Digital Marketing: Shocking Crap I Hope You Don’t Believe

Digital Marketing: Shocking Crap I Hope You Don’t Believe

Oh, the bogus they teach all over the place in the name of digital marketing.

I had been to a meetup on digital marketing yes ‘day and I was shocked by what they teach others in the name of digital marketing.

In India, there’s a term for reverse engineering: Jugaad.

That’s what it was.

How do you do SEO?

Pick keywords, throw them all up on your website. You’ll be on top of Google

How do you start with Shopify?

Grab a few images from AliExpress. Put them up. Do Facebook ads. Make millions of dollars.

How to do Facebook ads?

Create multiple accounts (because you are certainly going to be banned). Launch ads. Make use you use to shorten links (because your full-links is going to make Facebook come down hunting for you). Use Video ads. Point ads to your store.

How does Facebook track visitors?

Oh, there’s this thing called the Facebook Pixel. Once you visit my website, I can keep targeting you for life.

How do you find images for Facebook ads?

“Find them on Google”

How do you allocate ad budget for Facebook ads?

“Start with $2000 per month. You’ll only make positive ROI if you run ads long enough”

What other advice do you have for us?

“Always use big, green buttons on your Shopify Store

How do you handle product returns?

“Use a virtual address and have no such thing as returns. If customers don’t like it or if they got damaged products, let them keep it”

Really? Nice strategy you got there.

It’s sad that this is what these “self-appointed experts” teach complete newbies. Every question was followed by a shocking answer that was either completely wrong, unsubstantiated, or at best, it was a half-assed answer.

This is unfair. Everyone deserves to learn better. Stop telling yourself lies. Don’t trust anyone who says “I know digital marketing like the back of my hand” or “I made a million doing SEO”.

Very few people can claim this for a fact. Everyone else is just lying.

Digital Marketing takes skills, efficiency, and commitment. Either you are in it or out

Here are some absolutely ridiculous things others are telling you or those that you believe or perhaps your neighborhood “expert” taught you:

Digital marketing = SEO

You got legs? You need two legs to walk. An engine needs anywhere from 1 – 12 cylinders for it to work – and all cylinders have to fire.

Digital marketing is vast and it has many things working together to make it work for a business. SEO happens to be just “one” of them. At the time of writing this, it’s only getting harder.

The right digital strategy is to fire all those cylinders together. You have to ALL of the following:

That’s it.

Limping on a Leg

It’s remarkable how so many businesses just want “one leg” to work. Websites look like they’ve been built in the late 1990s. They load extremely slow. There’s no content marketing strategy in place. There’s nothing else working in your website’s favor. Your domain is rather new.

Yet, you are willing to pay idiots to make your website show up on “top of Google”. You thought Google was an easy lay?

SEO is not about writing crappy articles that you outsourced for $2 or less. Heck, even $125 for a single post of 1500 words still won’t guarantee any SEO success. Even if you do guest posting, it might not work as well you thought it’d.

Plus, making SEO work is a long-term strategy and it takes time. If you were expecting short-term results, you’ll be sorry.

If you still think you are doing it right, you are only hurting yourself. You just don’t get it.

Chasing Shiny Objects

There was this one young chap who happened to “quit his job” to start full-time blogging. Stars in his eyes, passion surging from within, but absolutely clueless as to how to go about it all.

He arrives looking for answers. Because he doesn’t know any better, he is looking at the wrong sources for information and he isn’t getting any of it. He can’t make sense of what’s being talked about and he doesn’t like my answers (because those aren’t what he is prepared for).

He thought full-time blogging is like,

“Start blogging, will make money from next month”

That’s not going to happen.

He wasn’t the only one on a deluded path though. There were newbie affiliate marketers, bloggers, business owners, and many others.

There was this particularly interested, vocal, and an active man from a business background who was chasing “the micro-niche dream” – I’ll set up a blog on micro niche and make $100 per month.

Good luck with that, asshole.

Everyone was chasing the dream. They were all after shiny objects (micro niches? Products no one knows about so they have potential when you sell them on Shopify?).

Dreams aren’t bad. Chasing something worthwhile is worth it. Except that there’s no strategy, plan, or resources behind any of those dreams.

Those dreams then, are worth shit.

Cutting corners, everywhere

Put up Facebook Ad, and then point to a website.

So, where the heck are the landing pages? Where’s your strategy to collect leads and then nurture them?

When I suggested that email marketing strategy is critical for success, I am told that:

“Email marketing is old”.

Who told you that for something to work exceptionally well, it has to be “new”?

“Retargeting is the new method that makes you millions”

Agreed that retargeting is awesome and that you should do it. Without the right strategy, assets, and a way to make it all work together, it won’t work.

“Spy on others and build your ads that way”

How do you know those ads even work? When asked, I was told that you’ll know how successful ads are when you see the engagement level on those ads (comments, shares, and likes).

But that doesn’t tell you how much money those ads really made. If there were any sales at all, you don’t know the Return on Investment. See?

Every single point being made felt like the world is in a rush to cut corners and find the shortest route possible.

People are chasing gimmicks, tricks, shortcuts, and crappy workarounds.

If your business is as cheap as tissue paper, go ahead and twist it all you want. There are at least a million scam artists to help you with that.

How important is your business to you?

I don’t care what you think but if you are cutting corners, going cheap, working with tricks, and looking for magic bullets, you don’t deserve to run a business. Go back to that day job and there’s nothing wrong with that.

