How to Start Tailoring Your Emails with Marketing Automation

Today, I’m going to give you a little refresher (or crash course) on marketing automation and tailoring your email messages to people who behave a certain way on your website.

Tag Your Visitors and Put Them into Sequences

Take Single Grain, for example. If you visit our services page or our case studies page, you’re different from someone who has just visited our home page and bounced in a minute or less. So, as the site owner, I want to tailor my messaging based on visitor behaviors.

Single Grain services

How many lead magnets does a visitor download on my site? What kind of content are they most interested in? Maybe they visited my SEO section 5 or 6 times. My goal is to find these interested visitors and tag them appropriately, then send them the correct message. That way it’s not just one general email nurture sequence for everyone. It’s tailored to what I think they want or need.

Marketing Funnels

That being said, you should definitely still have a general email nurture sequence. Give people consistently useful content so they can raise their hand when they’re ready to buy from you. I’ll show you what that looks like. I’m also going to show you a little more sophistication with marketing automation, because a lot of the clients we work with don’t even have funnels built out and they need funnels.

If you need a little more elaboration on what marketing funnels are, just Google “marketing funnels.” We are usually the #2-#4 result (How to Create A Marketing Funnel That Generates Sales). Also check out AWeber and Kissmetrics because they also have great resources on this and they’re great companies.

Google marketing funnels

Email Marketing Solutions

Our email marketing solution, Drip (owned by Leadpages), is basically a cross between MailChimp and Infusionsoft (also known as “Confusionsoft”). MailChimp is a little too simplistic, but they’re getting more sophisticated. Also, I’m not going to hate on Infusionsoft because I’ve seen it do powerful things for Neil. But Drip is awesome because it gives you the best of both worlds.

Drip dashboard

Now let’s see how Drip works. If I go to the Growth Everywhere email campaigns, the content is basically my interview podcasts where I talk to a lot of different entrepreneurs. I’ve done over 200 interviews, so that’s a lot of content right there.

Related Content: Cold Emailing: Best Outbound Sales Automation Tools

Drip email campaign

The great thing about this type of content is it’s helpful to everyone who’s looking to learn how to grow a business, because I’m talking to these people, I’m getting their story, I’m finding out how they grew their business, how they started it, what struggles they went through, etc. The stories are evergreen. So it’s pretty easy for me to put all these emails into a general sequence (because everyone can benefit from them).

The Kind of Email Content I’m Sending Out

Here’s one: How a Middle School Dropout Built a 50 Million Pageview Site. Or how about this one: How Social Triggers Grew to 300,000 Subscribers Using this Formula. So I just keep going and going and I keep hitting them with content. This podcast is once a week, in addition to our new blog posts that are coming out regularly.

The idea is to keep hitting your list with incredibly useful, FREE content over and over and over. You don’t say, “Hey, come buy my stuff.” You keep giving value over time. And, naturally, your list will raise their hands when they’re ready to buy. Yes, you could throw an offer at them, like a webinar, but ideally you’re nurturing them through a sequence.

Learn More: Why Neil Patel Pays $30,000 for Content & Gives it Away For Free

One of the guys from Drip, Zach Grove, actually did an audit of our work flow. When Zach audited our account, he said, “Well you know, you have all these important emails, such as trying to get people to go to a webinar or trying to get people to check out a PDF. But in your current sequence right now, your general nurture sequence, you’re only hitting them once.”

They’re only going to see that email one time and then they’re going to move onto the next thing. Chances are, most people aren’t going to click these emails.

He was right. My open rate was 57% on the first one, but it started dropping and dropping until it was averaging around 20%. Instead, you should be hitting your list over and over with the same email (with minor variations, mostly in the headline), until they actually open it.

If they don’t open it over a 5-email span, we’re going to move them to the next sequence. But we want to give them more opportunities to view our main offers. That way we’re going to convert more people at a higher level.

Have a Solid Email Workflow

So, after learning this from Zach, I made a Single Grain “important emails” workflow and anyone that opts into Single Grain or Growth Everywhere is going to move through this sequence.

Drip workflow

If they subscribe, great, they’re going to be put into a delayed sequence. And then we’re going to send them a campaign, like a “13 customer acquisition campaigns” webinar. Once they open the email, they’re tagged and then they move to the next sequence.

