Customer Activation

How We Use Email to Convert Free Signups Into Customers at Sumo, KingSumo, and SendFox

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Email marketing is one of the BEST growth marketing channels. You don't have to rely on Facebook's algorithm to show your message, spend money on ads, or deal with direct cold sales. In this talk, I'm going to show you how we've grown our eight-figure business with emails that ANYONE can send — even if you don't have a team, or you're not technical. Includes step-by-step advice.

David Kelly:
Yes, here we go. Welcome. Welcome. I am so excited to have you watching this presentation. I'm so excited to share this presentation on how we use email to convert free signups into customers at sumo.com, KingSumo, and SendFox can bind a very large eight figure company.

David Kelly:
Now, we're going to talk about actual practical things, not a bunch of theoreticals, actual practical things that we use at these three companies so that you can use them yourself, you could be successful yourself, and you can hopefully do even better. And then you could teach me. All right.

David Kelly:
So the first thing I want to share is what we're actually going to talk about. So you're going to learn three key things. First is how to optimize your email forms for signups. So you're not going to be able to get paying customers if you're not getting signups first. Two, is how to write and automate emails to get customers into your SAS product.

David Kelly:
And three is email metrics and baseline so you can get better and compare to what you have so that you're understanding how to iterate as you need to iterate. And then we're also going to talk about a bonus, how to keep your email list clean. This is often forgotten about, often not shared, but critically, critically important to list integrity and getting customers through your email lists and maintaining good email deliverability.

David Kelly:
So who am I? I was number 11 at Student Loan Hero. I was the first full-time marketer focused exclusively on email marketing for most of my tenure there. We grew email to a seven figure revenue channel, one of the more successful revenue channels as Student Loan Hero. And then we sold to LendingTree for $60 million. So very exciting for all of us.

David Kelly:
I'm also right now, an email advisor for Sumo. I advise on email marketing strategy for our large lists of about a million and a half subscribers. And my full-time job is as the general manager of Sumo labs, which is like the Google X of Sumo Group. So we built KingSumo and we also have built SendFox.

David Kelly:
All right. Now, before we get into the nitty gritty, I want to remind every viewer out there how valuable email marketing is. Email is simply the best way to get results. We test marketing channels all the time and consistently time and time again. Not only do we see email as slightly better than the other marketing channels, we see it just dominate the marketing channels.

David Kelly:
And let's show that. So we have a few different situations here. The upper left, you have generating free users. Email has generated free users for Sumo. And then in the bottom left, a single email, the email entered follow-up email has generated 280 free users for KingSumo, which we were then able to convert into paid users. And that is about one of 10 emails we send.

David Kelly:
So combined, our email marketing is better than any other platform. And then for Student Loan Hero, we increase revenue dramatically for email and sessions dramatically for email by focusing on a few key factors, which I'll show a little bit about shortly. Oops. There we go. Jumped ahead. Got too excited. So here are three email marketing strategies that work in today's world for SAS.

David Kelly:
I'm going to show you them really and practically. So first, we're going to start by optimizing our forms. First key is you want to use Google Analytics to define your popup time less than the page average. Here's how you do it in Google Analytics. It's important to do this because you want the most amount of people to see your pop-up. And you also don't want to be the annoying scammy person showing a popup after three seconds.

David Kelly:
So we recommend going, let's say, a minute lower than your average page on site. So this is about two minutes in this case, two and a half minutes. And then the second thing you want to do is use your most popular content as a gateway to get people to subscribe to your newsletter. And I'll show you what that looks like on the next slide.

David Kelly:
But one example is you can create a PDF of your most popular blog post, put it into your funnel for your pop-up and have people opt in. If you don't want to do an exact one-to-one copy, you can also do an extended version of a blog posts or additional information on a blog post. And I'll show you what that looks like right now. So here is a pop-up we did for sumo.com.

David Kelly:
You can use Sumo, OptinMonster, Thrive, Leads, whatever it is, simple design and copy that resonates with users is a real way to win. So you'll notice in this pop-up that we have 20 places to collect emails on your website. And this was on a blog post about how to grow your email list. So it directly relates. It actually pulls a lot of the content and material from the blog post directly with some additions.

David Kelly:
And we're seeing a 50% opt-in rate, 50%. It's crazy. And I'll show you why that's crazy right now, right? So the average pop-up opt-in rate is 2.9%. Top 10% is 6.5%. Top 50% is 1.8%. These metrics are good for you to keep in mind as you create pop-ups to know when you should stick and when you should iterate. And what I mean by that is if you're already around 6%, or 3%, or even 2%, there are things you can move on to.

