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[Podcast] Personalize Your Marketing Automation (Brennan Dunn)

By Bob Sparkins  |  Published Oct 05, 2023  |  Updated Oct 04, 2023
Bob Sparkins
By Bob Sparkins

A marketer with 17 years of experience, Bob has taught over 1,000 webinars and spoken at over 50 events.

Blog Brennan Dunn 2

Brennan Dunn is the leading expert in making marketing automation more human for creators, service providers, and small business owners. He is the founder of the personalization software, Right Message, and the author of the new book This Is Personal.

During this episode, Brennan shares why you should go all in on email marketing and the key segmentation strategies you need to get right from the beginning.

Resources Mentioned


Who is Brennan Dunn?

Bob: Brennan, it is so exciting to get a chance to chat with you today for this episode of The Lead Generation.

Brennan: Thanks, Bob. Yeah, thanks so much for having me. Like we were just saying, it's been way too long since you and I have hung out in person, but this is the next best thing. So good to see you again.

Bob: Oh, it's really great to have you here, Brennan. And yes, it has been about like six years since we had you teaching a Scrappy Speaker talk in the headquarters of Leadpages in the North Loop of Minneapolis.

The first thing I'd like to know today before we get into some of the really cool marketing personalization topics that you're so good at is how do you feel like you transform the lives of the clients that you get to work with?

Brennan: I think it's interesting because I teach people marketing automation, which isn't as motivational or inspirational or whatever as some other ways of teaching people. What I'm always surprised about, and pleasantly surprised about, I should say, is when somebody on my list who I've never met, right, they obviously get my emails, but I've never talked to them.

It's always humbling when I get an email from somebody who says, like, hey, just, you know, you don't know me, but I wanted to let you know I did that thing you shared with your list about a year ago about getting off the hamster wheel of email. I set up a few automations. It made it so there was one guy who wrote in and said unfortunately his kid got really sick and he had to go into hospital with her and his wife for about a month and a half, two months. And he wrote in with this complete story, like crazy long story about how because I had helped him with putting together these different personalized automation sequences and stuff, there was basically no impact on cash flow, which meant he wasn't there stressed in the hospital about like, oh crap, how am I going to he was in England so he didn't worry about hospital bills. But not to get political, but he still obviously had to bring an income to pay his mortgage and stuff like that.

I think it's like when I get stories like that where obviously a lot of what I teach is about helping people create better connections with their audience, which yields more sales at the end of the day. When you hear the human stories of how that actually did more than just made it so they could afford to go on a nice cruise or something, it's always really again, humbling to hear.

Bob: Yeah, I love that. And there's so much that we're going to tie into, I think what you just mentioned, especially about keeping things human, even though we're talking about some really technical things at some level.

Before we get into that, just a quick little side story. You mentioned England. You have recently, in the last few years, moved yourself to England and I'm wondering what has been one of the big differences from living in the mid-Atlantic, super crowded kind of zone versus this small town between Leicester and Birmingham that you find yourself living in today?

Brennan: Yeah, I think the biggest thing I think is just how ancient everything is. I'm just not used to that. Even though I lived in Virginia, which is one of the older US states, I go on a bike ride and there's a barn with like a date on the side and it's 1743 I think it is. I'm like, oh, that's older than my country. I'm from just wild to see that.

I think the big thing tangibly for me has been I don't own a car any longer. Even though we're in a small town, which you think like small town in America, you're thinking like you still need a car. You go to Walmart probably in it or something like that here. It's a town that the weekly farmers’ market has been going back since I think the 13th century. It only stopped for I think it stopped a bit during the Black Death and then it stopped also during World War II, I think, but that's pretty much it.

There's been a really interesting sense of continuity here where it's an old town, you can see traces of the new and the old everywhere you go. And for me, I just find it fascinating that I can exist without needing a vehicle. But I'm not in a city, right? Like I can walk to the gym, walk to the supermarket, walk to nursery and stuff for my kid, walk to the cinema, whatever. So I think that's been the biggest thing.

Obviously what comes with that, of walking to the train station, getting to London, getting to the airport, like the first time I need to hop in a car is usually when I get to America to visit. Just I find that I know I'm very I want to say spoiled in that sense. Like I love that convenience factor, but I think that's probably the biggest thing.

That and obviously, even though it's the same language, it's English, there are so many differences that I'm still learning that, yeah, three years into it, I'm still kind of acclimatizing to being in Britain.