Your entrepreneurial chutzpah depends on a lot, starting with that leap of faith. It starts with an idea.

Everything about you will be tested.

Your ability to sustain the vagaries of entrepreneurial uncertainty, your ability to get educated about what’s right and what’s wrong, the way you bring in finances to fund your business, your finesse of managing clients (employees, vendors, contractors, and investors).

Getting results with digital marketing depends on who you hire to help you with digital marketing or the choice of your digital marketing agency, the knowledge you choose to implement, and how you bring it all together.

I’d understand if you said it was all overwhelming. I can hear you out if you told me that all this is hard to manage. I’d empathize if you told me that it feels like you are putting a mountain that won’t budge.

What I won’t accept is that you choose to listen (and actually believe) all the nonsense that’s written on digital marketing, on business, and everything (or everyone) who is influencing you to do injustice to the very business you started with so much love, passion, and energy.

I won’t let you trample on your own dreams. Period.

Email Marketing A/B Testing: Why Bother & How It Matters?

Email Marketing A/B Testing: Why Bother & How It Matters?

Exactly 1 out of 143 clients in the last 3 years have bothered with email marketing A/B testing. It’s not surprising since many clients don’t even have “absolutely anything to do” with email marketing itself.

I mean, who the heck bothers with the old and boring email marketing when there are really hot social media platforms out there.

If you ignore email marketing, everything else you do with digital marketing is you sweating the small stuff and doing exactly that you shouldn’t be doing.

Why bother with email marketing A/B testing?

Assuming that you are convinced that you should do email marketing (hopefully), let’s look into the “why” of email marketing A/B testing.

  • You do A/B testing because you want to find out what works best for your business
  • Data-driven marketing is the only kind of marketing you want to depend on.
  • When an average email marketing campaign delivers 4300% ROI, it just makes sense to fine tune and optimize one of the most profitable digital marketing channels out there.
  • As always, you never know what subject lines, email copy, delivery timing would work the best with your audience.

Now, coming back to Email A/B testing; it works just like it does while you do A/B testing with ads, landing pages, websites, and others.

With email marketing A/B testing specifically, you can test:

  • Subject lines
  • The “from name” or the way sender details are presented
  • The content of the email
  • A particular segment or a set of recipients
  • Time zone that the emails are sent on
  • Particular weeks of the day the emails are sent
  • Recipient Group size, and more.

According to MarketingSherpa, here’s a full list of what you could do email marketing tests on:

email marketing tests

The winning emails are decided on a criterion you can setup. Some of those criteria could be open rate, click rate (total unique clicks), total clicks on a particular link, and more.

Most email marketing service providers like Mailchimp, Drip, and Campaign Monitor give you the tools for you to do A/B testing.

The only reason why you aren’t running email marketing A/B tests are because you weren’t aware, you thought it was fancy, or maybe because you genuinely didn’t get around to do it yet.

With email marketing workflows off a fully-customizable and automated tool like Drip (and also with other ESPs), you can also measure actual ROI of your campaigns with A/B testing.

I know you. It’s not going to be easy to convince you about something as obvious as this. So, here are a few examples of how simple email marketing A/B Testing experiments got these businesses results:


Weddingwire is a comprehensive website with everything related to wedding. It lists out vendors, has planning tools for weddings, has a list of wedding venues, photographers, Djs, planners, managers, and much more. Weddingwire also provides a ton of insights, inspiration, reviews on individual wedding related services, and a lot more.

Weddingwire’s newsletter, however, was one those things you could easily do the mistake of “just letting be”. With millions of subscribers, who’d care if there was one social button that doesn’t seem to work as well as it should?

It does matter. When you send out emails to 24 million people or more, everything matters.

While Weddingwire had no problems with people clicking on their main CTA, they were concerned as to why no one was clicking on the regular list of social media buttons.

Of particular concern was to find out why their Pinterest button wasn’t clicked on – from within the newsletter – as much.

The reason why Weddingwire worried about Pinterest was because their users were active there and Pinterest also makes for a great place for information and inspiration on anything to do with weddings.

The regular “social button array” faux pas?

So, when Weddingwire started including pins from their already active Pinterest account, here’s what happened, according to a case study from MarketingSherpa,

“WeddingWire saw a 141% higher Pinterest growth rate compared to the brand’s average, as well as an average lift of 31% on re-pins from email. Top articles reached as high as a 180% lift in re-pins.”

All that traction just for including pins that click through to Pinterest within a newsletter.

You bet.

The Obama Campaigns

Everyone knows how successful email marketing was for Obama’s election as the president and the following re-election too (all this and you still need convincing that email marketing is critical for your business?).

This also includes the famous “I’ll be Outspent” campaign or the one subject line that says “Hey”.

Everyone knows this. Joshua Green of Bloomberg has a fantastic piece on the Science Behind those Obama Campaign Emails.

But then, there was a ton of detail that was being tested behind the exact same email marketing strategy that helped raise more than $500 million in donations.

Thanks to David Moth of Econsultancy and Amelia Showalter – Obama’s Directory of Digital Analytics in 2013.

Obama’s team found out that a sequential form that asks for information, one detail at a time, worked better than a single, long-form. This produced a 5% lift in conversions.

Obama Email Campaigns

As Amelia puts it:

“For example, in one test on subject lines Showalter’s team found that the most effective iteration would raise $2.5m in donations, while the worst performing subject line would bring in less than $500,000.
Similarly, the team achieved a 5% uplift in conversions by A/B testing a long online donation form against a sequential format that asks for a little bit of information at a time, with the latter proving to be more effective.”

