Do you know how far one email can take you? Wait until you hear how Phil Rivers is leveling up digital marketing funnel flows through email marketing.

Phil is the founder of Tetra, an email marketing consultancy that swears on tried and tested methods to boost your audience and drive sales. He has created a whole profession out of it to help online business owners conceptualize, strategize, and build the most efficient digital marketing funnel you can ever come up with.

In this episode, Phil shares his insights on some challenges in creating and executing digital marketing funnels. He gives tips and tricks on how to improve marketing funnels and get the most optimal outcome from marketing efforts. He makes digital marketing look and sound easy, so we can surely pick up a thing or two from the bright ideas he happily shares today.

Tune in to this episode to learn how to level up your digital marketing funnel for your next big thing!

[02:50] Hey, Phil. Welcome to the show.

  • What’s up, Trent? How are you, man?

[02:54] Very well. Thank you. Good to have you here for our, we’ll call it a virtual coffee meeting amongst entrepreneurs. So for me, for the people in my audience who aren’t familiar with you, let’s start there. Who are you, and what is your expertise in the world?

  • So my name is Philip Rivers, and I help companies or businesses grow their own audience, their email list, and help them nurture their audience throughout the lifecycle to monetize. 

[03:25] So you’re an email marketer?

  • I’m an email marketer to put it very simply.

[03:30] Okay, and you and you do this for your clients.

  • Correct.

[03:34] So what type of company typically do you work with?

  • So I always say that…I typically wear the e-commerce stores because that’s the kind of industry that I grew up in, and I understand it very well. But this modality of owning your audience and communicating with your prospective and existing customers applies to any business. So whoever’s listening, no matter what you do, you can get value from what we’re going to dive into. 

[03:56] Okay. And we’re going to make me the guinea pig today, with my, I mean, you know I have two email lists. I have one for my Bright Ideas audience and we can actually talk about some of the things in climate.

  • I’ve been consuming a lot of that stuff. I like it.

[04:08] Oh, cool. So we can talk a little bit about that because it really is a lead generation funnel for Flowster software. So let me give you the two challenges that I’m working on, and then we’ll talk through how you think I should be solving them. So Bright Ideas does not yet have a very complex funnel at all. Basically, people up to recently people would come and they would join the list, and they get roughly an email per week after the indoctrination series that would show them what podcasts we produced each week—not rocket science by any stretch of the imagination. 

As of late, I’ve been working pretty diligently on creating an entirely new funnel that’ll have one lead magnet at a minimum. Over time, there will be more.  Then people, when they get into the funnel, we ask them because there’s kind of three segments in my audience. Number one is the “Newbie Entrepreneur: who is aspiring to build a business; it’s typically an e-commerce business. Then I have a segment that are “E-commerce Entrepreneurs”; they’re either running their own brand or they’re an Amazon wholesale reseller like me. And then the third segment, because I do interview a lot of brands on what’s making them successful, as I’m going to undoubtedly attract other brands, other brand owners, because as a SaaS founder, I love listening to interviews with other SaaS founders. So if I’m producing interviews with brand owners, I’m going to have a segment that’s “Brand Owners.” 

So we’re sending them in the indoctrination series, “Hey, which one of these people are you…? Click this link so that we can segment them.” And then the new folks will go into an automated webinar that teaches them all about, if you want to become a reseller in Amazon, this is what the business is like, and this is how you can get started, and this is what you need to do. There’ll be an offer at the end of that webinar. The middle lane of the highway, people who are—and all of this, by the way is to drive users into my Flowster software application—so the middle lane of the highway is, “Hey, I’m already an Amazon reseller, maybe I’m not as successful as I want to be.” For them, we start giving them free templates from our WEBS product. Our WEBS product is this collection of Amazon reseller workflows. We’ve sold millions of dollars worth of it over the last few years. And again, the offer there is to ultimately get them to sign up for WEBS. So we’re, “Hey, here’s some free stuff, check it out. If you think it’s really really good, why don’t you buy the thing,” and the thing being WEBS. 

And then for the brand’s—same idea. If a brand wants to run their own Seller Central account, they probably don’t have any procedures to do it. So we’re saying, “Look, we’ve got this huge stack of procedures over here. We call it WEBS, you can get it as well. So that’s the Bright Ideas funnel and that’s not quite what I’ve just explained. We’ll probably be live by the time this interview is published, but as we’re recording it today, on July 14th, it’s not live yet. I’m putting the finishing touches on it because there’s scarcity and deadlines and all this other stuff because that’s what you need to make a funnel work. 

