saw a landing page like the one ebook I'm selling as a result of that, I think I have a 4% conversion rate versus I think it was a 2% when I wasn’t doing that. So I mean, it’s less sales overall, but the people who were buying it really wanna buy and they are actually going to use it. It’s not going to be a book that just sits on their Kindle for the next 20 years. JOANNA: There's nothing wrong with a book that sits on a Kindle for a while. I have to say – no I'm just kidding. But yeah, so you're talking about email list segmentation just based on user activity or subscriber activity? ERIC: Exactly. JOANNA: Yeah. Do you make groups, or do you just segment? ERIC: It’s kind of I'm tagging people and so based on if there's a tag, and the different links that they’ll click they’ll be auto-subscribed to a sub list and it has its own follow-up sequence and all that. Every now and then I’ll do a one [inaudible] broadcast and just say, “Okay, all people who have tagged a link about landing pages and maybe something about PPC or something, I'm going to send them this email.” And it’s not always sales emails either; it could just be something custom that, “Hey, here’s an advanced thing. It’s not really good for beginners, so I'm only sending it to a limited subset.” JOANNA: Yeah. I mean, I think that’s great. It’s a great example of how much you can do with email marketing. I know most businesses that I consult with think that their business is on the web, but in fact, it’s an email play. In the most cases, that’s the case; it’s about what you can do with email. Because just depending on people driving traffic to your site and hoping that they’ll convert, I think we all know that’s kind of not right, versus when you can communicate with people based on what you know about their activities and feed them custom content, or what feels like custom content that then reflects their interest and thus is more likely to get them to convert because it’s so closely tied to what they’ve told you with their clicks they're interested in. But I think that yeah, it’s a great example with how the power of email marketing –. My business is based entirely on email marketing. We do very little sales that happen just online, where we just get an email that says a conversion was made. It’s far more about marketing, and that’s where all of – I’d say 90% of our revenue comes from our email marketing efforts. ERIC: So Chuck, when I kept telling you to do email, that’s what I mean. CHUCK: [Chuckles] Thanks, Eric. JOANNA: Yeah, right? And you can see – it’s not one of those examples, right? Now you know it, but are you going to go do it? Go do it now; it’s not going to be –. But also with email marketing, it can be so automated with these different drip campaigns you can set up, and then you do some blast sales emails, and blast email blog posts, and things like that, but once you put that effort up front, you're really creating that passive income in a lot of ways that people talk about. CHUCK: Yeah, I think the other part of my problem is that generally I have sites that are focused on a very broad topic. I have a Ruby podcast, and a JavaScript podcast, and a freelancing podcast, and then an iPhone programming podcast – those are still very broad topics. And so when I think about building a list like this, now that I'm talking to you guys about it and kind of getting an idea of what I wanna do, I want something that’s a little bit more focused, a little bit more going to give people what they really want. And so, should I be creating different websites for these different topics, or is it okay to have them under one brand and one domain, or does it matter? JOANNA: Well it depends on what you're trying to sell, or what your ultimate goal is. I say sell, but it could be any number of things, like what's the transaction that you want to happen in the end. Are you building a list because you want to use email to sell? CHUCK: Yup. JOANNA: Okay, good [crosstalk]. CHUCK: Sure. I'm like, “Is this a trick question?” Nope. REUVEN: Well, it doesn’t have to necessarily be for selling, it’d just be for branding yourself, or getting the word out about yourself, and hope that eventually people will say, “Oh wait, I need x so I’ll turn to Chuck.” Is there a difference between the two? JOANNA: Yeah. I mean, it’s that hope that holds you back. Hope – it’s nice, it’s great, it’s the theme of Shawshank Redemption, which is a fantastic movie – but outside of that, it’s just hope, and then there's the action. And we’re talking, I think, for effective marketing and increasing your conversion rate is really about those actions, and to figure out what you want people to do is a big part of the battle in actually getting them to do it. So if you say, “Okay. I know that’d be really nice that my goal was to build my brand, la-la-la, but my brand