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"How DigitalMarketer Increased Conversions With Freemium Ft. Justin Rondeau" (Inbound Success Ep. 86)

"How DigitalMarketer Increased Conversions With Freemium Ft. Justin Rondeau" (Inbound Success Ep. 86) Blog Feature

April 15th, 2019 min read

When DigitalMarketer's conversion rate on its key offering dropped from 15% to 2%, they knew they needed to make a change. Here's what they did to dramatically increase their conversation rates throughout the funnel...

justin-rondeau
Justin Rondeau

This week on The Inbound Success Podcast, DigitalMarketer's VP of Marketing Justin Rondeau goes into detail on the changes he made to the company's conversion funnel for its Lab product. From creating a freemium option, to tweaking the conversion form and creating remarketing campaigns based on audience behavior, Justin pulls back the curtain on both the changes that DigitalMarketer made and the rationale behind them.

There are some interesting lessons to be learned here for marketers looking to increase lead generation and lead to customer conversions.

This week's episode of The Inbound Success Podcast is brought to you by our sponsor, IMPACT Live,  the most immersive and high energy learning experience for marketers and business leaders. IMPACT Live takes place August 6-7, 2019 in Hartford Connecticut and is headlined by Marcus Sheridan along with special guests including world-renowned Facebook marketing expert Mari Smith and Drift CEO and Co-Founder David Cancel.
Inbound Success Podcast listeners can save 10% off the price of tickets with the code "SUCCESS". 

Click here to learn more or purchase tickets for IMPACT Live

Some highlights from my conversation with Justin include:

  • DigitalMarketer is a company focused on building tools, trainings, and communities for digital marketers and for small to medium-sized businesses.
  • They do this through a subscription service called DigitalMarketer Lab.
  • There are three levels of Lab membership - Lab standard, Lab+ which includes training certifications, and Lab ELITE which includes monthly training days.
  • DigitalMarketer used to have a tripwire offer that cost $7.95 and anyone who converted on it would then be upsold a Lab subscription.
  • The conversion rate on that tripwire went from 10-15% down to 2% over time and it had a domino effect that really hurt the company's ability to sell subscriptions.
  • They decided to change their approach and create a new tripwire that was essentially a freemium version of Lab, which would include all of the company's gated content.
  • With the company's new freemium option, visitors to the site simply fill out one conversion form to gain access to all of the free content (rather than having to fill out multiple forms to get multiple pieces of content).
  • This change has dramatically increased conversions at the top of the funnel and provided the company with data (based on content consumption within freemium accounts) that it can use to more effectively upsell freemium members to paid subscriptions.

Resources from this episode:

Listen to the podcast to get all the details on DigitalMarketer's Lab conversion funnel, and learn more about the specific changes Justin made to increase conversion rates.



Transcript

Kathleen Booth (Host): Welcome back to the Inbound Success Podcast. I'm Kathleen Booth and I'm your host.Today my guest is Justin Rondeau, who is the Director of Marketing for DigitalMarketer. Welcome, Justin.

Justin Rondeau (Guest): Thanks for having me.

Justin Rondeau and Kathleen Booth
Justin and Kathleen hamming it up at the start of the episode

Kathleen: Yeah, I am excited because I just met you for the first time in person a week ago at DigitalMarketer's partner training day, which was amazing, can I just say, so good.

Justin: I mean, we love that thing. Marcus did a really, really good job kind of growing that to what it is today, I think, with help from a lot of agencies out there including everybody there at Impact as well.

Kathleen: Yeah, I can't believe you guys do it every month because it's like a mini day long conference that they put on every single month at their really fantastic headquarters in Austin, Texas. It's also streamed live out to tons more people who aren't able to make it there in person.

That was a great experience, but I'm assuming there's going to be some people listening who don't know what DigitalMarketer is. Before I get too much further down my love fest for all things partner training day, let's stop. Actually, can you talk a little bit about who you are, what DigitalMarketer is, and what you do there?

About Justin Rondeau and DigitalMarketer

Justin: Yeah, I'm Justin, and I am the Director of Marketing at DigitalMarketer. We are really a company that's focused on building tools, trainings, and communities for digital marketers and for small to medium-sized businesses.

We want to really empower people to have the knowledge and skills that are necessary to kind of thrive in the digital world right now. We do this through a subscription service that we have called DigitalMarketer Lab and through other things as well, but really our main focus there is making sure to equip marketers with the things they need today to succeed.

Kathleen: I learned a lot more about DigitalMarketer last week when I was visiting. It's really interesting to me, because IMPACT is a company where I am that's like a hybrid between an agency and a publisher.

I look at DigitalMarketer and you guys are a hybrid between an agency, a publisher and a SaaS company. I mean, it's really neat because you figured out a way to deliver value through these different channels, if you will, but it makes your business kind of unique in terms of how you have to market and sell yourselves.