Then over on Flowster, we have 5000 users—500 of which are paid. So we’ve got 4500 people in what we call our “freemium farm.” And obviously, like every other software company on planet Earth, we’d like more of those people to come and become paid users. So that is going to be the next funnel that I get to when I finish redoing the Bright Ideas funnels. I got to figure out, “Well, what can I do to get more of these people to want to sign up for the software and become a kick paid customer.” So those are my use cases; those are the problems I want to solve. I figured that if we talked through this, the audience will get some benefit out of it. So over to you.

  • Awesome, man. So you want to talk about the Bright Ideas stuff first, or you want to talk about Flowster?

[07:58] No, we can talk whatever you want to talk about. First time will pave the way.

  • How do you feel about how far along in terms of, like, the flow creation process for the Bright Ideas stuff? Are you? Is it like, at the five yard line about to be finished? Or are you more so in the middle of the field right now?

[08:14] That’s pretty close. We’ve got three different automations and active campaigns. All the content is written, all the calls to action are there, the automated webinar has been created, the products have been created. Pretty much, we’re in the QA phase of that now. Why? Are you going to make me redo it all?

  • No, I just didn’t know if there was anything like you were stuck on, that you’ve been, like, thinking through or couldn’t navigate or having difficulty figuring out that we could dive into it. But if it’s so close then…

[08:44] Yeah. Not stuck, but where I think you might be able to, we could sort of pop up, and you could ask me questions about the strategies that we’re using, that I used, and maybe there are things that you think I could be doing better. I’d be very interested in hearing that So feel free to ask me as much detail as you like there, and we’ll see where we go.

  • Well, the first thing that came to mind for me was you talked of, you have the three buckets, right? The newbie entrepreneurs and the brand owners.

[09:11] Yep.

  •  Right. And you want them to self-segment? 

[09:14] Yep. 

  • What do you have currently in place to get them to do it?

[09:20] So we’re just basically asking them a question. We’re basically saying, “Here’s three link. Click the one that is most applicable,” because. And we phrase it in such a way as to make it beneficial to them. We don’t like…”We don’t want to send you irrelevant content. So to make sure you get the content that’s most relevant to you, tell us what type of business you run.” And all the links just go to a page that says “Thanks for the feedback.” Like, it’s not anything magical on the page. And we try to make that really clear to them. We say to them like, “Don’t click more than one link. Don’t click them all. They all go to the same page. Like, you’re not going to do yourself any favors by clicking the link that’s not relevant because it’s just going to confuse our system.” So that’s basically as much strategery, as we have in the segment themselves.

  • Okay. Well, that’s one feature that a lot of people—I’ve come in contact with this sort of problem a lot, where they…store sells a bunch of different things. They want people to self-segment, but they don’t think about doing it as simply as you kind of thought through. And in terms of just executing like, they click a link, it adds a profile property, and then they, boom, they’re self-segmented. So I think that’s awesome, and it doesn’t have to be any more complicated than that. I think it is, the beauty is in its simplicity. But then my other question is, once they do that, do you have other flow set-up to communicate with them based on where you know they are?

[10:39] Yeah, well. So let’s say someone’s new. They come in, they get the first email that says, “Hey, welcome to Bright Ideas,. Cool. Happy to have you in the community. What type of business do you run?”  “I’m an Amazon reseller.” They click that link that then moves them to the second automation that is specific to the offer and the indoctrination sequence that are specific to the Amazon reseller. So then they’re gonna get an email, “Hey, thanks very much for telling me you’re an Amazon reseller. Here’s some great free resource,” you know, like, “I know you want to make progress right away, here’s some of my best stuff for you like right now. And it’s all free; go check it out.”

  • Right now, there’s nothing like that. So this is like a complete maturation of the V1 system that’s just bare bones. And arguably, like, quite a bit—not the most complex ever—but quite a bit more complex than we’ve been running it right now. So this will be like a pretty sick user experience for them. 

[11:32] Should be. Should be because the content that they’re going to get is all highly educational. It’s all very targeted and very specific. And obviously, yes, it does lead up to an offer at the end because we’re in the middle lane. We’re trying to get them to sign up for what we call WEBS. 

In the newbie lane, which is my full collection of procedures for reselling on Amazon because that’s the business they’re in and I’ve seen lots of people buy it and they’ve had lots of success and we’ve had a ton of success with it. So it’s relevant, it’s the no brainer offer. In the newbie lane, we’ve made a smaller version of WEBS that’s less expensive, essentially. Because the new folks—they don’t have the budget, they don’t have the experience than in the working capital—so they have scarce resources. So we’ve tried to create a product that is more aligned with scarce resources.

  • The kind of the customer base of WEBS, what buckets do they fall into? Are the lion’s share of them, the newbies or they more sophisticated entrepreneurs? 