Compressing Time as an Entrepreneurial Dad

Bob: That's awesome. You and I have a few different things in common I wanted just to touch on briefly. One is that we actually both went to Florida State. We missed each other by about five years and we did both spend some time in Maryland as well. We also are dads. And I'd love to know, is there anything of fatherhood that you've learned over the last few years with your youngest child that as an entrepreneur, someone raising a family, any tips that you've learned to manage your time, to manage all the different ways that life pulls at you in different directions as you're running your business?

Brennan: Yeah, my wife and I, we both work for ourselves in the same home office. And like you mentioned, we have a young child, she's two and a half. Before her, right, I mean, I have other kids, but they're older and before her we kind of could just work whenever. It's like, oh, motivation strikes. Saturday afternoon, let's just go work or something. We'd usually try to work weekends and not work weekdays so we could go know when we lived in the States Target, and it would be empty comparatively, on a Wednesday morning or something.

But now with Lucy and nursery, I think it's just like really needing to be on top of our time. We both walk her to nursery at eight in the morning. We pick her up at she's done about - ish. So that's our working hours, which is hard for me because I have a lot of like now we're talking now after that. So Lucy's home and I do a lot of American calls and there five plus hours behind us.

So I think the hard thing for me and for my wife Laura, has been trying to really just make sure that we can really aggressively say no more, not let everyone just grab our time and maximize deep work so that we can still do full days of like we used to, where we just had unlimited time, seemingly to do anything. And I think that's worked. I mean, it's made us better parents too, because we try not to when Lucy's home or on weekends, we try not to work. We try not to. Obviously, like, when I do calls or whatever, that's an exception. But usually speaking like, 03:00 rolls around, I'm done for the day. I think it's made it so I'm closer to my kid and ultimately I'm a better dad in that sense because I'm able to do that to her and I am able to get a lot of work done just like I used to. So, yeah, I think just like, needing to compress everything into a certain time block has been kind of a good lesson learned.

How Do You Say “No” More

Bob: I love that. And you mentioned this idea of saying “no” more. Do you have a tip on how to decide? Because I'm sure you have all these great ideas that you already have in your own mind. You have all these people that want your attention for some kind of partnership or speaking engagement or whatever. How do you decide what is the no or the no for now and let people know that in a way that doesn't burn bridges?

Brennan: I mean, I wish I could say I was better at this. I think there's still a part of me that everyone wants to be wanted, everyone wants to feel like people want them. So I think even if I've really tried to internalize the whole it's either a hell yeah or no kind of mentality. It's getting there, I can say. But I'm still very much drawn to like if somebody yells too loud and needs my help or something, it's easy for me to just drop what I'm doing to help, which is good. I mean, it's been great for having loyal customers, but it also doesn't scale that well.

That also dovetails with, I'm a horrible delegator. There's a lot I'm working through, but so far it's been getting better. I've gotten a lot better at guarding my time, I think, over the last few years.

Bob: Awesome. Let's turn to our main topic, which is all about email and marketing, automation, personalization segmentation, etc. There's such a rich amount of things that I know we're going to dig into.

The Premature Death of Email

The first question, though, I think is the most obvious one. What's your position about the people that are like, email is dead. Obviously for you it's not, but how do you address that question when you get asked it, when it comes to email being dead

Brennan: First off, I don't know about you, but I'm in my inbox a good chunk of my day. So it's not dead for me, it's not dead for the people I email. There's still a good amount of us that are using email.

I think anyone who's doing anything professional is going to be in their inbox. Maybe a 13-year-old kid doesn't use email like I do, but maybe they will eventually.

I think the thing about email, which is going to be increasingly more important though, is that everyone is like, oh, you remember with the whole Web 3 thing. I say that in the past tense with intention, the whole decentralized blah, blah, blah. Email is truly decentralized. I think that's the thing, like when you look at what's happened recently with Twitter, just the fact that over the lifespan of every social network, they've incorporated some sort of like you used to be able to say, if I tweet something, anyone who follows me should be able to see it, like in their timeline. Well, that's really not true anymore, right? Especially with the new “for you” tab.

With email, I know for a fact I own the platform, I own my audience, in the sense that I can export a CSV of all their emails and move it to a different platform to send those emails from. It's truly decentralized.

Technically, when I send an email, whether it's a one-to-one email or in a broadcast email, it's going out individually to every recipient. There's no middleman, there's no gateway that's saying like, well, only 20% of Brennan's list is going to get this email, or something like that.

