715: 5 Keys to Growing an Email List from 15k to 100k in 6 Months w/ Case Kenny

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

In this episode we talk to Case Kenny, Founder of PRSUIT.

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There's a ton of noise out there. So how do you get decision makers to pay attention to your brand? Start a podcast and invite your ideal clients to be guests on your show. Learn more at sweet fish Mediacom. You're listening to the B tob growth show, a podcast dedicated to helping be tob executives achieve explosive growth. Whether you're looking for techniques and strategies or tools and resources, you've come to the right place. I'm James Carberry and I'm Jonathan Green. Let's get into the show. Welcome back to the BEDB growth show. This episode is sponsored by Directive Consulting, the B Tob Search Marketing Agency. We are here today with case Kenny. He is the founder of pursuit. Case. How you doing today? Great, are you? I am wonderful. So, case, I saw you in one of Alan Gannett's linkedin videos, I guess few weeks ago, and you're talking about building an email list and you you've done, you're ton an incredible job of building pursuits list and we're going to be talking about that more. Obviously this entire episode is going to be about it. But before we get into that, can you give a little bit of context to our listeners? You just tell us what you're up to with pursuit? Yeah, for sure. So pursuit, it's PRSU IT T. it's a daily email newsletter goes out every single weekday, Monday through Friday, at eleven, at ten a m their CST, and it's all but it's all focused on selfdevelopment content. So if you're familiar with something like the skim or maybe one of the daily business type emails, it's similar to that in format. But it's all focus on selfdevelopment content, perspectives, personal narratives, things like that. And I've been doing it for quite some time, almost four years, as a blog. Actually pursued as always been a blog, but we made the decision to shift to email only format back in December of two thousand and seventeen, so about, you know, about six months ago, five months ago, and since then I've been totally...

...focused, very very focused intentionally on growing the email list. So that's what I've been focused on. Love it and so socase, can you tell us a little bit about the results that you've seen since making that shift? You know, what was the size of the email list before? You know, prior to December two thousand and seventeen, and now you know that we're in June of two thousand and eighteen. What's that list size? Yeah, for sure. So when we started, when we made the switch to emails, only around Twentyzero, and even then I made a big scrub on it at the start to make sure we only had active members. So probably got down a like close to fifteen, but over the course of about four months it grew to a little over a hundred thousand. So I mean I think that speaks for itself really really fast growth and right now we're sitting a little under hundred thousand, just because I'm very focused on maintaining the engagement of the list. So I scrub it every single week, every single day. So we're sitting there, but it's still growing phenomenally fast us and all have days we'll have, you know, to Threezero new subscribers of days where of a couple hundred. But it's always, it's always, it's good. Still growing incredibly quickly just because of some of the strategies that I have in place. I love it. That's incredible. So as we're talking about some of those strategies, some of the things you're doing to to get that kind of growth with your email list. Case you mentioned the first thing was your frequency of publishing. Not I've heard other people talk about this, but clearly you know, if you if you've gon a list, you know over by over Eightyzero people in a matter of six months and you're saying it's the number one thing. It's clearly important. Talk to us about why the frequency of publishing is so key here. Yeah, for sure. Yeah, I mean this strategy, it's not the most glamorous, sexy marketing strategy, but I think it's important. I think anything you're doing, marketing, branding, growth, like, you have to set an expectation with your audience, and obviously I'm talking here within the realm. Will Pursue, which is a daily publication. So even, and it's very definition, you have to publish daily, because that is the cadence that your audience has come to expect and I think it's just very...

...important that whatever you decide to do daily, okay, daily, and then when do you publish daily? Okay, ten am, you have to first communicate that to your audience and then stick to it. So, I mean I've been publishing every single day myself writing the email, scrats in the emails, working with my editor, hitting send every single day for six months and your audience comes to appreciate that. So I think it's all about being intentional. When when you with when you just side to do it, it's up to you and your own market research. I mean the Skim sends. There's at like five am the hustle, for example, since there's at eleven am my friends at the morning Bruce, and there's at seven A. I'm like, it depends on what you want to do. Whatever you do, just stick to it, because your audience, you're building a brand and your audience comes to expect certain things from you. Sometimes they'll be like deliverability issues with the email, just it happens with with the tech and I'll get emails people are hey, the email didn't come out today. What's going on? And really it did. They just didn't get it. But like that's the kind of advances that you want, right they want to expect you to deliver it and then you deliver it. So it's definitely an important point. It's just kind of the foundation on which you build your content. Case. Now I'm really bullish on folks doing a podcast daily, even though most, most people don't. But I found that the folks that are doing it daily are just seeing results way faster than the folks that are not doing it daily. Is it same in email? Are you know all those the I know the hustle does a daily email. Skim does daily email. Have you found the same to be true? Is that why you chose to go daily, just because the expedition that like how quickly expedited your results are. Yeah, I mean, think of I mean the more you publish, the more opportunities there are for it to spread. Right, you'd have five days a week. Not all that's going to be a hit and maybe that one on Thursday is it goes viral, boom, big grow. So yeah, I mean the more you throw at the wall, the more that's likely to stick. Yes, I'm a big proponent of, you know, creating good content. Certainly I'm not just front crap out there. It's got to be good content. Yeah, but the more the more opportunity, the more swings you take, the more home runs you're likely to hits. I've always kind of abided by that.