I can also make a segment where if they’ve viewed all this stuff, I know that they’re really qualified and I’m going to try and send them additional offers because they’re further down the funnel.

Single Grain Marketing Funnel

But you’re not able to do this with a basic email marketing tool. You need something that’s more sophisticated, like Infusionsoft or Drip.

For access to Drip, just go to

Eventually, once someone has moved through a lot of the workflow and they’re ready for more commitment, I start sending them to webinars. And then from the webinar we might send them our case studies or our marketing roadmap. I’ll send them a backlink campaign as well.

And if they view this backlinks campaign, guess what? I’m going to send them our Airbnb backlinks case study.

Analysis of 1 Million Backlinks Airbnb

This is a study on 1 million backlinks, this is another one on 1 million Udemy backlinks. We have 10 of these studies, and this is just one sequence. Overall, we put people through 420 days of content.

That’s 14 months of content in addition to the general nurture sequences we run and that’s okay. That’s worth it, because a lot of our clients actually start working with us maybe a year or two in. Our sales cycle is pretty long; usually it takes about 3-4 months to close. And this is true for many agencies.

So, if you have all this content, why are you not doing a better job of getting it in front of the right people? If you have amazing stuff, it’s your job to put it in front of your audience.

This post was adapted from Eric’s Facebook Live videos: Growth 90 – DAILY live broadcasts with Eric Siu on marketing and entrepreneurship. Watch the video version of this post:


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Ethan Denney

Hey everyone, in today’s episode I share the mic with Ethan Denney, co-founder of ConvertFlow, a new SaaS company that helps business owners convert their website visitors into customers.

Listen as Ethan shares how ConvertFlow converts better than any other conversion tool out there by showing website visitors personalized calls to action (and not the same message over and over), how they acquired their first hundred customers after winning a battle of the apps competition at InfusionSoft’s annual user conference, and how their customers are driving 30-80% conversions on the second conversion.

Download podcast transcript [PDF] here: How ConvertFlow Customers Drive a 30-80% Conversion Rate TRANSCRIPT

Time Stamped Show Notes:

3 Key Points:

  1. Do NOT show your customers the same message over and over again, show them the NEXT step.
  2. Building your product and growing your customer base are interdependent—you need to balance your focus and energy into both.
  3. ConvertFlow can be integrated and is compatible with other tools you are currently using.

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The Quick & Practical Guide To Google Tag Manager

Analytics and tagging aren’t the sexiest topics to entrepreneurs and marketers because they want to be working on things that have the highest impact on driving the needle.

But not implementing the proper tagging and tracking solutions leads to an overall slowdown in your marketing operations.

Not implementing a tool like Google Tag Manager is like letting debt snowball. In the technology world, people like to use the word technical debt. In this case, we can call it analytics debt.

First, we need to define what Google Tag Manger is. At a very high level, it helps marketers decrease the need to reach out to your engineers or IT team to add/remove/modify tracking codes on your website.

This means there’s no need to ask for:

Basically, you’re no longer at the mercy of your developers/IT team and they’ll be a lot happier knowing that everything is safe in one place. As marketers, speed is everything—this means testing new tools and vendors in days rather than weeks.

For those visual learners like myself, here’s a quick introductory video:

Other key benefits:

Here’s how to get started with Google Tag Manager:

Google Tag Manager

Google Tag Manager

What Are Tags?

Google Tags make it easy to add conversion tracking, analytics, remarketing tags, and more. These are small snippets of code that can be Google Analytics/AdWords tags or non-Google tags (such as Facebook pixels).

Here’s an example of a tag we use to track who is clicking on our ‘Services’ page for our digital marketing agency:

Google Tag Manager

A few key points on what’s happening here.

The naming convention:

How To Set Up A Tag

Google Tag Manager

Google Tag Manager

Google Tag Manager

This is a very simple implementation of a tag. You can certainly add complexities down the line for whatever you are trying to do.

Watch this video to get started with tags:

What Are Triggers?

Triggers will determine whether a tag is fired or not fired. More simply put, these are ‘rules’. Here’s what one of our triggers looks like:

Google Tag Manager

For Triggers, there’s the option of selecting different events. In our case, we chose to look for people who are clicking on specific text (‘Content Marketing‘).