When it comes to personalization, email is truly one-to-one. If I tweet something, I can't say tweet this, but only make people in Minneapolis see this. Or I can't say only have people in the software industry see this or something like that. You can't do that with social. There's no targeting.

With email there is. With email, assuming you have information about your audience, you can send targeted campaigns, you can change the way that the email message itself reads to different people. And I think we all have seen that directly with when we get emails. It could be simple as, like, hey, first name, like, you know, hey Bob, hey Brennan. That's a very limited example of it, but the more extreme example would be when Amazon sends me a grid of products I might be interested in an email. Obviously, that's designed for me, it's personalized for me.

I'm pretty bullish on email's future.

Getting Started with Audience Segmentation

Bob: Yeah, and let's talk now about that idea of personalization.

So we know that email is going to be important as a business owner, a lot of people listening to this are transforming the lives of their clients as well. They're doing this through services or some kind of way of direct relationship. Right. That's a really important thing to think about, of how to maintain that important relationship between somebody, even if you're emailing potentially tens of thousands or 100,000 people.

How can we get started with segmenting? How can we get started with tapping into knowing our audience a little bit better even though they're just coming to us through initially an opt-in form on a landing page?

Brennan: Yeah, I mean, I think so. The majority of people who do email marketing, and I would say like the creator, know it's different for B2C and other kinds of industries, but generally speaking, we have first names and we have email addresses. And beyond that, maybe we tag people when they become a customer or something. But that's pretty much like the extent of things.

To your question about how do we go about segmenting. Well, I think it's really important, just like I would in reality if I meet somebody new to find out as much as I can about, well, who are they? Why are they on my list? What are they looking for help with specifically from me? And if I can get that information, I can then use that in a lot of really interesting ways.

I can obviously deliver a better welcome sequence to them. I can show them better product recommendations. I can do a lot of things, but I need that information in order to do any of that.

What I usually recommend people do, which is the minimum thing you should do, it's simple, it's effective, it kind of immediately works for you, is usually a confirmation page post opt-in says like, hey, thanks. Check your email and that's it. What I recommend doing is putting a segmentation survey on that that digs a bit deeper into who you are, why you're here.

We've been doing this through my company RightMessage for a lot of customers over the years. We've started doing haven't. I don't think I've told this to you yet Bob, but I've started also an agency where we're working with more high-profile creator types and we've been doing segmentation personalization as a service for them and for all of them without fail, they've gone from getting minimal information post opt-in, so just first name and email address to now, on average, 80% to 85% of all new subscribers are getting information about why they joined, what stage their business is at, if it's like a B2B kind of creator, what industry they're in, how do they monetize, that kind of stuff.

Why I think that's so important is if somebody just said, I want to hear from you, I give you my email address. I want to get your newsletter. I want to get your lead magnet, whatever it is.

If you can say, great, welcome to my newsletter, so that I can make sure that I give you exactly what you need and nothing more. Would you mind sharing a bit about why you joined, what stage of the journey you're on, you're at, what your job role is, whatever makes sense for you and your audience to collect. Not in a way where you're saying, I want this information so I can put it up on like a PowerPoint to present to somebody. You're instead saying, if I can find this out about you, I can better serve you. Right.

So we want to kind of be more of a router routing or sorting hat. I've heard it also described as rather than just kind of broadcasting the same thing to everyone.

Because ultimately the thing that set me down this path was before doing all this stuff I'm doing now, I had a different agency about 10-15 years ago where everything, we didn't have a buy now button. I sold people through individually written proposals, through a lot of meetings and things. Absolutely. I'm dropping mentions of clients that relate to them or are in their industry or I'm talking more technical to technical people, less technical to less technical people. And we all do this kind of naturally offline right like we do this if you and I are talking before we hit record. We have commonalities, we know things about each other and we use that to kind of anchor what we say to each other.

What I've been trying to do is get across to people the importance of why that doesn't need to just be something you do in a high-touch sales or high-touch discussion kind of situation. You can do that at scale. You can use these great computers that power email platforms and such to collect information and then say, well, if they are in this industry, show this case study. If they're in that industry, show that case study. And yeah, I mean, that's basically personalization in a nutshell, is that but yeah, post opt-in, that's the best place to get it.

You can obviously send targeted campaigns to people who are not segmented. Ask them to click a link to share more about what they're looking for from you. I've seen really creative ways of phrasing this where you could say, hey, I'm working on my 2024 plan for the business. What kind of content do I need to create? What products do I need to bring to market? The best way for me to find that out is, would you mind sharing a bit about how I can individually help you?