I love it. All right, you you mentioned, you alluded to this earlier, but your second key to growing an email list so quickly has been scrubbing non active subscribers. Now, I know that a lot of people, particularly marketers, I don't know if they're measured based on this necessarily, but it's a sexy metric to say you know how many subscribers you have on your email list and you're saying you want to, you are clean those off and wipe them out if they're not active. Why is that and how often are you doing that? Yeah, I mean this sex her metric to me as a list grower, is opens and clicks, like that's what I want. You tell me your list is a million people, I could care less. I want to know, on a daily basis, what are your opens and what your clicks? What's your engagement percentage? Right, that's what matters. I think it's really important. I mean, you know, the reason that I moved away from being a blog and focus only on social is because you know, algorithms, right, facebook, instagram, Google, like Seo, like. There's so many variables. One day they get it just switched and you're kind of screwed. So I wanted to control my own destiny with my list. Right, you own distribution and you take a lot of the variables out of place. There is only one kind of one variable when it comes to email and that's the liverability. Right. So you know whatever platform you use, whether it's send, great, active campaign, campaign monitor, there's a bunch right, whether or not Gmail Outlook, whoever you're sending your email to decides that your mail is good or it's spam. That's the biggest differentiating factor and it's some things that go into it, but the biggest one is how often do people open your email? How often to people click in your email? Often to people respond to your email? Those are the indicators that say, Hey, this is not spam. It should go into their primary folder in their inbox. Right. And if people are not opening it consistently, because your daily email maybe the only open it, once a week, maybe once every other week, Google, Gmail, whatever it's going to be, they're going to say hey, this, this is fam because that person's deleting it or not opening it. So, based on that, I've got some protocol set up within my email management platform that says, Hey, if this person doesn't open this email in a week, I'm going to shoot...

...them an email and say hey, are you still interested? If they don't respond to that, give them another week shoot them an ever note. So basically within thirty days, if they're not engaging to a certain benchmark that I've set, I take them off the list. So it's pretty it's pretty it's pretty brutal. I'd probably taken, you know, Thirtyzero people off the list, and these could be people that signed up with a lot of enthusiasm and just dropped off or could be people who didn't care in the first place and just for some reason gave me their email. But it's really, really, really important to do that. I know the guys had a couple the other big emails and they've taken hundreds of thousands of people off their list, which like hurts your soul as a marker or do, but in the long run it's really it's a really important thing to do. So all of that, I would manage, is automated. What what tooler you using to to handle all that automation for your list? Yeah, I use a platform called active campaign. I've been using that for quite some time. There's a bunch of different platforms. I happen to like active campaign. It's visual I've been using it. It works well for me, but they all have different protocols built. You could basically build out these workflows that are like and or if, kind of bully and logic type things, and then I'll just scrub users based on what you're setting. All right, today's growth stories about search engine marketing. Clear Company is an HR tech company that was doing a lot of things right. Their messaging was clear, their product produced incredible results. They were struggling to drive qualified traffic to their website. Then they found directive consulting, a BB search marketing agency. Then, the first twelve months of working with directive, clear company was able to increase their qualified LE volume by a hundred and fifty seven percent. I have a hunch that directive can get these kind of results for Youtube. So head over to directive consultingcom and request a totally free custom proposal. That's directive consultingcom. All right, let's get back to this interview. The other question that I had was more around kind of the...