Justin: Yeah, it's interesting. On the one side, I think people look at us as if we're an agency where we're more of a training body at that point.

I remember we tried doing agency work years, and years, and years and years ago, and we sucked at it. We were really bad. It's super hard I think, and that's why we wanted to help equip people in the agency world to be able to kind of connect the dots, where we were unable to. Because we really didn't realize that just creating trainings or investing in our own software platform to deliver these trainings wasn't going to be enough to really meet our mission, which is doubling the size of 10,000 businesses.

We had to work with agencies, the people that connect the dots with those trainings with the people there. We need to work with people, boots on the ground, to do this. It is an odd perspective ... an odd kind of grouping of company types, for sure.

I mean, for us content comes first, full and foremost, which hurt us for a little bit because I think we let the tech slide on our side, because we got a little bit of blinders on. Having to invest in tech, explain to people why they're paying for a subscription for trainings and courses versus just buying it outright, which they can do, but we have reasons for them to do the other thing.

It's a lot of work on positioning and branding there that has taken years and year and years to get right.

Kathleen: Yeah, I want to stop for a second and reflect on something you said which was really neat to me. You guys have this mission to double the size of 10,000 businesses in how long? What's the timeframe for that?

Justin: We need to finish that this year. It's a tall order. We've been ... that was kind of our five-year mission. I know we haven't been the best with tracking it, to be quite honest, so I need to get back out there.

Kathleen: I just think it's so cool that that's your goal. How did that come about?

Justin: I mean, that was kind of the vision of Ryan and Richard for quite a while, because we believed that the best businesses should win, not the best marketers. We thought how we could help businesses win was through marketing, because marketing really does change the ... kind of the trajectory of any company. As soon as they start investing in it, they're going to start seeing growth.

It was generally kind of almost like the internet marketing days when it was kine of even the skeeziest people could win, not the people who deserved. That's where we really wanted to differentiate ourselves.

There were times where people were putting out content back in the day that was 2,000 bucks and wasn't even ... it couldn't hold a candle to something that we do for a seven dollar report.

Ryan got the idea of, "Hey, I want to help grow businesses and help them double. I'm going to do that by changing the name of the game and going very, very high value with the content, kind of undercutting the price there because we know that it's more valuable. If we can build our list to help empower people, they'll want to stick with us, because they'll see the results right away."

There was a lot of things that came from, but ideally I think the too long, didn't listen version of the synopsis of it is that we believe that the best businesses and best products, not the best marketers should win.

Kathleen: I love that, that's so great. You guys have been pretty successful with it because you have a lot of people in your platform. You were mentioning earlier that your core ... your signature offering is DigitalMarketer Lab.

Justin: Yes.

Kathleen: Can you talk a little bit more about exactly what that is, and what somebody would find if they looked under the hood of that?

About DigitalMarketer Lab

Justin: Yeah. It's a bunch of gated content within our Lab platform, which is pretty much an LMS that we built in-house, where it includes some of our ... like at Lab level, because there's three levels of it.

You have Lab standard, Lab+ which includes our training certifications, and Lab ELITE which includes monthly training days.

Just like you have with Partner Training Day, they show up once a month for people who are agency partners. We do one of those for our Lab ELITE members once a month too. We have a lot of things going on in the office at that point.

Kathleen: Then Partner Training being specific to agencies.

Justin: Yeah.

Kathleen: Lab ELITE training being specific to anyone who is a marketer, correct?

Justin: Yeah, anyone who's a marketer, and those ones are focused based on what we call execution cycles, because we think training sans implementation is just another distraction.

We want to make sure that we create very specific types of full-day workshops that then ... how we have Q&A calls and we lockdown the community. We say, "Hey, no more talking about all this other stuff. You're only talking about this cycle." Then we try to get ... the aim is to get them to launch in 10 days, whatever they were supposed to be doing.

Kathleen: That is so fantastic, because that's kind of the same reason I started this podcast. I used to go to marketing conferences, and I call them the Cinderella stories. People would get up and be like, if I was at HubSpot's conference, they'd be like, "I went from zero to a diamond level partner in six months." These crazy success stories and you'd go to their talks and you'd feel really inspired. You'd leave the room feeling like either, "I suck because I didn't do that," or "Okay, I'm inspired, but I have no idea how to replicate it."

That was really frustrating to me because there's no point to getting people all inspired and excited if they don't have the tools to do anything about it. That was the purpose behind this podcast was to give people the tools. I love that that is what you guys are doing as well, and helping them stay focused because marketers totally have shiny pennies.

Justin: Oh my gosh, we do. It's like, "Look at that Chatbox. Oh, look at that." It's every time, every time.