How To Set Up A Trigger

Google Tag Manager

Google Tag Manager

Google Tag Manager

Google Tag Manager

What Are Events?

An event is an action. For example, if someone clicks on your phone number, you can tag that as an event and have it fire in Google Analytics. By doing this, you’ll be able to consistently measure actions that you deem important.

How To Set Up An Event:

Google Tag Manager

Google Tag Manager

Google Tag Manager

What Are Macros?

As you continue to add to GTM, you’ll be adding repetitive tasks. What if you had the ability to create shortcuts for these tasks? That’s what macros are.

Here’s a video explanation:

What Are Some Practical Use Cases for GTM?

Where To Go From Here?

For more in-depth training on setting up Google Tag Manager, I highly recommend watching videos from GTM Training on YouTube.

In terms of practical use cases, here are some:

Here are some of my favorite videos from GTM Training:

Bonus: Google Tag Assistant

Google has a browser extension called Google Tag Assistant that allows users to see specific tags that are on each page. This helps with testing/implementation.

Bonus: iPullRank’s Complete Guide to Google Tag Manager


At the end of the day, Google Tag Manager is not only helpful for organizing all your tags; it opens up the possibilities for doing more with your web applications and speeds up your site by consolidating all the snippets that you had lying around before.

Give it a shot and let us know in the comments below what you think!


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Rob Walling CEO Drip email automation

Today’s interview is with Rob Walling, founder of Drip, an extremely user-friendly email marketing automation tool that allows you to craft every interaction with your leads, Troux users, and customers. I personally just became a customer about a week ago and I’ve been very happy with both the team and the product itself.

In this interview, Rob and I talk about how the idea for Drip manifested as a result of the problems he was having with the email marketing tool he was using at the time, why a simple change in the software features was the key to finally growing the business, and how acquiring just one marketing skill at a time is the path to success.

Making the Leap to Freedom 

Rob Walling is a software developer by training—it was a hobby of his when he was a kid, in fact—so it was only natural that he start writing code for a living. But after realizing that being a salaried employee was not something he could do forever, he made the leap to freedom by starting to launch some small software products and websites on the side. As you would expect, there were a bunch of failures, and then he had his first product success—DotNetInvoice, invoicing software that he had acquired from other developers.

Necessity Is the Mother of Invention

Before Drip was even a vision of email automation, Rob was struggling with an SaaS app that he owned called HitTail. He wanted an email capture form on every page of the app, but he wanted a simple JavaScript widget in the lower right (like a chat window), not a big Lightbox that was going to be irritating to the user. And besides wanting that widget to capture email, he wanted to offer people a 5 or 7-day mini course. Just to do this plus get the design for it plus get it into MailChimp plus get the autoresponder set up took two or three full days. To Rob it was insane that there wasn’t an easier way to do it.

Today, that’s what Drip does.

In 2012 the idea for Drip finally manifested when Rob was having a problem setting up marketing funnels in the current email marketing tool he was using. He was frustrated by its inability to tell him who had converted, when they had converted, and why specifically they had converted. He also wanted it to do basic things like moving people from one interest list to another and he wanted it to do all this without having to spend hundreds of dollars a month.

Changing the Software Features Triggered the Growth of the Business

By the time he and Derek—the developer who’s now co-founder—launched Drip, they had built up a pretty good launch list, but then they spent the first few months trying to figure out why they weren’t able to grow the app. He kept putting people into the funnel and they kept leaking out as fast as they were going in. So the challenge was to find out how to keep these people, and the overwhelming feedback was that they needed to build in some marketing automation—basically build in the ability to tag and move people in and out of lists. So they spent 3-5 months building what the people wanted and as they started rolling that out, churn went down, trial-to-paid conversions went up, revenue numbers went in the right direction and, as the saying goes, they were off to the races.

It was as simple as changing the features of this SaaS app that finally allowed their audience to really comprehend the power of Drip and the business to flourish. Once they started calling themselves a lightweight marketing automation platform all the trial-to-paid conversions leapt up to 45-50% and the churn dropped down to about 5-6%. The interesting thing was that they had the same amount of traffic and yet their revenue numbers started growing by $1,000-2,000 a month, and then as things started accelerating, it started growing by $3,000-5,000 a month.