...the length of these emails. Have you found case that like shorter emails perform better? What have you found works in the actual like content itself? Yeah, so, I mean I think we had to define work. What works. Right to me, what works would be certain good deliverability, you know, and then also good open rates and good engagement rate. So engagement to me are clicks on the links in my email. But I also have to be, you know, where the fact that, you know, we monetize through advertisers. So we have to have to present a format that is able to be integrated with a couple different native ad placements. Right. So links, logos, advertorial editorial, things like that. So for me I've always leaned towards longer format. Plus our content is by nature longer format. Usually are actual core content is you one hundred words, and that's the way that pursued, is always been. So I've always gravitated towards that. I've always found it. It does well. But I've also realized that people are time start. So I include like within pursuits email, like a I call it a too long, didn't read section. I basically summarizes everything and some people like that, but in the majority there are some tools that allow you to basically understand how long people stay within your email, heat maps of what they read. You could leverage those if you like, but I've always found that. You know, the way that I presented is fine. It's it's a longer email, you know, but it's got I you you, if you pack it with value, I've never really found an issue. But you know, when it comes to what works, quote works, it really it's all about it's all about the subject line to get people open. And then once from there, you do lose a little bit of visibility, but you could basically back into it by understanding clicks out, engagement metrics with advertisers, things like that. And is there a certain percentage that you're looking for in terms of open rating and click rate? Yeah, I mean I want over fifty percent opens, which is a very, very, very high and you're hard pressed to get that. I mean we sit around forty two percent, sometimes higher, sometimes a little bit lower from there. You know, click, click rates are tough just because it depends on how many links you put into email. If you pack your email with links, your click rate's going to...

...be high. But I tend to look at it, at it holistically, and you know, I like to see, you know, ten percent plus or something like that. You know, I think industry benchmark for open rates is like twenty percent or something like that. So fifty is really phenomenal thing to get to do. But you know, I've done it, I've gotten close. I know my friends at a couple other email newsletters are are there as well, so it's not impossible. You just have to be really diligent about scrubbing content things like that. I love it awesome. And so the fourth key that we're going to talk about here case is interesting content and having an interesting voice inside of that interesting content. It's obviously it makes perfect sense that the actual content itself is the variable to it to success when it comes to growing an email list. Talk to us about and how how you thought about your own like your own approach to the content you guys were going to create with pursuit, obviously, extension of the blogs. You probably already had the voice down, in the type of content down, but would love to hear and of how you coach people through thinking thinking about that. Yeah, yeah, I mean I think it goes about saying that whatever brand your create, you have to have an interesting voice. But I think sometimes I see people sometimes, whether you're a marketer, whether you're a publisher, you know, whatever it is, or using email for sometimes people just see it as a way to relay a message and has to be a lot more than that. You have to create an interesting voice and interesting brand about it. So like pursuit, like it's a little snarky, it's a little sarcastic. We use really funny headlines and like a little bit of like meme culture to really like grab people and it's interesting. Right, it gives people a reason to share, and that's the biggest reason I say it has to be interesting one. You know, no one's going to continue to read if it's not. Of course, that goes dout saying. But to if you want to grill your list, you have to give people a reason to share it, to forward it, to encourage people to sign up. And if it's not interesting, if it's not that has a little humor, have a little some kind of edge to it, people aren't going to do that. I mean the skim does well because, you know, they speak well to women. The hustle does well because they have a snarky, what kind of cynical voice on business and tech. We do well because we were snarky and a little bit...

...cynical towards selfdevelopment. Right, it just works and it's interesting and I used to pump out selfdevelopment content that was very cut and dry, very kind of Tony Robin style, and I learned at our audience they didn't want to be talked to like that. They wanted, they want to people to be real. And obviously, you know, we could talk all day about branding, but I think you just need to recognize that like take a step back and like you're not just relaying a message, you're not just getting people to try to open something and click something, because you're a marketer you have to give them a reason to and so at his court has to be interesting. So it's not an earth shattering concept, but I think sometimes people think about emails being boring and that it's just the way to say hey, here's something, check it out, when reality, you create a cool, interesting story, a cool brand and people are really going to gravitate towards it. I love it. You you mentioned that when when you nail that, when you have an interesting voice, when you're delivering interesting content, it ends up getting shared organically by the people were seeing the email, and I know that. I I obviously you know it's not one thousand nine hundred and ninety six anymore. I'm not getting a lot of, you know, forwarded emails, you know, from folks. But if the you're saying, if the kind of that's good enough, that actually is what happens. Can you, can you talk to us about the importance of that? Yeah, I mean, I know that's what happens. Like not only I mean, and I totally I you can track forwards and clicks in the platform, but like, I know my content is, you know, somewhat interesting because people respond to the emails. That's the greatest thing about email marketing. It's just a one to one connection, right. It's not a blog where maybe they'll have to figure out how to contact you. All they do is it respond and it goes right to me. When I send the email out, you know, I can get two hundred responses off of it and it's not people just being like Oh, that's funny. It'll be like wow, this really impacted me and it's also funny and I enjoyed it and I forwarded it to my friends. So it's like I love email just because of that very reason. If you make it interesting, people can respond to it. I always pride myself and being responsive and responding to those emails, as myself case Kenny, and it goes a long way. So yeah, I mean it's easy to track. It's very...

