Episode #1 – Dane Maxwell On Email Marketing Being The Center Of His Business

by John McIntyre

When Dane began using email marketing in his business, he tripled his revenue. Tripled. That’s 3x mofo’.

Cool, eh?

In the first Email Marketing Podcast, Dane shares the strategy behind how he tripled his revenue with email. For entrepreneurs with online businesses, this episode will be a doozy. Mostly, it’s Dane talking deetz on how he uses email to build relationships and drive sales.

In this episode, you’ll discover:

  • Why Dane believes email is the center of his business (and how it remains the highest leverage point in his business)
  • Where most entrepreneurs go wrong with email marketing (according to Dane, they go about it backwards)
  • What is the goal of the first email? (not to make a sale, says Dane)
  • Two questions that give you an instant competitive advantage (and when to ask your subscribers these questions)
  • Dean Jackson’s amazing 9 word email that revives dead leads
  • Dane didn’t get a single refund in The Foundation. Find out how.
  • The biggest mistake Foundation members make with email (and the simple solution that means you’ll never make this mistake again)
  • Why email is like a conversation (and how to use lessons from talking to make your emails more punchy, potent and effective)

Email Marketing Podcast Episode 1


Intro and outro backing music: Forever More by CREO

Raw transcript:

John: It’s like second base on the first e-mail and work your way up to the crescendo.
Dane: Yes.
John: Hey, podcast listener. You’re about to discover insider tips, tricks, and secrets to making more sales and converting more prospects into customers with e-mail marketing. For more information about the e-mail marketing podcast, go to themcmethod.com/podcast. Hey, everybody, it’s John McIntyre here, the Autoresponder Guy, and it’s time for the first e-mail marketing podcast where we talk about the top tips, tricks, and secrets for making more sales and growing your revenue with e-mail marketing. It’s episode one, the first episode, and today we’ll be talking to Dane Maxwell, the creator of Deepfoundation.IO about how he used e-mail marketing to triple his business. To get the show notes for this episode of the e-mail marketing podcast, go to themcmethod.com/ep1; but first, I want to make you a deal. This is the first episode, like I said, and I new reviews. Now in exchange for a review, I’ll make you famous by reading out your review on next week’s episode, okay?
Step one, listen to the episode. Step two, go to themcmethod.com/podcast. Click on the review link. It will take you to the e-mail marketing podcast page and I-tunes where you can leave a review. Simple fun, and you’ll be famous and read it out in a sexy enthusiastic voice, okay? Anyway, now it’s time to get started. Let’s talk to Dane Maxwell. It’s John McIntyre here, the auto respondent guy. I’m here with Dane Maxwell, the creator of the Foundation.IO, a company that helps entrepreneurs start successful software companies by thoroughly understanding what the marketplace wants and marketplace problems. Dane, how are you doing today, man?
Dane: Good, John.
John: Good to have you here.
Dane: Thank you.
John: Real quick, tell us a bit about who you are. Who is Dane Maxwell?
Dane: Small town guy from Iowa. Actually, my town’s a half a million people, and it doesn’t really feel like a small town. I was born and raised in Iowa and scammed for 12 grand about 60 days out of college. I was flipping web sites back in the day, and the fourth web site I flipped, I made 12 grand on, or the third one I made 12 grand altogether, and I spent every dollar on a fourth web site for 12 grand, and I got totally fucked on it. That’s the exact word I felt. I had like $123.00 to my name, and I couldn’t get hired anywhere. I tried getting jobs at Principle and tried getting jobs at … Principle’s a big financial company here. No one wanted to hire me. Thank God they didn’t because I always kind of wanted to be an entrepreneur, and I was forced into a situation where I had my back against the wall. I was in my parent’s basement, and I started a software company without any idea of what to build, with a $123.00 to my name, and without any idea how to code.
Long story short, I built a recruiting platform for a real estate industry, and I had the brokers pay for the development of that software so that they could get that software free for life, and then I just turned around and sold it to all the brokers and made a nice amount of money. I hired a developer, and I didn’t even come up with the idea. I just asked the brokers, what are you struggling with? What do you need? They were like, wow! We’d really like to have recruiting web sites. I said, cool. We’ll do that. Can you pay for the development? Yes. That simple framework is what is driving the entire success of the foundation and six or seven other products I’ve built.
What I’m kind of excited about is seeing how the foundation could be applied to businesses that aren’t necessarily software too, but that’s who I am and what’s going on.