There were many more tests on the same campaigns for Obama.


For instance, Obama’s team boosted their donations conversion rate by a whopping 20-30% by a simple change of wording from “Save your Payment details now to make the process quicker next time” to “Now save your Payment Information”

Obama’s team also had a lot of insights that most people (marketers and businesses) wouldn’t get:

  • The team fostered a culture of testing
  • Ugly designs outperformed pretty looking ones
  • The test results were shared internally
  • Grabby subject lines proved to be worth millions of dollars.

Who would ever think?


It’s nice to see a company that makes A/B testing as the basis of its existence actually run A/B tests (and email marketing A/B tests, at that). Allison Sparrow of Optimizely ran a total of 82 email A/B tests as on 2017 with only 30% of those tests being significant.

How many calls to action should you have within an email? Any sensible marketer would tell you this: one.

But then, do you know for sure? You won’t know until you test.

In Optimizely’s case, they ran a test for 1 CTA vs Multiple CTAs with their existing customers.

The goal was to simply check in on the clicks for the CTA buttons.

The result was that one focused CTA was more effective (by 33% increase in clicks) than multiple ones.

If you are interested in reading more about Email Marketing A/B Testing, here are a few subject lines A/B test ideas from Sujan Patel on MailShake. 

But then, most A/B test results won’t even give you any meaningful results. The folks at MixPanel tell you why A/B tests give bullshit results

“So if you’re sick of bullshit results, and you want to produce that 38% lift in conversions to get that pat on the back and the nice case study, then put in the work. Take the time to construct meaningful A/B tests and you’ll get meaningful results.”

Are you doing A/B testing for your email marketing campaigns?

Free Marketing Plan Sample: Will You Now Stop Making Excuses?

Free Marketing Plan Sample: Will You Now Stop Making Excuses?

Disclaimer: This digital marketing sample plan is generic. Every business — depending on different circumstances — can approach this differently. Also, this is purely an organic marketing plan sample. Things are slightly different for paid advertising plans.

Every small business is empowered to make it big. The world has truly gone flat. The online battlefields play no favorites.

It’s about how you execute your digital marketing, it’s nothing.

You did start with an effort to make your digital presence count. What you ought to know is the following:

  • Most people have no freaking clue what it’s like to do digital marketing. They just don’t get it. 
  • A meaningful digital presence takes effort and time (and little money). Read Digital Marketing: Are you willing to commit or cop out? 
  • You’d need to give more than you take.
  • You’d have to think in terms of value: why should a customer spend time on your website? Why should someone else buy from you?
  • If you thought your customers are there for “checking you out”, that’s losing your marketing pounds or dollars per visit.
  • Your job is to prepare for the long-haul or find the right people to do it (and an occasional monthly bill on applications or tools).
  • You’d also have to pay for other people’s services. Being cheap here won’t cut it.
  • Marketing is worth any investment you make for it provided you are doing it right. Also, don’t buy into any hype when it comes to marketing.
  • Marketing isn’t a one-time affair. It’s not something we indulge in during the holiday season or because the sales numbers seem to be going down for the last few months.
  • Marketing is punishing, expensive, backbreaking, thankfully, lonely, and relentless, forever, and ever.

With that out of the way, Your primary aim for marketing should be as follows:

digital marketing steps

Of course, the diagram above doesn’t even begin to do justice to the complicated juggernaut that marketing really is.

There are just too many variables — including marketing tools and digital marketing channels here.

Yet, you’d have to do it. That’s what this digital marketing plan sample is all about.

Your Website

Your website should be built with the purpose of making things happen for you, and not for looks. Your website should get you traffic, help you establish your brand, get you leads, and help you make sales.

Invest in copywriting, because the chances are that you can’t do it yourself. Effective copy should be short, succinct, sweet, and to the point.

The hero section (the part of the page above the fold) is prime real estate. Use it to make website visitors do one thing that’s very important for your business – and that should be an opt-in form asking for an email address with something worthwhile that you give away. Build it like front page landing page design and learn more about Sales funnels and lead funnels below:

All product pages (along with the sidebar on all pages) should have social media buttons.

Landing Pages

Build Landing Pages (for anything you’d want your potential audience to do, outside of your website)

Landing pages are bridge pages with an intense focus on getting your audience to signup, buy, or do something. That something is led by “call to action”. This is the page where you give away something valuable, like a tool kit, an e-book, a free trial, etc.

Paid ads, social links, and even links within your website should be pointing to a landing page.

14 Winning Landing Page Tips
Why are Message Matching Landing page Tips Critical?
The Anatomy Of the Best Landing Page design
Are you Embarassing Yourself with These Landing Page Mistakes?
Read my Unbounce Review: The single best Investment for Landing pages You’ll Make

Your Blog

Maintain a frequency of 1-3 blog posts a week with regular publishing days through the week. It’s important to post at a regular frequency and never miss it. Choose your frequency of publishing but honor it.

Each of these blog posts will have a relevant image or video where possible. We could start with unpaid royalty-free stock photography sites such as Unsplash, Pexels,  SXC, and more. Or you can also try custom graphics.

Each blog post will try to have links back to our main site, links outbound to other blogs and other content. This will be a good start for your link-building strategy.

Integrate social media buttons with your blog.