Kathleen: Yeah, that's great. When somebody ... your goal, it sounds like, as an organization when you have the individual marketer land in your orbit, is to move them ... and this I guess I'll put my SaaS hat on ... to move them to join Lab, correct?

Justin: Yup, the main goal is to get them in there, get them into the Lab platform which ... I think some of the stuff we're going to talk about later today, I think a foreshadowing right now, is that is we needed to find a better way to get them in. We needed to reduce the friction to get them into Lab, because we truly believe once they're inside and they saw what was behind the paywall, without maybe having to have a paywall, they would want to stick around and actually see more of the premium things that are in there.

DigitalMarketer's Conversion Funnel

Kathleen: Let's set the stage for this discussion then, and talk about what was the problem you're trying to solve. You mentioned there was some friction. What did it look like pre the changes that you made? What were the hurdles in somebody's way?

Justin: There's a concept we ... that Ryan really kind of coined called customer value optimization, CVO. The idea of that is really to extract as much value out of a customer as you can.

It works, but it's short-sighted. You have to think about the journey as a whole. We've talked about things like customer value journey and those things, but what we had during the standard customer value optimization funnel was a five-step funnel that was ... you'd have a lead magnet, a really high-value and east-to-consume thing that you'd give in exchange for information. It could be name, e-mail etc.

Then on the back end of that, we'd have an entry point offer, we'd also call that a trip wire offer, where it was connected to ... it was similar in content for whatever the lead magnet was because you know their interest in that. It would be for something like seven dollars, 27 dollars, something around there to change the state of the visitor. They're now not a lead, they're now a customer. You've acquired a customer.

Then on the back end of that, we have an upsell for our subscription program. Be, "Oh, this thing you just bought is part of a bigger hole. You should check this out." Then on the back end of that, we have likely some sort of larger scale, what we call profit maximizer, which was, "Hey, here's this big old thing that I want to check out." We did that with tickets to events or anything like that.

Kathleen: What's the cost of the subscription?

Justin: The subscription ranges ... DM Lab standard is about ... is 49 dollars a month whereas the other ... at Lab ELITE level it's 295.

They all follow that same structure where we have something in between there. What ended up happening ... this has worked for a very, very long time and I still think it does work, but you have to ... it has to be at the right stage of the value journey for it to be done appropriately.

On ... where things kind of got a little hairy with ... we were used to a 40% lead magnet take rate, a 10% to 15% trip wire take rate and about a 15% to 20% activation ... or core offer take rate right there. What ... though the economics worked perfectly for those ... for that distribution, but as time went on the standard low dollar entry point offer just went from 10% on average, 10%, 15% on average, to 2%. The kicker was that means only 2% of the leads we were generating ... even new we had subscription offer at all.

Kathleen: What do you attribute that decrease in-

Justin: I think, I think perception of value, for one. I also ... because I mean, sometimes I think, "It's not going to do all that for seven dollars. This is just a cash grab."

I think our customer avatars changed, their personas changed a little bit. I think being, "Oh why would I ... they're not trying to just spend that money, they have other things within their budget that they need ... that they're using things on." Then I just think we were asking too soon to ... too soon in the relationship.

Then prior, we were kind of the only ones doing that and that's why it worked so well back then. Because like I said earlier on, we created methodologies to undercut essentially people kind of the skeeziest marketers that we could find out there and provided what value we could. It's ... we could ... if we would provide more value even a seven dollar payment would be a 2,000 dollar thing.

Then everybody started doing that model, and it became recognized and understood and people ... when you're marketing to marketers about marketing, it gets very difficult. The cynicism level and kind of the level of, "Oh, I know what you're doing and I like it or I know what you're doing and I don't like it" goes up there.

That's why we fundamentally had to change because you have people that start the trend, the trendsetters, the bandwagoners and then the late adopters.

In terms of CVO, we're at that point where late adopters have already jumped on there needed to be something new. That was ... really what indicated that was that 2% ... that drop from 10%, 15% down to 2%.

Kathleen: That's right at the top of your funnel, so that's going to have a domino effect.

Justin: It was rough.

Kathleen: You're looking at the situation and you know what your eventual goal is, and you figure out that the friction point is happening at that initial trip wire. Talk me through some of the changes that you made.

How DigitalMarketer Increased Conversions By Introducing a Freemium Option

Justin: Yeah, what we understood was really the hard part there was having them pull out the credit card. We tried ... we got rid of the trip wire. We did a bunch of things to test out.

We're, what if we said you could get this when you join our subscription? Now everybody sees we have a subscription. Terrible. What if we put this price, but say it's free when you do ... when you join the subscription for ... terrible. Nothing would work ... I couldn't, I was ... really what the problem was, it wasn't a matter of seven dollar report or free trial or even dropping the trip wire altogether but, "Hey, this thing you just got is a part of this thing, you should try."