John: Okay, so the foundation is a group that teaches basically people how to start software companies, and now it sounds like you’re about to start teaching people just how do you apply the same principles to creating any sort of business.
Dane: Yes. We’re really passionate about … we want to create a million new entrepreneurs with that first customer, their first paying customer in the next five years, and we’re really interested in that, but what’s more important is the personal transformation that occurs inside someone when that happens. There’s a number of limiting beliefs, a number of doubting thoughts, a number of emotions that are spinning in a would be or starting entrepreneur. Most entrepreneurs think they need an idea so they just wait for the idea to get started, then they never do, and they’re 50 and they haven’t pursued their dreams. We really specialize in helping entrepreneurs start from nothing.
John: Okay. Fantastic. I know you use e-mail marketing in the foundation, and I know you use it a lot in some of your other businesses because we’ve talked about this stuff before. Tell us, where does e-mail marketing fit into the picture at the foundation?
Dane: It fits into the picture in all my businesses. It’s like the center of the business.
John: Okay. I think you mentioned this before with e-mail marketing being one of the highest leverage points everywhere, that it’s … as far as investment goes, you get the highest return on your investment when you focus on e-mail marketing.
Dane: Easily.
John: Okay. Why is that, do you think, and what are you doing to get such a high return from e-mail marketing?
Dane: Why is it? Why do you think it is?
John: I think e-mail allows you to get a much more intimate connection with people, and I think as the world gets busier and we’re just covered by an onslaught of content, there’s so much noise around that we need better ways of filtering it out; and for a lot of people, they just stop consuming a lot of stuff, and the e-mail inbox becomes kind of a sacred zone. If you can get into their inbox, you’re in the sacred zone, and you’re going to get their attention.
Dane: That’s absolutely true. It’s interesting. The average business owner is like, I’ve got to figure out how to get my name out there. I’ve got to get the name out there. I’ve got to get the word out about my business. The direct response marketer, they don’t really think like that. They’re not like, I’ve got to get my name out there. The direct response marketer is like, I’ve got to get people’s names into me. That’s one of the things we teach in the foundation. You don’t get your name out there. The first thing that people do in business is, all right. I’ve got my business set up. I’ve got to get my name out there. No. You focus on getting people’s names into you. How that looks practically speaking if you’re a realtor; they’re like, oh, I’m going to get billboards, and I’m going to get an ad in the newspaper. All those things would help, but the highest leverage is getting people’s names into you. Let’s just say as a realtor you become the official realtor for dog lovers. You specialize in dogs in fenced in backyards in friendly dog neighborhoods and things like that, so you’re branding that everywhere, and then you go … so you do have some name out there stuff, but you go to dog salons, doggie daycares, and you start creating a relationship with them, and you ask if you could get a list of their customers, then do a promotion. Now you’ve got all these customers from all these doggie places doing a promotion for a realtor, and you’ve got all these names in your database.
Even marketing is really that same thing. You’ve just got these names that you’re marketing to. You focus on getting people’s names into you, and that also applies to web sites. I love trying to figure out how to capture e-mail addresses off web sites, especially in software as a service. We had the old paperless … I’ll go back to the foundation in a second, but software as a service capturing e-mail addresses is really fun because we like to say, enter your e-mail address in the box, and we’ll send you a pricing sheet. The person enters the e-mail address, and we send them a double confirm opt in e-mail, and the double confirm opt in e-mail when they click on that, the thank you page is the pricing page. Now we have a double confirmed opt in lead looking at our pricing, and we just follow up until they become a paying customer.
John: Do you find that causes like instead of having the pricing on the front end, do you find that lowers your conversion rate or increases it?
