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the real secret

The ‘secret’ to Tom’s success wasn’t any one thing actually…

...it consisted of a new offer along with a strong strategy to back it plus skilled execution and the dedicated focus required to start generating a record amount of sales in 30 days.

..and there was one other important key that was required as well, can you guess what it was? 

Without it, we’d never have been able to even start the email campaign...

Tom later applied the same offer and put it in front of cold traffic. He revised his approach until he was cost effectively generating sales that way too! 

Now Tom’s at 515 722 members (and counting) and is very happy to be off the ‘product treadmill’. 

Tom gets to focus on what he does best (creating amazing fonts and graphics) and not worry about where the revenue will come from this month.

Now maybe creating a $90k annual recurring income from scratch isn’t a big deal to you, but it made a big difference to Tom and it doesn’t stop there. 

He now has the foundation in place and he’s growing it bigger and bigger.  Would you believe that 650 of his 722 members signed up in the first six months of 2019 alone?

Tom had to put his paid traffic efforts on the back burner for close to 12 months due to other ‘fires’ in his business. Once he returned his focus on paid traffic, his growth has been fantastic.

...but it all began with an offer combined with the strategy to get it in front of the right people...in the right way and at the right time.

We’ll call Tom’s story exhibit “A”.

Several months later I gained another client (we’ll call him Steve), one who was easily 20x the size of Tom’s business in terms of yearly revenue. 

I came aboard to focus on Marketing and Growth and looked forward to seeing what kind of impact the right offer to the right person at the right time could do with an audience this big (some 190k+ worth of active contacts in his ActiveCampaign account).

Steve had an online membership product in the hobby market and had grown to become the biggest player in his niche with eyes to expand even further.

I joined his team just before the start of the year, so there was enough time to review previous campaigns and get acquainted with their platform and how everything worked together…

...or so I thought.

While this business was much bigger than Tom’s, it was also a “victim” of its success.  

They had grown super fast in a relatively short time...resulting in a “patchwork” of systems working together.

I had planned offers for highly targeted segments of the database,  because as we all know - the best open rates, the best click through rates and of course - the best conversion rates come when the message and value to the audience is most relevant.

But as I was “slicing and dicing” up Steve’s database... I realized I had my work cut out for me.

Unlike Tom, who had clear customer and non-customer segments that I could work with out of the gate, the database that I had inherited in Steve’s business was a conflicted mess loaded with contradicting signals.

Case in point, I wanted to make offers to both members and non-members at different price points.  (It’s only fair to reward your loyal members with discounts that the general public doesn’t get...and this was part of the initial strategy I put together).

However, due to a database that had endured massive growth, platform and even email service provider changes over the course of five years...there was conflicting data in abundance.

One such offender was the frequent occurrence of contacts with both a ‘membership tag’ and a ‘lapsed member tag’ - so which one was right?

When you begin to question the ability to convincingly target segments of your database... you know you have bad data.

In small numbers you can take the time to cross reference other systems, perhaps the shopping cart, payment processor or membership platform. 

However in a successful business that is in a high-growth phase? This task could take a while...not to mention if the underlying systems weren’t fixed in the meantime, there would just be more and more bad data piling up, leaving me in a “one step forward, two steps back” situation.

It was only a matter of time before the growth Steve’s company was enjoying would become constricted by the weight of bad data stacking up behind the scenes.

Which reminds me of a quote that I’d heard recently from James Clear, the author of Atomic Habits:

“We don’t rise to the level of our goals, we fail to the level of our systems.”

Steve had lofty goals for his company; how to impact the lives of his members and the overall market, but in order to get there the systems needed to be upgraded.

The absolute worst thing about bad data is when you’re unaware of how bad it is.  

You draw up your ‘members only’ segment...but you neglect to audit your results before you send out your campaign…

...ever been there?

The result is you’re talking to people like they’re a member...only maybe they’re not anymore? 

Or you’re trying to sell a membership to a brand new member who just paid yesterday (jeez these guys are selling me hard...and I already paid)!

Or maybe you offer a product discount to someone who previously paid full price...and now they’re furious with you!

In a nutshell, bad data has the following impact:

  1. It upsets otherwise happy customers/members

  2. It becomes a nightmare for your customer service team to handle

  3. It makes you look (and sound) stupid

  4. It hurts open and click through rates over time

  5. It increases unsubscribes and ultimately...refunds.

There’s another saying for this:

 “garbage in, garbage out” ~ incorrect or poor quality input will always result in faulty output.

To make matters worse, Steve was also in the middle of a new website switch which included an entirely new membership management platform. 

Unfortunately this new platform didn’t have a direct integration with the email service provider he was using... so the potential for “disagreements” between the “membership system” and the “email & automation system” were high.

I had to dive in, roll up my sleeves and go for partial fixes that could happen now...

...clear out the easiest and largest volume of conflicting data fast and fine-tune the rest while championing API interactions with the developers as time went on.

I became the self appointed “guardian” of the database that was powering Steve’s business, because it simply had to be done. 

Without someone dedicated to ensuring that segments were as clean as possible - all of the email marketing campaigns I had planned (the online channel driving the lion’s share of revenue for Steve’s business) would fail to perform.

In other words, we’d be sending out the Wrong Message to the Wrong Person at the Wrong Time  - not exactly a recipe for success.

So while Steve hired me to help grow and market the business, I ended up wrestling with the bad data issue first...because doing just one or the other would end up stalling the growth of the business.

I’m happy to say that after 18 months of working with Steve, his company continues to grow (on pace to almost 2x last year’s revenue), but it pains me to admit that there is still clean up ongoing, even now to get the database to where it needs to be.

And while no database will ever be 100% up-to-the-second accurate at all times...that leads me to a core problem that currently faces the online business community…

...one that a lot of the Customer Retention Management and Email Service Provider software tools don’t want you to know….

Want to get to the bottom of what the CRMs and ESPs don’t want you to know... along with how to solve the actual growth problems in your online business?, Click the ‘continue’ button below.

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