“The tacos and the whiskey are in the back; we’ll do shots later.” This introduction from Noah Kagan comes as no surprise to me. He comes across exactly as he does in his popular AppSumo emails: funny, convincing and down-to-earth with a blend of confidence.
You’d find his background fascinating. Noah was the 30th employee at Facebook, and an early marketer at Mint — he helped grow its user base during its critical nascent days. Now he runs the popular AppSumo software deals newsletter, which has more than 750,000 subscribers.
I’m in a small group (with representation from BarkBox to People Magazine) of people who have been invited by Noah to learn more about his new SumoMe website growth tools and growth insights. I’m here in particular to get ideas on how to promote our new Trackbat product, which offers rich analytics on whether people engage or understand your documents.
Noah’s lessons do not disappoint:
Optimize Your Top Pages
When people say that hindsight is 20/20, they don’t tell you that they also feel pretty embarrassed. That’s how I felt when Noah explains that one of the fastest ways to acquire email addresses is to look at the pages that generate most of your traffic and optimize those pages to capture email addresses.
When you go to his homepage at okdork.com, you won’t see blog posts like most blog home pages. You’ll see a smiling picture of Noah and a clear call to action to give your email address. Though unconventional, this is indeed the most visited page on his blog. Adding it increased his email conversion rate significantly, from around 10 to 15 percent.
Another not-so-obvious page is your About Us page. This is commonly one of the most frequented page on websites and should be taken advantage of as a way to capture emails.
Rock the Bonus Content
SumoMe offers a free product called Heat Maps, which allows you to see how far someone reads through your webpage. From analyzing this data, Noah shares with us that most people read only 30 to 50 percent of an article, and very few people reach the end of the page. Moreover, very rarely do people look at the content or calls to action that sit on the right rail of a webpage. For those knowledgeable of the digital ad space, this is akin to banner blindness.
Why then do so many blogs have a call to action at the bottom of their posts and in the right rail? Even marketing vanguards like HubSpot follow this pattern.
To address this, Noah creates bonus content related to his blog posts, like a checklist or Excel template. He then strategically places a call to action in the top third of his blog post. You’ll notice on his blog that he has no right rail to capture email addresses. Noah explains that people want you to tell them what they should do, and he wants his readers to focus on his relevant bonus content. This strategy has increased his email conversions by more than 12 percent.
Create Email-Based Courses and Recycle Content
Noah launched Summer of Marketing in June; a series of emails that teach the basics of marketing. The beauty of this strategy is that, along with some original content, he reused many of his blog posts and packaged them as part of the weekly emails you’d get when you sign up for the course. He acquired more than 5,000 contacts with this strategy.
Through our EasyBib product, we have had similar success with this strategy. Among the three email-based courses we’ve launched, we’ve collected 5,520 educator leads.
It works because a course promises that you will come away with tangible skills and because it’s a digestible amount of information to read over time. What made Summer of Marketing particularly successful is the fact that it was launched as a separate product and URL. Doing this creates brand value that you may not necessarily get if it were another content initiative among many on your blog.
If You Don’t Ask, You Won’t Receive
To start his presentation, Noah asks the audience if they are familiar with his AppSumo business. For those unfamiliar, Noah responds almost instinctively, “Go to appsumo.com and enter your email address to get our great deals.” Just like that, he grows his email list by about 10 people.
Clever tactics like this are what Noah thrives on, but ultimately he tries to drive a deeper point.
Most people build a product and magically expect people to come. In reality, you have to educate and ask people to use your product. Best of all, there are opportunities all around us. Everyone in the room could represent a potential user.
This idea, he goes on, extends to your content marketing efforts. Just building content is not enough. One touch with someone does not guarantee they will come back to your site. You have to be smart, create very useful information, and ask for their email address in the right way to improve your chances of building a relationship with that viewer.
Reverse Engineer Your One Core Goal
It’s all too easy to juggle numerous goals and not hit any of them. Noah keeps it simple by having one core goal that ties into everything he does. This year, it was to build his email list to 50,000 contacts.
Tyler, a member of Noah’s team, shows a complicated spreadsheet — spanning numerous tabs — that he wanted to use to plan out how to hit this goal. He explains that Noah balked when he saw it. Instead, they created one simple spreadsheet with 20 rows that outlined the different channels where they could acquire contacts; from guest posts to Facebook ads to online email courses. Each channel had a forecasted reach and a conversion rate, all totaling to 50,000 contacts. As the proverb goes: Keep it simple, stupid.
Noah dove deeper. He would evaluate each channel one by one and, based on results, would double down or move on. “Traction” by Gabriel Weinberg and Justin Mares covers this topic well. They talk about the idea of a critical path, which is the process of finding the right channels to hit your goal fastest.
When I asked Noah why he pursued a particular strategy, he answered, “I’m a doer. I do and I learn.” That resonated. Entrepreneurship is all about doing and learning from those experiences so you can constantly improve.