Nathan Barry is a professional blogger who has written books on design titled The App Design Handbook and Designing Web Applications. He has also created online courses in the blogging arena and created a successful 6 figure blog in the process. He is the Founder of ConvertKit, which is an email marketing software-as-a-service company for professional bloggers that is described as having the power of Infusionsoft, but the ease of use of Mail Chimp.
A Quick Preview of the Podcast:
- How to increase sales without web traffic
- How to gain credibility with top dollar clients as a new business
- The one approach that will turn your business around
To See These Tactics In Action:
To See The Transcript:
Tim: Can everything that you’re doing in your business scale? If it can, it’s possible you’re missing huge opportunities for growth. But how can that be true? If you’re marketing your business online and looking to grow to insane levels, isn’t scalability a requirement?
To some degree, yes. But combining things that don’t scale with those that do might just be the formula for success. Nathan Barry is here today to talk about how his company, Convert Kit, did something that didn’t scale at least initially that turned out to be the reason why they were able to grow by 20x in just 11 months. I love this episode and Nathan is a rock star so let’s get into it. I’m Tim Page, the conversion educator here at LeadPages and this is ConversionCast.
Hey, what’s up Nathan, welcome to ConversionCast, thanks for coming on the show.
Nathan: Hey, thanks for having me.
Tim: Absolutely. So I’m excited. We’re going to talk about one particular thing that you’ve employed at Convert Kit to get amazing results but the first thing that people want to hear is you know, what were the results, what did you get out of implementing today’s tactic?
Nathan: Yeah, so we grew our business by 20x in 11 months using this tactic.
Tim: Nice. I love that, 20x in 11 months. That’s a pretty big jump in a short period of time. So in case anybody is not familiar because I know that you guys are fairly new to the scene, can you tell us a little bit about yourself and what Convert Kit is all about?
Nathan: Yeah. So I came from the blogging world, professional blogger. You know, made my living selling books and courses and built a solid six-figure blog but then a few years ago started Convert Kit which is email marketing for professional bloggers.
Nathan: So it’s been called recently like the Power of InfusionSoft with the Simplicity and Ease of Use of MailChimp so it’s kind of what we’re going for.
Tim: Nice. I love it. Perfect, alright. So you know, you built a SAAS platform. You were a blogger that was kind of your focus but now you’ve got this really cool you know, email marketing software. So tell us what you did to take this company to 20x what it was before.
Nathan: Yeah. So I went into the online marketing world and what worked to sell books and courses and all of that. You know, it was content marketing and webinars and kind of all the typical things and I loved it. But then when we went to try to sell software at the same methods it wasn’t working as well at first. You know, we didn’t have traction yet and we ran into some problems.
So finally after a few failed attempts at going to market, I just thought why don’t we just try direct sales? So instead of thinking about like okay we’re going to get x number of visitors. We’re going to funnel down to a certain number of email subscribers and then we’re going to convert a percentage of that and thinking all of these things in the abstract, we just created a [indiscernible [0:02:51]] board, started listing out leads on that and then emailed people and did demos and just kind of moved people across from being interested to having shown them a demo, to getting them to sign up.
What that resulted in was getting a lot of early adopters with large accounts to switch over and then when those people started talking about it, we started getting all this organic growth. So you know, that was getting people like Leo Babauta from Zen Habit, Pat Flynn from Smart Passive Income and just a bunch of people with really large blogs and then all those people within their little blogging niche started following in behind them. So the great thing about that is that you can make progress really early on when you may not have you know the search traffic and all these other things. There’s a lot of these online entrepreneurs who think yeah, I just want to do the content thing. Like I talked to somebody just last week and they had done a product launch and it just it didn’t go very well and I think that sold 10 copies or something.
I asked, oh why didn’t people buy and they’re like I have no idea. I was thinking wait, you didn’t talk to every person on your list to find out why they didn’t buy? We just have this idea of like oh I’m not selling to people, I’m selling to the internet.
Nathan: I want to get everyone back to thinking sure you maybe selling at scale through content or through sales funnels and all that but ultimately you’re selling to people and the more conversations you can have, the better results you’re going to see. And that means you’re going to take the feedback from these conversations and you’re going to tweak your landing pages. You’re going to tweak your sales copy and you’re going to improve your product. But if you’re just blasting content out there without having those conversations, then there’s going to be all these things that you’re missing and you’re going to have no idea. So what I encourage people to do is do direct sales. It’s the best feedback and the best really growth general.
Tim: And what I think is interesting too beyond just the fact that you employed something that is in my background for well over a decade which is direct sales, is you also take that information and build that into the rest of your marketing, into your scalable marketing, your content marketing and that kind of thing. Isn’t that right?
Nathan: Yeah, absolutely. You know, people will tell you their objections. So if you go through and you’re saying like okay, we showed you a demo, will you sign up? Then they’re going to be like well and they’re going to talk about X, Y, and Z of oh it’s really hard to switch email providers or something like that. Since we hear that objection it’s like oh okay. So not only are we going to fix that for that one person, but then we’re going to tweak our marketing to make sure we address that on our sales page. So that’s when we rolled out a concierge migration service for you know, our larger accounts where we’ll do the entire switch for them. And we wouldn’t have come across that need if we just been putting out blog posts rather than having real conversations.
Tim: Do you have any tips for that initial contact? Because you know I know a lot of these people maybe you had relationships with through the blogging community but that first initial call or email or whatever could be scary to somebody who is an entrepreneur who’s focused mostly on the thing that they do and not so much on the sales aspect of things. So do you have any tips for anybody to do that successfully?
Nathan: Yeah. So the first thing is on your emails, keep them really short. Don’t pitch upfront. I like to start out just by asking like a simple question, a quick introduction of who I am and then say hey is there anything frustrating you about MailChimp or Aweber and I’ll do the research to know what they’re using because that only takes a minute or so. But as far as getting those bigger customers and things like that, my friend Ryan Delk who is the head of Growth at Gumroad has this – or he told me about what he calls concentric circles marketing. I don’t know if he invented it but I learned it from him. Basically when he’s entering a new market, he’ll go down and [indiscernible [0:06:59]] like a really narrow silo.
So it could be like for GumRoad, their ecommerce and they target bloggers and musicians and filmmakers and all of these but say he’s going after musicians, he will list out all the musicians that he wants to target and then separate them based on whether they’re the A players, the B players or the C players in that market. So he’s never going to be able to reach the A players right away but he starts by going to the C players and then close a few of those because they’re accessible and then he uses those like that credibility when he reaches out to the B players to say like oh it’s X, Y and Z are use us. And then once he closes some of the B players, then he uses that credibility to show they already have a ton of traction in that market to close all the A players. He’ used this technique to get so many major musicians using GumRoad that it’s amazing. I’m constantly blown away by who he has connections with and all these big names that they were able to get on that platform with that technique.
Tim: Absolutely. I love that. I love that you know, the objection that I know people would say when listening to this episode is that I want something that’s scalable but you can’t scale nothing. You know?
Tim: And that’s the thing is if you’re struggling to get some traction in your business and you’ve got a little tiny bit of sales, but you’re doing it scalably that really doesn’t –or you’re doing it in a way that scales, that doesn’t really grow your business. So sometimes you have to kind of get it really going like you know, use some kindling so that you can get that fire going. I think this is a great way to do that and then from there you can scale just as if you’ve done. So this is really helpful. Thank you so much for sharing this with us Nathan. I really appreciate it.
Nathan: Yeah. This has been fun. Thanks for having me.
Listen To Discover The Simple Tactic That Increased ConvertKit’s Sales By 20X