They just didn't want to pull their credit card out at that point, they weren't ready to. They weren't there within the journey. Like I said, for CVO, you're trying to extract this much, but we were doing it at an inappropriate time.

Kathleen: It's the whole "getting married before you've dated" thing.

Justin: Yes, exactly. Where that was appropriate ... how we had it set was appropriate for a period of time, times have changed.

What we decided to do was, "All right, well, what if we took all our lead magnets, just all of them, and we put them into Lab and created a new access level that didn't require any credit card, so go actually freemium with our content.

That move was a conversation, it felt like a Seinfeld episode in my office that day. I was talking with our developer being, "Hey, we should do something like this." Someone else would walk in and be, "Hey, Justin, it's like a Jerry" and it just kind of ... it stonewalled out and the next thing I knew, within a day we had it all set up. Then we were, "Okay, how do I do this? What sort of information do you want to be asking?"

We realized that we were also shooting ourselves in the foot on the ... not just on the side of getting people into the application, but also to ... on the side of our database to make sure that we're able to talk to people correctly.

It's people don't want to just put a single e-mail address in something anymore and expect that it's going to give value. If they're doing that, then they know they're just going to get hit by promotions. You want to be able to talk with them the right way and identify who they are, identify their needs and how you can actually influence their business.

We decided to go back to almost an old school microsite style landing page setup where what we do is we'd, "Hey, they have this lead magnet" and those conversions stayed about the same, 40%, 45%.

On the next ... and so they'd fill out first name, last name, e-mail and company and they'd go to a new page. It was, "All right, hey, what do you do at company A?" It's these big buttons that you could press on mobile because especially you're coming from Facebook traffic.

They're going to be on the phone on 80% of your paid traffic, it's likely coming from mobile from Facebook at this point. They click whatever one they want but I'm an agency or I'm the CEO or I'm the founder or I'm an executive or I'm just a marketing professional.

They click those and then it goes and you go to the next step which is how big is your company and then it goes to a trial offer. It's, "Great your account's been created. While you're here, you can also learn about our trial.

Kathleen: Is this, I'm trying to picture it in my head. Is it kind of a Typeform style where you answer one thing and then a new thing appears or can somebody see they're going to be asked four questions?

Justin: They will see a progress bar at the top and whenever you have a progress bar scenario, especially if they've already done an action, they go to page 2, we're, "Oh look, you have one check mark there. Hey, you did one thing already, you might as well keep it going." It goes back to the six principles of persuasion there.

Kathleen: I was going to ask you, how do you ... what kind of table setting do you do to let ... to set the expectation that there's going to be multiple questions and it's progress bars to a degree.

Justin: The progress bar does, we don't. We don't do anything on the front ... the first page which I normally ... again, I didn't even ... I was going to test this later on, but because of the results, I just was I'm not going to-

Kathleen: Why bother?

Justin: It ... because we only have a 4% drop off rate to the account creation phase, so and also we'd ... if they put their information in and they just abandoned ... they just didn't create a free account. They still get their e-mail ... the PDF and the e-mail and all those things.

All of those follow-up sequences are pushing them to create their free account still. Even if they drop off, we still have their information and we still do right by them, they just don't have a free account yet. Pretty much, we were, "What's this going to look like?"

One of our big rules we have is anytime we have a new idea, we try it to the list first and to our people first, before we decide to put more into or put budget behind it or anything like that because this was as MVP as it could get.

We ... it's ... I'm sure for some of the scenarios now, we'll be, "Oh, you e-mailed people on your list to fill out more information to get their e-mails." Yeah, I get it, I get it, I get it, but we are ... but that move actually works because it is database expansion.

Now we know if they're a founder. We know if they're a founder of a company with 50 to 100 people. We know a lot more about things. It's just a good way for us to have a much more valuable database.

One from our perspective of how ... of prospecting and two make sure that, again, because it's always not about what we want, it's about also what the customer wants. Make sure that we're not talking about things that just doesn't matter then. We tested it there and I believe there were 3,000 accounts created in a day. The login ... the immediate login rate was ... I think 80% of people logged in right away.

It was unbelievable. I was, "Okay, this is a winner, hands down." Then the worst part was we didn't do a lot ... because I said it was super, super MVP, when they logged in, they just logged into the account and they would get a model, it's, "Hey, you should do these things" and they don't have access to those because that's just for the standard Lab people. It was a terrible user experience when they came in and that had to get fixed right away. We saw that there were lights there.

Currently now we have this ... we have multiple ways to get into the funnel there, where our home page offer is just create a free account.

For any one of our lead magnets, it's we start ... we ask those questions and it goes to a trial which ... the cool thing is, too, about 5% or 6% of the people who create a free account, they take an immediate trial right away.