And yeah, use that information to get a bunch of high-level data, but you also get that data individually assigned to their record in your email platform.

Alignment > Positioning

Bob: Awesome. So one of the things that I really enjoyed about your book, which is this is personal, is a phrase that you've used that I don't think I've heard in this particular way, which is positioning versus alignment. And I'd love for you to tap into a little bit as we kind of get people this idea of how to be better lead generators and segmenters of their audience, how positioning maybe is not the right term, but alignment is. Can you go a little bit into that?

Brennan: Yeah. So when I talk about you hear a lot of talk about positioning your business, and usually it's a very kind of top down kind of thing where we're saying, I'm going from email marketing software that serves everyone to email marketing software that's specific to ecommerce. That's an example of niching down and positioning your business in a different way.

My argument in the book when I talk about positioning and alignment is that if you think about that agency I talked about previously, where we had a bunch of smart people on staff, we built custom web apps and websites for people. All I did is when I wrote a proposal, I aligned or I positioned our talent, our experience against a business problem. And that was the proposal.

The proposal was basically a sales letter for one that said, given what you need accomplished, here's how we can do that for you. This is our offer. Right. With dynamic positioning. The idea there is that if I need imagine that you're interested in health supplements or something. So you're on a health supplement website.

Well, why do people want health supplements, you could make the blanket argument of they want to be healthier. But for some people, that might mean they're struggling with weight loss. Some people want to get ripped and shredded and have massive muscles. Some are struggling to sleep at night. Some have no energy. I mean, they all have different reasons for needing this company, this business.

So you could go and say, I'm going to create a supplement company that is only focused on people who want to get massive muscles or only want to lose weight. And that's all fine, and plenty of companies do that. They go all in on one thing.

But the nature of websites and email marketing campaigns and such is it doesn't need to be like a brochure. It can be dynamic. It can be just like when you log into Facebook, you see your Facebook with your friends and your contacts. You're not seeing mine.

I mean, the web browser doesn't care if it's a Facebook dashboard or a marketing site. It's homepage. Like you can change elements. You can swap things up. You can say, well, great, they clicked on an ad or they came from a website that was blogging about weight loss and they recommended our product. So when we get people from that website, why don't we just talk about weight loss to them or really focus in on that?

And I think all of us as marketers, kind of intrinsically know that. We all know the importance of one ad to one landing page and how important that is.

But beyond the landing page, I think few of us think about the holistic experience that somebody has and thinking, okay, well, if they do come into the weight loss landing page, how do we then make it so from then on out, we assume that is their focus. So when we talk to them over email, we stick to weight loss. When they're back on our homepage, we're talking weight loss.

And that's kind of the thing that I think the big enterprise companies do. Amazon does it all the big like Netflix to a degree does this. We all know you log into Netflix, there's your movie recommendations. They even go as far as to change the covers of the movie based on actors that you like. If I like Robert De Niro, here's his latest film, but he's on the COVID instead of a co-star who somebody else might care about more.

And that's the kind of thing that I think if the average SMB or creator type can just kind of think like, well, how do I have products? These could be courses, this could be a service coaching offer, whatever. How do I make it so, what are the kinds of people in my audience? And how do I better describe what I have to appeal to this person versus that person with my software?

Technical people care about different things than marketers who are looking at our website.

So that's basically the gist of it is if you can get this information, you can then dynamically position and align your marketing collateral. You don't need to reposition the entire business, you don't need to niche down the entire business.

Bob: I like that. And obviously there's a lot of different tools out there that you can then use to communicate. You're obviously the founder of Right Message. So this is serving as a bridge between the initial lead and then what segmentation they can be put into for your ESP.

Can you explain a little bit more just for the person who might not have ever heard of RightMessage before, what that does? I'm not turning this into a pitch for it necessarily, but I think it's helpful for you to share that this tool exists and that it's really cool to be able to have something that interfaces between your website and then your ESP.

Brennan: Right? So like you mentioned, I founded a company a few years back called RightMessage and originally we were website personalization software.

So there are tools like Optimizely VWO that do this. Problem with those tools is they require if you want to get information out of your ESP or CRM into them, you need to then tack on something like Segment or some bridge that connects everything together. And that's fine. And plenty of big enterprise companies with deep pockets will do that and they've got engineers and stuff to wire it all together and that's great.

But what we wanted to do was we wanted to build a tool that could say, hey, when you come from a Drip sends email or ConvertKit sends email or HubSpot sends email, pass along basically the Identifier of that person in the link. And then when Bob clicks over to our site, well, we know Bob XYZ about Bob, so we can then just like we were sending him personalized emails, now we're showing a personalized sales page for our course or something like that.