[12:32] So I’ve been selling WEBS for two years. And while I have not personally had a conversation with every single person because it’s like a 1000 people…

  • You haven’t? 

[12:40] No, I could never. I have talked to a pretty decent number, like, over the years, maybe I’ve talked to 100. And when I say talk to—survey responses, email messages, one-on-one phone calls—any variety of ways where they’ve told me where they’re at in their business. And I would say there’s definitely a skew to people who are starting out. But oftentimes, they’re coming with some private label experience or some retail arbitrage experience, which are two other business models for reselling products on Amazon. And they’ve had like a moderate amount of success, but not nearly enough. And so they look at me in the success that we’ve had and they’re like, “Well, I want to do what Trent’s doing, so I’m going to buy Trent’s product because clearly it’s working for him.” So I would say most of the people that buy WEBS are doing somewhere between zero and maybe a couple hundred grand a year on Amazon, but they aspire to get into the millions like we’re doing.

  • And then where does WEBS end and Flowster begin?

[13:52] They sort of fit together. So WEBS is just content—pictures, words, so forth. But it needs to be actionable content because they’re procedures and you’re going to then assign these procedures to people that are on your team. So it WEBS lives in the Flowster software application because the software application is basically a blank canvas. It allows you to create your own procedures if you don’t have any, and then assign those procedures to people on your team so that they can do all this repeatable work on an ongoing basis. 

So if you consider Flowster to be a blank canvas, WEBS is like giving it a paint job that is specific to reselling products on Amazon because all the procedures are pre-made for you. We could go out and make like a set of procedures for property managers and put it in Flowster, and then that would be a different paint job, or dentists, and that would be a different paint job. We just don’t have those procedures right now because that’s not our target market.

  • Got it. That makes sense. So WEBS lives within?

[14:56] Yep.

  • So essentially what’s happening is people are being enrolled in the Bright Ideas flows, they’re self-selecting and getting new information and ultimately being driven, especially entrepreneurs or brand owners, driven to WEBS which sits within Flowster. So that’s where you get sort of the freemium users.

[15:11] Correct. Flowster does, I mean we’ve done a decent job with SEO. So we do get people from all over planet Earth signing up, like literally every single day, that we weren’t necessarily directly marketing to, and they might not be e-commerce sellers. We have attorneys that use it. We have other industries that use it because they googled like “SOP templates” or “SOP templates for software” because there’s just various phrases that we’ve targeted with our content. So in that freemium farm of 4500 people, they’re not all going to be e-commerce people, but they are all people who saw enough value in having procedures in their business to want to sign up for a free account with Flowster and at least check it out.

  • Yeah, but in terms of who you’re targeting with your marketing, whether it be content or paid, and who you’re speaking to through the Bright Ideas funnel to get them in the first day, by and large, 80% plus are eComm.

[16:11] Yes, our marketing is all very focused…

  • I got the avatar. 

[16:14] It’s correct. Correct. Cool. 

  • And so like, on the poster piece, like, what have you tried so far to activate the freemium people to get them paid? And what is their apprehension to jump over to the paid side? From your experience being at the helm and hearing what people ask, what questions they ask, and stuff like that.

[16:35] So we haven’t done a very—for a lack of time and resources—we haven’t done a great job with that yet. Because essentially, the way the freemium model currently works is you can come sign up for Flowster and you can add or create up to five templates in your account. And when you go to do number six, it’s going to prompt you to say, “Well, you got to pay now.” So the thinking was, in the beginning, “Well, if we can get…” Sp we’ve tried like cold email outreach, which worked reasonably well. But it was a micro test, and it’s not a niche that we’re aggressively pursuing, but we basically would say, “Hey, mister marketing agency owner, here’s these five templates that are all associated with growth. Here they are for free, go check them out,” and people would sign up and, and the thinking was, well, if they start using those five, and there’s an assumption there—if they actually start using them—then they would think this is really cool. And then when they want to get number six, Flowster says, “Well, now you got to pay.” And that undoubtedly happens; it just doesn’t happen often enough. And I think that there’s a couple of reasons for that. 

One is that we have been working on, you know, in the last couple of months, we had to determine, first of all, do we really want to focus on e-commerce of all the markets that we could take—like independent of WEBS—all the markets that we could serve with Flowster, does e-commerce actually make the most sense? And we concluded that for us, yes, that was the case. And that was a decision that was only made like a couple of weeks ago. And then we, you know, we don’t have great ways so far—and this was actually a topic in our management meeting yesterday—of ensuring that people are getting, you know, engaged—those freemium users who came in and they signed up, or maybe they downloaded one template. For all we know, they logged in, they looked once and then they never came back again. I don’t even know off the top of my head how many of those freemium people are super active. I have an idea and I could get my CTO to run a query against the database, but like it’s not readily available—but it’s not nearly enough. 