They actually do, then pull out their credit cards which is ... I'm, "You haven't been doing that for a while. What's going on here?" Which was pretty cool, but now we have probably around 23, 25,000 free accounts.

Now ... where we're weak right now is we haven't done enough in terms of product marketing in there. We have some things, box some things, upsells and these other things. There's more we can do, but seeing that we're able to just grow and to the people seeing what the whole ... what Lab is all about without having to be told about it. It's show, not tell. It's just been a huge, huge win for the organization.

Upselling Freemium Customers

Kathleen: Yeah, that's really interesting because it's ... it sounded like now you can move into the much more of a SaaS and start looking at who's a product qualified lead. How do we market more effectively to the people that have already said yes once. Is that what you're going to focus on next?

Justin: Yup, that's the next part of the game is really to come up with what product qualify dates look like, doing the lead scoring in there.

Some other cool ideas we had that we're building out of this, too, is ... I talked about this with some people recently. One of the things that we really liked about this, as well, is that we kind of took control back. Because what we used to do is we just sent PDFs ... they have call-to-actions and then all this other stuff. We didn't know if they opened them, we didn't know if they consumed them, we didn't know if they were just opening and closing it right away, we had no information.

Now, we can see what stuff are people looking at the most. What stuff do they jump into but just don't finish or they close out real fast?

We can build custom audiences for our Facebook ... for Facebook and for Google off of this based on what they're consuming on there and then develop lookalike audiences with people who are more likely to say yes.

This turns into something much bigger than just getting more product qualified leads. This gives us behavior of those product qualified leads once we define them and we're able to build out and put more budget behind it from a paid media perspective, and really just grow this thing.

Adding Gated Content to Freemium Accounts

Kathleen: Now, I can imagine somebody's listening and thinking, "Okay, if I wanted to do something like this, it involves taking some of the content that was not behind my paywall, whatever that looks like, and putting it behind my paywall. In doing that, am I going to tie my hands behind my back, as a marketer, because it's not going to have as much content then to work with on the front end? How do I drive people to that initial conversion point if I have less to work with? Can you speak to that element?

Justin: I take ... only take the content that you've already gated, essentially. Anything that's, "You need to give me your e-mail address to get this" only use that type of content.

I wouldn't take things off of your blog or anything that you just are using for pure kind of ... yeah, actually it would be anything that ... yeah, anything that is behind an e-mail address lock.

Are they going to give you any information for it? Put it into a single spot. Then, do similar ... because I've always taught that specificity is super important when creating lead generation ... lead magnets, the generation tools, those types of things.

Because it starts segmenting your list for you because, "Oh so-and-so's interested in x. They're interested in Facebook, they're interested in paid media, they're interested in conversion compensation, they're interested in design."

If you get too ... you can still get that power if you do that on the front end and ask them more questions when they're signing up to create the account, you know their initial interest point was this.

You still get that segmenting and you also get the power of, "All right, now they've given me more information, create an account and now I can monitor how they're doing things."

You can do that ... if you don't have a SaaS product or kind of similar, you can do this super, super easily with ... there's ... I mean, one time we did this just with Instapage, where an old, old, old MVP which is what made me want this into Lab was ... we had a landing page and then we had another set of pages which we could monitor, what links they clicked and those types of things.

Kathleen: I see people do it where they, instead of death by paper cut, where you're "every single thing on my website that you want you must fill out a form to get," I've seen people do it where it's "fill out this one form and you will get access to every single thing on my website," which I ... is kind of the equivalent of that for somebody who doesn't have a membership portal.

Justin: Exactly, exactly. That'll work if the .... theoretically, I haven't done this myself there, but theoretically that should work the same because you're getting ... you'll still be kind of, again, taking that control back and having ... they'll have access to everything on there and just get to start to see within your web analytics, what are they doing? You'll be able to build more audiences.

Kathleen: That's a much better experience for the customer, oh my God. Instead of five forms to get five things, one form and get it all.

Justin: Yeah, because it's funny to me. Because even ... we're ... people are getting to this. I know if HubSpot can recognize your User ID then I think most cases that you can get to the content.

I think sometimes if they need more information to fill out more ... say you're a marketer, an MQL not an SQL based on their system. That's just technology and marketing making the experience more delightful, but it's not taking anything away from the marketer.

They're just getting less people re-opting in and there is something to the re-opt in. There is something to that, but for us, I want the re-opt in to be them logging into the account. That's how ... I need to fundamentally change what I consider to be the re-opt in and what re-opt ins are and what's necessary for those. That's what you're essentially getting.

Say if we e-mailed a lead magnet to our list, great, and we're not asking for anymore information. That's all we're doing there is just how to annoying people.