doesn’t pay me money yet, and I know that getting people to buy this course will pay me money, so that maybe later I can go invest more in those branding and relationship-building exercises. Along the way, I still want to build relationships, but my ultimate goal is to make some money so that I can actually keep running my startup, or freelancing, so that I don’t have to go in-house.” Then if you know that that’s your goal, I think that’s far better. You can actually create materials that are focused on that, versus on “Well let’s build up my brand so that down the road people might come to me.” Does that make sense? CHUCK: Yeah, kind of. JOANNA: What does it –. REUVEN: I always thought that email marketing was more of a long – I thought it was, yes, it could be used for selling, obviously, but that they key thing about email list was that you try to build it so that you'll have this brand, so that you'll have this loyal following, so that when you sell to them down the road, they’ll be like, “Of course, I'm going to buy it from them because I've been reading their stuff for a while.” JOANNA: And that’s true for the long haul kinda people, but most emails, if you look at it – by the time a person’s been on your list for six months, things are getting pretty stale for them. So you really wanna keep the sales happening before six months, and in best case scenarios, those should happen in the first two weeks. So someone subscribes, and they’ve handed you their credit card within that first 14-day period, even sooner. I like it at least before that 8-day period. That’s not to be for a big thing, but should be for something to get the buying form you something quality. If you wait too long, I mean, data shows it’s all over the place, but the best –. There's peak open rates when people first subscribe to you, and then they kind of trail off as they find, okay, they're learning enough, or they're overwhelmed by that – you know, the honeymoon phase is kind of over for them – then you know at the sixth month period, unless they're a five-star or a highly-rated, highly-engaged reader, they're probably, basically gone. That’s harsh, but let’s just say that because it keeps things a bit more real. So after that period, okay, so you really do have this initial brief period in which to start getting people on board with the idea of buying from you. So I say, focus your efforts early on. The long tail stuff, the people that subscribe or that buy later, great, those will happen no matter what, whatever. Your goal is to get people to buy sooner rather than later without being that [inaudible], scammy person necessarily. I mean, I know that we all have these brands that we’re trying to build and protect, and with social media, you don’t want people talking about you, like, “Why do you send me all these crappy emails?” or something. That’s not going to feel good, and people are going to read those tweets, so that’s a bad thing, but we’re not talking about just hard selling in every email but saying, “Okay, I want people to – I want 50% of my new subscribers to have purchased from me by day 8. So I'm going to put together a drip campaign that’s going to have all these great segments” like Eric was talking about – and of course, it’s hard with [inaudible] campaign is [inaudible] segmenting, but you can figure stuff out, right, do some hacks, whatever. ERIC: Or you can just do multiple drip campaigns with slightly varying subjects. JOANNA: Yes! Right? If you put them into different lists, but then based on activities. If you can – do you know what I mean? ERIC: Yeah, I mean, [inaudible] it gets really technical. I have some stuff like that. JOANNA: Yeah, it depends on the tool that you're using, right? In MailChimp you can’t do much with your auto-responders, to segment them based on activity that happens during the auto-responder series. You can move them over to a new list, yeah, and get response things. You can move over to a new list, but they can continue the list that they were on before without manually being put back in there. Eric, can I ask what tool you use? ERIC: I use AWeber and then I used to have another one called AWeber Pro tools, which adds kind of a – when someone clicks the link, you can do actions like move them to another list so they unsubscribe from list one and go to list two, or they get copied, or they get tagged, and tagging is your [inaudible] and that’s where you can do the segmenting and stuff. JOANNA: Yeah. ERIC: It’s a lot like Infusionsoft; except for without the four or five-figure price tag. JOANNA: [Laughs] Yes! Yeah, Infusionsoft, [inaudible] expensive. Yeah, that’s cool, right? So if you can figure those things out, do your segmenting, it’s best you can in a tool that you’ve selected – AWeber, great; MailChimp, decent, and GetResponse is decent too [inaudible] - but