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Building Communities with Anthony Burke

Building Communities with Anthony Burke

How can building online communities help your agency’s marketing strategy? 

In this episode of The Agency Accelerator Podcast, I am joined by Anthony Burke, the Owner of “Brits in Dubai”, as he shares his journey building and monetising online communities as well as his story of living in Dubai and what inspired him to start  his community.

Brits in Dubai is a private Facebook Group that originated in 2014 and is dedicated to helping British expats settle and thrive in the UAE. A great place to get advice, support and network. 

Since then, the group has grown into the number one British expat group with more than 25,000 members and over half a million posts in the last six months alone! 

How can you apply what Anthony has learned and achieved in your agency business?  That is what we set out to explore in this episode.

Here’s a glance at this episode…


Anthony’s journey to building a number 1 Facebook community 


Tips on how to build momentum in your group


How much time is needed to invest in managing an online community?


Why delivering great value is important in monetising a Facebook Group


What is the best and cost-effective way to build professional partnerships


Why you should ‘go unique’


Building landing pages and searching the best keywords


How to find the balance in delivering the value and selling your products/ services


The importance of building your email list


Tips in marketing your products/services to the members of the group


The impact of Covid in business decision making


Living the ‘digital nomad lifestyle’


What is Anthony’s advice to his younger self 


“The thing that I always tell my audience is that when you are creating outbound communications, whether it be through a Facebook group, email marketing, social media, videos or whatever, you need to get this balance of 80% providing value and only 20% selling. ” - Rob Da Costa

“It's about being human, and it's about being real and authentic. If you have a community, listen to what your community needs, then you make sure you produce products and services that they want as opposed to thinking about what's better for them, and you're going to create something that nobody ever buys because they don't actually need it.” - Rob Da Costa

“I'd always say, ‘go with your gut. If it works fantastic, if it doesn't, there are more options.’” - Anthony Burke

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 Full Episode Transcription

Accelerate your agency's profitable growth with tools, tips and value-added interviews with your host agency owner and coach, Rob DaCosta. 

Welcome everybody to today's episode of The Agency Accelerator Podcast I am really excited to have with me today, my latest guest, Anthony Burke.

Anthony Burke runs a business called Brits in Dubai. Way back in 2014, Anthony created a Facebook group to help Brits settling into Dubai. A place to get advice, support and network. Since then, the group has grown into the number one British expat group with over half a million posts just in the last six months and about 25,000 members. So I thought it would be really great to have Anthony on the podcast today to share his experience of growing a community like that and then also how to start monetising that community. 

So, Anthony, welcome to the podcast. Is there anything else you want to add to my introduction about where you are and what you do? You've actually done quite well there, Rob. 

Hi. How are you? Are you Well, I'm really good. Thank you. Yeah. Good. Because he has been shining, so that always helps isn't it. It always helps too.

Just kind of elaborate on the group. As you rightly said, this was purely when I'll go back a couple of steps. I was in the UK and I on coffee shops had three coffee shops myself on my now wife, who was the governor of the time again, a little bit stalled. We wanted a new challenge, wants to do something completely different and shall decide I'm going to the device. And I went, why? In my mind, no culture, no history, no anything like that. Basically, I didn't know anything about it. 

So the idea was to go over for weeks. We've enjoyed it and if so kind of look at option thereafter. Then, we went for a week. I didn't come back basically. Gemma did some finalising. She went off and she joined me. Probably six weeks, it makes 22 months later, and I was basically working for a publication called Construction Magazines. Obviously, Dubai is just building and building and building. It was a good place to be.

Then, I've actually done some work on that previously, probably about 20 years ago, and I knew the owner, so I decided to jump in with them. So they'll be there for a year, just see what I wanted to do. And in social media, which was very, very lucky in the back at that particular time. They haven't really caught on. It's usually about 10, 12, 5, 10 years behind. I would say the Western World. It's got a massive now, as you can imagine, But at that time in 2000 and I think he was 14. With that,  I thought that this is my market. This is what I'm going to go after. Let's sit back and develop them. So I built a company called Stepping Social, which is still today and when I first moved by this to use Google, but it just wasn't the tools for really specific questions like,  ‘Where can you live? Where's the best place to come and meet like-minded people and all this kind of stuff?’ So I thought Facebook Group before they were popular with that will be good things soon.

I invited a few friends, people can ask questions. I can just give myself some guidance and what’s not. So it starts with a handful of friends. They are friends, obviously, and they started blooming and blossoming before it, a few 1000 when it's 10,000, and from 10,000 is now 25,000. It just keeps escalating. It's people who recommend the group just because of the help. Readily, the information is that it's very active. People are genuinely very good at giving advice. It's worked out quite well.

So basically, if you want to debate that is the group to join. It’s gonna give you all the information that you need. I'm quite proud of that and I think. 

Sorry to interrupt you. It's interesting that I was doing a bit of research prior to our interview today, and so I was looking at other kinds of groups like that, and any other groups that have fought are way lower in terms of the numbers. So your group has obviously become the number one kind of place for expats to go and learn the network and ask questions and so on.

Right, it's I mean, there's about three or four. I would say that I've seen what I've done to try to mirror that to a degree, not quite successful, but usually disgruntled members from the group that I've tried to have their own thing, and that's fine. If there's a market for others, enough paper and well. Good but ideas to make sure it was all-inclusive, as in there's no such thing as a silly question. There was no such thing as troubling or anything like that and were heavily monitored.

What I would say is because it is a niche group were very keen not to be the latest or anything like that. But we want to say, right, if you are a Brit and you are living and working, but I mean, this is a group for you, we get many other nationalities, wants you to join, but chances are they're wanting to join to sell goods and services. We’re very strict, and we have one person that looks after basically admitting people, and so we do background checks on literally everybody that comes through. 

Just on Facebook, we want to know if there are provisions from the U. K. They are living and working in the boat, and they're not just going to come to the group to sell, because if it becomes just a sail fest and it will absolutely kill your group, that is for sure. The way we've done is, we've been quite creative, and we've been very strong and the management of who actually gets to partner with us within the group.

We'll probably talk about how we monetise up. Throughout this year, I'm interested to ask you this is kind of for a personal reason because I've been really unsuccessful. If I'm honest about growing my own Facebook group, which I've tried on and off over the years and kind of put it parked it really? How did you start from scratch? And I know you said like you invited a few friends and colleagues, but how did it kind of build momentum from that point onwards? Because I guess at the size you're at now, it's sort of easy to organically grow it because so many people are seeing it and sharing it. But when you just got 10 or 20 or 100 members, how do you get from that point to the next sort of next level? 

Well, the other thing is, it's been crazily active within the group, not just leaving it up to other members. Start by building conversations again. People actually talking once you get to talk and the people kind of join them out with the algorithm out to Facebook. Its lots of conversations are going on here, and then they start. You've been to be seen in kind of search engines and whatnot. That's when Britain to buy where I think that the top when it comes to anything, British experts and advice. We were quite elderly people who just joined the group with that based on the number of conversations, but I would say you've got to lead it. You've got to drive it. You've got touch some conversation there that people are going to kind of enjoy doing with us because it's a nation because it is the Brits group.

