Marketing Podcast with Brennan Dunn
In this episode of the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast, I interview Brennan Dunn. Brennan is the Co-founder of RightMessage, writes weekly at Create & Sell, and wrapping up a new book on personalized marketing.
The internet has changed the way we do business. It’s given your company access to a global customer base. But that doesn’t mean consumers are all the same. Their location, economy, and finances can influence how consumers engage with your business. So how does a virtual business replicate the vital in-person experience? With technology. Brennan Dunn is the co-founder of RightMessage, a software company that helps you uncover who’s on your website, what they do, and what they’re looking for from you. In this episode, we talk about how we can leverage personalized data to improve the customer experience and increase revenue for your business.
Questions I ask Brennan Dunn:
- [1:21] Could you tell me about your book and what inspired you to write it?
- [2:09] What has your journey looked like?
- [5:44] How does the idea of personalization play into the customer journey?
- [13:56] How does the technology of RightMessage work?
- [18:59] Do you have any data to back up the willingness people have to give you more information when you share how it will benefit them?
- [22:15] How does RightMessage use the data it collects to personalize the website for each visitor?
- [24:09] Does RightMessage work with the various page builders that are out there now?
- [24:51] Where can more people connect with you and learn more about RightMessage?
More About Brennan Dunn:
- Weekly, in-depth email marketing advice for creators — Createandsell.co
Take The Marketing Assessment:
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John Jantsch (00:00): This episode of the duct tape marketing podcast is brought to you by the female startup club, hosted by Doone Roison, and brought to you by the HubSpot podcast network. If you're looking for a new podcast, the female startup club shares tips, tactics and strategies from the world's most successful female founders, entrepreneurs, and women in business to inspire you to take action and get what you want out of your career. One of my favorite episodes who should be your first hire, what's your funding plan, Dr. Lisa Cravin shares her top advice from building spotlight oral. Listen to the female startup club, wherever you get your podcast. Hello, and welcome to another episode of the duct tape marketing podcast.
John Jantsch (00:51): This is John chance and my guest today is Brennan Dunn. He's a co-founder of right founder of write message. He writes a weekly at create and sell, and he's working on a new book, all about personalized marketing, which by the way, is what we're gonna talk about today. So Brennan, welcome to the show.
Brennan Dunn (01:11): Yeah. Thanks for having you, John.
John Jantsch (01:13): So tell me about the book. Is it, is this one of these things where you get some spare time and you go right on it for a while, or is it, is its publication imminent?
Brennan Dunn (01:22): It's somewhere in between. I've gotten much more structured than I was early on. So I am, I do have dedicated writing blocks that I try to keep. Yeah. And the, the finish line is coming up. So I'm aiming for about a midjune finalization, if you will, the manuscript and, uh, we'll go
John Jantsch (01:36): From there. So, so as I said, we're gonna talk about personalized marketing. So personalization in your emails and, you know, in your segmentation and your website, of course, and, and the technology there, you know, now, you know, makes that to something that if you put a little effort is really simple to do, I would suggest it's probably becoming necessary to do I think, in the environment we're in. But before we get into that, I'd love to hear a little bit about your journey because you and I have spoken briefly, we were at a, a conference, uh, together recently, and I kind of got the sense that you've got your hands in a few things, or at least have had your hands in a few things, you know, leading up to right. Message.
Brennan Dunn (02:15): Yeah. Yeah. So about a decade and, and change ago, I used to run a web agency. So that kind of got my experience with, or that, that built up my experience with kind of needing to sell big ticket projects, built that up to 11 people. And I think the, the big core thing that I, the big takeaway I got from that experience was how important things like dropping relevant examples were. And if somebody's a technical person talking technical with em, if they're just a marketing person, not talking technical, for instance, and, and so on. So I did that for a while. I got bit by the software bug, we were building apps for other people I wanted to build my own. So I built a little, a software company called plan scope. And in 2011, sold that in 20 15, 20 16, somewhere around then, right at the end of the year.