Pre-launch Strategy: How Drip Acquired Emails 

At the time Drip launched, they had about 3,400 emails from about 4 or 5 different sources, because Rob believes that you start marketing the day you start coding. And that’s literally what they did. While Derek was writing code, Rob focused on building an email list.

He has this concept called Concentric Circle Marketing. So if you imagine a dart board, there’s a circle at the center of your bull’s eye and that is circle one, that’s your audience—your email list, your podcast or blog audience, your Twitter following. And the next circle out is your warm audience—so maybe your colleagues or your friends if they run podcasts and they’re willing to vouch for you. And the third one out is cold traffic.

When building an email list, Rob always starts with that inner circle because he has a pretty good blog, podcast, and Twitter following. And the minute he starts to build the product, that’s when he talks about it on all these platforms because the folks who follow him are also building startups and software. That’s how he built Drip’s email list up to about 500-600 pretty quickly. And even though he knew that the conversion rate wouldn’t be phenomenal because part of his audience was made up of people who were unable to pay $50 a month for a marketing automation tool (or an “email marketing tool” back then), he still consistently talked about it.

He was asked to go on podcasts to talk about software, entrepreneurship, and building startups, so even when he wasn’t actively trying to promote Drip, that’s what he wound up doing—and that accounted for about another 500-600 emails. Then he ran Facebook ads to a landing page based on email marketing interests which accounted for another almost 1,000 emails. And finally, there were about 300-400 emails from beta lists.

Facebook Ads and Cost Per Acquisition

They were paying about $3.50 per email and he was sending people to a landing page—or rather, different landing pages with different headlines. And that was a key part of this process: not just getting the interest lists, but figuring out which of these value propositions resonated with the audience. In other words, are people more willing to provide their email address if the headline is “Create a Double Digit Jump In Your Conversion Rate” or “More Leads More Customers” or different phrasing? Based on their prior experience with HitTail, where testing these value propositions had created a double digit jump in conversion rates, they ran different Facebook ads with different landing page headlines and different images.

From Software Developer To Marketer

Having first-hand experience on a small project with which you can play around is really critical to learn marketing. You can certainly read about all the approaches, but nothing beats first-hand experience.

To be honest, early on I was terrible. I didn’t know what I was doing when I launched several sites between 2002 and 2005 and I just expected them to market themselves—because that’s what Inc. Magazine or Tech Crunch tells you!

So what he did was just acquire one marketing skill at a time, and focus on it, learn it, get good at it, then move on to the next one. It’s just like learning development—you don’t jump in and try to learn PHP, C Sharp, and Rails all at once. You learn a single language until you master it and then move on to something else.

Rob is a big believer in a thing he calls The Stair Step Approach, which is basically building small products first rather than trying to build a SaaS app like Drip which is quite complicated, expensive to build, and not very easy to manage and market. He “stair stepped” up with several small products that had a single sales channel which usually drew its traffic organically from Google or from AdWords and Facebook ads. This is simple stuff, but practicing on these channels teaches you how to write copy, optimize pages, split test, and you can use those skills when you’re ready to launch a larger app.

How Drip Differs from the Competition

Drip offers almost the complete InfusionSoft tool set. InfusionSoft does a bunch of things, like landing pages and affiliate tracking and shopping carts—and Drip doesn’t do that. But the core of InfusionSoft that most people use is the heavy email automation, the ability to send the right message to the right people at the right time and manage all that. Drip does this, but the main difference is that Drip is far less expensive and is far, far easier to use. That’s their big selling point: usability, ease of set up, and ease of understanding the paradigm.

If you’re building a mailing list and want to do things that are pretty exotic, you’re going to outgrow the basic tools like MailChimp and Aweber. But InfusionSoft is $300-500 a month, $2,000 up front, and it’s quite hard to use. Drip lands right between those two products.