Then, we started doing events. We get together and got to a venue to meet like-minded people. We even a single night which is strangely enough, because a lot of people just moved to the by there on their own. It's a big, wide world if you like. They tend to be on the younger and the biggest if you like demographic is probably 21 to 35. These people kind of fresh out of uni and whatnot and that they're just trying their feet elsewhere, and it's a great way to do it with.

So having these get-togethers has really helped, and obviously, they start talking. We're going to this event during this group because they would say, and invite your friends. So then they would get other people to join the group. I would do webinars, seminars, and some people that fragment tax seminars. 

A couple of years, but did I was completely tax-free. And a little while ago, they decide that they're gonna start introducing some. Sometimes it's very small, but people need to know. So we started doing seminars and webinars based around that and that you've got very popular.  Again it just drives people and without necessarily wanting to sell, because I think it's probably sailed in a group. It's a big fat turn off. It's all about giving massive value. And that's what we did in the initial stages today. 

Yes, it's interesting because the thing that I always tell my audience is that when you are creating outbound communications, whether it be through a Facebook group, email marketing, social media, videos or whatever, you need to get this balance of 80% providing value and only 20% selling. And because you've got to build that know like and trust with people before they're ever going to buy from you.  So you're sort of singing off the same hymn sheet as me of really focusing on providing value. 

Let's just talk about I know that most agency owners and probably most business owners are super short on time, so they might be thinking about building a community. But how much time do you have to invest like in those early days? Now, if you make a comparison, how much time are you spending actually monitoring, answering questions and marketing the group?

We're more in the initial stages. I'll be honest. It was a lot of hours, and it's not a 9-5 thing. Now, people asking questions all sorts of times. I think if you're really active and you do give these people the good advice as much as you possibly can in the initial stages, then that's a good thing. Eventually, you get your own champions within the group and people with the skill sets. So when somebody's asking about tax kind of questions, that’s going to help them instantly. If someone is looking for property in the marina, right and say, someone, 's gonna tell him where's a good place while our good towers please avoid this tower and whatnot. 

Then, you start eventually, just get me on champions. But yet in the initial stages, it is a lot of work. But it just evens out now, like they were 25,000 adult posts nearly as much as conversational because it’s held on there for me. Lots of people are asking the right questions. I guess the building is ill but I think it's fairly niche as well. 

I think that's key to make sure you're looking at a niche market rather than a generic one, because so many other groups, I absolutely demand is huge. 78 to 200,000 members and then I joined a couple just to see how well they were doing. And there's just no interaction. It's basically people going on there just trying to sell anything and everything. It's a big turn off. People just do not want to go in there to be sold to on on on a regular basis. So it's how you even monetise that and how you kind of manage it. I think that's the key. 

Yes, I think that's perhaps where I could have done better with my group because I was just targeting agency owners but I could have probably notched it down a bit more, so I think that's a really good piece of advice for me and anybody else that's thinking of creating a community is to be as niche as you can, invest lots of time upfront and then make sure you're adding value to the members and getting them to engage. 

One of the reasons why our listeners might be thinking about creating a group is because they think that's the way of building an audience that they can ultimately monetise. This is a silly question for someone who's built an audience of 25,000, but just talk a bit through the value of building that community and in terms of how it supported you, earning revenue and doing business development. 

Okay, Again I'll put some background and I was in Dubai for seven years, and then we moved back to the UK. So everything I'm doing right now is in the UK. We came back to our first child. We haven’t managed to get anything about,  such as life, Covid came around and it's kind of lost. A lot of things were not going to be out there, but it's irrelevant now, to the digital world that we live in.

Anyway, sorry to interrupt you again, and I want to touch upon that whole digital nomad thing at the end. We'll definitely come back to that because I got a shared interest there, Yes, I think the point I was probably alluding to is I'm kind of trying to start now.

We were talking about monetising the value of building that community and how you can use it as a business development platform. Right, we lived up to the UK and I was going to be doing photography that that's why I was getting to then has a full diary full because I was going to be doing wedding photography because that's kind of my past as well. I had a social media company in The Bible, and we did a lot of hotels, restaurants. I use photography from that. So it was a skill set I was using, and I thought I can easily get back into the UK and develop that now that collapsed. There are no weddings going when I had a year full of weddings gone instantly and some other than I'd start thinking, right. ‘How am I going to get myself out of this? This mess that we're potentially in? The circumstances in it?’ And I thought I am spending so much time on this group and my wife, we have somebody else working in that.

We've got about five men knowing the group. Spending a lot of time and I'm talking initially 12-14 hours share between us on a daily basis. It’s nowhere near as much like that now. But the fact is, we needed to get something from this rather than just being these nice people upset this group, and I didn't want to inundate it. So we started working with partnerships. 

Now, what I mean by that is I wanted to work with one specialist that works in any one particular area. If I can say a property developer and themselves and rent houses and wanted that I wanted one specialist, I wanted him to be our champion. Anybody talked about properties where to live, they can give some good, solid advice and that's worked out well. We work with some specialists that do use cars, expert motors, and they do 60% of their business through our group. It's huge, and that's because we give them value out. They talk to people they explain about how they can get finance, that they can sell cars all the registration because it's much different to what is in the U. K. So it's value out. 

And that's what we were saying to people. ‘Look, you are champions. I want you to start speaking to our group, really explain what is you can do for them.” I can make their life a little bit easier. I've gone down this route, and we have one eye care specialist. Basically, with people, I want some money back to the U.K. It was the best way to do it. We must cost of works. The best cost-effective way of doing it through the banks is the same expensive, using an eye FX broker because of some money to and grow so that that helps. That helps our members massively. Because I've got now somebody that goes to and then accountable because they're in the group. So, we know that these people are gonna give good side device and really help out.

So I would say me working with just a specialist in any particular area has worked massively with baggage people sending baggage home. We've got one specialist. I do that now. How we've actually done that is rather than just leaving it to chance and putting on an advert, because if you've been in the group you'll see there's a post it's gonna drop down and we use, like, the feature posts. But we do multiple pulses about that. We do video interviews very similar to what we're doing, asking a business and then they are where they come from, and it's more conversational. Like how they started in the by the weather came from what their background is. 

It's on a personal level. That's what I tried to get through, for our champions of speaking, I do call them champions because, the other people are the best of what they do, and I'm like, I'm heavily focused on looking for those right people, and we don't just let anybody do it. So let's have systematically start looking right. ‘What do you want to our members’ needs? Where do they need to help on a regular basis?’ I mean hotels and restaurants, the 10,000 of them in Dubai, so we can look at lower the different venues for that. But when it comes to specialist advice, I always say, ‘Go unique, go with one person and, let's see how they can help the members.’ So that's how we've done that. And I basically look at people and say, I want to work with you for three years. his is how much is going to cost, and this is what we're gonna do for you.

So that's probably the next thing that we do. Not just a case of post and on the group. And as I know, you're a massive fan of build a list as far as an email list. Yes, absolutely crucial, massively crucial. What we do is build a landing page for any particular business. Anybody wants to talk about any particular product or service, I want them to speak to them directly, but we collect the data. 