We've been doing that up until months ago, where we have a new lead magnet and we want people to go through the entire funnel to eventually have to take a trial. That was the end goal, but it's just an annoyance, where, "Oh I have to fill this out again. You guys have my information. What are you doing?" It just bungles up lists, too.

Kathleen: The interesting thing about this approach is, if you're doing it the traditional way where you are having people react and you have, then, the opportunity to set a super low bar in the beginning and say, like you said, "Just give me your e-mail address."

Then every time they come back, you can do progressive profiling where you're consistently adding new questions into the mix and building out a more robust audience profile over time.

If you switch and take the approach you're taking then, you really have ... you kind of have to concentrate your ability to get to know your audience into that one first opportunity when they first fill out the form to join.

I'd be interested in hearing kind of your thinking about how much is too much there? What really can you ask somebody to do in the beginning so that you're getting what you need, but you're not turning them off by the amount you're asking for?

Creating Forms That Convert

Justin: Yeah, that's ... it's a delicate balance. I think what we used to see ... I mean, I remember Oli Gardner used to show this really interesting chart about average conversion rates based off the number of form fields. Because it's not just the number of form fields, it's the question itself-

Kathleen: How much revenue do you have?

Justin: A whole different ... yeah, what's your social security number? Experian is probably the hardest thing ever there. I mean, really what it comes down to ... I don't like to just pick a number for things. I know in those charts you see a drop off from one field, two field, three, field, between four and seven it's about the same conversion rate.

As you're getting higher up there, there's higher intent, so they're probably more qualified leads hitting those and they just have more intent to fill those things out. I used to kind of live and die by that for a bit, where I'm, "Okay, if I'm going to add four on here, I'm going to ask for some more information" or I'll just keep it three or less.

It's just the information wasn't useful to me and you really have to ask yourself, "What do I need to know to make this worthwhile?" Then kind of you say, "Well, screw it. If you don't want to give me that information, I don't necessarily want you on my list or I don't want you as a free account because you're not going to make the move."

I asked ... we started this ... actually this concept was kind of born out of this other thing and I actually presented a little bit of this at your conference last year which was about the binary segmentation question that we used to ask.

We added some radio buttons so that really the trick here is using the right types of fields. You never use drop-downs, drop-downs are the kiss of death on mobile. Just don't do them.

Again, everything's coming from mobile and always ... you have to always think mobile first. We'd ask for first name, last name, e-mail and then just, "Are you an agency or marketing, agency or consultants serving small businesses, yes or no?"

We ask them self-identifying question and a really easy way to answer. We also made that field optional, but they didn't know because we never said it was optional. That wouldn't stop them from filling the form out, which I think maybe 10% of people didn't fill that out. They just did it because it was there.

That's why I never have required versus optional fields noted. I will have certain fields that I make optional. I just don't want them to know they're optional.

Kathleen: Interesting, you're the first person I've heard say that.

Justin: It's a nice little trick I like to use because they'll just fill them out. They have momentum, they're just going to do it. If they don't want to, don't stop them unless it's absolutely necessary.

Kathleen: Well, there's so much you can do with data enrichment now, too. We have this conversation all the time internally with my team because we had a few forms that asked for a lot of information. I remember saying to my team, "All right, what are we doing with all of this information?" If the answer is nothing, then let's get rid of the question. If the answer is well, we can get that same information if we have their e-mail address from whatever data enrichment solution-

Justin: Clearbit or from something else.

Kathleen: Yeah, then why make this person enter it in? It's-

Justin: Exactly.

Kathleen: ... silly.

Justin: Yeah, I remember for one of our webinars ... I knew I was going to take a hit on front-end conversions. I put a phone number on there because it was for our certified partner ... webinars for agencies to try and get them to talk ... to create conversations for our certified partner program.

I was under the assumption that those phone numbers were being used and they weren't. I was ... I mean, my cost per lead from media quadrupled my added phone number there.

It's ... people don't like talking on the phone actually, but ... anyway, we're getting back to the idea of what questions do you ask. It's the stuff that you need to know and the stuff that's easy to answer and, again, avoiding drop-downs at all cost, so it's easy things and going after quick ones.

I know my name, Justin Rondeau. What's your e-mail address? Who do you work for? For e-mail, you want to be very clear. If you want a business e-mail, say business e-mail or if you don't care if it's business or anything, say best e-mail, something like that. You want to be very, very clear about that to avoid any level of confusion of what they should be putting in there.

Then we do company name mainly because we're doing some personalized stuff throughout the rest of the thing. Just to make them feel like oh hey, because when they see something that they recognize, it's kind of when you're thinking about buying a car and you see that car everywhere, you want ... you're always going to be identifying things that you self-identify with first.