So we build a tool that basically lets you point, click, and personalize. It's kind of how we describe it, where we pull in your tags and custom fields from visitors to your site if they're on your list. And then we can say, hey, change this headline to be ABC when they are tagged customer, otherwise leave it at XYZ or something like that.

So we started like that and it was a total flop because very few companies that we talked to had the segment data to drive those changes. So then we thought, okay, well, we need to also make it easy for people to kind of do micro surveying and to enrich their records in their email platform. So we've kind of shifted into doing that also.

So our thinking is we do two things, we push data up. So we help you collect data like post, opt in, or even just pass please people browse the website. Push that up to your email platform. You could then use that to deliver a hyper-personalized welcome sequence. You could do whatever you want with that, right? We enrich your existing database with that info.

But then to come full circle, well, usually an email campaign is going to drive people back to a sales page to buy. Well, we can carry that information back to the website and then to use that.

Bob: Yeah, that's really brilliant.


Think Mad Libs, Not Choose Your Own Adventure

One of the things that I've been struggling with in this world of automation and segmentation is all the choices that it then drives you down. It's kind of like this rabbit hole of okay, if I get information about person with what's the biggest challenge that they have, and I expect them to give me one of four answers. I now have four different pathways of bringing people down.

How do you handle the overwhelm of what becomes this creep of fork and funnel to where you do it in a way that's helping your business, but doesn't have you spending all your time creating hypothetical what ifs as they go down the choose your own adventure pathway?

Brennan: Yeah, that's a great question and that's honestly the biggest objection people have to starting is makes total sense on paper, but God, instead of one welcome sequence, I need to write four. And what if I ask other questions? Do I now have 20?

The thing that I like to say about this is that what we found works best is micro-adjustments. So most good email platforms will have the ability to conditionally change parts of an email. So not the full email, but like parts of it.

So you could say, for example, if somebody's in a certain industry, in your second pitch email, where you usually list out a handful of testimonials, you then just pivot around one thing like that. Why are you here? And if they say, I'm here to start a business, you spit out three testimonials that are about starting a business. If they're here to scale their business, here's three about scaling.

The rest of the email is the same for everyone. It's just you're changing out bits and pieces. And we've done that for things like at Right Message, our email course. We do things like if we find out you use HubSpot when you get our email course, instead of saying, and then using your email platform and CRM, you can blah blah blah, we just say and then using HubSpot.

That's an example of a layering on of personalization in a way. It's not really changing the message at all, it's just making it more relatable to the person.

What's interesting about that though is if you get a lot of information, if I find out like we capture what stage of the business your business is in, what email platform you use, how experienced you are with email marketing, when you do the math, you can yield like tens of thousands of variations, it becomes multivariate, like a multivariate test of a single email campaign or an email.

That's the kind of thing where it's a bit like a game of Mad Libs, if you remember that from elementary school where we're kind of filling in blanks. We're saying, okay, we're going to put the testimonial here and we're going to show a testimonial based on industry. We're going to change out the key benefit list here that's going to be based on their job role because CTOs care about different things than CMOs, right?

You can go down a very deep rabbit hole, but generally speaking, you change up the intro paragraph of an email, you change up the way you describe the offer, you change up your headline on a sales page. That's usually sufficient to get meaningful results that make the 5% 10% more time spent well worth it.

Bob: I like that comparison to Mad Libs because I think everybody's done that where you get to say, what's the adjective here? What's the plural noun? And it's obviously fun as a parent to think about that, but it also does make a simplified approach to it.

I know that this worked really well for us at Leadpages. When we see somebody has come in from a particular ad, we know that they are a solopreneur or we know that they are an agency. And then that same welcome message as you're saying allows us to talk differently to them. And it is just a matter of like, if this tag then show this thing, and if this tag show this thing. And I'd love to know. Obviously, I know Drip does this, ConvertKit, I believe, Active Campaign, and HubSpot, are there other email platforms that you're familiar with that do this and any that, while still good, know, being newsletter, ones that might not if people are wanting to go into this, which ones they might want to pay attention.

Brennan: Yeah, so I think that's a good question. So there's two types of they might call it personalization, they might call it templating. It depends on the platform. But some of them will only allow you to inject raw data that you have in a custom field.

So if you have their first name, you can inject the first name. If you have their city, you can inject the city here. I mean, that's like traditional Mad Libs, right? Most can do that form of mail merging, as we used to call it, pretty out of the box.