Then, it is initial and right. Okay, ‘X Y is asking for properties in the Marina, can you help them out?’  Well, then steer them. Obviously, we've got the data, and we can then talk to them about properties further down the line. Do some added work for the clients. And we also use keywords. The keywords are fantastic in the group. So if anybody is saying I want to again, I'm just gonna use property for now. But anybody who wants to move to the Marina or downtown or to wherever in the city. 

As soon as I mentioned I get pain, and then I put a link straight through. You need to be speaking to such and such is linked to some more information. It can be a brief synopsis of who they are and whatnot. They know who they're speaking to do some debt collection of the phone number. Well, it's usually an email and the name, and now and again, we get a phone number for, like, mortgages. People want to speak to them very quickly. So we collect this information for my list is building all the time. You don't have to give me your email just really joined the group. But people are very willing to give you an email address because it's something that they want. We don't spam them, that's ever so important. We understand the information that's pertinent to what the original query was. It's building up that you've got far more of an open right if you do that as well. 

Yes, there's so much in there that I just want to pick apart a bit. It sort of reinforces the 80-20 rule that 80% add value. But then there is a way of selling as well. It's interesting that I have a client that has been really successful at building a Facebook community, and it's growing, and it's very niche. I won't say who it is because I don't think they're listening. I don't want to know who I'm talking about. Then one day they're a marketing agency and then one day, someone in that community because I'm part of it as well, said. ‘Can anyone recommend a marketing agency that can help us do this thing, which my client could?’ And then someone else went on and said, ‘Oh yeah, go talk to this company,’ which wasn't my client. 

So here's my client running a community with someone asking for their services and someone else recommending another. That is because they were just focused completely on adding value and never letting people know who they are and what they can do. And that's a good example of only, like focusing 100% on adding value but never the 20% on selling. So you've got that balance right. 

I really like the point that you made. It's about being human, and it's about being real and authentic and all that stuff. And I also think one of the great things about community, which again you alluded to, which I think is so important for listeners. If you have a community in whatever way it is, whether that be an email list or Facebook group or something else, and you listen to what your community needs, then you make sure you produce products and services that they want as opposed to thinking about what's better for them, and you're going to create something that nobody ever buys because they don't actually need it.

So I think it's really smarter for you to listen to your audience and then bring in partners that can solve some of the problems and challenges that they have. And of course, the building of an email list.  As you said, I'm a big fan of that. The listeners will know that because I talk about it all the time. But a really good example is like I think building a community online like this is a brilliant strategy. But it's also smart to try and get those people to come to your email list. Because, as I know Donald Trump gave me the best example as he had 20 million Twitter followers, and overnight he lost them. Of course, that's very extreme. 

But these social media platforms can change their teas and sees, and that can have a big impact on you. A good example of that is that a few years ago it was very easy to export your LinkedIn connections and get their email addresses. Then LinkedIn changed their terms and conditions so you can no longer get their email addresses. So encouraging people to move into your list in whatever way is a smart thing to do. 

If you think about your social media agency in creating a community to support the growth of your social media agency or to win more clients, which is obviously what a lot of the listeners would think about, what advice would you give those people? Like it for me, if I was going a group to support my business, and I wanted to turn to find a way of actually turning some of those members eventually into my customers, which is a bit different to what you're doing, what have you got? I know I'm putting you on the spot here. Have you got any advice for anybody that's thinking about embarking on that journey? 

Well, I would not say I must have kind of going so that the community groups, rather than I mean niche is great, but it's quite difficult to target these people to get into a certain group because we're all busy kind of professionals, aren't we? It's spending a lot of time in groups can be a bit counterproductive. So, it's having that fine balance.

Most people are just basically looking to get clients, aren't they? It is tough because I say everything I've done. I've not gone down that route. I've always talked to the community groups. I do think there's a tonne of value, a tonne of business within, so maybe not the right person to spend give advice about lights of the newsgroups supporting agency. 

So you've not thought about doing that for your social media business, then? No. I mean, what I thought about doing is doing more community groups what I've done now looking down at the regional, or, whether the damage that route again in different parts of the world, because they have proved very useful.

Why don't you get the numbers and the people as opposed? But now I just thought about it. I could in reality if, at the time, the crowd, the manpower, these people are coming to me now. Now, my clients, I could potentially outreach them and do their social media, the PR, and maybe you can build a business out of that. I haven't touched that. That could quite easily do that. So, building opportunity groups where people have come in and they've fragments. 

I get this a lot. The drawing, a tonne of groups and all I've done is ever put a post on there. And its hepatitis has been taken down. We've been asked to move away, or it's just not the same kind of impact. That's down to again, down to the age of 20 things. So if you could potentially build up these quality niche groups, as far as the community groups that mentioned in, these groups say there is a business I can get through there because people just don't understand the power of social media, whether or not going to be selling adverse, they're doing PR doing marketing coming to you and chance that they want to advertise in the group is just because they haven't really got much of a clue outside of the group.

So there is a market there. I haven't touched it because I have another partner who basically does web creation and social media presence. which comes to me for that I have set up. I'm quite busy doing what I do that I don't necessarily need to do the other side. But I would do. I build up the community groups because you're going to get people who want to advertise, and if they're doing that, chances are you don't really know what they're doing. Then, you can be their guiding light. I would say, 

Well, that's the thing I guess it’s like any way you can build your tribe, whether it be through these community groups or email this or anything else gives you an audience that you can demonstrate your credibility to build that no like and trust so eventually you're there when they're going help. I get this, but I haven't got time to do it myself. ‘I need some help’ and you're like, ‘Hello, I'm here that I would have?’

Yes, and I think I've seen some really successful business groups you can call in communities the same thing, really, where they've built their tribe using a Facebook group. And then they've been able to really market to that when they're focused on that 20% of the selling. Of course, those people already know, like and trust you, so they're much more likely to buy. 

I'm just going to say that there is one thing that I could have possibly added to that a little while. But again, like a pre covid, basically put out questions saying to businesses, ‘Look, there's a lot of business owners in here. Do you want a networked group?” It is where we can read regularly, almost like a, b and I just for our members and that 400 people sign up a lot. So, if I was that way inclined that could have been a really nice platform for me to say, right? ‘No, I can help you on the X, Y and Z.’ And hindsight, maybe I should have done that and it’s not. I can't do it now. But I think building up that group, you're going to get these natural people coming in anyway. Then you can touch that. I’m not saying. Then you can say you want to set up your own kind of network professional within that. You've got low hanging fruit potentially and it's not a big leap, isn’t it? From having the community to then saying ‘OK, well, now we're creating a networking group and you're going to pay £20 a month or whatever for that.’

That's great. Now you touched upon this early earlier that you're now back in the U. K. and just for listeners Anthony, any sort of achieving the digital nomad status of currently travelling around the UK while his son is still young enough to be able to do it in there in their motor home and having lots of adventures but still being able to work. So just tell us a bit about that decision. Obviously, Covid had some impact on it, but tell us about that decision and, what it's like, right?