whatever, you can get more advanced the more you learn from your list, what they're doing in the email, the more your list grows. It’s getting smart about those drips early on; the emails that you're going to drip out, and making those dedicated to your ultimate goal of, let’s again say, a sale by day 8, rather than hoping for a sale by day 8, making it a goal. CHUCK: Now, if you're emailing weekly, that’s two emails. Are you saying that you should be emailing more frequently than that to begin with? JOANNA: Yeah. Sorry, I'm talking about drip campaigns. So if someone signs up for your list – you’ve said, “Okay, sign up and we’re going to give you this five-part course or whatever” and that five-part course will likely be dripped out to them – in most cases, at least. I'm talking about the scenario in which you would drip out, “Okay, here’s day one of your micro course, blah-blah-blah-blah-blah.” Next time, it’s day 2, day 3, day 4, day 5, and then you would still keep following up. Maybe there's different ways that you can schedule, obviously, your drip campaign, so lots of different approaches you can take there, but if you're going to do that, then your goal would be –. Okay, for [inaudible], we’re saying day 8 – it can be whatever kind of early day you want it to be – but it follows that drip campaign. So you're building a drip campaign with the goal of getting a payment by day 8. Does that make sense? CHUCK: Yeah, that makes sense. JOANNA: Okay. [Crosstalk] CHUCK: [Inaudible] A lot more sense than the approach that I, somehow, had in my head too, so. ERIC: There's actually one thing – I just put it in production I guess a couple of days ago, and so probably [inaudible] it’s going to be active. So I have products for freelancers, but I'm also doing freelancing for software companies. What I actually did is on my actual consulting freelance site, I made a drip campaign – I think it’s five, no it’s six, because there's a conclusion – it’s a six daily email sequence that basically serves as the introduction. So it talks about me, what services I provide, what companies I'm good at working with – that sort of thing – and I'm using it to be kind of be the warm-ups, instead of getting email back and forth, or maybe doing four or five phone calls with a new client, I'm trying to get people on this so they see a consistent, “This is who I am, this is what I do.” And the goal, the conversion for each of those is to get someone, potentially a client, to contact me. And if they contact me, then I take the relationship one-on-one and email and phone, and close it into a higher dollar sale. JOANNA: Right. [inaudible] smart. That’s sounds like a good drip campaign, and interesting for a service business, too, versus other businesses where –. So far we’ve been talking about courses, or info products, or software, but yeah, doing it, to talk about yourself as a service provider is something I haven't done but I think it’s interesting. ERIC: Yeah, and the nice thing is like, I have all the tools to do the automation on the other side, but with this –. I mean, if I get a dozen people subscribed in a week, like leads, that’s pretty significant. That’s probably to make me have to turn away work, so if I have to go and do the segmenting by hand, like I went into AWeber or MailChimp, updating the records, by typing in the forms, that's not that much work and the value of it is huge. So anyone can get started with the basic tools of something like that. JOANNA: Yeah, definitely. It’s worth it, if you have to do that little bit of manual work; it depends on what your value’s going to be for that customer, how much are you going to make from them. It’s probably worth it, in the case where you're trying to sell a service. ERIC: And then the second kind of long-term benefit is, if someone [inaudible] with this, three months down the road I can send out a broadcast email to everyone and say, “Hey, I have some availability in November” and basically that’s my pool of potential clients that I'm contacting directly. I've done this in the past, but it was very willy-nilly, and this is like me actually making a process around it, so I'm really looking forward to the results on it. JOANNA: That’s cool, great! And especially good point about the process around it, otherwise, it just won’t happen I'm sure. Interesting with the drip campaign also if you're doing a five-part series, and people tend to do, “Day 1 of 5” as a subject line, like the beginning of a subject line is Day 1 of 5, Day 2 of 5, Day 3 of 5, and then you actually say – you don’t just leave the subject at that of course, but tell them what they're about to get out of it, why they should open the email essentially. If you're doing something like that – I've seen this work and we’re trying it right now with something, the school client that I'm working