The blog needs to be set-up for maximum search optimization. SEO is all about getting the balance between valuable content and a judicious use of keywords for your business.

If possible, have guest bloggers, staff writers, and others to rope in their content with a brief introduction, by line and a link back to their own website. This increases traffic for us and also makes us well known.

Email Marketing

Email marketing – in spite of the big scene about social media – is still an absolute winner. Your subscribers are worth gold. As expected, you’ll need a dedicated landing page for email subscriptions alone (in addition to any signup forms on your website, on social media, and other avenues).

Learn Why You Need Email Marketing?
Check out a few email marketing stats to convince yourself.
If you are not doing email marekting, you could be sweating out the small stuff
Email marketing is not Dead, but you could have just killed it

  • Your list of subscribers (customers) is a great way to start a newsletter and an occasional marketing blitzkrieg
  • If you don’t have a list, start with your previous customers. Ask them for permission and manually create a list if you have to.
  • Do we have auto-responder software? Some of the good ones are Drip, Campaign Monitor and Mailchimp. It’s not a choice to have these; it’s mandatory. Pick one and use it.
  • We will need a well-written report, a toolkit, a free consultation, or anything else you can give away to seduce readers into subscribing with us in exchange for their email address.

Soon after each user subscribes, an autoresponder email will be sent with thank you and other details. Following this, send out an email each week: 4 per month; 52 per year.

Following this, send out an email each week: 4 per month; 52 per year.

No wait, how many emails should you send? Test it out

Some of these emails can have sales promotions, discounts, specials and other such offers you might want to do.

Social Media

Social media isn’t exactly a bustling marketplace. It’s not like you can just saunter in and sell. You can’t promote. You can’t pitch.

The last thing you would do on social media is to beat your chest and try to make money off it.

Yet, it’s a medium like no other. It’s the Holy Grail for marketing. It’s almost everything a business can ask for.

Branding: The more your brand grows in strength, the more profitable a business is. Social media is free (except for your time spent). Build your brand and everything else will follow.

Serve better to sell more: The more you serve – and as you learn to get better at it – the more you’ll sell. Now, that “selling” might or might not happen on social media itself. You are being watched. That’s a good thing for small businesses, which had to otherwise pay for eyeballs in the “not so distant past”.

Build relationships: Every thing in business is about relationships. Thanks to social media, we just have a lot of people available to make that happen.

Open gates for communication: Businesses are more open to conversations. Communication leads to trust. Customers buy only when they trust businesses.

Your name is out in the open: How exciting would it be for a business when the name of one of its brands, products, or services are mentioned at a water cooler discussion? Social media is a huge water cooler. Word of mouth just got itself a super dose of steroids. Manage these conversations. See why your name popped up. Step in and help when needed.

Play nice and laugh your way to the bank: Share information, get into conversations, relate to others, amplify emotions, and build relationships, it’s just a nice thing to do. When you do, however, you are creating little bridges of opportunity. Playing nice like that has its benefits. You’d end up high on the trust radar. You’d get popular. Everyone likes to do business with popular brands.

It’s all about social proof: The people talk about your business, the more you’ll do business. But they won’t “just talk”. You’ve work to do – a lot of it – before people talk about you, share your content, get in touch with you, and more. Period.

You think this is repetitive? I don’t care since most businesses don’t do it right.
See this:

Do or Die: The only 3 Ways To Use Social Media Right
How you get Your Social Media Strategy Completely Wrong
10 Tools Guaranteed to Boost Your Social Media Engagement

Content Marketing

Your blog works as the main hub for all the information you’ll produce. Your social media networks are the channels using which you can promote your original content (in addition to others’ content). In addition to normal blogging, you can also opt to work on:

  • Guest posting (publishing on other relevant blogs for free with credits to you)
  • Creating podcasts
  • Creating Videos for YouTube
  • Making slide decks and sharing them on
  • Producing Infographics

While I am still trying to get anywhere near this, you should check this out:

22 Companies That Grew With Content Marketing & Sweat
Guest Blogging Sucks, or Does It?
Why You Shouldn’t Sweat the Digital Marketing Stuff?
Sponsored Content: Are the High Costs Worth It?

Online Communities & Forums

You are the expert on what your business relates to — on everything that relates to it. Online communities thrive on common interests such as these and you’d have plenty of opportunities to showcase your credibility and expertise. Think of it as profiting indirectly by “giving” to a community of small & medium sized businesses.

This isn’t where you pitch and sell. It’s where you dish out pure value in exchange for credibility (and hopefully, some traffic).

Learn How to Make Quora work for you

Now, honestly, that’s there is to your organic digital marketing plan. Stop chasing brand new strategies and secret tactics. There’s no magic bullet. Just make good use of a single weekend, decide how you want to go about doing digital marketing (include this plan) and then just get to work.

Do you think this marketing plan sample can help you get started? How does your marketing plan look like?

Digital Marketing Strategy: How You Screw It All Up

Digital Marketing Strategy: How You Screw It All Up

Digital Marketing isn’t easy and it’s not hard either. The mechanics of online marketing remain more or less the same. There are only so many channels you’ll work with and it doesn’t get fancy anywhere.

The only variables are aspects that you’ll change depending on your business and your brand.

Also, how you want your brand to be portrayed determines how your offers are positioned, which also means that you’d then worry about the purpose for which you create content, the style of communication you choose, the blog posts, the copy on your web pages, the forms, your email marketing messages, and everything else.