Okay, well, against me being me, if I have an idea, I kind of go with it. Paul, Jim, I should just go. We're gonna have coffee shops, Okay? We're going to go to want to live in a different country, okay? We'll come back. And then he said, Well, ‘I'm getting stalled.’ We've all been locked up for such a long time. I've lived in the UK for numerous years. Obviously, I spent seven years in the divine. We came back and I said, I've been literally everywhere in this country, and I cannot tell you anything about it, because wouldn't it be nice to just go from one town to another town and really kind of enjoy and explore and just trundle around?

So we said, ‘Right, let's get a motor home, and do a two-year trip,’ which is what we're on now. Been doing it since April. Well, so far we've been as far as Carlisle all were done to then to Cornwall, which is amazing. Unfortunately, we caught Covid and, in the common wheel, myself and my wife, isolated in a van with a two-year-old. Yes, through its challenges that was quite difficult when we eventually could. We weren't contagious. We managed to get back to our base in Cheshire. That's good. Yes, well, so we came back out again a couple of weeks ago.

But the idea was one just enjoys the kind of digital nomad lifestyle to up to two years old. I'm an older dad. I'm 50 now and I wanted to spend as much time with him. This is why I love the digital kind of frame. Why you don't need to be anywhere. 

So he's going off, and he's having the best time of his life. He's seen so many cool things were going so many nice places. I can work from the van. I'm gonna set to help. I've got a WiFi setup pack of solar panels so I can just work here. We also built, but we've got these pop-up areas. So when it's raining, he's got play areas to play outside can still work. We bring our car with us as well. Then, Gemma can just go off for the day. I do my work, do whatever I need to do.

And then, we've got family time, and it's not just a case of coming home and just watching TV, we've got a new backyard every other night, and it is such a nice way to live. It really is. I'm going to have this helps out it down. They're trying to go from a four-bedroom detached house to basically a small box. It's quite difficult, but we're managing it, and we're doing well because of it. It's just open up your eyes and you meet so many nice people and you get to see so many beautiful places that you probably passed through and not giving it a second top. And to be able to do the exploring to be able to work, just live which everybody's dream life. To be fair, we're living it. It's quite nice, but I think it's because we thought a few years ago about this digital world, and to be fair, it wasn't covid. I probably wouldn't have done this out of setting up an office that I just kind of developed, and I don't think we would have developed as quick as what we have done.

Because of Covid, everything's going online. My Zoom meetings. I have three or four of these days sometimes, and it's opened it up for me. I'm paying so much you used to do in the Zoom something so you don't need to do. You don't need to jump in. You can go to a meeting two hours away for a half-hour, 45 minutes and then do another two hours drive. You are much more effective doing the way you're doing now in digital, well again, doing it in a space I just love, and I like to have a new backyard every other day. It's just a really nice way. 

So I'm sure lots of listeners will be listening with envy. But it's completely possible, and I think we put a lot of our own roadblocks in our way that keep us in a comfort zone and stoppers doing these things. It's completely possible, and as you say, if there's anything positive to be taken out of the coronavirus situation. It's meant a lot of us have had to move online and proved that we can work remotely and also proved that travelling is not a very effective way of running the business.

Last Friday, I had to go to London. It was the first long sort of trip that I've done. And so I was in London for a two-hour meeting and it probably took me six hours in total. I drive there, have the meeting and come home. I mean, it was a necessary meeting because I needed to meet this person face to face. But it does remind you that it's just not efficient. At that same time, I could have done a 32-hour meeting. 

So if anybody is listening to this with envy about what Anthony is done, then just remember that it's completely possible. You just have to get out of your own way and make those decisions. 

Okay, so before we wrap up, I just wanted to ask you the question that I ask all of my guests, which is if you could go back in time and give your younger self a bit of business advice when you're just starting out, what would it be? 

I've tried a couple of different things, and I'm quite pleased that I have. I'd always say, ‘Go with your girl if it works, if it works fantastic, if it doesn't, there are more options.’ I think that the younger me would have. Maybe I did a lot of self-doubts. I mean, eventually, I've done things, but I think I would have done it a lot easier a lot earlier. I would say, ‘Just go with your gut feeling if it works from tough, if it doesn't, there's always other options.’ And I think you're a longtime dead as well, so you kind of got to live your life, because the possibilities now are endless. I wish we had the opportunity. 

Now you know me at 50, what I had when I first started doing my own thing because I've worked in various different industries, and my first business was 20 years ago. It's still alive and well today. Sometimes I wish it stayed within that. Yes, I just think it's nice to have choices and a good feeling is a massive one. If you think it's a good idea and get the right advice. Speak to the right people don't just maybe go hang out with them.

I just get a good bit of advice. I think I always say to people, back in ‘92 when I started my first business, and it was my young, arrogant, naive, innocence that probably enabled me to do it because I didn't know anything else, whereas now I'm old grey and cynical. So I think listening to your got such a good bit of advice, I think it's an I've got instinct. That flight or fight is a thing that keeps us safe. And there are so many scenarios, including that one where we need to listen to our gap.

Anyways Anthony, I really appreciate your time today. If people want to get in touch with you or learn more about Brits in Dubai and so on, where would they go? That's something usually two but I'm assuming Mafia readers are not in Dubai or of any interest in going there. But if they want to reach out to me personally, I'm more than happy to do that so they can send an email or they can follow me on Facebook, it's Anthony Berg. The email is [email protected], and I'm happy to field any questions. 

I'm even thinking about creating a training package to show people how to develop a good straight-faced constructive and talk about other things more in-depth than what we have done today and build out can build it as a business. So I'm in the process of thinking of doing that. If there's enough interest and also a great idea. 

We'll include will include the links in the show notes, including the Brits in Dubai, because people might want to just have a look at what you're doing. And if anyone wants to reach out to Anthony and have a chat with him about building your community, then he's just giving you that office, please do. 

But other than that, I want to say a big. Thank you for giving up your time today. I know you're in that. I think you're in the Lake District at the moment, so there's probably lots of beautiful things to see, but you're sitting here with me instead. 

So sad. I've got 11 o'clock and 12 o'clock meetings. I'm not seeing much of Kendall at all today, but yes, I'm in the Lake District is beautiful. I don't work Fridays. Friday is the weekend. That isn't Saturday for me, it’s my complete two days off. Yes, we're going to win the man that kind of thing, but brilliant, Rob. Absolute pleasure. Thank you so much for having me today. Welcome. Thanks for joining us.

Using A Lead Magnet To Get New Subscribers To Your Mailing List

Any of you who listen to my podcast regularly will know that when I have a guest, I ask them what advice they would give their younger selves just starting out in business if they could go back in time. 

Now some of you have asked me, “well Rob what would you say to your younger self?” So, the piece of advice I would give my younger self is to start building my email list as soon as I started my business. If I had figured that out earlier, I would have a much bigger list now. And more importantly, I would have a much bigger pool of ideal target customers to nurture and ‘fish’ from. 