with, wherein if you have a planned five-part course –. Let’s say, you're going to drip [inaudible] five days – call it a six-part course, and then on the sixth day is the day where you actually do your pitch, and people would normally not wanna do that during this five-part course. The trick there is that it’s kind of like when you're on, I don’t know if you guys on it, but if you're on Huffington Post and you're looking through the entertainment side of it, and you're looking through a screenshot – not HuffPost, but like, People – you're going through these slides where there are top celebrity breakups. Twelve celebrity breakups from 2014, there’ll only be 11 celebrity breakups in there and on the 12th slide is the slide where they get you to move on to their next slide, to their next slideshow. So you're kind of tricking people a little to get that open, because if they’ve opened Day 1, Day 2, Day 3, Day 4, Day 5, and then know that there's a Day 6 on the way, then they're more likely to open Day 6 than if you just called it a five-part course and then sent a sales email separately that didn’t have Day _ of 6. And it does not make sense; it’s like a trick to get people to open that sales email that you want them to open. ERIC: Right. Yeah, and my main one, I do that but I put them inside. It’s not like [inaudible] 20-something right now, but email 6 and say email 12 are more of the sales, kind of, I-want-you-to-take-this-action type email, instead of just straight information like the rest of them. JOANNA: Yeah. Yeah, and how about those other ones, you had like goals or microactions for people to take along in day 3 or whatever random, non-sales day there is? ERIC: Yeah, I'm looking at it like – my first one I have right here, [inaudible] they reply, let me know your name company and some interesting fact about you. And the reason is I'm just curious about my clients are potential people and it’s kinda similar things, like the whole point of these is to get people to contact me, so it’s all replied to me or it’s going to be something, that sort of idea. JOANNA: Yeah, and then of course if you don’t want people to contact you because let’s say your list is getting big or you find that people are reaching out to you and it’s not a service that you're trying to sell, it’s actually a solution that you're trying to sell, then you can do other things, right? Other microactions, like tweet this if you liked this course so far and of course give them compelling reasons to do that so they actually do it and actually embed the tweet in the email or give them the link that you put together and click to tweet or something like that. Or get them to go to x location, click here to go to a sticky link or sticky subject in a forum to write down their number one goal or where they’d like to be 30 days from now, and then of course you can build a drip campaign around following up on that 30-day period, whatever it is, but it’s really a matter of getting people not just not read your content and then close it, but to do something at the end of it so they're engaging and not just consuming content. That’s easy for anybody to do, but it doesn’t do very much for you as a business aside from possibly giving people the idea that, “Oh, you're the guy to go to should I choose to do this in a more real way in the future.” You have to give them those actions at every single point, in every email that you drip out, rather than just closing it, “Have a nice day, Joanna.” Right? You have to give them something real. ERIC: In my introduction, the email that everyone opens, I kind of outline what to expect. I say, “If I ask you to do something, do it.” It’s not necessarily ‘buy it right away,’ but if it’s a survey or whatever, please do that and what I’ll do is, if it’s people replying to me, I actually track who replied to me and so I can make a segment of people who have replied to me more than five times, and I might give them a special offer, or a coupon, or something additional that not everyone sees because they're doing what I'm wanting them to do. JOANNA: Yeah, I think that’s great. Yeah, give them incentives, or word them in ways rather than incenting them, but rewarding for that good behavior. ERIC: A gold star. JOANNA: Exactly. I love gold stars. CHUCK: So when I don’t sleep tonight, or tomorrow night, and Thursday night, it’s your fault. JOANNA: Ah-ha-ha. Here’s hoping, right? Because then once you’ve gone through these days without sleep, then you'll have all those days with sleep, because it’s email and you're dripping, and all you have to do is set it up, and then it runs itself – it’s genius. It’s good stuff. ERIC: I mean, here’s the thing. I saw Joanna at microconf and she’s inspired me to do some of this and so I don’t know – five, maybe four months, maybe five months, I've been writing emails, and