Brennan Dunn (03:00): And then I kind of started up or kind of came serious about this company called double year freelancing, which is the thing that I frankly did the best at with all these things. And that's now a community of, well north, almost about 60,000 freelancers and agencies. And it was fun. Like we, you know, I did conferences, I had a podcast, I did the whole like bunches of courses, ebook, like info product, kind of Emporium there. And that's really got where I got my start with personalization because as we started to get kind of broader in terms of our audience, we had copywriters, we had marketers, we had designers, developers, and really every Stripe of freelancer you could think of. Right. And the developer me thought, well, what if a copywriter is on a sales page? And they see copywriter testimonials, and what if a developer sees developer testimonials and, you know, that kind of opened up this Pandora's box that I've been, uh, continuing to open ever since on what's possible, given who somebody is, what their relationship is with you.
Brennan Dunn (04:03): So are they new on your website? They just appeared from Google or are they your most, you know, die hard customer? What kind of work do they do? What stage of their business are they at? And yeah, that, that kinda led me to eventually getting approached by a few key investors saying, we see what you've been doing on your own site. Can you extract that technology into a product that we can pay for? And they were willing to kind of fund the development of that. So that's how right message came to be. And that was about 20 17, 20 18, right around then that we kind of launched it.
John Jantsch (05:28): So I was gonna ask you what the biggest mistake you see marketers making today, I'm really just teeing up the
Brennan Dunn (06:19): I think for me, and, and what I typically recommend, a lot of people do, especially those of us who are trying to do kind of email first, where right. You know, instead of pushing somebody to buy or trying to get them on our list and then over time, build up trust and then get them to buy later. I think the thing that as being on the consumer end, always frustrates me is if I'm on an email list of a brand, let's say, and I get their, you know, their latest email and drives me me back to their website, then I'm hit with a giant popup asking for my email address. Not only is it a bit annoying because you know, they presumably know that since they just E you know, they just email me
Brennan Dunn (07:03): You're kind of already a little further down the funnel. Why not present a product, an entry level product you haven't yet bought. And then if they've bought that entry level thing, let's now put onsite called actions for maybe the more premium product or right. You know, the, the, the crazy mastermind in Cabo, San Lucas, five figure thing, if you're the super customer, right. Like, I mean, that's the kind of thing that I think a lot of us, I think are doing that over email with campaigns that are saying like, you know, for different cohorts of subscribers, we wanna send different marketing messages. But I think considering that most of us are bringing people back to the website, whether it be to listen to the latest podcast episode or to read at the latest blog post, or just to look at a sales page. I think having that interplay back and forth is something that most of us should be doing. It's just, it's one of these things that it's a little challenging to figure out how to do, which is one of the things I've been trying to help ease.
John Jantsch (07:56): Yeah. I think a real obvious use case. You talk about the popups that, you know, version one, everybody saw it every time
Brennan Dunn (08:28): Yeah. Yeah. And doing that, but also doing, um, more horizontal things, like, depending on maybe the industry somebody's in or the job role that they're in, or their goal, maybe offering different products or different recommendations to them showing different messages. I already mentioned the testimonial example of yeah. Depending on somebody's kind of business, they run, what kind of case studies and testimonials should they see even things like one of the, one of the most rewarding, if you will. Things that I tested that that has worked consistently is I have, for one of my courses, a free email course that feeds people to the paid course. Yeah. And what I did is I simply asked people when they joined the free course, which of the following three things are you trying to solve with this course? Cause the course is on pricing and the three options would be, I want to get an idea of how to price in general, I went to start pricing on value, or I went to learn how to write proposals better.
Brennan Dunn (09:18): And those were kind of the three things I uncovered were why people kept joining the email course. So all I simply did was I said, well, okay. They tell me this upfront, what I'll do is when the email course completes and I then start to pitch the paid thing, the paid thing relates to the email core, the free course. Yeah. So let's just say, if they said they're struggling with proposals, make the focus of the course and why they buy it to help you with proposals. Right. Yeah. Right. And it's things like that I think are kind of a no brainer when you think it through. I mean, it's any, anything like if I was trying to sell you over the phone on something I would, and, and you said, you know, you, you signaled something to me that allowed me to mentally segment you into this is John's pain point. You, I, a good salesperson is gonna right. Keep playing off that. Right. So it's the same, same thing just in a more scalable, um, more high volume, medium, if you will.