Dane: I think it depends on the market. For us, definitely increased because we get … we don’t have … my CEO’s not at … the CEO of that company, that runs without me now, which is beautiful, but the CEO of that company is not as aggressive as me, so he doesn’t have the e-mail capture there anymore because we have a registration so you can register for the product, and he wants to drive registration as opposed to pricing requests. I would prefer both, but I’ll let him run it the way he wants. It’s okay. He’s doing very well with it. Back when we had it, we’d get 10 to 15 pricing requests a day as opposed to 15 people that want to see price and then we’d follow up with them again. Yes, when people are looking for transaction management software, they’re looking at five different options at once, so if I can capture their e-mail address and look at … and get pricing, and then I start talking about the competition and other options; you’re probably looking at other options and this and this, so let me tell you why this is different. They’re like, oh crap, I didn’t consider this. It’s just a really powerful way to … I love capturing e-mails.
The other thing that we did is, you know we have the links up top on the Home, the tour page, the about page, and everything else. I had had an e-mail capture there above the full … I had a video on the left and an opt in on the right. The opt in on the right said, take a private guided tour; enter your e-mail address. When they enter their e-mail address, it just forwards them to the tour page. The tour link is right up top anyway, and I had a 10% opt in right there.
John: That’s awesome. Once they get the pricing … once they sign up and they double confirm their e-mail and they’re on the pricing page, what are you sending them after that to cause them to buy? How do you come up with these ideas? What’s working for you?
Dane: Lots of fun stuff, man. This is exciting stuff. I like sending a one or two line e-mail that’s like, hey, I saw your request at pricing. How are you currently managing your transactions? Then they might reply and be like … I think it’s really important to get a reply on the first e-mail. I think it improves your sender score or something like that. The first e-mail … the goal of the e-mails for me is to get replies more so than clicks because every time … if you send out an e-mail and you get a bunch of replies, and that’s a communication; it’s a conversation in the e-mail, so the e-mail services out there are like, oh, yeah, e-mail is a back and forth dialogue. It’s not a one way broadcast, so when you get these replies, I think it improves something; so the first e-mail, we always try and get a reply. Actually, we could probably do a better job at the foundation, but we do have this whole list of like, hey, so you registered at the foundation. Tell us what’s your one thing you’re working on? What’s one thing you want in your life, and what do you think is stopping you? We get lots of cool replies from that.
The Paperless Pipeline product, paperlesspipeline.com when they request pricing back in the day when I was running it, it would be like, how do you currently manage your transactions? They would be like, oh, we’re using this competitor product, or we currently haven’t used anything. Now that I know those two things, I can sell them a whole heck of a lot easier.
John: I think it’s a really interesting point there. It sounds like you’re taking the replies. You’re asking a question first of all to elicit these underlying problems and pain points, and then you’re taking what they say and using it to build out the copy and the message and the marketing of the business. Then what happens is you’re resonating with the target market far more than any of your competitors can because they’re probably not sending these e-mails and asking the questions.
Dane: Yes. I remember getting into e-mail marketing and wondering what in the world do I send in e-mail? That’s a really big block for a lot of people. What e-mails can I send? You can send a three, four line e-mail that’s just a question that you want them to answer. It doesn’t have to be long value add content. I send testimonials, like sending one … if you have a product … if you have a list of people that haven’t purchased, take one testimonial that you have that’s good, and blast it out to the list with an offer to purchase, and you’ll get sales, like that’s amazing. If people saw the Paperless Pipeline list and they haven’t bought yet, every week, they get a testimonial from some raving customer. People will read testimonials in e-mail a lot differently than they read testimonials on a web site.
John: I was reading through your copywriting check list today. I mean, there was some e-mail stuff, and you say that. Why do you think that’s the case that it works better in e-mail and not on a sales letter?