right now I have 27 follow ups, and they're weekly follow-ups. In about a year, or half a year, I have half a year of content. And so if someone signs up right now, they start getting number 1, 2, 3 – and that’s work that I don’t have to do, that's follow-ups I don’t have to do. I wrote it once, edited it, put it out there and it’s just all I have to do is tweak it a little bit here and there. JOANNA: Yeah, exactly. Just revisit it every so often, yeah. CHUCK: So can we get back to copywriting a little bit? JOANNA: This is copywriting! It’s just kind of the strategy behind it. You can have all the great messages you want, but if you're not delivering them to people in the right way, I mean, who cares, right? But yes, let’s return to it. CHUCK: I guess what I'm aiming at then is instead of talking about the strategies and the mechanisms for getting them in there, how do you create great content? JOANNA: My God, your questions are so huge! CHUCK: I know! [Chuckles] JOANNA: I'm like, [inaudible]. How do you create great content? CHUCK: So we talked about you wanna put stories in there and things like that. Are there any other tricks? Are there any other tips that you can give us that will make it so that they're interesting for people to read? JOANNA: Yeah, I mean, there's so many, right? I guess the question, for me, I like to distinguish between content and copy. So when you're talking content, like we don’t do, we don’t teach content marketing at Copy Hackers; we teach conversion copywriting, so the distinction there being that content is a lot about blog posts, videos, things that bring people to your site to consume that content, whereas we talk about, “Okay, so now that you want to make some money, because you're starting to get some traffic, here’s how you write things that actually get people to buy your stuff or to opt into your list and things like that.” So which do you mean, content or copy? ERIC: Probably copy. CHUCK: Yeah, I think copy. JOANNA: It is. I just wanna be sure. Creating great copy is – oh gosh, it’s so big. But really, it comes down to – from what I've seen at least, what works – there's always going to be a lot of tips and so-called “best practices,” which I would never say. Possibly “better practices” but I don’t personally believe in “best practices.” But it comes down to most cases, not writing from your head, and also that doesn’t mean write from your heart. But heart should be in there far more than your head should be in there, but really writing from messages that you swipe from the people that you're trying to convert. So whereas we tend to say, “Okay, I'm going to write a homepage today” and then you sit down, and you look at – if you have a theme, you see what your theme will let you do. If you don’t, then I don’t know what you do; I don’t know how to write a page anymore without having that, but you're sitting down, and you're going to write this homepage. So okay, I guess I’ll write this as a headline and [inaudible] that goes well with the headline, and then I guess I’ll put a bunch of Lorem Ipsum in here because later I’ll go back and fill in that “body copy” and then I’ll probably put a button here. And that’s like kinda the bullshit way to go about doing it, like you're not going to get very good results in most cases from just sitting there and writing that way. What we recommend, what I've seen in tests and so on and so forth, is the best way to go about finding your messages is to go out and see, listen to, your customers. This won’t be a surprise to anybody who’s interested in lean startups, or pay attention to Amy Hoyt and things like that, but it is the way to write is not to write at all, but to go and interview customers. Record those conversations you have with them on Skype. Record it – there's lots of easy recording tools like Amolto, I think it’s how you pronounce it [inaudible]. Then get that transcribed – transcription services are going to be big when you're trying to write your copy. I use Rev.com – that’s a really good transcription service that I found, at least. So go interview customers on Skype, let’s say, or interview prospects on Skype. Have five solid interviews where you spend an hour talking to these people about what they're going through and their work life, or if you're not doing [inaudible] what they're going through, let’s say, if you're trying to talk to moms and they're trying to teach their kids how to behave better. Then you wanna talk to the mom for an hour on the phone, and well she doesn’t have a lot of time, so make it – you don’t wanna drag it on, but talk to them, listen to them, do far more listening, of course, than you do talking, record that, have it transcribed, or transcribe it yourself if you want to, and then go through and read them. Highlight key things that they said, really interesting language