Patience Is a Virtue When You’re Growing a Business

After launching Drip, revenue went flat for about 4 or 5 months. Having launched, acquired, and grown a ton of different apps in different industries, Rob expected that he’d be able to grow this one faster, and when that didn’t happen he became extremely frustrated. The first phase of building a startup is building, the second phase is learning, and the third phase is scaling. And that learning phase is going to take longer than you want it to even if you have the experience and the confidence that you can do it. Patience is critical because you can’t compress that learning phase any further than it needs to be. Even if you’ve raised $5-10 million you still can’t accelerate the learning phase because trial and error is a necessary component of building anything.

But he and Derek were able to turn their struggle into a learning experience—they were recording their weekly calls at that time and edited them down into a two-hour audio documentary, which is available to listen to at

A Piece of Advice For His 25-Year-Old Self

Everything good that has come out of me being a founder or an entrepreneur of any type has come out of me doing something that has scared the crap out of me.

Rob says that if he could give his younger self a piece of advice, it would be to start doing things in public sooner, like starting a blog and publishing the first post about software development. He was terrified to put himself out there, and even though no one was reading it, it was still scary. But he has realized that once you actually face that fear and take the action, the terror eventually goes away—and now Rob’s blog has grown to 30,000 followers.

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john mcintyreToday’s interview is with John McIntyre, a behavioral reengagement specialist and email marketing genius who runs the Email Marketing Podcast and helps businesses convert more leads with behavior-based reengagement campaigns. He’s got some really practical advice on how you can use a customer’s online behavior to engage them and encourage them to become a customer. Listen in and let me know what you think.

The Desire for Something Different Fueled Entrepreneurship & The Discovery of Behavioral Reengagement

John is originally from Sydney, Australia, but after a trip to Nepal, he decided he wanted a more exotic life, so he found a job as a marketing director for a resort in the Philippines.

After a year of working there, he decided he wanted to start his own business, so he started a marketing agency that quickly grew into a boutique email marketing agency.

At first, he was just offering to write autoresponders, but over time, he began to realize that people needed more than just emails… the real thing they were after was more customers, and emails were just a vehicle to get there there. So he came up with the idea of running behavioral reengagement campaigns with his clients, and they’ve been incredibly successful.

He discovered that if you target a campaign based on how people act in your funnel or sales process, you could get a lot better results.

For example, traditional businesses spend loads of money to get leads, but once they have that lead, they only call them twice, but don’t really bother with them after that. At best, the company might have a newsletter, but newsletters hardly ever work because they’re not targeted.

With behavioral reengagement, John helps companies look at their basic retargeting campaigns and look at how their visitors are behaving on their website, and putting those two things together to create amazing results.

An Example of Behavioral Reengagement

One of the clients John works with is an exercise and fitness company that sells a $30 per month membership. Since this is their main, goal product, the marketing is very straightforward and there’s not much of a funnel.

To adapt behavioral reengagement for this company, John helped them set up the following:

If a person visits the site, but doesn’t buy into the $30 per month program, they get a popup offering them three free videos.

After the videos, they get offered a $100 product that’s only $17 for 20 minutes.

If they buy into the $17 product, they get the up-sell to the $30 per month membership.

If they don’t buy into the $17 product, they go into an email sequence of 10-15 emails where the price goes back up to $100 and they start giving valuable content like tips and informational videos. After two weeks, the price drops down to $17 again for another four days.

John says bringing the price down again at the end of the email sequence has great results. And then, if they buy the $17 product but not the membership, they go into another email sequence designed to get them to buy into the $30 per month program.

The most important thing, John says, is to hit someone’s behavior in real time. The emails don’t need to be fancy or elaborate – they just need to be on-point.

Why the Backend Matters

When the fitness company offers a $100 product for $17 in their first sale, they’re losing money. But according to John, that’s okay, because the most important thing is to get them as a customer.

For example, he says that Amazon can afford to sacrifice their margins on some of their first sales to a customer, because once someone is an Amazon customer, the amount they spend there in a lifetime is astronomical.

Once you have an idea of your customer’s approximate lifetime value, you know how much you can sacrifice in the first sale, because getting them as a customer will more than make up for the initial money lost.

When Should a Startup Start Focusing on the Backend?

John recommends to start looking at your backend some time after you know you’ve found a product-market fit.

In the beginning, all your effort should be put into developing a product that works with the market, but once you have that, you can start optimizing what you already have by focusing on the backend.