The ones you want to look for are the ones that allow you to have conditional changes. So the idea is you can say this sentence, I'm going to wrap with a condition check that says if they're in industry A, show the A message. If they're in industry B, show the B message. If your platform uses a technology called liquid templating, which Drip uses, ConvertKit, uses, Keap uses, or Infusionsoft, they can all do this out of the box. I know for a fact even MailChimp can do this. HubSpot can do this also.

So most email platforms will there's a few like Beehive that don't they don't allow for conditional content in emails yet. I'd imagine that's coming, but I think most platforms at this point can do some sort of saying pivot around either a set of tags or different values for a custom field and show different content.

Nurture Your List with Higher Relevance

Bob: Then from a broader perspective, you mentioned this as micro adjustments within the individual emails that you would send out for a welcome sequence. How are you using segmenting for perhaps a nurturing process that might be a month later or even within maybe a lead magnet follow-up? What kind of granularity do you recommend people do that gives that benefit and then maybe beyond which there's some diminishing returns from the extra effort?

Brennan: Yeah, I think there are three things that I recommend most people do. The first would be if you can make your welcome experience be so relevant to what they've just shared with you, they're going to feel like they're at the rate list, their engagement’s can go through the roof. Yeah, they're just going to feel like you're listening. Which in a world of broadcast messaging, people like that. So that's one thing, especially if you're optimizing for people to share or to reply to your welcome emails or something like that.

If you capture, let's say, what stage of the business are you at? If you have an open-ended reply that says, hey, I'd love for you to reply to this email and share a bit about you the uptake rate of that versus hey, I'd love for you to reply to this email and tell me a bit about why you're wanting to start your company finally and what's held you back so far. Because you did share that with me. So I'd love to know a bit more about why that is.

That tends to obviously yield a lot more replies because you're demonstrating, even though it's kind of automatic, that you are listening and you're saying I want to dig deeper into this thing you told me about that could obviously be attached, like you said, if they opted into a landing page or a lead magnet or something that's about starting a business. You don't really need to ask them, you can assume probably that they are looking to start a business if they opt into the start a business guide or something.

So that's one thing.

Another thing which I think is really useful is if you've been emailing your list for a while, you probably have a lot of great content that's already been sent out. I like the idea of building out different tracks of content that allow you to have evergreen newsletters set up.

If somebody like in my case, I have an email newsletter called Create and Sell. If somebody says they're looking to grow their audience faster, what I do is when they join my list, they get a personalized welcome sequence and then for the next three to four months they're getting every Tuesday an email from me about building your audience.

Whereas if somebody says they want better help on automation, for the first three, four months they're getting emails from me every Tuesday about automation.

What that does is you join this guy's list, he starts off talking about how he's going to help you with automating your business better, which is going to be a different message than if you want to grow your audience. And then all the newslettery kind of emails are all about automation. And again that just makes my list very nichely focused on in this case, automation when it's really not that focused on automation, right? So that works really well. That's the second thing.

The third thing I like to do is to have dynamic calls to action in my emails. So if I'm writing a broadcast, let's say I'm going to write a newsletter today. So I send Tuesday and Thursday. Tuesday is evergreen, Thursday is live. So today I send a live email. The call to action included in all of these. So usually we have like a lot of creator types will have like, hey, when you're ready, here's three ways that can help you in the footer of their emails after their signature or they'll include some sort of promotional thing for a product or something in their emails.

I really like being able to say, okay, if I know X, Y and Z about you, and you have bought A, but you have not bought B, I'm going to have some smart, conditional stuff in place that promotes not only the perfect product for you, but describes the product in such way that makes total sense to you.

As the creator, I send out my newsletter to tens of thousands of people, but then the individuals on the receiving end, you might get a description for a certain product you haven't bought that's described in such a way that is different than somebody else. A split second later who reads that same email, they see a different product, maybe promoted or the same product, but for them it's described differently. That's the kind of thing that I think everything I'm describing has set up time attached to it. But from the metrics we've seen from my own clients along with my customers, the right message, usually you can expect a 20% to 80% on average increase in overall engagement and conversions.

Pat Flynn, we helped him with this. He got a 238% increase in sales from his Black Friday campaign by A/B testing personalized content versus his normal one-size-fits-all content. So it does work. It's just a matter of like it's like with any marketing enhancement, like just allocating the time and doing it. But the thing I like about it is it's kind of a one-and-done thing. You personalize your welcome sequence and now from then on out, everyone who joins your list is going to get a much more relevant welcome sequence. That's why I think it's so powerful.