It's one of the first things you'll see. I mean, other than image ... people's faces and images on a site. The next thing you're going to see is anything that you self-identify with. It's just what happens, your eyes are drawn to it because your brain's moving so fast.

On the next page, it's hey, so we just, cool, we have your information and then that new progress bar at the top and it just says, "So what do you do there?" Then we have five boxes that they click that just say Founder, CEO and underneath those we put in things ... put a little thing what a Founder and CEO would say, "I run the company." Agency and consultancy, "I help grow other people's businesses." Marketing professional, "I work in a marketing department."

We always have name and descriptor because you want, again, take subjectivity out and so we ask that question because it's important for us to know if this is a decision-maker. That's how we kind of break everybody out, decision-maker or non-decision-maker. Then we have newbie, "I don't know what I'm doing." On the next ... because we have a lot of them ... a lot of people who are new and that's good, that's who we want to help.

Kathleen: Right, that's your future decision-maker.

Justin: Exactly, exactly. We don't want to just be, "Oh no, get out of here." What we won't do is pitch them on a massive product. We'll just avoid that because it's not good for them and it's not good for us.

On the next page, another ... again, another question we didn't know. How big is your ... how big is insert company name? We say ... we don't just say small, medium, large. We go small, 1-5, medium ... then we put the numbers in there to, again, get rid of subjectivity and we make them as easy to answer as possible and go off of that idea of continuation and momentum to make sure that they one, know this is almost over by putting it at the top, but know that because of the momentum they have there, they're going to keep going until the end. Like I said, 4% of people drop off and that's it. Asking two more things with two new page loads, that's really nice.

Kathleen: That's great. Now you made me think of another question that I have, which is that you're ... the before state that you were in, people had to pay whatever, $7.95 for the trip wire. Whenever you enter your credit card in, you have to put billing information in, you have to give accurate information. When you switched to this freemium model, did you see any uptick in people giving you fake e-mail name, etc. because they're ... because they could essentially for the first time?

Justin: Not really. Anything on our ... on ... I mean, they've ... people have been giving us fake e-mails since when we had the lead magnets just for the creation of the account. It's been fine, I haven't seen a massive ... I think ... yeah, it's nothing new there. I think since they're not a purchase person yet, I think ... I don't know, I haven't seen it increase there. I think, if anything, it's probably stayed the same as it always has been because people ... I'm guilty of this. If I want some information online and I don't feel like getting e-mails from people, I just put a fake one in.

Kathleen: Xyz@123.com?

Justin: Yeah, yeah or screwyou@dontspamme.com. I'll put those types of things in hoping that on the thank you page I can just download it, but it's nearly ... everybody knows now for the most part you're going to be needing to give a decent e-mail address to get the content there.

At least on the B2B side, that's where I kind of planted my flag for my entire career. It probably ... companies, maybe some e-commerce ones don't really care all that much because they're likely just consent to keep the code anyway and then a bunch of retargeting.

Kathleen: Interesting. I'll be curious to see kind of how this plays out in terms of you guys tracking product qualified leads and working on that next stage so maybe we'll have to have a part two to the conversation at some point.

Justin: That'll be fine.

Kathleen's Two Questions

Kathleen: The sequel. In the meantime, I have two questions I always ask everybody that comes on the podcast and I'm interested to hear what you have to say.

The first is, the concept of inbound marketing has now been around for a while, probably over 10 years at this point and it's evolved a lot. When you think today and you look at the world of inbound marketing, company or individual, who do you think is doing it really well? If I had to tell the audience to go look at somebody to see a best practice, who's really nailing it?

Justin: Gosh. Who's doing it well? To be quite honest, I've been disappointed in a lot of people lately. That's a really hard question. I don't know. I mean, I can say, I mean, you guys have always done an amazing job with it and I just kind of point to you. 

Kathleen: No, you're not allowed to say us because I feel like that's self-promotional.

Justin: You've already ... people already point to you. Who ... if I'm going to look at content marketing in terms of who just provides immense value and really asks for ... he has things on there to get information, but he's been really building a speaking ... speaker following and some other good things. I go, "Simo Ahava, he's a tag manager genius."

Kathleen: Wait, say that name again because I haven't heard that before.

Justin: Yeah, Simo, I always pronounce it wrong, it's Simo Ahava. I'll send you the link, he's a tag manager beast. He has the best articles about tag managers. It's better than Google's documentation, it's the best. He is phenomenal and really, really lives by an inbound strategy, has forever. He's probably the guy I'd go to.

Kathleen: I'm so excited because I love when I hear a new one because I get a lot of, well, HubSpot. I'm, "Don't tell me that." I need somebody else.

Justin: He absolutely crushed it. I actually just saw an article that someone shared on LinkedIn today and that's actually why he popped in my head. He's also kind of a nerd idol of mine so that, too.