Dane: I had this broker e-mail … okay. The biggest testimonial on the whole page back in the day was from Rob Campbell, and I had a broker e-mail Rob Campbell and ask him, hey, are you really happy with the product? Tell me, are you happy with the product? The testimonial on the side is like he’s thrilled with the product, like the parade the products for Rob Campbell because I asked him what his pain point was, like hey, Rob, what do you need? He was like, I really need this software; so I built it for him. This is now … this business, I got an offer for like three million dollars to sell it, this year or last year, and I declined it. This whole business was started from nothing by just asking the customer. That’s what we teach in the foundation, which is mind blowing fun to do. This guy’s on the home page, and he’s gotten a testimonial on a broker; Google searches his name, finds his e-mail address, e-mails him, and he says, hey Rob, how are you feeling about Paperless Pipeline? He copy/pasted the testimonial from the web site back in the e-mail. The guy was like, oh cool, so you meant everything you said. He was like, yeah, of course I did. I don’t know what it is, but people … I think they get to a testimonial on a web site and oh, this is where they’re going to try to sell me, but in the e-mail, their guard’s down, so it’s like that intimate sacred space. That’s probably what it is. People’s guard’s down in e-mail.
John: Yes. Totally. I totally agree. You reminded me there’s that, I think it’s an e-mail, from Dean Jackson on Marketing Monday; the nine word e-mail. I think it’s like a question where you say are you still looking for a real estate broker in California? That’s what you say. There’s no hey. There’s no signing off or anything like that. That’s all that’s in the e-mail, and the amount of people that reply to e-mails like that is astonishing.
Dane: That’s awesome. I love Dean Jackson.
John: What about the prospecting e-mail that you guys do with the foundation because I know they come in, and they’re learning a bit about how to isolate problems in the marketplace. How do you … what are you teaching people about? How do they get responses when they’re contacting business owners to search out their problems?
Dane: Oh, we do our cold e-mail blasts to different business owners.
John: That sounds so spammy, but it’s not, is it?
Dane: No because we do it one at a time. You send … you look up a person’s e-mail address. You go to their web site and go, hey, I saw your web site; I saw this. It’s a one off e-mail. If you send 100 e-mails, you should get about 20 to maybe 50 that open it; could really fine tune this down, and the e-mail subject line is, strange question, question mark, and it really peaks interest. Then the e-mail’s like, in a nutshell, what’s the most painful problem you have in your business? Maybe I can find it. It’s funny, the e-mails are getting pretty popular, so I’m getting people e-mailing me.
John: With the same thing?
Dane: Yes. They’ll e-mail me, let me just … Amir Khella is the creator of Keynotopia, and he sent it out. He got the strange question. He sent it out, and he got 2000 replies. Okay, so strange question. Hi Dane, this is Amir from Keynotopia. I hope you’re having an awesome week. I’m currently doing some research and would love to ask you a quick question. What are the biggest challenges you face on a day to day basis? Your challenges don’t have to be related to prototyping or design. As long as they are pain points or frustrations that you deal with every day, I’d love to learn them even if it’s only one or two sentences. Thanks. Amir. P.S. I’m happy to share my findings and insights with you once I am done with this research.
John: He sent that to you?
Dane: Yes.
John: Is he in the foundation?
Dane: No, but he teaches inside the foundation. He teaches user interface inside the foundation, so we have the best UI guy in the world. We’re going to Vegas here in … today actually, we fly out. We’re celebrating all the successful students of the foundation. There’s 35 to 40 people that are going to be there in Vegas that we’re going to be all celebrating together their success in the foundation. It’s the end of the program, and Amir’s coming. We hired Amir to design the user interface for the next generation of the foundation.
John: Wow! You’ve got 35 people. I think last time … how many did you have last time compared to this time?
Dane: Five or less; five successful people at the end of it.
John: How are they doing now? I’m curious.
Dane: The ones from the very first year?
John: Yes.
Dane: The first year, we had 88 total people sign up. Thirty-three people left at the end, and I think three really legitimate software companies coming out of that. The other 27 people decided they didn’t want to do software, so they own e-commerce stores or they travel around the world and do freelance SEO work with the mindset stuff they learned in the foundation, but the other 27 people, I didn’t get a single refund because that customer, they were so happy. Some people launched interview series businesses. It’s weird. Once your mind’s unlocked, that kind of software’s pretty cool, but actually, I think I want to do this thing over here. I’d say we had three people out of 88, which is 4% or 3%. This year, it’s more like double and triple that, somewhere between 10 and 15% success rate because we’re getting better at teaching. We’re getting a lot better at teaching. We’re the best. No one can … no one’s better than us at teaching this stuff because we dive into the deep inner game of limiting belief work, the mindset stuff, the chatter that goes on inside your head; we help clear that out of the way so you can actually move forward uninhibited. I’d say our success rate is 10 to 15% this time, and I plan on our success rate being 20 to 30% next time because the interactive learning environment that we’re going to be building for this next foundation is going to be like nothing information marketing has ever seen.