John Jantsch (10:13): Well, and I think that that approach of narrowing, you know, the focus, because I think a lot of times what we do as marketers is we default to, well, here are the five things we know are the reasons people buy this. So we're gonna tell you those are all the benefits. Yeah, exactly. You know, so then consequently, we're like, well, one of those matters to me, the other's just like more clutter that I have to read about. And now I'm just confused. Yeah. And I think that idea of being able to zero in on something, they told you, I mean, they basically said here's how to sell me. Right.
Brennan Dunn (10:42): Yeah, exactly. And, and I mean, this plays out, I think in a lot of more impactful ways, like I mentioned, the first software company that I sold, it was a project management tool called plan scope. So think of task management, normal kind of stuff like that time tracking. And I, I sold to freelancers and agencies cuz really the only difference with an agency was they had multiple seats and every functionally was the same thing. But I remember I, I got on a call. This is, would've been like 2013. So you know, quite a while ago in internet time, at least I, I got on a call with an agency owner and I was talking with them and I was showing them our website and kind of figuring out like what was holding them back from moving forward. And their objection was anything that works for a freelancer couldn't work for our agency.
Brennan Dunn (11:24): And you know, it was kind of this weird. I struggled at the time as the person who knew the product inside out thinking the only logistic differences is maybe some things on the reporting end, but also the fact that there's like multiple contributors and stuff to a, you know, a, a project rather than a single contributor. But it just kind of, it floored me thinking like, is this a very, is this a common shared thing? You know, that there's this bias of teams think solo people don't have anything in common with them. Yeah. And maybe convert vice versa. So anyway, that was a, uh, for me that would've been like a prime. I, I was even thinking at the time maybe I spin off like plan scope, premium or plan scope pro.com make it completely separate marketing site, make it all about agencies. And just say, if you're an agency, you go to this site. Yeah. This lead magnet, whatever freelancers, get that one. But really the, I think the beauty of personalization is you can have the same products. You can have the same marketing site, you can have the same marketing and you just kind of dynamically alter bits and pieces. So you can get around those core objections in a and really elegant way.
John Jantsch (12:31): Yeah. And I think one of the things that I, I hear a lot of times, you know, sales people complaining that I got multiple stakeholders to sell, you know, the sales manager cares about vastly different things than the CEO does. And so I think that idea of job title, you know yeah. In your database is really crucial because I mean, case studies you could deliver that are different. I mean every benefits, all of your messaging can be different. Yeah. And sell those multiple stakeholders came.
Brennan Dunn (12:57): Yeah.
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John Jantsch (13:54): We've already talked about a lot of the ways I think people can use this. Tell, tell me a little bit about the technology. I mean, how, how, without getting to a level that you have to be a coder to understand what you're saying, you know, how does this work?
Brennan Dunn (14:06): Yeah. So what, we're the way we've modeled. This is you integrate with your email database. So that could be, you know, convert kit, HubSpot, drip, whatever. Yep. Active campaign, different things like that. And the, the way we look at it is that should that record about somebody. So Brennan's record in John's active campaign database is the single source of truth about what we know about Brennan. So presumably you segment me when I buy from you, you know, Stripe does its thing. You then tag me as a customer. You, I buy something else. I get another tag and so on. So it's really just extending that to say, well, can we also sync up to that record attributes about, you know, industry chal current focus, whatever it might be. And then what we do is we say when one of two things happens, if somebody opts into your list, we basically kind of do a little think of it as a bit of a hijack, if you will saying, okay, a record was just added to active campaign for this browser.
Brennan Dunn (15:12): So when it comes back active, campaign's gonna say, Hey, we created a record and its internal ID is 1, 2, 3, and then all right message says is great. We're gonna drop a cookie on the browser saying this is active campaign record 1, 2, 3. So then from that on out until they clear their cookies, we just query and say, what do we know about 1, 2, 3, and, and get back that, that data. So then we can pull that data down, but also push shade up. So if we learn something new about this person, like they change their focus or they change industries, that data can then be synced to that single source of truth. So what we're basically creating a bridge, if you will, between the website and a specific record in your email database and then pulling data down and pushing data up and we pull data down and we can say, when this data's present, so when they're tagged customer, don't show the sign up form at the top of the website and the hero show, the upgrade button or something.