...tangible to me. Sometimes I wonder why people don't encourage conversation and email marketing says on, I'll respond like it really works. Yeah, I do the exact same thing, obviously with much a much smaller list, with the list that we've built, and and writing emails like a human has been, has been the thing that has delivered the best results for me. I wrote an email the other day about GDP are and instead of just kind of the the cut and paste like what you see all the other GDP ares looking like, I just made it human. So the subjectline was another boring GDP are email, a little winky face, and then I talked about you know how hey, I know this is the good Julia email you've seen. We're going to keep this brief. Did like the obligatory kind of here our new terms and conditions and then just it by making it human. I ended up getting more replies on to that email than then a lot of my other emails and a lot of my emails do get lots of replies. So it was. Is Fascinating to me that you're to your point of having a voice and then, inside the copy itself, encouraging people to reply. Do you actually so? Do you say like in a PS like hey, I'm a real you know, I'm a real person that actually gets, you know, all replies. Feel free to hit reply and message me. Or is it not that? Well, I always do that. Yep, I always do. I mean I so, I think, and maybe this is the fifth point, not to jump ahead, but like I put myself forward as the face of the brand case Kenny and I write that an email. I got my picture in the email. People know that I'm drafting the emails, I'm editing it and I'm sending it right. And if they respond, they're not responding to team pursuit right, they're responding to editor pursue, which is case Kenny, and that goes a long way. I think. Like I didn't always do this. I kind of stayed in the background. I was always content with just being the brains behind the operation, but I decided in switching the email that having a person as the brand, you know, not not in a priful way, but as a means of branding, would go a long way and...

...people know that. I's case Kenny. He's like a chill do to lives in Chicago who likes to read and write and he creates this and if I respond, I respond to him. Oh and here's instagram. Oh, always a cool guy. Oh and he's got this podcast. Okay, I know all about the guy now and he's the face and it goes a long way. You look at folks like the skim, maybe even the hustle. I don't like those guys. It's like we have a team of writers. You can respond and you can reach the team. Like to me, that's very vague and kind of ominous. But for me, you know, I've put it on myself to be case Kenny, which has this challenge. Is Certainly and as a bit of pressure associated with that, but it does wonders because it's more personable, it's more human and people can just relate to it right. It's now. We're not perfect and I think people really gravitate towards that. I love it. All right, so, case, I want to I want to talk about this final piece of you know, obviously you're doing a lot of things right, but it is we're talking offline you. You mentioned leveraging other lists and you actually collaborate with your competitor to help one another grow. Can you talk about the importance of this one? Yeah, I mean, you know, the first the best way to grow is, you know, create viral content, but that's not always you know, it's not all that easy to do. The next best is the partner with people who have similar audiences and just do a reciprocity deal. Right, Hey, I'll share your link, you share my link. Let's go. And I've done that several times as several competitor as. I've done it with the morning grew, for example, great group of guys. I know them quite well. I've been in their office in New York. I mean we're like we're it doesn't we don't compete it. We compete very, very much. So, like we have the same advertisers, we have a very similar demographic. Different content, for sure, but it is very similar. But we, you know, we came to understand that that's how you grow and we've done it. So I mean I think you know, whether you're leveraging other email lists or, you know, a podcast, there's like a lot of different growth strategies, but I think one of the most effective ways to do it is find someone else who has aggregated an audience that's similar to yours and you guys both share a similar vision and just do some reciprocity. You know, it's a win win. You really can't lose. Just put it in your own...

...voice like that. When I worked with them, they put it in their voice to follow and engage pursuit. I'll put it into my voice to engage with them and it was a win win and I worked out really well. So I don't think you shouldn't be afraid to potentially engage your competitors. It's email. I think we're all kind of playing the same game here. But yeah, so you find find other folks who have similar audience and just work out something that's a reciprocity driven. I works really well. I love it. Case. Thank you so much for your time today. Man, this has been fantastic. If somebody wants to hop on the pursuit email list, where do they go to do that? And if they want to stay connected with you, how can they do that as well? Yeah, for sure, I appreciate you having me on. Yeah, it's pursuitcom PRSU ititcom three email in there. You'll be answered. You'll get our welcome email and everything like that. Going to connect with me. It's case at Pursuitcom, or at case docomy on instagram. Awesome case will thank you so much for your time today. This has been incredible and I really appreciate it. Thank you appreciate it. There are lots of ways to build a community and we've chosen to build the bead growth community through this podcast. But because of the way podcasts work, it's really hard to engage with our listeners and without engagement it's tough to build a great community. So here's what we've decided to do. We're organizing small dinners across the country with our listeners and guests. No sales pitches, no agenda, just great conversations with likeminded people. Will Talk Business, will talk family, will talk goals and dreams, will build friendships. So if you'd like to be a part of a BOB growth dinner in a sitting near you, go to be to be growth dinnerscom. That's be toob growth dinnerscom. Thank you so much for listening. Until next time,.

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