David Kelly:
It's good to get something to 80%, then move on to something that's 0% and grow that and then come back to the pop-ups. And then eventually, you'll get this 50% right here. So now we're going to talk about how to actually write the emails. So very important to note that once you have forms, that's when you can write the emails. And the three rules of copywriting for email are write like you're talking to a friend, not like you're writing a dissertation or a college paper.

David Kelly:
A lot of people are great verbal communicators, but cannot for the life of them write. So write like you're talking to a friend in a bar is something we often talk about. And then look at engagement, open rate, click rate, replies, test accordingly. Even if you don't understand metrics, seeing over time how your own metrics adjust and adapt according to the copy you're writing, and then accept the fact that you're going to fail. It happens to us all the time.

David Kelly:
All right. So something I want to share is the power of a drip campaign. So a drip campaign is really, really powerful to send an automatic email series after a signup and convert those free customers into paid customers. You may have heard these mentioned as campaigns and infusion soft, ongoing emails in MailChimp flows in Klaviyo.

David Kelly:
They're all one and the same. The core principle is how to automatically send emails. Now, there's an obsession out there with advanced segmentation, especially for a lot of people in the SAS world. They're like, "Oh, man, I need 37 different drips that account for if they do this or that." We have very few drips at Sumo Group. And we are an eight figure company, right?

David Kelly:
We have very, very simple drips, probably combined about three per business. We don't go crazy and you don't need to either. So here's a simple formula for winning drip funnel. Hello, best product or selling point. Another feature problem you can solve. Easy and I'll show you what that looks like right now as soon as this page loads. So here you go.

David Kelly:
Full screenshots, by the way, are available at bit.ly/davidproductsummit. So you can see the full details of the screenshot. You can take these on your own. You can look at them. So here's an example of a drip that we use at Sumo Group to try to convert free customers into paid customers. So first is, hello. Here's how you use Sumo form. Two is, hey, if you want to remove your branding from your Sumo form, here's how you do it. Upgrade to a paid plan.

David Kelly:
And three is, hey, you know what also would be cool, using AB testing, which is part of our paid plan. So we essentially help them have success right away with free product. Then we say, hey, here are two elements of the paid product that you should use and very successful. So we have a 20% open rate, 0.3% CTR, and then similar across the board.

David Kelly:
And what's important to note is when people look at these CTRs or open rates, they might say, "Huh, that seems kind of low." It's all subjective because this is a sales email. These are sales emails. So think about what would happen if, let's say, one out of 100 people you sent to converted into a paying customer. What about 10 out of 1,000, right? Or 100 out of 10,000? Very, very, very valuable.

David Kelly:
All right. And on the next page, here is a great example of an email. Series for KingSumo. And we didn't have the upsell into paid. I left that blank for you to understand how the flow would work. And we're actually working on this right now. So you can see how the two others work and then you can visualize what this one would be. So first is launching your giveaway.

David Kelly:
So launch your first giveaway, join the tool, just do it. And then the upsell into paid is after they launch their first giveaway, now you pay for the product. And then here's the third one, which is really interesting to share. Anyone who enters a giveaway also gets an email that says, "Hey, you entered the giveaway. Giveaways are the best way to do X, Y, Z. Click here to create your own giveaway."

David Kelly:
And a lot of people don't think about this because they're so obsessed with turning existing customers into paid customers, existing free customers into paid customers. But think about how many people you're leaving out of your own chain by not thinking through this. So our thought was, hey, you know what? We actually have a lot more contestants per giveaway than we have giveaway creators.

David Kelly:
We have about 10 times the amount of contestants than we have giveaway creators. So why not try to turn some of those contestants into giveaway creators, and then try to upsell them to be paid. And it's worked very, very well. And I'll show you another example. We have a third example actually coming up, and this is a SendFox example. And this is a manual sales outreach email.

David Kelly:
And some people might see this and say, "Oh, you know what? I don't want to do manual sales outreach." You know what? Manual sales outreach is still a process of turning free or non-customers into paid customers. So it's really good to get familiar and create drips around that. So here's a drip series we created. "Hi, Chandeep. I want to personally reach out."

David Kelly:
And then I tell him we have 10 spots left for SendFox. And then 24 hours later, we don't hear from him. "Hey, just want to check in. Did you see my last email?" And then 36 hours later, we haven't heard from him. "Hey, you said you were interested in SendFox. You filled out a survey or we saw you're interest in some other way. You get higher open rates for half the cost. We've tested it again and again. Here are the medians. Here are the differences. Here's your spot availability."