And that’s one of the problems that…I’m designing the Bright Ideas funnel to help with that. But if people find Flowster first, they’re never going to get in the Bright Ideas funnel. So we’re going to have to do similar things in the Flowster funnel to create segmentation and engagement. But even that said, we still have 4500 people in the database, who at one point in time signed up and/or are using it at some level, but they haven’t kicked over into a paid account yet. And that would be, in my opinion, the low hanging fruit. And I’d like to go and try and maximize those conversions first.

  • Yeah. So before we get to like, the nurturing piece of things like if people, ike their opted in or they’re freemium users and kind of talk to that sort of lifecycle, those various lifecycle stages and what to communicate, kind of the one question that comes to mind for me is like, there’s 4500 Premium folks, and I know the sixth template is the trigger to get them to pay, how many people set up five? Do they like…maybe it’s lower—maybe like the average is two. And the other question that comes to mind, Trent, is like how many…Flowster is better, presumably, and I’ve used it just as a single user, right, and I don’t have a team that’s on there. But presumably, if you have a business that’s an operation, you have these SOPs. You have other people within the org that you want using it. So it’s better with the others, right?

[20:06] Oh, absolutely it is. 

  • And so, then my other question is like, is there…you have to jump from freemium to paid once there’s a certain number of users in your account, or type to you.

[20:18] So the way it works currently is that there are three different types of users, two of which are paid. We call them the “Administrator User,” which is the power to do anything. We call them the “Member User,” which is you work for the administrator, and you want to be able to assign—you want to be able to create workflows, edit workflows, and assign workflows to the third type of user which we call a “Guest.” 

Guests are free accounts; they’re typically your virtual assistants. So if I’m, like, the owner, like in my use case, I own this Amazon business, a guy named Mitch works for me, he runs that Amazon business, and then we have eight VA’s on the team. So I’m the admin, Mitch is the member, we’re both paid accounts—if I didn’t know Flowster—and those eight VAs are all free because they’re all called “Guest” accounts. Because all a Guest can do is log in and do the work that was assigned to them; they can’t assign work to other people. They can’t create, edit or delete templates. They can just do the work that was assigned to them.

  • Well, and then on, going back to the original question on how many SOPs they’re using—that five being the threshold right now. Over five; they get charged. Do most people even set up five ever?

[21:33] I don’t know. I’m actually taking notes as we’re having this conversation. I know my CTO could probably write a query against a database and find out.

  • Yeah, ‘cause that might be some low hanging fruit too. Drop it from six to three; three is the threshold.

[21:44] Yeah.

  •  Or a lot more people add three then never get to five? 

[21:48] We’re actually considering moving to a trial, like a 2-week or 3-week trial, that at the end of that trial, either you’re going to stop using it or you’re going to pay. One of the two. I suspect that’s what we’re going to change our pricing to, but we haven’t finished our research yet.

  • Okay. That’d be interesting. And so going back to kind of what is happening with the freemium folks once they sort of sign up. I signed up the other day, and I immediately started clicking around to be like, you know, active. And I actually created an SOP around like what has to be done to send out an email campaign from copy all the way to sending, but then I haven’t received anything else. So I think of, I’m thinking about myself in the frame over the…or the mindset of someone that’s within the customer lifecycle by  just signing up to Flowster, whether I came through Bright Ideas or not. And, okay, I saw the value proposition. I was like, “Okay, I need this,” and obviously within there, I think, right in the beginning, in, like, the first workflow I think that’s the nomenclature you use. There was, like, an example of how to use it, but there’s a lot of info there. It’s kind of like drinking from a firehose.

[23:08] So there is, we did go through quite a bit of effort to create that first workflow that’s kind of an educational workflow to help inaugurate people to the platform. So you’re saying from a user experience, “Yes, that was there, but it was kind of like drinking from a firehose”?

  • Yeah. 

[23:28] So may they be.

  • And so what I’m thinking is like, how do we….because like for you as the app owner, you want to activate people, you want the app to be sticky, they start to use it so much that they, by nature of using it, have to upgrade to the paid tier? 

[23:42] Yeah. 

  • Right. And so now it’s like, so when Facebook came out, they realized that once you have seven friends, you’re going to be in the app all the time because there’s activity. This is back in the day. Of three or five, whatever it was. And so, but this is kind of like the same thing. And so it’s like I signed up for Flowster. It’s like Flowster’s main objective as the business app is like, “How do I get filled back to create an SOP or start to use something and invite someone to his team?” And I’ve only been in, you know, maybe this is in there, and correct me if I’m wrong, but I’ve only—it’s been like 24 hours, but I haven’t received anything yet.