Bob: Yeah, I mean, that's the story, right? It's powerful and it makes you more money if you're into profit, it gives you more impact because more clients are saying yes to whatever it is that you're offering and begin to work with you.

I also like to wrap it back to the beginning of this idea of alignment. It gets you the right people in the door in the first place that become better testimonials and better referral partners. It all cascades and combines when you're paying more attention to it. And I do think that most entrepreneurs can probably find an extra hour in their week just cutting out some garbage time that they're doing that's completely irrelevant to really the priorities of their business.

Sourcing New Audiences with Social Media

Speaking of distractions and rabbit holes, social media is another topic that you address in your book. And obviously we talked a little bit about the idea that social media is not an owned platform and it's a bit of a broadcasting central zone. But I'd love for you to tie it back to what are some tips that you have around using social media to build that email list in the first place? How are you positioning and aligning to the right people through a marketing message on social to get the right people to say yes to the lead magnet or newsletter or whatever it happens to be?

Brennan: I think ultimately social media is a great discoverability platform. Like it's a great way to kind of done right, play the algorithm game. You can really do well.

One of the people we're helping now, Justin Welsh, he makes a killing on social media, driving people to his list, getting people on his list and then pitching them on his courses. So I think social media in my mind has two really good roles.

One of which is, from the acquisition point of view, it's a great way to get discovered if you do the right things, if you do your thought leadering and your threads and the right stuff, right, that gets people aware of who you are. And then you can follow up with either a pitch to a specific lead magnet that relates to maybe what you were talking about or as a fallback, just your newsletter or something like that. So that obviously works really well. There are plenty of people online who that is their model is they use social media to get people onto their list.

Then there's also the, well, what if they're already on your list? What if they're already a customer? What if they're following you? I think social is great for kind of building in public and kind of sharing ideas and getting rapid and iterative feedback about a concept. Josh Spector, for instance, he does a lot where he'll kind of tweet ideas of what he wants to write about to his list and depending on what kind of engagement he gets, depending on how people reply, that will kind of in a way tell him what to write about to his audience.

So I think there are very many reasons to use social. But it's funny whenever you see somebody to launch a, say, a new course, oftentimes some of them, and I've done this myself too, they'll tweet about it first or post on social for a few hours or a day in advance and then they'll compare that to when they send out the emails about the launch. And it's like, without fail, email always demolishes social when it comes to effectiveness.

And one thing I like to say too is we're in this call now. Right now people are tweeting, they're posting on LinkedIn and stuff and there's a very good chance I'll never see it. Whereas anything that hits my inbox right now I need to do something with. I could ignore it, but realistically I need to either archive it, reply to it, something like that, right. So social media by definition is very ephemeral, whereas anything going to my inbox will need to be treated.

Bob: That's cool. Now you mentioned a few people and as we get to the end of our conversation, I wanted to give you the chance to shout out some of these really good effective market segmenters.

You mentioned Justin Welsh already and a couple of other people I know you're connected to, Jay Clouse, who I find to have some really great content. Anybody specific that you could say, like, if you want to see how it's done, right? Maybe in a field that's not all about how to use LinkedIn or something like that, but some other topic that you see people doing segmentation, right, but that are in this, like they're in the creator space. They're in the life transformers. They're not big companies.

Brennan: Yeah, I mean, there's Dan Go. He's a kind of a fitness influencer type. He is doing exactly what I just talked about, where post-optin he's capturing things about your are you trying to gain muscle, lose weight? Both? But he also finds kind of the uncovers the intrinsic desires. So like, well, why is it you want to get healthier? Is it because you want to be a better provider? Are you looking to, I don't know, have more energy? What is the underlying motivation? He captures that. He captures things like how often do you travel? Because he's going after kind of busy professionals who want to get healthier. So obviously if you're always on the road, you're going to get information from him that's more about what you can do when you're at an airport, hotel or something. Whereas somebody who doesn't travel as much is not going to get that info. So, yeah, I think he does a really great job at that.

There's a lot of people, I think, who are starting to do this better. There's I'm trying to think I know like for instance, there's people who do this kind of more in a qualitative way, which I'm really impressed by. Joanna Wiebe of Copyhackers post-optin would kind of collect in your own words, like in a big text area, why you joined, which obviously you can't effectively use that for segmentation, but as a way of capturing raw voice of customers, we call it, language about what led somebody to join the list. What do they need it to do? If this is a product, what does it need to solve that helps people Copyhackers recalibrate their understanding of their audience and why they're here?