The Tool to Use for Email Marketing: Aweber Gets a Thumbs-Down

John recommends using Drip for email marketing, because you can use anything someone does on your website to trigger an event within it and engage with them about their behavior in real time.

At first though, John was using Aweber just to avoid the switching cost, but he found it really clunky and didn’t like it all that much. Rather than being a tag-based system, Aweber is a subscriber-based system, so if someone is on three different lists, they show up in your database three times and you can’t track them or their behavior properly.

Drip, on the other hand, lets you look at someone’s contact details and what pages they’ve visited on your site and when.

Keeping the Email Backend Organized and Structured

With so many behavioral possibilities, organizing an email backend aimed at behavioral reengagement could get messy.

But John says after a while, you begin to ‘get it.’

“The goal of every step in the funnel is to move them to the next step – it’s really that simple.”

John says a lot of people try to advance a customer three steps ahead with their marketing copy, but that’s not the best tactic.

First, the goal of an email is to sell the click – to get them to click through to the landing page.

Then, the goal of the landing page is to get them to the checkout page.

Finally, the goal of the checkout page is to collect their credit card details as they buy the product.

If someone visits the sales page, but leaves after that, then there’s an email to respond to that. And if someone gets all the way to the checkout page but doesn’t make a purchase, then there’s an email response for that.

Similarly, the goal isn’t to sell them all of your products at once… your first goal is to get them to buy into the first product. After they buy into that, then they get an option for the second product.

He says if you think about behavioral email campaigns as retargeting, then it’s a little easier to understand.

From Thailand to Seattle to Richard Branson’s Island

After working in the Philippines for a year and establishing a business that literally let him work anywhere, John decided to check out Thailand for a conference in October 2012, and ended up basing himself in Chiang Mai for the next three years.

In February of this year, he left Chiang Mai to go to Singapore to take care of some banking issues, then left to the US to speak at a conference in Austin. After making plans with some friends to go to Whistler, he went up to their meeting point in Seattle, which was where destiny struck.

While talking with a friend of a friend who was building a space company, the guy mentioned that he was going to Necker Island (Richard Branson’s private island) for an event. As a joke, John said he’d see him there in three years.

They guy responded by saying he expected to see him there before that, and got him in touch with the right people to send his resume and LinkedIn profile to. One month later, he was in, and the rest was history.

Trends of Success in Email Marketing

As the guy who runs the Email Marketing Podcast, John’s heard and seen it all, and says that the people who are really succeeding in email marketing are the ones who are committed to excellence.

They’re not the guys who want to make quick hits or are hacking things together just for the sake of making money – they’re the ones who are committed to making their business work over the long term.

He says there’s three things that are essential to success with email marketing:

  1. Being committed to excellence
  2. Understanding the overall strategy
  3. Giving away real value in your marketing

Changing His Business Model for Higher-Paying Customers

Right now, John’s working on refining his brand.

Over the last few years, he’s been known as the autoresponder guy, which has worked really well. But he’s realized that if you know what an autoresponder is, you might not be his highest-paying client.

He’d built a brand around the “autoresponder” feature word, but realized that what people really wanted was an automated marketing system.

Companies will spend loads of money on marketing campaigns to get more leads and customers, but there’s a lot of people who think that spending just $100 on an email autoresponder is excessive.

For example, a guy running a $3 million to $5 million company doesn’t have time to listen to podcasts or read about autoresponders. All he knows and cares about is a system that will turn more of his traffic into paying customers, which is where behavior-based autoresponder sequences come in.

Now, rather than selling written emails, he’s going to present autoresponders as a solution, which in turn will also help him help his clients a lot more.

One Big Struggle While Growing the Business

According to John, his biggest struggle growing his business was getting over mindset challenges.

He came from a working-class family with an architect father and a nurse mother, and said that until he was 24, he was never really exposed to how business worked, how to grow a business, or how to think about business.

He says he didn’t find the nitty-gritty of what you need to do to make business happen particularly challenging, but he did have the tendency to under-value himself, especially with consulting and figuring out how much to charge for emails.

The biggest thing, he says, was working through the mental battles that it was less about the amount someone paid than it was about the results they got from his efforts.

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