they use, and that exercise alone can produce a bunch of lines that you could use as headlines, sub head, body copy, everything else that you need – testimonials, some of those can turn into testimonials if you ask the person, of course, for permission, stuff like that. And you can very quickly, after interviewing five people, write a homepage that’s far more likely to convert and to intrigue people than if you just sat there and tried to think up what's so great about your solution and why people need it. Does that make sense? CHUCK: Yeah, absolutely. That really makes a lot of sense. It’s very similar to the advice that David Siteman Garland gives in his great, awesome online courses is to get that information and then we go from there. JOANNA: Yeah, I think most people who are doing this or who have been doing this at all for any amount of time know that it’s not about what's in your head. It doesn’t start with you. If it does, that’s probably a problem with building a product; it shouldn’t start with you sitting there, saying, “What's my problem,” right? It should start by doing some research, that research and discovery for copywriting that I charge for my consultants, they pay them loads for that, because it takes the most time, and then from the time that you’re done with that research, let’s say it’s green or good for six to 12 months, then you can build everything, everything on your site. All of your emails, everything – all of your tweets, your content strategy – everything comes out of what you did initially. People like David Siteman Garland, again, Amy Hoyt – all sorts of people are saying the same thing because it’s the right way to do it. Try doing it the other way, then try doing it this way, and see which one’s easier and produces better results. ERIC: Right. And one thing, because I've done Amy’s class, I don’t know how many times now, but one thing she has you do instead of interviewing people –. Because when you interview someone, they might talk about what they're trying to [inaudible] their perception of themselves to you, she has you digging through forums or I think Patrick Mackenzie mentioned going on Amazon for competing books and reading customer reviews and finding the actual language. For freelancers, you don’t tell freelancers how to set your prices; you say, how to set your rates. And that's a completely different thing, but if you market about setting your prices, it’s a disconnect so someone’s not going to care about it, but when you start saying ‘rates’ – Oh, I wanna open that, I wanna open that. JOANNA: Yeah, absolutely and Patrick got that from me and I got that from Jay Abraham, so people are all sharing the same page. When Patrick [inaudible] say the same thing, I'm not just stealing from Patrick. He would say, “Oh no, I learned that from Joanna. That’s what we talked about, right?” We do – there's so many places. Anything that is user-generated content is where you go to mine for things. So absolutely, forums is a great place to go. Tweets that people send you, they can be a little tough because they're 140 characters and sometimes you have to get not that natural with the language there. Amazon reviews are a complete gold mine. I have done so many posts on the power of Amazon reviews; it’s insanity. I talked with this on [inaudible], I did this one where I was working with a client who was a rehab center or treatment center in Florida, and the competition is insane. Among rehab centers, they're paying like $100 a click or something for PPC; it gets to up to $600 I think, because there's so much riding on getting someone to come to your particular rehab center. So, because it’s $25,000 usually a month for a bed, and the bigger your brand the more you'll charge, so it could be $50,000 a month for a bed in this treatment center. Obviously, you'd wanna spend as much as you can to get those leads. So I was working with this small rehab center in Florida; they're doing really well, but they had empty beds, which of course, every month that you have an empty bed, one empty bed is $25,000 lost. So we were really trying to get more leads that they would then convert on the phone. I came up with a bunch of different headlines based on what I've been reading. One of them was like this social proof point, one of them was a data point – this is for the homepage headline – and the other one was this line I stole from, stole, swiped is what we say, from an Amazon book. I'd read through the reviews for seven or eight different books about, in this case it was about alcoholism, overcoming addiction, how to live with an addict, and you go through and people can get really open about what they were expecting, what pains they’re going through in their lives, and one of the lines that I read that I documented was, “If you think you need rehab, you do.” Okay, that’s