John: I love it, man. It’s so freaking awesome.
Dane: What makes you say that?
John: I just … I’ve been following you … I followed you through the last one, and it’s just interesting to watch how you guys execute, how you pull it off, man. It’s inspiring.
Dane: It’s exhausting.
John: (Laughs) I’m sure it is, man. I’m sure it is.
Dane: I wouldn’t change it for the world.
John: All right, man. Tell me about the common mistakes that people make in the foundation when it comes to e-mail.
Dane: Not following up on their e-mails, Not being consistent and not following up and then not being clear and to the point. If you use Dean Jackson’s e-mail, are you looking for a real estate broker in XYZ city, that’s really what the agents want to know, but if you give agents access to their e-mail; let’s just say, okay, agents, you’re going to send an e-mail to your list, they’re going to … 100 agents, 97 or 98, probably 99, maybe even 100 because agents are awful at business at marketing. They aren’t any more awful than the average business owner. I would say 90% of entrepreneurs, that’s if we called a realtor an entrepreneur, don’t really know what they’re doing. It’s not their fault. They’re just misinformed. I’d say to those agents if they had a list of 2000 people and they’re supposed to send an e-mail to their list, the women are going to send cute recipes, and they’ll be like, oh by the way, think of me if you still need any real estate services, or an update on how many homes they’ve sold, or none of the things which is what they really want to know. They want to know if people want to buy or sell a home, so just e-mail that one question. A lot of times when the students are hey, Dane, I’m not getting a good response rate on my e-mail, I look at it, and it’s just you can feel the nervousness in the e-mail that they’ve written. One of the things we do is we send a lot of LinkedIn messages, and that works really well. What they do is they lose sight of what it is they want. I’d say the goal of the first e-mail is not to get what you want. It’s to get a reply. When I’m advising people, I’m like, well, get this reply. Wait, but I actually want this thing over here, which is like a phone call. Get them to reply back and forth first and then ask for a phone call because it’s really weird. Does that make sense?
John: Yes, man. It’s like a sequential thing. You get them to jump through one hoop, and then you get them to jump through the next hoop rather than going for the big hoop the first time.
Dane: Yes. I sold a real estate broker … I blast out an e-mail about a product, and he replies back, I love this product. It was like the broker round table product, which is just a monthly interview series of brokers, and I was like, oh cool. I replied to him, hey, have you seen … oh, no. I said, hey, have you seen Paperless Pipeline? How are you managing your transactions? The one line e-mail, and he’s like, oh yeah, I’ve seen it, but we use Relay. I replied back to him, well, are you happy with Relay? He’s like, not really. That’s what he sends back. I say, well, what are you unhappy about? He’s like, well, I don’t like the broker review of files, and I don’t like how tedious it is to upload files into the system. I shot a video of a minute and a half, and I said, hey Ryan, check out this. Look how easy it is to review files here. Look how easy it is to upload files, and I sent him that. I said, hey, check this video out. I made it just for you. He watches it, and he’s like, whoa. What about security? I sent him a link about security. He said, what about pricing? I sent him a link about pricing. That took me … that conversation took less than ten minutes, and it was back and forth five, six, seven, eight e-mails, and I could have never included that all in one e-mail to sell him that.
John: You did it one by one, didn’t you? This wasn’t an automated follow up.
Dane: No. This guy wasn’t automated follow up at all, but he became an awesome, awesome customer, and you can do these things on a much bigger, much bigger scale like we do as well. I’m not talking about just … don’t think about like, oh God, I can’t do that one on one. First off, if you’re a starting entrepreneur and you’re starting off, this is really inspiring and empowering, so you can just send e-mails, but if you have a bigger list, like our list is now 15 to 16 or 17,000, and we do these kinds of interactions all the time. We’ll get 500 to 1000 replies, and we’ll just look at a few of them and see if we’re on the right track with what we were thinking or whatever and move on. I say consider your e-mail. What is it that you want? Write the whole e-mail out that you want, and then the last line of the e-mail should typically be at the top.