[24:18] You’re 8% of the way into the welcome series. You’ve received the first email, you’re queued up. So the first email comes a day later. You’re going to get one that invites you to the Facebook group. Then you’re going to, a day after that, get an email that’s along the lines of “Save time with premade industries templates.” So that’s going to introduce you to the Flowster marketplace, which maybe we need to be doing that sooner. I’m not sure. After that, we’re going to talk to you about our Zapier integration. After that, we’re going to talk to you how you can make money with our affiliate program. After that, we’re going to talk to you about voting on new features. Like if even if there’s things that, like, just let you know that we have a place where you can vote on new features. And then, after that we ask you for a review. As I read through that, I think, meh, it’s not really that good.

  • I don’t think it’s getting them to take the action that you want, which is to get active in Flowster and inviting people on their team. Because it’s more just like community stuff, which is cool and all, but I’m much more likely to be involved in the Flowster community, the Facebook group you wanted me to vote on features and so on if I’m active in the app. 

[25:31] Yeah. 

  • So I think it’s more…I think what’s sort of missing now is just like the indoctrination piece of it or evangelizing, educating in the welcome, right. Like, “You sign up? Awesome.” Again, I haven’t received that next email yet, similarly, a percent of the way through. But I think Facebook group is—it’s premature to invite them to the group at this point. It’s like, what’s the first actually you want them to take in the app or inviting their team or something like that so they start to use it?

[25:58] Yeah, I would agree with you completely.

  • And then I think it’s a lot of—this gets a little bit complex with triggers and stuff—ut I think it’s more action-based, like not just a drip of stuff just for the sake of dripping stuff. But it’s like, looking at the user journey that you want people to take in Flowster, and if, based on what they do or do not do, have that trigger message to them to get them to take action.

[26:21] Yeah, and that was exactly what we were talking about on our meeting yesterday, as a matter of fact.

  • I wasn’t there. I swear.

[26:26] Because just the sequence of emails is so 1999; they should be emails that are specific to the actions that you are or aren’t taking. For example, the calendar feature is a really, really great feature for staying organized. And if you don’t visit the calendar feature within the first 24 or 48 hours, I should be sending you an email with a video with me saying, “Hey, did you check out the calendar feature? I noticed you haven’t checked out the calendar feature. Here’s why I love it. You should actually start using it.” And we could then figure out what are all those key pages that people should be visiting or, and then create triggers that if they’re not being visited, that we then send the correct messaging to them. And I can envision in my mind that that could be a very dynamic funnel that would do a much better job than what we have now of creating early adoption and engagement.

  • Yeah, and I think, the other thing that comes to mind is like, I know, as humans, we have a tendency to over-complicate stuff. And so we strip it all back, and it’s just like, if the main objective is getting people active within Flowster—they’re starting to use it so it becomes a habit. They’re, by nature, they’re going to have to create more, they’re going to use more SOPs for the marketplace, they’re gonna buy more people from their org. And so the other thing that I think about too is like, just like you’re using the sort of little trick to get them to self-select in Bright Ideas using something similar within the Flowster onboarding flow. So they sign up, ask them, like, “What are you using this for? “ Like about their business or whatever it is. That way, you can store that property and then serve up something to them that then now would be a value. Like, if you’re…I’m an e-commerce business. And then, you know there’s SOPs that apply to them. You’d be like, “Oh, that they have that property trigger. These are some SOPs that we think your team would get value from.”

[28:15] Yeah, I know exactly what that could be. Like, for me, I have a daily checklist of all the things that I need So it’s a workflow. I run every single day, and that’s why I start my day in my calendar in Flowster every single day because it’s like, I gotta check my audiences for comments. I got to check my analytics, I got to check my lead forms, I got to check my revenue numbers. Like, there’s just the stuff that I’ve got to check. I could, and it’s very specific to me, but I could easily create a more generic version for the e-commerce business owner which they could then edit and populate with whatever specific links they want to do, but I would be giving them a framework that would then be a scheduled workflow. So Flowster would then be saying every single day, “Hey, come”—I mean, that would be a habit for me.

  • Yeah, and I think capturing the data point from them so they self-select, so you know what to serve up to curate a really cool, clean experience for them. Well, by nature, just get them more involved in the app.

[29:15] And then if that’s the only…because presumably, in a typical small-ish e-commerce business, the first person to sign up is probably one of the leadership team of that company. If they get jazzed about using it to keep themselves organized, the next logical step, especially if we feed them some content, is going to be stuff that they can then use to delegate to their tea,  which is going to cause them to invite more people into their division, which is going to push them towards the payment threshold.