But I see variations in what clients expect. I see how things begin to shape up depending on what the clients need.

You see, if you are reading this, I can bet that you need results. You want your digital marketing to work. After all that effort you take for marketing, something better happens for your business. Right?

It’d, but then, you don’t let that ever happen.

You seem to have your own skewed, twisted, preconceived, and half-educated knowledge of what works and what doesn’t work.

“I want SEO done. Will it be delivered tomorrow?”
“I want a beautiful website. It should look good”
“Looking for someone to help me with Facebook Advertising”
“Retargeting won’t work for my niche products”
“Email marketing is dead. Will you help manage my social media?”

I can put in 18-hour work days, Monday to Monday, and still never get tired. But a single statement like that and I am huffing, puffing, panting, and desperate to go do something else like weaving baskets or rolling cotton balls.

Digital marketing strategy is what it is but you screw up almost every time. Here’s why:

Because “Digital Marketing Strategy” sounds Like a Cool thing to say…

That word sounds so intellectual, geeky, and nerdy, doesn’t it? I am willing to bet more than 70% of all businesses in the world are sitting in a conference room wasting time with a morale-draining, complete unproductive meeting right now, at the time of writing this.

We are so drawn to fancy words and good-for-nothing meetings, aren’t we? You make it sound so big, this digital marketing strategy thing.

Instead of dwelling on a worthless “strategy” meeting, you could have written an entire week’s worth of blog posts.

Another strategy call could allow you to post social updates into the future using something like Hootsuite.

You spend too much time talking, and talking is cheap.

You worry so much about results that you don’t take the most important steps. Instead, you waste your time sweating the small stuff.

You spend half a week looking for Facebook advertising secrets instead of actually launching a campaign and learning from the data you gather.

You look for a developer to build landing pages when you have tools to help you build them.

You buy all fancy tools, courses, and eBooks but you don’t follow through what you learn.

Comfort is where the crowd is

If it’s popular, it must be good. Right?


For us humans, we take comfort in “common”, the normal, that which everyone does.

Everyone talks about SEO. Freelance marketplaces have vendors yelling out loud: “I will do SEO. I Will do SEO”.

Your idiot friend happened to share a drink with you and told you how he gets 124,000 visits a month just by publishing blog posts outsourced to a cheap freelancer and only publishes 4 times a month.

You think that’s the way to do it.

Some moron tells you that Social media is where it all is. You spend the next several weeks just trying to figure out how to make Twitter work for you.

Then another idiot like me would insist that you’d have to do email marketing and stop sweating over the small stuff.

You can see that you’d drift, coast along, and do nothing in the end.

Digital marketing is like a V12 Engine – all cylinders must fire. You can’t keep cranking a single cylinder (like social or SEO only) and hope that the world will come knocking on your door.

You have zero respect for the actual work

You want results. You look for vendors, freelancers, staff, and agencies.

For all the entrepreneurial hero that you already are, the Internet makes it easy for you to disrespect.

You can say anything you want. You can do anything you want. You can Tweet back at President Trump. You can leave a bad review for anyone.

This gives you a false sense of superiority. Plus, the Internet actually started making everyone believe that we live in an “Instant anything” world.

“Instant coffee”
“Instant online delivery”
“Instant access”
“Instant hotel bookings”
“Instant cabs”

Unfortunately, results from digital marketing are anything but “instant”. It’s a thankless, lonely, back-breaking, and soul-sucking job.

Either you do it or have someone else do it. When they do, don’t ramp up your expectations by expecting results yes ‘day.

That’s unfair.

See how much commitment digital marketing really needs. No one got successful on day one.

When you know this, why do you expect others to wave a magic wand and expect magic on day one?

Good freelancers and agencies do the campaigns the right way – they’d research, create ads, setup landing pages, do A/B testing, and run the campaigns the right way.

You could do it too. It’s just that it takes time and a certain degree of expertise. So, you’d choose not to.

Just because you choose not to doesn’t mean that people you hire have to get results instantly since it’d take them time to show you results as it’d take you time.

Your opinions are expensive & loss-making

A lot of business owners have strong opinions. That’s actually a part of what makes up for the entrepreneurial DNA. They visualize, believe, and commit. They take risks and they invest money. They have more to do in a day that 10 other normal folks do.

That’s also where there’s an issue.

You, as an entrepreneur, are supposed to have opinions but you’d normally depend on people much smarter than you to take decisions that help your business grow.

Instead, your fat ego and stupid opinions mar your digital marketing efforts:

“I want only 350-word blog posts”

Why? Why can’t they be longer?

“Please don’t link to any other blog posts”

Why shouldn’t I link to others?

“I want this image to be exactly 600px wide and 400px tall”

Exactly how many millions did you lose because of this?

“Change the color of the button to green”

What’s the proof that green works better, given that you don’t do any sort of AB testing?

“I don’t care about A/B testing”

Because you are sitting on billion dollars in cash to spend?

You can ask for explanations. You can be a curious cat and ask questions. You can jump right into an argument. You can even question moves your staff or contractors make.

But if they are smart, you let them take the risks for you. If they are good at what they do, let them do their job.

Consultants, agencies, freelancers, and even members of your staff have spent doing digital marketing for ages (like when you were still working on that job or when you were in college).

Don’t bring your big fat entrepreneurial ego when you hire consultants and question their goodwill, expertise, or skills – especially when they didn’t even get started yet.