A lot of the people, frankly, that I talk to about this, to be honest, are like the Justin Welshes, Jay Clouses, (Pat Flynn) Smart Passive Incomes, Joanna Wiebes of the world who are kind of in the creator space or whatever else. You also see this a lot on the direct-to-consumer stuff where people will use quizzes like find your perfect product quiz or something like that to kind of surface the same information and then they'll use that to not only show recommended products, which is kind of what I talked about with the dynamic call to action as like a recommendation engine for your email list. Obviously in the ecommerce space that's very popular to have recommended products where the best way to recommend a product is to know like why are you here?

We actually have a client for Right Message who they sell jewelry and they are running ads on Facebook and Instagram and because of the targeting that Facebook and stuff provide, they can run similar ad campaigns to people who are self-identified as male along with self-identified as married or unmarried. And then they assume if you are male and you're unmarried, we're going to treat you as somebody who's probably getting engaged. So the messaging and the focus of the website becomes about engagement rings. Whereas if you're already married and a male, the assumption is that you're here for an anniversary gift, like that kind of thing, which is just an example of just really interesting use cases for this kind of stuff.

Sneak Peek for This is Personal

Bob: So as we wrap up your new book coming out very soon from the time that we're recording this, This is Personal. Number one, why did you finally break down and write a book? And number two, what's like a key message other than what we've been talking about that you want to make sure people get from it?

Brennan: Yeah, so I think why I wrote the book was more of a challenge to myself in the sense that I'm a technical guy by background. I remember I think you were there when I gave the talk at the Scrappy Speakers thing and Leadpages where I talked about how Drip email platform that back then Leadpages and kind of Drip were under the same roof. I think I described it as a job queue that happens to send emails, which is a very technical term for what an ESP is. So my background is software and the problem is I can get very technical very quickly.

The benefit of writing a book for me is I had to get high level. I had to say, okay, this book is going to appeal to people at an airport waiting for a flight and primarily and everyone in between who are not technical people. This is like the marketing manager at a SMB is going to be picking this up, hopefully and reading it.

My publisher, my agent and the person who helped me write the proposal were very good at coaching me to kind of stay abstract. So that's why I wrote the book, to try to help myself describe this stuff in a way that's not as technical and not as intimidating. I think that's why I wrote it.

But the big thing, the other question about what do I hope people come away with is the whole thesis of the book, which I've kind of been hinting at piecemeal through this discussion so far, is that if you look at why what does it take to get somebody to buy?

They need to trust you. They need to find what you have to offer them and to say to them to be relevant to their interests. And if that happens, they're more likely to read your emails. They're more likely to see the add-to-cart button. They're more likely to click that and then plug in their credit card and buy. And that's what we all want.

Usually we're faced with thinking of what is the catch-all copy that we can write that will try to appeal to our audience, which might have different needs, they might be in different places of their journey as whatever.

The thing I love about personalization, done right, is it lets you not need to worry about dumbing down your message to fit everyone. You can instead say, if this is true about you, here's how we're able to help you. If that's true about you, here's how we can help you in that situation.

That's the thing that I'm most because that kind of finds that middle ground between high touch sales where it's one to one, which is low, you can't really scale that to low touch, like broadcast messaging, like billboard advertising, where traditionally it's been one size fits all. Because of the magic of personalization, we can kind of meet in the middle and get higher engagement, higher conversions, while also at limitless scale.

Bob: Love it. Well, I can't wait to read the rest of it. I've had the chance thanks for the preview copy, to read a few of the chapters. And I know it's going to make a big difference for a lot of people.

Obviously, that's over ThisIsPersonalBook.com and we'll have that in the show notes. Brendan, thank you so much for joining me for this episode. Really was a pleasure to get inside of your brain a little bit to help people understand why it's so important to do what it is that you propose that they do.

Brennan: Awesome. Well, thank you so much, Bob, for having me.

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Bob Sparkins
By Bob Sparkins

A former high school history teacher turned entrepreneur and marketer, Bob has educated business owners worldwide on how to leverage lead generation to grow their brands for over 18 years. Bob is a conversion expert, specifically when it comes to landing pages. Hosting over 1,000 webinars, he has walked thousands of business owners through advanced strategies to help them optimize their pages and maximize their leads and sales. Bob works with Leadpages affiliates and users to ensure they have all the tools, knowledge, and resources they need to build high-converting landing pages that grow their businesses.

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