So in today's episode of The Agency Accelerator podcast, I want to revisit one of my favourite topics because it's one of the most valuable things you can do in your agency and talk about the importance of building your mailing list, and more specifically, how to get new subscribers to join your list. 

Now I've spoken about the importance of building your list before (in episodes 5 and 30), but today I want to dig in to specifically discuss how you can get more subscribers.

Here’s a glance at this episode…


What advice would I give my younger self if I could go back in time?


The importance of building a mailing list


What is the best structure for an email?


How to win new clients


Understanding the value of a ‘lead magnet’


What is the best place to get people to start engaging with your lead magnet?


An overview of how a sales page works


The components of an email automation system


How to set up a sequence of emails in an email automation system?


“Every business will have two or three marketing activities that work well for them and deliver good results.” - Rob Da Costa

“..the bigger the list, the more value you will get from it. And communicating regularly with your list means that you're keeping your list clean and you are keeping them connected with your agency.” - Rob Da Costa

“Remember, your goal with these emails is to nurture them through the sales funnel so that you can identify your five-star prospects (your hot prospects) and start having a more personalised engagement with them.” - Rob Da Costa

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 Full Episode Transcription

Any of you who listen to my podcast regularly will know that when I have a guest on, at the end of the episode, I asked them what advice they would give their younger selves just starting out in business if they could go back in time. Now some of you have asked me, well Rob what would you say to your younger self? So, the piece of advice I would give is to start building my email list as soon as I started my business. I know that's a sort of really practical piece of advice, but if I figured this out earlier, I would have a much bigger list now. And more importantly, I would have a much bigger pool of ideal target customers to fishing. 

So in today's podcast, I want to revisit one of my favourite topics because it's one of the most valuable things you can do in your agency and talk about the importance of building your mailing list, and more specifically, how to get new subscribers to join your list. Now I've spoken about the importance of building your list before in episodes 5 and 30, but today I want to dig in to talk about how you can get more subscribers.

Now hopefully, many of you will buy into the concept of building a mailing list. You'll also know that it's not really worthwhile buying in a list or building a cold list by people that don't know you and have given permission to be emailed by you. So you need to get people to opt in to join your list so that they are a warm, receptive audience. But how do you go about doing that every day so that you're getting more subscribers? Well, that's the topic of today's podcast.

Accelerate your agency's profitable growth with tools, tips, and value-added interviews with your host agency owner and coach Rob Da Costa. This episode of the podcast is sponsored by my own programme, The Agency Selling System. The programme provides you with a resource library of video trainings, tools, and templates for everything to do with new business from your positioning, your marketing strategy, including everything you need to know about building your email lists and creating engaging nurturing sequences to convert your subscribers into loyal customers. Everything to do with selling and client retention and growth, just to name a few of the topics. You can see more about the programme by checking out the link in the show notes and as a thank you to my listeners for following me on the podcast. If you use Podcast10, that's podcast number 10 at checkout. Then you're going to get a 10% discount off the programme.  Okay on with the episode and this particular episode is action-packed, so it's well worth you sitting down and grabbing a pen and paper so you can take some notes. 

Every business will have two or three marketing activities that work well for them and deliver good results.

And these were based on the type of content their audience likes to digest, and also on the things that you're good at doing, whether that be making videos or recording a podcast like this or writing detailed blogs. But one of the things that are non-negotiable that every business should be doing and underpins so much of your other marketing activities is building your mailing list. Consider that every warm lead that you add to your list is worth £10 a month in revenue, Then hopefully you would be motivated to want to add more contacts to that list, and secondly, you would want to communicate with them frequently so that you can convert those contacts into revenue. Now, of course, you want to make sure that you're adding value when you send emails and you're not spamming your audience. And you also want to make sure that you are getting the structure and the content of your emails right, so that you're focusing 80% of the time on value and 20% of the time on selling. But that structures a topic for another podcast. Basically, the bigger the list, the more value will get from it. And communicating regularly with your list means that you're keeping your list clean and you are keeping them connected with your agency.

Now, if you want to win new clients, not only do you need to demonstrate that you're good at delivering your service, whether that be web design or writing or SEO strategies, but you also need to be showing up as the expert and the trusted advisor, and your email marketing strategy is a great way of doing that consistently by showing up in your prospects inbox and providing them with small bite-size pieces of value whilst demonstrating your expertise. Remember that we have to take our prospects through that no like and trust funnel and email marketing is a great way of building all three of those stages. 

But another way of providing even more value and positioning yourself as that trusted advisor and expert is by offering a more detailed lead magnet. So you may well have heard of this term before, but let's just take a step back. For those who haven't and explain exactly what a lead magnet is. As the name implies, a lead magnet is something of value that is going to attract your ideal target customer to part with their email address in return for receiving this lead magnet. Now it needs to be something that genuinely provides value so that it demonstrates your credibility and understanding of your client’s challenges. So what could a lead magnet be? Well, it could be a number of things from a detailed 10-page guide to a one-page template or top 10 tips. It could be a video lesson, or it could even be something like a quiz that provides some insights for the reader once they have answered the questions, and, of course, they received those results fire an email once they've submitted their email address. It just needs to genuinely impart some value to your reader. It's going to focus on the ‘why’ and the ‘what.’ And of course, when the client works with you, you're going to be delivering the ‘how.’ 

Now one of the questions that people often ask me when I'm talking about this with my private clients are my group coaching programme is, they say. But, Rob, I'm worried about giving so much information away that they won't actually want to work with me. But the reality is that clients come to you because they are time-poor and they don't have the time or the resources or the skills in house to solve the problem. And so they just want you to take the problem off their hands. So let's remove that as one of the reasons why you don't want to produce a detailed guide or you fear giving too much value away. Remember, people are time-poor. They've got time to go and figure this out for themselves, and they want you to solve the problem for them. So the lead magnet is just going to be providing them with some value and showing them via this value that you are the right person on the right agency to help them.

Now one mistake that I've made in the past is producing so many pieces of content for my lead magnet, and thinking that I need to have lots of these mitt lead magnets, and that's the right way to generate more email sign-ups. But the reality is that you only need one or two pieces of really great killer content to act as your lead magnet to start getting regular subscribers to your email list. So let's dispel another myth, which is I need lots of these lead magnets. No, you don't just start with one. And again, if I could go back in time and give my younger self some advice, I'd say, Rob, you don't need to have 20 or 30 lead magnets on your website. Start with one. Make it the best piece of content that you can promote the hell out of that, and then over time, you can add more to it. But just start off with one and market it really well. Oh, and by the way, let's dispel. Another myth here is that you don't need to spend thousands of pounds getting it beautifully designed pdf. Obviously, if you're a design agency, it needs to look like and you might have those design capabilities in house. But if not just used canvas and create a nice template so that it's easily readable. Remember, people are judging you based on the quality of the content. They're not judging you on the design. 