Digital marketing strategy and all that jazz are all fine. But you won’t get a lead (and hence make a sale) if you continue to do what you do.

Great leaders and successful entrepreneurs depend on other smart people to do the work. They don’t nose around, bully, or disrespect.

If you still choose to walk your ass around the aisles of the Internet thinking that you are somehow privileged just because you choose to hire someone for $6.25 an hour, I know exactly where you’ll go and how you’ll end up.

I don’t want to see you there, so don’t go there.

Why Use Email Marketing?

Why Use Email Marketing?

There’s a lot of bullshit marketing advice out there and I am worried that you are spending way too much time reading that same advice and wasting away even more time before you end up working every day in a way that makes a difference to your business.

Forget blogging, SEO, social media, PPC, and whatever it is that you end up reading about.

While this might be repetitive, here’s the first thing you should do if you want to actually do something that makes a difference to your business.

Grow your email list.

Repetitive? Hell, yes.

But are you doing it? I doubt, barring a few exceptions.

In fact, most of the small businesses in the world have absolutely no strategy in place to build their email list.

Forget that email list. Most businesses barely do any kind of digital marketing at all.

The 2017 Small Business Conversion Marketing Report, thanks to the folks at Drip, has a few email marketing statistics that you should note:

Time spent on Marketing

Out of 1003 small businesses surveyed, thanks to Drip, see what came up:

  • 82.1% of respondents with no website spend under 2 hours a week on marketing, compared to 49.7% of the general survey population.
  • 27.7% of highly successful lead generators spend more than 24 hours a week on marketing, compared with 7.3% of those who are unsuccessfully trying to capture leads.
  • Just 7.4% of respondents can both capture leads and convert customers from their website.
  • Just 23.2% of respondents use landing pages, and 21.9% have blogs.
  • However, 27.2% of businesses using landing pages and 21.3% of businesses have great success generating leads—double the lead-gen success rate of the survey panel as a whole.
  • Just 27.7% of small businesses use digital advertising of any kind—but those who do have twice as much success making sales online.
  • Only 22.7% of small businesses use a formal, software-based system to follow up with their leads, such as an email marketing service, an automation platform, or a CRM.

Business assets

Social media really feels like that shiny object that doesn’t seem to let go, eh?

Excitement is where Little Promise is

Most businesses today tend to do what we all did historically.

Follow the herd.

Some influencer says “guest blogging” and everyone and their cousin is doing just that.
Guest blogging is major time suck, as I wrote before.

Social media is huge right? Yes, it is. Except that you are probably doing it all wrong and there’s nothing much to show for it.

If you noticed the survey results, all businesses (the ones that are doing something) seem to focus all that time and energy on blogging, websites, and social media. Meanwhile, email marketing is the really the money maker here, and you have these email marketing stats to prove that.

Plus, there’s more. 350 business owners revealed what they do in a survey by Clutch. More than 41% of them share content and engage with followers on social media. About 50% of them plan to “increase time” on Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube. Oh boy, and over 50% rely on in-house staff for social media marketing.

That’s sad.

Twitter has an uncertain future, Instagram does not play well for every business, and YouTube takes more time than managing social media. Let’s not even get near Pinterest yet.

Email marketing Destroys Everything Else

If it was just marketers and Email marketing service providers harping about how awesome email marketing was, I’d have ignored it.

When I started using Drip, however, things seem so different.

But ignore me. Let’s just get the data to speak for itself.

According to Martin Zhel of Mail Munch,

“…if you have 2,000 email subscribers, 2,000 Facebook fans and 2,000 followers on Twitter – this is what you will get:
• 435 people will open your email
• 120 Facebook fans will see your message
• 40 Twitter followers will see your message

The average email open rate is at 21% and it delivers the highest ROI compared to any other channel.

Email marketing open rates

Img Credit: GetResponse


How much ROI, you ask?

How about 122% median ROI?

24% of email marketers in the United States, thanks to a survey from Relevancy Group, attributed more than a quarter of their overall revenues thanks to email marketing – only thanks to growth in email user base.
In 2014, more than 68% of businesses surveyed rated email marketing as the best channel in terms of ROI.
Enough said?

Email Marketing has more to it than ROI

Modern day email marketing isn’t just about “emails”

There’s advanced automation, personalizing emails to segments of users, use of conditioning logic to ensure that you only send out the most relevant of the emails to your subscribers, lead scoring which starts off an automated VIP nurturing for most engaged email subscribers, and a direct tie-in with sales and purchases, if you used the right email marketing provider.

Now, do you still want to be adamant and spend 40 hours a day on Social media or do you want to take 40 minutes to craft some meaningful autoresponders and email marketing workflows?

MailChimp Vs Drip: Which One Helps You Automate Better?

MailChimp Vs Drip: Which One Helps You Automate Better?

While this is a MailChimp Vs Drip tug of war blog post, I use both. I want you to think and decide which one works for you best.

Mailchimp, you very well know, is an absolutely gem of an email marketing software. Recently, they had let out their automation tools for everyone to use, and that makes the good old chimp even more adorable.

Mailchimp is available for free for up to 2000 subscribers or 12,000 emails. You’d primarily work with “lists” in Mailchimp.