interesting. It was a completely different tone from anything they’ve been using on their site, and completely different from what other treatment centers were using. They use a lot of flowery language, they don’t want to come off as too harsh or something, and this brought in well over 400% increase in leads. This single line, “If you think you need rehab, you do.”7 I didn’t come up with it, I didn’t write that, I probably wouldn’t have come up with it and nobody would have. The CEO wouldn’t have, nobody else would have – it had to come from the natural language and we found that in that one book review on Amazon. So yeah, gold mine. ERIC: Right, and this kinda goes back –. That’s why on my main, I ask for a lot of people to just reply to me or fill out a survey, because I saving all that and collecting like, what words do they use and what phrases, and some of it’s like, the questions are “Hey, if you have problems with this, or you don’t understand this email [inaudible] explain it to me and I’ll try to give you custom one-on-one advice.” And the problems that they're emailing me are the exact problems that another 100,000 people in the market have that they didn’t tell me. JOANNA: Yeah, and you just feed it back to them, right? You don’t have to change it, you just feed it back in the site. So pull it in from your customers, and push it back on to your site. We just redid – Neil Patel blogged about this on Quick Sprout, I blogged about it on CopyHackers.com – but we did a test of the Crazy Egg homepage, which you guys might be familiar with, where it was a redo. We did four different variations against the control, which was a very powerful control that’s been written about a thousand times. The guys, the conversion experts did this, did the control, and so I was testing it again, since it was a really powerful control, which was really quite scary. But we took the headline and this was for the winning treatment, but it was for other treatments too, which also performed well but didn’t reach confidence like the final winning one did, but we took that – that was from a survey where you ask questions like, “What was going on in your life that caused you to come looking for this solution,” which can be a really good question to ask if you wanna pull answers that are really meaty and useful for writing copy. But we pulled this line that was – it was basically an answer to a question about, “What are you getting out of Crazy Egg? What do you like most about Crazy Egg?” and a couple of people said similar to this, so we thought, “Well maybe there's something to that” and they said, “A Crazy Egg picture tells a story.” So we've made that the headline and that was on the winning page. I'm not saying it was the reason, but actually all of the copy on the page was based on what I got out of surveys and interviews. Again, it’s not about you writing; it’s about taking things from your prospects, and of course that beats the very, very, very hard control – I keep saying that to make the wind sound that much better, obviously – it beat it, it got a 15% lift, which isn’t monumental, but it’s great when you're trying to beat a strong control in the first place. And that again, came from – that one came from surveys and of course the rest of the copy came from surveys and interviews and things like that. CHUCK: Awesome. I'm excited to go do all of this stuff now. JOANNA: Cool! Yeah, there's a lot of research involved upfront, right, but once that’s done, it pays off again and again and again. CHUCK: Awesome. Well I think I have enough to actually go and work for months, and then come back and ask more questions. JOANNA: Ha-ha. CHUCK: Okay, let’s go do the picks. Eric, do you wanna start us with picks? ERIC: Yes, so there's a pick I read a little bit ago, it’s The surprising reason we have 40-hour work weeks (and why we should rethink it). It’s an interesting post; it kinda goes back to when the industrial age got started, and how that’s affecting us now. It’s nice to read, especially if you're freelancing. You don’t feel like you have to do 40-hours of work a week; you might need to do 60, maybe 20 is okay, but it kinda makes you rethink the idea that you have to put in 40 hours each week. My second pick is Joanna’s CopyHacker books. I own them all – I've read the 1 through 4 series, the long form series. I'm reading the conversion rockstar right now, and probably as far as more modern copywriters, she’s one of the three that I actually will do the advice she says, instead of ones where I just read it and forget about it. So if you're kind of new to copywriting or you wanna get better, I'd recommend her stuff. It’s very inexpensive for the information that you get out of it. JOANNA: Thanks Eric, that’s nice. CHUCK: Awesome. Reuven, what are your picks? REUVEN: So I got three picks this week. First