  • Right. That, or as I think, as the business evolves, matures, grows. And some of the orders that come into contact with Flowster, they might be junior people that are tasked. Maybe it’s someone at director level marketing, they have a couple juniors, and this is something that makes their life or managing their team a lot easier. So I think as you grow, it won’t necessarily be founder CEOs. It might be some more percent or slightly more junior that have people beneath them.

[30:11] Yeah, because the boss says, “Hey, we need to find some kind of software platform to help us with procedures. Go find one.” Or the junior person wasn’t even directed to do that; they just happened to be doing some googling or they saw one of our ads, and then they signed up and they said, “Oh, man, this thing really cool. Does it make my job easier?”

  • Yeah, they have pain.

[30:31] Yeah. So we’ve got to make sure that we identify who our personas are.

  • Yeah. So I think the big picture in terms of the freemium stuff, first and foremost, it’s like shuffling the deck on the onboarding flow to make it stickier—to get them back using the app. Because once they use it, there’s ain’t no such a greater likelihood that they’re going to end up becoming a paid member. And then I think, in tandem, it’s like what are the actions? Again, the five SOPs or the number of users that like lowers the bar to trigger the paid outside of your trial thing that you guys are kicking around.

[31:10] So for the 4500 folks who were basically floating around in the freemium farm. My thinking is that once I have these lanes on my highway built that are going to create this engagement for the various personas, I would then want to send some direct emails and do some Facebook messages and maybe even some retargeting ads to get people to take the action necessary to get them to self-select who are you, so they get going down the right lane on the highway?

  • I think so. Yeah. Or it could be simple as like, presumably in this 4500 group, there’s 20% that are using Flowster more actively then the other 80%. And then within the other 80%, there’s half of them that are moderately kicking the tires. And the other 40% are just unengaged completely. 

[32:04] Yeah.

  • So I think it’s like prioritizing efforts on, obviously, the 20% that’s in Flowster. First because those are the highest leverage and the closest to getting super active or in paying, and then moving down accordingly. Because the unengaged folks, it’s like, there’ll be some that come, but I’ve seen this so many times, in terms of these unengaged audiences that by and large, a lot of them, they’re checked out.

[32:27] Yeah. I mean, we could have, because Flowsters has been around now for almost two years, we could have people in the freemium farm who logged in, you know, two years ago and never logged in since.

  • Yeah.

[32:35] It’s not even what it is anymore. 

  • Right. So for them, it’s like, I think for this super unengaged folks, it’s like, to use an eComm term, it’s like creating a little wind back campaign for them. And just be like, kind of giving them just straight up like an update on what’s up at Flowster and trying to get them to reactivate. And if they don’t, it’s just like you clean them from the list and move on. 

[32:59] Okay. So if I wanted to hire you to do all this for me, I could, right?

  • Theoretically.

[33:07] Well, what is your business model? Do you just advise clients? Or do you execute for clients as well?

  • So, we do two. Both, kind of. One is agency style, where we come on and conceptualize the strategy, build it, and run it. And the other is, which is increasingly becoming a lot larger share of our business, and what I personally much more fulfilled by, is working alongside people to show them how to conceptualize, create, and drive this channel on their own, simply because it’s like so close to the heartbeat of the business. And it’s really, these businesses are really much better suited to be able to show them how to drive this ship because they control the levers of traffic and revenue on their own, and then therefore, they’re not beholden or reliant on anyone for it. That’s not rocket science. Once you break it down, it’s actually pretty simple. It’s not easy, but it’s straightforward. I’ll put it that way.

[33:56] Yeah. How much experience do you have with the Active Campaign app?

  • I use it for…that’s what I use for my own stuff. 

[34:03] You do? Okay. 

  • So I’ve used it quite a bit. It’s very powerful. It’s like, I would say, Klaviyo is—that was built for e-commerce. That’s what a lot of the e-comm folks that we work with are on, and that is what it’s meant for. And then Active Campaign and some of the other tools, MailChimp, whatever, they like retrofitted their tool to work for e-comm, but it wasn’t built for it. But Active Campaign is like built for apps, info, products. Like, Klaviyo was built for e-comm.

[34:30] Yeah, yeah. Okay, so we have the right tool.

  • Yeah, the right tool.

[34:35] Okay. Any parting words of wisdoms, gotchas, things to watch out for?