Okay, so now you've got this one piece of killer content for your lead magnet, and you've created a nice PDF or you've shot a video. Well, you've written the quiz. Where do you promote it? And how do you get people to start engaging with your lead magnet so that they can access it in return for their email address? Well, the best place is going to be your website, and what you want to do is create a specific sales page or landing page on your website so that when they arrive, they're seeing some really engaging and enticing content. It's almost like an ad if you like, to encourage them to download the lead magnet. Now, this sales page needs to lead with your client’s pain and then show them how your lead magnet will help them start transitioning away from being in pain to not being in pain and how to do that as quickly as possible.

Now I'm going to do a future episode on the anatomy of a great sales page. But a quick overview of a sales page needs to start with a really engaging headline, which typically looks like how to achieve a desire without getting stuck on an obstacle. So a recent headline for one of my cells pages using this formula was: “How to increase your profits without fear of losing clients?” So take that approach to your headline and then promote the freebie. The killer content is the lead magnet.

Now you're also going to want to include some testimonials or which could be written. Or there could be a video of people that have used your freebie and get value from it. So that's something to bear in mind to get some feedback from people, and a really important point is that you want to make it really easy for your reader to access your freebie. So make sure that right at the top of the sales page, almost below that headline and what we call above the fold, you've either a form that they fill in, which might just be their first name and their email address or a button to click on, which will open up a pop-up form. And you want to make sure that that's not buried somewhere at the bottom of the page. In fact, you're probably gonna want to include this but formal button at least twice on the page, once at the top and once at the bottom. And if you're using a long-form sales page and you're probably going to have it in the middle as well. So don't be afraid of putting that several times and making it really easy for your reader to access it. So, as I said in a future episode, I'll go through the anatomy of an ideal sales page. But that just gives you a kind of quick snapshot and have a look around my website to see some examples of sales pages. In fact, I'll put some links into the show notes. 

Okay, so you've written your piece of killer content. You've created this amazing, engaging sales page. Now we need to link it all together using the right tech. Now, sometimes this can feel really overwhelming, and actually, it's a barrier for some people to start building their email list. But at the end of the day, it's pretty simple. So let me outline the tech, and the process is you need to connect all of these pieces together. So basically you need three things. A website to host yourselves a page, an email automation system to send out the killer content and then subsequent follow-up emails and a form that people fill in to request the piece of killer content in the first place. So let's break these down, and we're going to start off with the email automation system. So you want to start using something like convert it or Mailchimp or ActiveCampaign. And I've personally used all three of these over the years. But now I host all my emails in Cartwright, which is an all in one system, and my websites are also hosted there. My email automation system, my forms, my videos and so on. But I would start simply by using one of the systems that are just off for email automation, and I'll list all of these in the show notes. Now, of course, you can also need a website, and I hope that with the website that you have you can easily create new pages yourself, rather than having to go back to your web development agency every time you need a new page. And certainly, if you use a platform like WordPress and a design system that sits on top of it like Thrive Architect, it will be very easy for you to create a new page. In fact, tools like Thrive Architect and Kartra that I use give you lots of pre-designed templates for sales pages, which are a great starting point. 

So now you've designed ourselves page. You need to connect the form to the email automation system, and you'll be able to do this in one of two ways. You either create the form in your web development platforms such as Thrive Architect, and then you link it through to your email automation system, or you create the form in your email automation system and embed it on your website. Now I know that might sound complicated, but trust me, it's not. It will take you 10 or 15 minutes now, of course, to ensure that you are GDPR compliant. You'll also want to make sure that you have a tick box confirming that the reader allows you to send them further emails. And your email automation system will make this very straightforward to add that in. In fact, usually, it's just part of your settings to say you include GDPR compliance approval. I hope that doesn't sound too complicated because it is really very simple. 

So the final piece of the jigsaw is the emails that you're going to send once they've given you their email address and requested to receive your lead magnet. And the nurturing sequence of emails that you send after they've downloaded the lead magnet is really important so that you can start to move them through the sales funnel and build that know-like and trust journey with your ultimate goal, being a meeting to discuss a potential project that you could help them with.

Now, one piece of really important advice here is that make sure you deliver your lead magnet via email. Don't just redirect someone to another page on your website where that PDF appears because that will encourage people to give you bogus email addresses. Whereas if they know that you will send the lead magnet via an email, then they have to give you their correct email address, so that's a really important tip. Also, by doing this, you force or highly encourage people to tick that GDP our compliance box. So word it carefully, such as in order for me to send you the guide you have requested. Please confirm you’re happy to receive further emails from me and tick the GDPR compliance box. Now the sequence of emails you send once they've requested your lead magnet deserves a podcast episode in itself. But I put together a lead magnet of my own, which is a welcoming sequence of emails that you would send to somebody once they've subscribed to your list. So if you want to grab a copy of that lead magnet, I'll put a link in the show notes.

The first email you're going to send immediately upon them completing the form is going to be the email that delivers your lead magnet or your killer content. And you can store that, for example, on Google Drive and then put a link to that in that email. Or you can send it as an attachment and that both of those approaches have pros and cons, and this will largely be dependent on the email automation system you use in terms of which allows you to do what? As I said, both have got their pros and cons. But again, just a reminder. Don't deliver your killer content directly on your website unless you want to receive loads of bogus email addresses. 

Okay, so you then want to send them further emails over the next week or so, which digs into certain aspects of the lead magnet that they have downloaded in more detail. So, for example, in my case, if you download my self-running agency book over the next five days, you're going to receive a series of emails that include videos of me diving into certain aspects of the book in more detail. Now, this is a really good idea because some people like to read and some people like to watch videos and so on so I'm covering all the different variations of different readers. Then the follow-up emails will become less frequent over time. But you probably want to end up with a sequence of about 10 to 15 emails sent over the next 30 to 60 days. Remember, your goal with these emails is to nurture them through the sales funnel so that you can identify your five-star prospects who you're hot prospects and start having a more personalised engagement with them to discuss a potential project. You shouldn't fear sending that many emails over that period of time, because remember what we said at the beginning. Your subscribers are worth £10 a month, and you need to identify those hot prospects that you can start engaging with. And if they have requested to receive your lead magnet, and in the emails you send, you continue to delve into that particular topic. Then they're going to be receptive to them, and your open rates should be high. Okay, so I feel like we've covered a lot in this episode, and as I said at the beginning, I hope you grabbed a pen and paper and took some notes.

I hope that it makes sense, and most importantly, I hope it inspires you to start building your email list if you haven't done so already. Now don't forget I've put the links to the email automation systems in the show notes. I've also put a link to my lead magnet, which is a welcome sequence of emails. You can grab that for free, and you can just see how all of that works. But other than that, go forward and create your email list. I hope you found this useful. Please hit the subscribe button. As you know, please leave a review if you enjoyed it, because that really helps me reach more people. But other than that, I will see you next week for our next guest interview on The Agency Accelerator Podcast.

The do’s and don’ts of using email marketing to generate new business

In today’s episode of ‘The Agency Accelerator Podcast,’ I am revisiting a topic which I spoke about at the beginning of last year; email marketing. If you want a robust business development strategy that delivers a continuous source of ideal leads, then email marketing should be at the top of your agenda. 