Brennan Dunn (16:07): Yeah. Right. And being able to do interesting stuff like that. And that's really what we're trying to do is we're, we're trying to really help people. And it's difficult because it's a bit of a challenge strategically to think it all through, but we're trying to help people create more holistic end, end ex and end experiences where, you know, you're getting personalized emails, you're getting emails that are targeting just customers. But then when you go back to the site, you're not treating, you're not being treated as an anonymous person. You're being treated as that customer too.
John Jantsch (16:33): You know, CRM, maintenance and updating is, you know, is the bane of a lot of people's existence. And to some degree, you know, this is automating a great deal of that. Mm-hmm
Brennan Dunn (16:48): Yeah. It's just feeding. I mean, you obviously need to set up the different surveys right. And quizzes or whatever else, but yeah. It's enriching. And I like to think of it as, especially those of us who are focus focused on low touch email stuff. Yeah. So you've got the lead magnet, the most we know about most of our people on our list is their first name and email address. Yeah. That's pretty much it, which again, isn't the end of the world. But I think if you can find out a bit more about why is they downloaded the lead magnet and what are they currently struggling with and what best describes their situation. And obviously the questions change depending on the business, the underlying business and stuff. Um, yeah. I mean a good example that we, that we like to reference a lot is we have a customer that's in the health and fitness space and they do what you would expect, which is they ask like, what are your current goals?
Brennan Dunn (17:35): Do you wanna build muscle lose, you know, lose fat, whatever. And they're able to then just dial in on both the products offered, but also the stories told over their marketing emails to just resonate better. I mean, it allows us to, I think all of us know that niche websites typically outperform generic. And the reason for that is they just, they had their messaging dialed in to one, one type of person with one type of need. And, um, but there's no reason you need a niche, the entire business. Right. You know, it, it can be done. It's like when I used to write proposals for my agency, we did web mobile apps for all different types of companies. When I wrote a proposal, I was effectively nicheing down our business to fit their unique need. And that's all we're talking about doing is just a, a way of doing that kind of dynamically.
John Jantsch (18:21): You know, what's interesting about this, you know, you've, we've all gone to that, uh, to get that free download and presented with, you know, 18 fields of data that they want. And we're reluctant to fill that in because I, I, I feel typically we don't trust that company enough yet or, you know, whatever it is that we want to really give them that much information. Plus I think it, it feels like I'm giving you this information for your benefit. Right. And one of the things I like about this approach of asking people, I think it's very easy to get a lot more data because it's positioned or you can position it as, Hey, this is, this is so I can send you the right stuff. You know, this is so you get only what you care about. And I think that positioning really dramatically changes, you know, how much willingness people have to give you and trust that you develop. But I'm wondering if you have any data to back that up.
Brennan Dunn (19:14): I do. Yeah. So we used to be really pushing people. And I think you and I talked about this kind of recently where we used to push people to do a lot of upfront data collection. So pre optin get industry job role, all that stuff. Right. We've and the calculus was always, well, if we got more data about somebody could then show them a personalized optin. So if I knew you were in this industry with this problem, instead of join my newsletter, I can say, join my newsletter, you know, focused on helping, you know, marketing coaches with X, you know what I mean? Like just being able to make that really dialed in. And, and there's some like that can sometimes work better, but if it's tricky, so what I recommend most people do at this point is get that data post optin. So do your usual normal optin stuff.
Brennan Dunn (20:02): And then I like using the confirmation page. So the thank you page that usually says, Hey, thanks, go check your email goodbye. Instead, use that as an opportunity to say, Hey, so, you know, thanks for joining. If you can spare a minute or two, I'd love to just find out a bit more about how I can make sure you get exactly the content you need and nothing more. So this is something that, you know, we do, I do, but also many of our customers do. And on average, we're getting usually it's about 80 to 85% of all new opt-ins end up going through that process. I mean, assuming it's not a thousand questions, if it's, you know, four or five things that are multiple choice questions, most people are willing to kind of click through that because you're positioning it as exactly that you're not doing this to say we wanna put together a, a slide deck to investors showing the composition of our audience, give us data.