  • I would say that, generally speaking, in terms of gotchas, I would say one thing that people they miss a lot is when they send an email from Active Campaign or Klaviyo, MailChimp, whatever it is. They use support@ or info@ or some generic name in front of their domain. But Google and Yahoo, Apple, they don’t like this. It gives you, like, a poor reputation, so I guess my kind of little sleeper piece of advice would be don’t use something as generic as info@ or support@ or help@.

[35:14] I had no idea. Really? 

  • Yeah, especially if that’s the email you’re sending campaigns from and stuff like that, not transactional but also your marketing messaging coming from that email, it’s frowned upon.

[35:25] So in Bright Ideas, I send them all for me because Bright Ideas is very much a personal brand. But Flowster is not intended to be a personal brand, so they’re not going to come from…Flowster, the way they’re written now is there going to come from support@flowster. So what else would I send them from?

  • I would just come up with, like, an alias or an avatar. 

[35:45] Okay. 

  • That’s what we do oftentimes. It could just be like “John.” There’s no real John, but the servers—it looks like it’s coming from a human not from a computer. So that’s just like a little…

[35:55] Okay. And then I can have the replies from John go to—because I want the replies to go to the support team.

  • Exactly. The replies will go there, but it won’t be sent from support.

[36:06] And where did you…? I mean, is this your opinion? Or is there data to support this?

  • No. Klaviyo has info about it that I’ve read up on, and then I’ve been like, with all sorts of the folks that we have or businesses where we have insight into on the agency side or on the more of the kind of like concentrated done-with-you side. There’s deliverability things that come up. Like, maybe they were doing some—I don’t want to say blackhat stuff before we started working with them—but they were just like, there was no strategy. It was like fly-by-night; they were just literally just like putting the tail on the donkey. 

But this is one of those things that if you’re…don’t have it, and it likes to, say an audience that’s clean and truly opted in, and you’re sending from support@ or info@, your reputation from the servers that are receiving your message—it just goes down. It’s like you get demerits. And so I just started to read up on like, how do I start to clean some of these accounts up, and that was just one thing. It’s like, it improves your standing in terms of how you’re perceived, your account is perceived by the server’s, but it’s something that a lot of people don’t know.

[37:07] Yeah. I mean, my CTO, he’s pretty knowledgeable when it comes to email marketing because he’s done quite a bit of it from the technical aspect of it because he’s been in the software space for a while. But I don’t think that he knew, or he and I have never talked about that sending from support@ or something like that was actually going to be detrimental to our deliverability.

  • It’s not like…it’s not guaranteed that it will be detrimental, but it increases the probability that things don’t land in the inbox. And the algorithm within the Gmail inbox is getting more and more powerful and ever changing. And so it’s just like, we could do this one little thing to increase the likelihood that we don’t end up in spam or promotions. It’s not that hard to implement.

[37:47] Yep, yep yep. Makes perfect sense. Alright. So for folks, Phil, who, if anyone has been listening to this, and they’re thinking, “Hey, I want to work with Phil.” What’s the easiest way for them to get in touch with you?

Phil Rivers’ Bright Ideas

  • Keep Digital Marketing Funnel Flows Simple
  • Find the Right Threshold
  • Create the Best User Experience
  • Set an Indoctrination Piece to Activate People
  • Know How to Prioritize Efforts

Keep Digital Marketing Funnel Flows Simple

A digital marketing funnel flow may sound too complicated to a lot of people, especially those who sell multiple things.

But, Phil shares, “The beauty is in its simplicity.”

Phil thinks Trent’s flow for self-segmenting his audience as well-thought. The goal is to ensure that each user gets specific and relevant content. Trent broke down the self-segmenting workflow in just two steps:

  1. Ask to click one of the three links that’s most applicable to the user through an automated email.
  2. The user then gets an email with free resources and offerings specific to their user type.

It can be as simple as “they click a link, it adds a profile property, and then boom: they’re self-segmented,” Phil says.

Find the Right Threshold

Trent shares his problem with getting more people to upgrade from freemium users to paid members in Flowster. Currently, the freemium account offers five free templates and uses the sixth template as a trigger to pay.

Phil asks, “Do most people even set up five ever?”

Assess your freemium model and find the right threshold.

Phil’s piece of advice for Trent is to check how many templates freemium users have actually used. In Trent’s case, it might be better to lower the threshold from five to three.

Create the Best User Experience

Phil talks about his experience as a first-time user of Flowster and emphasizes looking at the user journey.

“There was, like, an example of how to use it, but there’s a lot of info there. It’s kind of like drinking from a fire hose,” Phil comments.

Always think about the user experience, especially for the first-time users of your app or product. Here are two things to consider:

  • Make it educational, but not overwhelming.
  • Think beginner-friendly. Guide first-time users through the next steps they can take.