He actually ... and it's out of his wheelhouse, he did blog post about what he's learned from speaking at so many conferences, so he shared a lot of speaker tips as well as...

Kathleen: Oh, I want to read that.

Justin: ... tip for conference organizers. It's just a great piece of content.

Kathleen: I am definitely going to go find that when we get off of this.

Justin: It's phenomenal.

Kathleen: Question number two is that the world of digital marketing is changing, at what feels like sometimes a lightning fast pace. How do you personally drink from the firehose? How do you stay up-to-date and current on everything that's going on?

Justin: That's hard. I rely on my team, I don't know. To be quite honest, I'm kind of a leader by doing and so in my world and expertise I kind of stay ... I like to stay sharp and stay doing things as much as I can without hoarding, but I really just ... I'm always curious ... if I'm signing up for something I'm, "Oh, that was cool. That was a cool workflow."

It's just really ... I've always been a learner by doer and ... it was funny, my boss is very similar to that and I was saying, "Hey, I need to pick up a master class account for the video team." He goes, "Cool" because I know we have it, I was just, "Can you give me the login?" He's, "Well, it's cheap so just go buy one on the company card." I was, "Okay." Then, he came in later, he goes, "How sweet was that checkout?" I was, "Really good." He's, "Yeah, that's why I wanted you to do it." It's really just learn by doing in a lot of cases.

I sign up for a lot of e-mails to see what type of e-mail strategies people are doing with follow-ups, with promotions. We have swipe files within our Slack ... the entire company we have ... is putting in things they see that are interesting. This landing page is really cool, this strategy is really cool, so we built a culture of people that kind of find neat stuff and share it all the time. That's kind of how we stay on top, I think it comes a lot from building the team.

I know that not ... people listening might not have larger teams or anything like that right now. I'm telling you when you have that many people who are living it and then really understand that the principles that we teach, they'll be, "Hey, someone did this really, really cool, but look at this caveat that they did." They're, "Oh, that's genius."

Pretty much all of my conversations with my boss are just with random thoughts. That was neat, that was neat, look at this thing Monday did to their members who pay monthly. They did this thing for an annual upsell. I was, "That's genius. I bet we can do that."

Kathleen: Yeah, I guess if you don't have a large team, there are other ways to do it. I mean, I get a ton of value out of some Facebook groups I'm a member of including yours and then I'm a member of ... there's a lot of slack groups. There's Online Geniuses, which is super active and there are plenty of communities out there where you can kind of mimic that same experience, I think, if you bother to sign up for them.

Justin: Exactly and people are so generous in this space.

That's one thing I really love about this space right now. It wasn't always the case. I think a lot of people thought kind of what we're doing is a zero sum game and it's absolutely not. People are overly generous and that's what's made DigitalMarketer Engage such a great community, what makes IMPACT Elite a great community, what makes ... and why this stuff works because people are that generous which is-

Kathleen: Yeah, I couldn't agree with you more and I think that is the true spirit of inbound, right? It's a pay it forward mentality. If I give my knowledge away, somehow, some way I may not know when now, but it will come back and benefit me sometime in the future.

Justin: Exactly, exactly.

Kathleen: That's a good thing. Well, so interesting. Now I'm going to go and I'm already a member of Lab, but now I want to go re-opt in and go through the process kind of like you were talking about. Maybe I'm going to make somebody on my team do it.

Justin: Yeah.

How To Connect With Justin

Kathleen: That we can study this with a more detached eye. For anybody listening, if they want to learn more about this or learning more about DigitalMarketer, what's the best way for them to learn more online, get in touch with you, etc.

Justin: I mean, DigitalMarketer.com, hands down, you'll actually ... you can go through that call really easily. You just click the button above the fold and you'll see that. Also, our blog is fantastic. Our content team is one of the best out there. I'm a little biased, but you know.

Kathleen: It is good, no I will say that. You guys have amazing content and we, as an agency, have learned so much from you and continue to learn a lot. It's ... I will give my heartfelt endorsement.

Justin: Then if you want to get in touch with me, I'm on LinkedIn. I think it's just ... you'll find me. I have a beard in the picture, so a little different. I mean, if you really want to get in touch with me it's Justin@DigitalMarketer.com. If you want to chat, I get lonely sometimes, so it's fine. Other than that, yeah, just check out DigitalMarketer.com, you'll get everything else.

Kathleen: Great and I will put all those links in the show notes, so if anybody wants to check those out, they can head there. If you're listening and you learned something new or you like what you heard, it would be great if you would give the podcast a five-star review on iTunes.

If you know somebody else who's doing kick-ass inbound marketing work, tweet me @WorkMommyWork because I'd love to have them as a guest. That's it for this week. Thank you so much, Justin.

Justin: Thank you.

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