John: What do you mean the last line of the e-mail? Like whatever question you would ask at the end for the setup, that’s the first thing you say?
Dane: Typically, people get to the point at the end of their e-mails. It’s actually the same in just human conversation. People talk for five minutes. At the end, they make their point, and all they really needed to say was they just needed to say the thing at the end. Were you going to say something?
John: No.
Dane: Okay. What happens in e-mail is we have people in the foundation; they write their e-mail, and they ask me to critique it. Typically, what I do is I take the last few lines and put it up at the top because it’s like, hey, I’m doing this research project. I’m XYZ. I’ve got these credentials, dah, dah, dah, dah. By the way, would you be open to a phone call some time? Take that question; hey, would you be open to a phone call some time? Below that, I’m working on a research project. I have these credentials, dah, dah, dah, dah; but you get to the point right at the top of the e-mail. Write the end however you want to write it, and then just reverse it. That works really well.
John: Right. That reminds me of advice; I think it’s from Elements of Style from that old kind of how to write book. The main point is write less; basically, whatever you’re writing, cut it in half. Say the same thing just with less words, so brevity. I think that’s so important in e-mail, like we were talking before, there’s so much information and just shit flying everywhere right now that people appreciate when you get to the point a lot faster than the average person.
Dane: I would say my favorite e-mail responder is Terry Marshall; opt in for Terry Marshall.
John: I’ll check that out. All right, man. I think we’re right on 20 minutes or maybe just a couple minutes over now, so it’s time to wrap it up. Thanks for coming on, man. Before we go, give yourself a plug. Where can people find you? Then we’ll say goodbye.
Dane: Thefoundation.com.
John: Dot com or is it IO?
Dane: We just bought the dot com.
John: Okay. Nice. Sweet.
Dane: Yes. Our next foundation class is coming up October. We hired Amir. He’s 20 grand. We’re doing a deep dive with him for three days to talk about all the places that members got stuck last year. We found members had a lot of trouble selling, so we did a lot of limiting belief and reversal work there. We’re bringing Amir on to design a user interface to really just kind of meet a customer where they’re at emotionally when it comes to selling so they can be best supported through that and know how to do it without all the angst and anxiety they typically experience. My favorite part about the foundation is it’s like an ethically legit business opportunity. It’s really awesome. It’s kind of spiritually based in that you’re going to be doing deep internal work on the internal game of entrepreneurship. We do a case study there on Sam Ovens, a guy from New Zealand who built a company out of a garage, starting from nothing. He had nothing. Now he’s got a very successful business called Snapinspect.com. You’ll learn about that case study … he was interviewed on Mixergy, and he became one of the top watched Mixergy top commented interviews of all time because the foundation stuff was just so inspiring, so if you want to listen to that case study or you just want to see a little bit more about … get a vibe for about you feel about the foundation, just go to thefoundation.com
John: Awesome. I’ll have links to that down in the show notes for this episode, so yes, cool, man. Thanks for coming on.
Dane: Yes. Thanks, John. Hopefully, you can make the e-mail marketing space a much more fun space to be in because I would compare it to hot chicks get really tired of all these douchey guys hitting on them all the time. I think a lot of people are really tired of douchey bad e-mails.
John: It’s kind of like everyone’s trying to sleep with their optins on the first date, man.
Dane: Yes. Don’t go for what you want on the first e-mail. Go for that later.
John: Just go for like second base on the first e-mail, and work your way up to the crescendo.
Dane: Yes.
John: (Laughs) All right, man. Thanks again, and we’ll talk soon.
Dane: Yes. See you.
John: Hey, everybody. Thanks for listening. If you want to discover more insider tips, tricks, and secrets about driving sales with email marketing, sign up for daily e-mail tips from The Autoresponder Guy. Go to themcmethod.com/podcast and sign up. Enter your e-mail address, and I’ll send you daily e-mails on how to improve your e-mail marketing and make more sales by e-mail. You’ll find out why open rates don’t matter and the seven letter word that underlies all effective marketing and much more.

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