Brennan Dunn (20:51): Instead it's positioned as if I can find out why you're here and what you need. I can reduce the amount of noise I send you. Yeah. I can make sure that I'm giving you exactly what you need. And people tend to agree with that and like that. So, yeah, I mean, we're, I'm getting four outta five people who join giving me more than just a name and email. I know in my case what their current email marketing objective is, what email provider they use. If they have one, how comfortable they are with it, what they've done with it, if they haven't, why haven't they signed up yet? So for me, I'm like, well, I can go and say, send an email right now to everyone on my list, who does not use an email marketing platform and maybe they've struggled. Maybe they haven't done it cuz they're not sure which one. Yeah. Well, I just came up with this great, uh, review video I put together and I really pushed the affiliate thing that I, you know, for the platform I, I recommend. And that's how I could target that for, right. Yeah. So I can do like so many interesting things once you have, uh, that data in your database.
John Jantsch (21:49): Yeah. So, so let's wrap up on, uh, the idea of creating personalized messages on your website. I think a lot of what we've talked about implies that I've got that data. So now I can send better email, but a lot of us out there myself included have segments, different, unique segments that we sell mm-hmm
Brennan Dunn (22:25): Yeah. So the way, the way we do it with the right message is we allow you to quickly like click on a headline. So what you could do is you could go into our tool within the tool, go to your homepage, let's say, and then click on the headline, like, you know, your main headline mm-hmm
Brennan Dunn (23:07): But what I usually tell people is even if they don't want to go that far one easy fix, it's not the most elegant fix, but it's an easy fix would be, let's say you're promoting a new product or course, and duplicate your sales page like two or three times and make those tweaks. And then just within your email platform, when you're writing the emails, have some conditions, let's say if they're in this segment, point them to landing page a. If they're in this segment, go to line page B and, and obviously it's not the nicest way of doing it, especially when you consider that one benefit of a platform like right messages, we can do multivariate personalization. So you can say, you know, these benefits are here because they're in this job role, this headlines, because they're in this industry, this testimonial is because they're struggling with this pain point and that can yield. If you just do simple math, it can yield, you know, 10 industries, times 10 job roles. You already have to have a hundred variations, which would be untenable if you were to duplicate it a hundred times. Yeah,
John Jantsch (24:08): Yeah, yeah. And is it, does it work with the various page builders that are out there now because you you're just putting in blocks of HTML or something
John Jantsch (24:46): It. Yeah. Awesome. Well, Brendan, thanks for taking time to stop by the duct tape marketing podcast. You, you wanna send people obviously we'll have a link to right message. But do you want anywhere else you wanna send people to connect with you?
Brennan Dunn (24:57): Yeah. I mean the, the, you know, besides right message. I, I do write weekly, like you mentioned, at create and sell.co and there, I just write about everything from, you know, tagging versus custom fields to what I've talked about recently.
John Jantsch (25:11): A lot of email stuff,
Brennan Dunn (25:13): Just email, like, you know, should you have design emails versus simple text? Yeah. I mean just a lot of emailing, things like that.
John Jantsch (25:19): Awesome. Well, again, uh, thanks for sub by and hopefully, uh, we'll run into you, uh, one of these days again, out there on the road.
Brennan Dunn (25:26): Absolutely. Thanks John. Hey,
John Jantsch (25:28): And one final thing before you go, you know how I talk about marketing strategy strategy before tactics? Well, sometimes it can be hard to understand where you stand in that what needs to be done with regard to creating a marketing strategy. So we created a free tool for you. It's called the marketing strategy assessment. You can find it @ marketingassessment.co not dot com.check out our free marketing assessment and learn where you are with your strategy today. That's just marketingassessment.co I'd love to chat with you about the results that you get.
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