of all, I realized that probably a lot of our listeners also use Macs, so I'm using for a while this program called CleanMyMac to, not surprisingly, clean my Mac, from all sorts of different files that have accumulated. And yeah, it uses free log files and so forth, but it’s also really good about telling me, “You know, there's this really large mp4 that you haven't touched in three years. Do you really need it still?” and then I'm usually thinking, “Actually, I probably don’t really need it.” So it’s been very useful in keeping my disk space down. And my second two picks are both, and I've mentioned it before in the cast from our Planet Money, the NPR podcast about economics. First of all, the most recent one as of our recordings, so it’s probably about a week or two old as of when everyone was listening to this, or early listeners would listen to this, it’s all about Spirit Airlines, which is they call the fastest growing, least popular airline in America. And we’re always talking about service, we’re always about making people feel good, and the podcast goes through how time and again, people scream and yell about how terrible Spirit airlines is, and then go back for more, and how the company manages to balance customers who hate them, with those same customers coming back. And the second thing is Planet Money [inaudible] a few weeks ago for Valentine’s day, where they had Tim Harford, who’s just a great writer and economic reporter in general. So he used to do this column on Financial Times in England called, Dear Economist, which was a love advice column. And people will write in to him and explain their relationship problems, and he would use principles of economics to explain what they should be doing. And so they had a few people write – I know it sounds crazy; it was incredibly funny and insightful, and so they had a few of the listeners to their podcast call in and speak to him, and definitely worth listening both to the economic theory and for the relationship advice. CHUCK: I think I heard that one. Alright, I’ll throw out a couple of picks here. I'm almost done with Basic Economics by Thomas Sowell. It was a great book; really just gives you a good handle on some of the incentives out there in the economy, what makes the economy tick, and some of the things that politicians do that hurt the economy, while they say they're helping the economy, and why certain programs within, government programs within different businesses fail to make economic sense, and I just really enjoyed it. It really clearly explains things, so I'm going to put that pick out there. But listen to it on Audible, so I’ll put a link in for the Audible version as well. I don’t think I have any others that I really wanna pick this week. Joanna, do you have some picks for us? JOANNA: I do, yup. Because we’re talking copy, and because we didn’t get to talk about it, and now that we’re talking emails – although I think we did – but Breakthrough Advertising by Eugene Schwartz is the possibly greatest book on copywriting ever, and it still has a lot of things that apply today. Hard to find, if you can find it, good for you. It’s hard, but it’s worth it, so go out and seek that out. Other ones, I think for freelancers in particular, I'd think about for my consulting business, some of the solutions that we depend on of course – I'm sure a lot of people already know about these, but I have to put it out there because I live on them. It’s of course Bidsketch, for putting those contracts, proposals together, Ruben Gamez – its creator – I'm sure you guys will know. He’s super awesome, super nice guy. Outside of that, RightSignature is – I don’t know, do you guys know RightSignature? REUVEN: I think I've heard of it, what do they do? JOANNA: It’s just a really simple way to get people to sign your stuff. So you just upload your pdf or word doc or whatever and put in where you need people to sign, or initial, or date things – it sounds like, “Oh it’s easy, a lot of things do it” but nobody does it quite as easily and nicely I found as RightSignature. It’s like a little secret that I love to talk about to people who are in the startup world, etc. It’s a really, really great tool for getting things signed without having to worry about paper. We’re totally paperless at Copy Hackers, so it’s a great way to do that. And then finally, of course I think that for freelancers, I find a lot of value in this is the honesty and all the great tips that come through Brennan Dunn’s post for freelancers in his newsletter. CHUCK: Awesome. JOANNA: Those are my picks. CHUCK: Alright, well thanks for coming on the show. We really appreciate you taking the time out to come talk to us. JOANNA: Yeah, thanks for having me! CHUCK: Alright, we’ll wrap up the show. Catch you all next week

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