Time Stamp

01:22 The importance of email marketing

03:02 The importance of building your social media profiles and moving your followers into your email list

04:54 The 8 do’s of email marketing

10:11 The 8 don’ts of email marketing

15:40 Focussing on the growth of your email list

If you would like more ideas about your

business development then sign up for my 

FREE Sales Pipeline Masterclass 

business development

Useful links:

Download The Self-Running Implementation Book

Download The Lead Generation System Book

Download The Strategic Email Marketing That Gets Results Book

Join my Facebook group ‘The Agency Accelerator’

Download the 'Creating A Sustainable & Profitable Agency' book

Subscribe & Review

Are you subscribed to my podcast yet? If you’re not, please do so to avoid missing out on any episodes!

You can subscribe/follow on Apple, Spotify or directly from my website.

I would be very grateful if you left me a review too as they will help other people to find my podcasts and it's also great to read your comments!

Thanks so much.


How to build an email sales funnel

How to build an email sales funnel

Have you been struggling to build your email list?

Would you like to build an automated lead generation system?

Well I have some answers for you in this week's episode of The Agency Accelerator Podcast, I talk about the importance of email sales funnels and how you can build one, along with some great tips that can help you nurture and grow your email list.

[0:45] Importance of Email Marketing.

[2:10] Why you should be focusing on Email Marketing.

{03:35] It's never too late to start building your email list!

[5:17] Be context specific with your content to generate lots of email sign ups.

[6:26] Website pop ups are great but use them effectively to capture email addresses.

[7:44] How to nurture your email list.

[10:31] Getting the balance right between providing value added content & driving sales through your emails.

[12:32] Importance of email sales funnel strategy.

[15:35]The importance of sending personalised emails

[18:17] Nurture your subscribers through 3 stages of email sales funnels

To know more in detail about email sales funnel, download my ebook.

Subscribe & Review

Are you subscribed to my podcast yet? If you’re not, please do so to avoid missing out on any episodes!

You can subscribe/ follow on iTunes, Spotify or directly from my website.

I would be very grateful if you left me a review over on iTunes, too as they will help other people to find my podcasts and it's also great to read your comments!

Thanks so much,


Email marketing: the unsung hero of your marketing strategy

Email Marketing

Are you tired of hearing about how email marketing can bring you huge returns and never seeing the results? Would you love it if your customers bothered to react to your carefully worded pleas and bought something, just once?

Well, the truth is, email marketing is one of the most widely-used forms of marketing used today. Statistics tell us that the ROI on email marketing is a staggering 44 to 1!

Chances are that if you aren't seeing great results from your email marketing, you're doing it wrong.

Do you want to know how to turn your email marketing around by using email funnels? Of course, you do! Keep reading.

What Are Email Funnels?

Like a sales funnel, an email funnel involves ushering prospective customers along the buying journey until they succumb to your many charms and end up buying something from you.

Email Funnel

It all starts with collecting as many email addresses as you can from your ideal target prospect. Once you've got your foot in the door, you can start to woo these prospective buyers with a sequence of nurturing emails that piques their interest and convinces them to they need your product. With the right sequence, you will be front of mind when your prospect is ready to buy and they will 'raise their hand' and tell you so.

Sounds simple enough, yet nothing lands your email in a spam folder faster than harassing people with emails they don't want. So what makes email funnels so successful?

Email Is Not Dead as a Marketing Tool

Insert Image

Email marketing may have been around for a long time, but it’s still very much alive and kicking. Although many people communicate via apps and social media nowadays, email is still the top form of business communication.  And consider that your social media following is “rented real estate” and could be taken away at any time whereas your email list you own.

Every day this year almost 294 billion emails travelled around the world. That’s proof enough that email as a means of communication is far from dead.

What’s the first thing you check when you logon to your pc morning, noon or night? Your email, right? Your prospective customers do the same thing. Why? Because of curiosity or FOMO, to use a modern-day term.

It’s that same fear of missing out that persuades people to open your first email communication with them. That’s why it has to be good; good enough to get them to read the next one, and so on and so on.

Email Marketing Is Not Just for Sales

Email Marketing helps SEO

Your website is likely one of your businesses’ main sources of leads, and it’s a good one. After all, you can track which pages people have visited to figure out what they’re interested in. You can track their buying behaviour, and you can ask them for their email addresses before they leave (in return for some great content).

The more times people visit your website, the better it ranks on the search engines. The better it ranks on search engines the more people are likely to find it and visit it, and the more chance you have of getting new leads. It’s a never-ending cycle.

So, why not use email marketing to direct people to your site? The more of your existing customers visit your site regularly, the better it ranks. The better it ranks, the more new customers are likely to find it in a search.

Bottom line – email marketing can be good for SEO too.

Email Is an Excellent Top Funnel Tool

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The top of the sales funnel is where you convince new customers that you’re the good guy. It’s a warm, fuzzy place where no sales jargon may ever go.  It’s the perfect place to engage customers, provide some genuine value and in return, gain exposure for your company, and get them thinking about your brand.

Now as a marketer, when you think of engagement, social media is the first medium that springs to mind. Why would you want to reach out to customers on a platform that’s filled with other businesses trying to do the same, and as I said above, one that you don’t own!!

That’s not to say you shouldn’t be using social media to ‘build your tribe’ but with email, you have your customer’s undivided attention. If you continue sending them engaging and value-added content, you’ll keep it that way.

How About That ROI?


Email marketing is cheap but it’s not easy. Sending the mail itself may be almost cost-free, but the time it takes to craft it can become costly. That’s why many businesses get a marketing professional to do the work for them – because time is money.  Use email automation to create a sequence of emails sent over a period of days.

While these initial set up costs can add up, you’re never going to send every customer a unique email. Once you’ve hit on an email marketing formula that works, you can use it for every first contact. That’s where the savings come in.

Personalisation Par Excellence

People can’t help notice correspondence that addresses them directly, but the other side of personalisation is customising the offers you make to your customers according to their interests.

The supermarket loyalty card has mastered this.  By tracking the groceries associated with each swipe of the card, they can offer their customers only the goods they’re interested in.

This has a double benefit. Firstly, their customers look forward to their weekly emails promising savings on the things they need. Secondly, they appreciate the fact that the supermarket is treating them like an individual.

As long as the offers stay relevant, they’ll stay happily subscribed to this kind of email marketing.

What’s more, supermarkets use this kind of email to promote links to recipes which leads to another double whammy. The customers click through to the website to see the recipe and they’re enticed to buy extra ingredients to create the dish.

This is the kind of personalisation that works. Simply adding someone’s name to the subject line of an email won’t win you any friends. So consider what info you need to get when someone signs up to your list (for example, when you join my email list I will ask you how big your agency is or are you a 1-man band/freelancer – and that helps me personalise some of the emails I send (e.g. no point sending an email about managing staff if you are a 1-man band!)

Do You Want in on the Email Funnel Action?

email marketing

You can carry on letting customers drift away, or you can learn how to use email funnels to get results.

Once you’ve mastered the art of the email funnel, your marketing efforts will become the most anticipated thing in your customers’ inboxes.

Next, I’ll show you just how to do that.