Have three brands? You’d primarily have three lists then. If you’d like to do advanced marketing automation, you’d need to use other features within Mailchimp such as segmenting and grouping your customers (say, those who purchased more than $150 in lifetime value or those who never purchased at all)

Of those automation features within Mailchimp, the absolute beast of a feature is eCommerce 360. It essentially connects with your website’s payment processor (WooCommerce in my case) and shows you a display of total orders that originate from your emails (including direct store orders and more).
Mailchimp ecommerce

MailChimp’s eCommerce feature along with its popularity (and hence your ability to integrate it with absolutely anything you’d end up using) is phenomenal value (especially, given that you’d start for free and you’d not even have to pay for automation now).

Simple will do for many businesses, and I’d never suggest anything beyond Mailchimp for these kind of businesses.

Sometimes, especially for businesses with an intent to use content upgrades, use lead scoring, and get into the depths of complex marketing automation, Mailchimp will begin to disappoint if you are looking for “straight forward”.

Don’t write off Mailchimp just yet. It can possibly do everything that every other competing piece of software can, except that it’s not going to be straight forward.

Paul Jarvis explains that you could use advanced marketing strategies to help properly segment your customers and it’s not necessarily true that Mailchimp can’t deliver just because it’s still based on lists and not on “tags” – where tags are the preferred way to do automation today.

Savvas Zortikis, VP product and Growth at GrowthRocks, helpfully listed out a bunch of MailChimp Hacks.

Kirsten Of Sweat Tea goes on to a great length to help you make use of Mailchimp’s segmenting, Grouping, and other features.

Over time, depending on your business, you might find yourself with the need to implement some advanced automation. Here are a few examples where Mailchimp might not work for you:

Using Content Upgrades

If you are confident that content marketing and blogging is the way to go and you also understand the power of content upgrades, then you’ll also understand that you’d have to be relevant.

This means that you’d be offering a WordPress Security Checklist for people who are reading my blog posts. You’d offer Facebook Ads Guide to people reading blog posts on Facebook Advertising.

You’d want to offer a checklist or guide on Funnels and email marketing automation for people reading blog posts on email marketing. You see?

A customer base with changing needs

My business is into end-to-end digital marketing.

By nature, I’d be touching many aspects of digital marketing as a service. For blogging too, I tend to be all over the place. Visitors to this blog are interested in everything from blogging to content strategy; from PPC to retargeting; from funnels to WordPress setup.

For businesses like mine, I’d have one client who only needs blog posts. Others need end-t0-end marketing.

How would I serve them all with a single (or even multiple) lists?

Then, what if I have two or three completely different businesses in addition to my main business here?

When you just can’t hack things together

Paul Jarvis and many others are pros at Mailchimp. Then, there are some smart, tech-savvy marketers who can make Mailchimp do everything they want it to do.

Regular guys like me are already strapped with limited resources (and a gargantuan list of things to do) – work for clients, blog regularly here, and then for Groovy Web Tools. Plus, I have a few courses all primed up to sell.

I can barely put together a form on CSS. Asking me to hack Mailchimp the way I want it to work is a big ask.

Just don’t have the time. You could be just like me.

Do you see why Mailchimp falls out of favor – if you are not Mailchimp Savvy enough — when you start piling up more than it’s built to take?

Say hello to Drip

That’s where the appeal of the new age email marketing automation systems becomes evident. Try to explain the growth of all-in-one email marketing power systems like Drip

Drip has long been a favorite for some savvy marketers and they’ve used the “one list and multiple tags per subscriber” approach to email marketing.

Together with that powerful tag system, visual automation builder, the ability to run as many websites or businesses you want (and paying only once per subscriber, Unlike Mailchimp), Drip makes for a compelling case.

In fact, there’s a lot more to Drip than what you’d come to expect. Here are some power features, apart from the obvious ones such as tags and multiple workflows:

Get Out of Gmail’s “Promotions” tab into the “Personal Tab”

Drip plaintext email

Email deliverability is a huge issue today. Every email you send out risks not getting delivered at all. Or maybe it’ll get into the spam folder right away. It can also get into your subscribers’ “Gmail” promotional tab.

Even if your email reaches your subscribers but ends up in the “promotional tab”, you are losing out big time here. The open rates are going to be negligible or late, or both.

Because Drip defaults to simple, text-based email (ConverKit also uses this approach to email), the emails seem like they are going out from a friend to a friend.

No fancy HTML email templates. No images that won’t get rendered by default. Nothing to filter automated triggers for spam on the user end.

For some reason, however, if you still want to fancy HTML emails. You can still do it with Drip’s Email Editor, those you get at Zurb Foundation [] or dropping an email template of your choice. (Not recommended. Just stick with plain text emails).

This alone, is a winner.

Self-paced, Advanced, Segmented Automation With Drip

Drip Visual Automation Builder

Your Offer – relevant automation workflow – nurture leads in that sequence – make sales

With Drip, you can have as many offers. Then, every workflow that’s triggered because of the type or the nature of offer stands on its own. The entire sequence you’d setup for your customers stays relevant.

But then, people chance. Their interests change. They wanted something before and they want something else now.

How will you adapt?

With Drip, you use tags and automation workflows. If my website reader comes in one-day and downloads a WordPress checklist. The sequence of emails that are triggered are all based on WordPress (because that’s what my subscriber expressed interest in).

But then, my subscriber? She is smart and since she already figured out WordPress security. She wants to move on and figure out how to launch Facebook ads. So, she signs up for that guide this time around.

Now, when this happens, I’ve setup automation in such a way that the Drip System just applies a tag to the same subscriber.