As the owner or creator, look at things from a user’s point of view.

Set an Indoctrination Piece to Activate People

Look into your digital marketing funnel workflow. Do your actions lead to getting users active in the app?

For Phil, an indoctrination piece keeps users engaged and curious in trying out different features when they sign up. Ask yourself: what’s the first action you want them to take?

You want people to keep using your app until they upgrade to paid features.

Here are some suggestions from Phil:

  • Look at the user journey you want people to take.
  • Get users to self-select and know what they are using the app for.
  • Know about the users’ property triggers, things that may be of value to them.

“Capturing the data point from them so they self-select so you know what to serve up to curate a really cool, clean experience for them, by nature, will just get them more involved in the app,” Phil says.

Know How to Prioritize Efforts

Phil takes Flowster’s audience as an example of prioritizing efforts.

Flowster has 4,500 freemium users. Around 20% of that is using the app more actively than the 80%. In that 80% of people, half can be assumed to be already completely unengaged.

One would typically think of prioritizing efforts on those who are not engaged. But for Phil, he recommends prioritizing efforts for the active users despite being just 20% of the audience.

Phil shares, “The unengaged folks, there will be some that come. But I’ve seen this so many times in terms of these unengaged audiences that, by and large, a lot of them, they’re checked out.”

Create a win-back email campaign to reactivate unengaged users. However, clean them from the list and move on if they don’t respond.

What Did We Learn from This Episode

  1. We learned Phil Rivers’ pieces of advice for Trent’s digital marketing funnel for Bright Ideas and Flowster.
  2. Look at your digital marketing funnel from a user’s point of view.
  3. Your funnel should determine what is most relevant and valuable to your users to keep them engaged.
  4. Assess the actions of freemium users and find strategies for them to avail paid services.
  5. Create a clean and engaging user experience.

Episode Highlights

[03:13] — Phil introduces himself 

  • He is an email marketer.
  • He helps companies grow their audience and build their email lists.
  • Phil is the founder of Tetra, an email marketing consultancy.

[04:08] 2 challenges on digital marketing funnels for Trent

  1. He wants to categorize his Bright Ideas audience to provide relevant content for each category and drive them to try out Flowster.
  2. He needs to come up with new strategies to make more people sign up for Flowster’s services.

[09:04] — Self-segmenting Bright Ideas audience

  • An email asks the user to pick and click one out of the three links that’s most applicable to them.
  • After self-segmenting, a follow-up email is sent to offer free resources that are specific, useful, and relevant to the user. 
  • Self-segmenting provides more relevant content for the audience.
  • For Phil, self-segmenting does not have to be complicated.

[14:52] Breaking down the digital marketing funnel for Bright Ideas 

  1. Self-segment through email links
  2. Provision of specific and targeted free resources
  3. Offer to try out WEBS (Wholesale eCommerce Business System) and gain freemium users.

[16:12] Activating people to avail paid services

  • Flowster’s freemium model allows users to make up to five templates, hoping they would pay for more templates.
  • Trent shares their struggle with user engagement and getting users to pay for their services.
  • Phil comments about the threshold of five templates for freemium users. It might be too much.

[22:50] Designing Flowster’s user experience

  • You want people to keep using your app until they upgrade to paid features.
  • For Phil, you have to ensure that your actions will lead to getting users active on the app itself.
  • Including new users in a community group can help build a relationship with them. However, ensuring that they are actually using the different features in the app should be the priority.

[27:46] Phil’s tricks on activating people

  • It is best to ask users why they are using your product or app to know how to serve them better.
  • Find out the features or services users gain value from.
  • Curate a clean user experience to get people more involved.

[31:42] Prioritizing digital marketing funnel efforts

  • Phil suggests that Flowster prioritize efforts on the 20% that are actually using the app.
  • Watch out for the completely unengaged audiences who have probably checked out.
  • A win-back email campaign may work to get them to reactivate. If they don’t, Phil suggests cleaning these unengaged audiences from the list and moving on.

[33:12] Tetra’s business model

  • His company’s model is agency style, where they conceptualize a strategy and build and run it for their client.
  • Tetra can also work alongside their client to teach them how to conceptualize and strategize themselves. 

[34:46] Some advice from Phil

  • When sending email campaigns, especially with marketing messaging, don’t use something as generic as or
  • Come up with an alias or avatar to make it sound like it comes from a human, not from a computer.

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Today’s Guest

Phillip is an e-commerce veteran, whose been in the game for over 15 years. Having built stores from scratch and selling them he has seen how crucial it is to grow and nurture an ‘owned audience’. Now he helps e-comm store owners take traffic from cold to repeat customer with email.

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