David Kelly:
So you can sell free customers or non-customers paid plans in a lot of different ways. You don't need to just create this complicated website funnel. You can do some direct outreach as you can see here. So once you get that going, start with basic segmentation. Here's an example of a basic segmentation that we do for Noah's website. And this is something that you can adapt on your own.

David Kelly:
So we have, if someone clicks, for example, on YouTube clicked, you apply the tag YouTube subscribed, and then we send them an email that's similar to this, like subscribe to a podcast or do X, Y, Z, or results in this way. And it works really well. 86% open, 24% click. Very, very high. That is about four to five times higher than you would see for another email. So now that you send an email, now what?

David Kelly:
It's time to readjust with results. So you have metrics to look at. What are the important metrics? And the two key metrics we notice are open and click rate. So here are some real stats from our different products. 19% if your list is above 200,000, 22% if your list is around 50,000, 30% if it's between 10,000 and 50,000, and about 35% if it's under 10,000, around 5,000 to 10,000. And click rate, notice is very, very similar.

David Kelly:
And what I think is interesting is the difference between 10,000 and 5,000, right? Notice how the click rate for 5,000 is actually lower than 10,000. And that's where context is really important. So that's where context of understanding the types of emails that you send, like you saw with Sumo, where our sales emails had about 0.3 something in that range click rate. It's going to be lower when you're trying to sell.

David Kelly:
All right. And there are two other stats that you should be aware of. The unforgotten heroes of spam and complaint rate. So on average, your spam complaint rate per email should be below 0.02%. If it's higher than that, you need to be careful that you're not buying a list. You need to be careful that you're not doing affiliate crap. You need to be careful that you're not being a bad sender. And then for unsubscribe, on average you should be below 0.3%.

David Kelly:
So if you spike every once in a while, that's okay. But I would say on average be in this range. All right. And there are three tools that we love. Send check it email, Subject Line Tester gives you a grade based on your subject line, helps you check for spam words that might get lost in the spam box, mailtester.com, very valuable to make sure that your configuration is set up correctly and your mail will deliver.

David Kelly:
And then Litmus/Email on Acid, two different companies, but basically the same product, a more advanced version of MailTester that gives you a little more insight into the types of inboxes like Gmail, Yahoo, et cetera, et cetera. So with all this said, how do you keep your list clean? What do you do? This is a bonus tip. So we talked to a Gmail anti-spam member. It was very interesting.

David Kelly:
And I tried harder to talk to this guy than anyone I've almost talked to in my entire life, which is really crazy. But he said three key things that were really fascinating. First, he said that Gmail really cares about engagement. So opens, clicks, replies, time spent in email. They're very increasingly important. Unsubscribes aren't always bad, make it easy to leave.

David Kelly:
So if they see a high unsubscribe rate, it doesn't necessarily mean a bad thing. And then spam is the worst thing. So send people the emails who want them and don't mislead. If you have a lot of spam complaints, Gmail will start spamming your email. And the key is also understanding those metrics. You don't want to just react. You want to keep your list clean before sending. So here's how to do that. We recommend you remove non-actives from your list.

David Kelly:
And a lot of people are so attached to their email subscribers. They say, "Oh, man, I got 20 emails subscribers three years ago. It took me such a long time." It doesn't matter. There are actually ways to still send to those email subscribers. But for the most part, you want to send to people that have only opened in the past three to six months. So in MailChimp, for example, you can say, "Hey, anyone that did not open all campaigns for the last three months, was added three months ago and their email subscribed status is subscribed."

David Kelly:
You can export those people, move them to a non sending list, unsubscribe them from your main list. You'll save money and then you can do re-engagement campaigns once a year to try to get them back active again. And that's it. We made it. So we did it. Thank you guys so much. As a reminder of what we ended up going through, here it is. Start by optimizing forms, write epic emails, readjust with results, clean list.

David Kelly:
I hope this helps you guys at a very high level, very brief understanding of email, at least get the ball rolling. So if you have any questions, check out sumo.com, sendfox.com, kingsumo.com. If you want more quick tips for marketing, check out my personal blog, dmkthinks.org. And if you need anything answered, we built an email product. So you can email me david@sendfox.com. I am happy to share with you our email insight. And if you're interested in learning about what SendFox can do, answer questions about that. Thank you so much for your time, and we'll talk soon.

 

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Gretchen Duhaime
David Kelly
General Manager at Sumo Dojo (SendFox, KingSumo)
Marketing and growth wizard that's helped grow multiple 8-figure companies. David leads Sumo Dojo — part of Sumo Group with AppSumo and Sumo.com — as General Manager. Responsible for growing their two products KingSumo and SendFox from six- to seven-figures (and beyond), David often makes mistakes but learns along the way (that's how a career goes, right?).