When a tag called “Facebook Advertising” is triggered, a separate campaign that’s built for “Facebook advertising” audience is now triggered for her.

Subscribers enter and exit workflows – a collection of campaigns, if you will – depending on their own actions.

Then, it goes on and on. This doesn’t end. But then, subscribers are automatically tossed in and out of relevant campaigns (or even out of the list itself) based on their activity (or the lack of it).

Lead Scoring in Drip

Drip Lead Scoring

Drip comes with Lead Scoring built in. That’s powerful stuff. With lead scoring, Drip starts allocating points based on actions your subscribers take. Points are also reduced due to actions subscribers don’t take.

Subscribers click on links within emails? Points go up.
Subscribers go and signup for another free download? Points go up.
Subscribers don’t click on links? Points go down.

This itsy bitsy gamification is on until lead scores reach a particular point. At that stage, Drip applies a tag called “Potential lead” and then another sequence of emails specially built to have these leads convert into sales is switched on.

So, as people signup, engage with your email, and stay active, some of those can be identified as potential leads.

You know what happens when your pipeline automatically builds like this over time, don’t you?

Now, how powerful is that?

Maintaining Healthly lists with only “Engaged subscribers”

A healthy, engaged, and active email list is what you need. Even if it has only 100 subscribers.

Growing your email list is not a contest. You aren’t competing with anyone here.

There’s no use having 100,000 people subscribing to your list and then having open rates that are worse than banner ad click through rates.

While we are on the topic of “healthy lists” – always ensure you have “double opt-in” enabled. You don’t want the eager beaver subscribers who dropped their email address but never bothered to verify.

Most likely, they’ll never bother to engage. They won’t buy anything. They won’t click on anything. They won’t read what you work so hard to create.

But then, even those who double opt-in can sometimes fall out of favor with your list. Using Lead Scoring (see above), email activity, and many other ways such as “Bulk operations, List Pruning actions” available inside Drip, you can periodically work on re-engagement campaigns or complete deletion of subscribers.

This way, you’ll always maintain a healthy email list. The only kind of email list worth having.

Forms In Drip

Ask me about forms, and I’ll bore you to death with a lifelong struggle to get the typical forms that ESPs like Mailchimp and Aweber provide.

Without the help of expensive experts, I could never make these forms look and work the way I wanted them.

First off, forms in Drip can at least be styled and made to show up how you want them on your website.

Here’s how I choose to use the forms for this website, specifically for a few offers.

One most important form (depending on what I want to offer) shows up on the bottom right corner of the website (branded and styled straight from where you create forms in Drip). All other forms are hidden and won’t show at all.

Drip Forms 1

Right off the bat, they can have styling that matches your branding and these forms can be set up to show on the bottom left, bottom right, on the left and right of the website, or show up as a light box (typical light box). Drip on Groovy

These forms open up politely (after certain amount of time or after users scroll to X% of the page. You also have the option of having them show on exit intent).

Pick however, you’d want the forms to show up. You also have the option of embedding the forms or use a link as a “hosted version”.

You can also style your forms beyond what’s available from the Form creation process by using CSS. These are shown as completely styled forms under relevant blog posts.

styled CSS forms for Drip

A few forms are for other kinds of offers (like the one I use for my consulting offers), and you’d not see them here on the website. I use them in cold email outreach, etc.

My forms, as you can guess, can’t always be hiding under blog posts. So, I use Sumo to create forms – click triggers, welcome mat, and inline forms – all over the website.

Sumo Forms for Drip

Integrations with Drip

Now, Drip is one of the fastest growing email marketing automation platforms (along side Convertkit) and it’s only understandable that a lot of other systems and tools you might use for your business play well with Drip. For me, Drip integrates with almost everything I use.

• Drip Integrates with Unbounce (the landing pages tool I use) with webhooks. It obviously also integrates with Leadpages (which now also owns Drip)
• Drip Integrates with WordPress directly with Drip for WordPress plugin. Use their plugin and the Javascript you need drip to track visits, cohort conversions, and form submissions is automatically taken care of.
• Drip integrates with WooCommerce (which I use for my store. However, I still use Mailchimp’s ecommerce integration and Mailchimp’s ecommerce plugin for the store since I didn’t want to make changes to it yet).
• Drip Integrates with Sumo (the tool I use for multiple sites to grow my subscribers).
• Using Zapier, I connect Mailchimp to Drip. This way, even my customers (who actually purchase any of my services or products) also get into Drip (tagged as customers, obviously).

Mailchimp Vs Drip: What’s your Pick?

I still use Mailchimp. I am a lifetime fan. Two of my other websites still use Mailchimp and the forms are created Divi’s Bloom Optin form builder.

Since I now have slightly advanced needs and also a strong need for complete automation while I have no ability to hack around with tools too much, I only use Mailchimp for its ecommerce features.

Note that Drip also integrates with WooCommerce, Paypal, Stripe, GumRoad, and many other tools that you are likely to use for payment processing. Or there’s Zapier that can help connect Drip to anything you want.

For everything else, especially for building my email list and for automation overall, I use Drip.

Mailchimp is awesome for you if you are just starting out and need a robust, easy, email marketing solution.

You’ll need Drip if you are already convinced that marketing automation is a must-have for your business (which you do).

Drip is everything Mailchimp is, except that it gets easier to do marketing automation at scale with complete flexibility, the awesome automation workflow builder, lead scoring, and more.

What will you pick? MailChimp or Drip Or Both? Tell me about it.