How to Change up Your Email Marketing With Email Funnels

Now that you’ve come around to the idea that email funnels could work for you, there are a few ways you can use them to maximum effect. But first, the basics.

Every email sales funnel has three stages:


Value Stage - To Nurture a Relationship with Your Email Contacts

In this first stage, you want to welcome them to the fold.

You can thank them for signing up or for downloading something from you. You can offer them something further for free – either a free download, a video series or some useful and interesting information.

It’s all about building trust.


Authority Stage - To Educate Potential Customers About Your Products and Services

Next, you want to convince them that you know your stuff. You can do this with some examples of how you’ve helped customers, a few positive reviews, or articles and case studies. All sprinkled with a little low-key self-promotion.


Call-To-Action Stage – To Persuade Subscribers to Buy Something or Do Something

Now, it’s time for some action. Here’s where you start to introduce your products and services.

If you’ve done your job properly in the first two stages, your customers will trust that you’ve got their best interests at heart.

Apart from these three key steps, you can get a lot more creative with your email marketing and here’s how.

Types of Email Marketing Funnels

Take a look at these examples of the ways you can use email funnels to win customers and get sales.

Building Anticipation

To coin a phrase, ”curiosity catches the customer”. When you’re launching a new product, it pays to build up anticipation before the event.

Don’t be vague, go all out to get them guessing.

You can tell your readers that there’s a new product coming and it’s something they’ll all love. 

Back up your mail with links to social media posts with images of the new product that don’t fully reveal what it is. Invite them to try and guess.

Finally, tell them to keep an eye on their inboxes on a specific date to hear all about the big news. When you finally announce your new product, drive it home with information about the benefits it has for them.

The Option to Opt-Out


Amazon has an unusual way of getting their workers more committed to their jobs. Every year, they offer them $5,000 to quit. The catch is if they take the package, they can never work at Amazon again.

Would you take that deal? Nobody does.

When presented with an option with finite consequences like this, it’s human nature to think long term. Suddenly, all the benefits of staying employed come to mind.

You can use this principle in your email funnels to keep customers engaged. You do this by being honest. Tell them how often you’ll be emailing. Tell them you’ll be sending special offers now and again, then tell them they can opt-out right now and never know what they’re missing.

Another approach to this kind of message is telling them why they should opt-out upfront if they aren’t interested in saving, improving their business, or winning at life – depending on your niche.

Sure, you might lose some subscribers, but the vast majority would rather stay subscribed for fear of missing out. For the same reason, they’ll also check every mail you send them.

Rewarding Good Behavior


It’s a no-brainer that people love to feel special and you can use this to your advantage in email funnels. This type of funnel hinges on the concept of giving only customers who do one thing exclusive access to another.

This may seem like you’re turning business away, but niching your business like this can bring huge rewards.

How it works is by providing a link to something in your initial email. This could be a product page, a video, or a blog post. When the customer clicks your link, they receive a reward that they weren’t expecting.

For example, you can email them straight away and offer them an exclusive and related reward if they take another action. Here’s an example:

Ian Stanley, a master of email marketing, started his email funnel by commiserating with his readers about how busy they were. Then he invited them to watch a short video about how time is unmanageable.

Those who clicked through to the video received a follow-up from ‘Time’ to say they needed to talk, with another video about how to improve their relationship with time.

Finally, those subscribers who watched the second video received an invitation to take part in a time-management workshop at a discounted price.

Now, these workshops weren’t cheap, but Stanley managed to grow his business to seven figures using tactics like these.

With a little imagination, you could do the same. How do you get started?

Putting Email Marketing Into Action

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Are you overflowing with ideas about how to use email funnels to boost your customer engagement and sales yet?

Now, all you need is a mailing list…

Unless you know how to find awesome qualified leads on your own, fill in the form below and download my eBook about creating an automated lead generation system and let’s get started.

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Why email marketing should be at the top of your agenda in 2020

Did you know that email marketing is one of the most effective, if not the most effective way of delivering new sales for your agency?  So, if you don’t have a list, this should be the top of your marketing priorities in 2020.

Email marketing has been around for a while, it’s not some trendy marketing fad that will come and go.  And it promises to continue growing even further in the future. If you happen not to have tapped into its wealth of possibilities already, then let me give you a few reasons why you should do so in 2020.

Why Should You Invest In Email Marketing

Setting up the systems and running your own email marketing campaign certainly is an investment, so should you bother?

Well, let’s have a look at a few key stats provided by Campaign Monitor and HubSpot:

  • The ROI of email marketing for every $1 spent was $44 in 2016. That’s a 4,400% return on investment!
  •  Automated emails generated 320% more revenue than non-automated emails in 2016.
  •  Email marketing delivered 174% more conversions than social media marketing in 2016.
  •  73% of millennials prefer email for communications with business.
  •  Over 50% of respondents check their personal emails over 10 times a day.
  •  99% of consumers check their email at least once a day.

  • You can find plenty of other fascinating stats like this, but the points listed above should give you a solid idea of why email marketing is worth considering as a key sales & marketing strategy in 2020.

    With that said, doesn’t all this sound too good to be true?

    The Challenges Of Email Marketing

    The catch with all the figures above is that such results do not come overnight. A successful email marketing campaign requires financial investment, plenty of time, and a clear plan, not to mention that you have to deal with a couple of challenges.

    Firstly you need to choose an email marketing platform to work with. While not the most difficult step, choosing the right automation platform is key to having a successful email marketing campaign since it alleviates many of its challenges.  If you are not clear about what Email automation is you can learn more here from this excellent guide from Campaign Monitor.

    Then you also need to be mindful of privacy protection laws like the GDPR in the EU or the CAN-SPAM in the US. Such legal acts actually require that email marketing be permission-based – that is, your subscribers need to grant you explicit permission for sending emails.

    Thirdly, you have to actually build a list of emails to send promotional emails to. You can find online sellers offering email lists for what seems like a good price, but these often come from questionable sources and with very low return on investment/engagement since they didn’t sign up to your list (so they will feel they are being spammed). So I don’t recommend this approach but instead, recognise that the best email list is the email list that you’ve built with your own efforts.

    A crucial point that many beginner email marketers do not realise is that you cannot successfully promote your blog, services, products, or whatever you want to promote with just occasional emails. Those business owners who claim that email marketing doesn’t work most likely haven’t had a systematic approach toward their email marketing campaign.

    Consistency Is Key

    So to be successful you need to be consistent and systematic in your approach.  It’s safe to say that the lack of consistency is the main reason why people fail to build a list of engaged and enthused ‘fans’.

    Your email list is one of the most valuable internal assets so you should invest time in building it and engaging with it.

    And the key here is consistency.

    Think of the sales funnel of your email marketing campaign as a KNOW – LIKE – TRUST process. Simply put, you need to create awareness first (KNOW) and then need to get your audience to LIKE and TRUST you before expecting to make a sale. It’s highly unlikely that someone will buy from you immediately upon appearing on your email list and receiving one email!

    You can find plenty of other fascinating stats like this, but the points listed above should give you a solid idea of why email marketing is worth considering as a key sales & marketing strategy in 2020.

    With that said, doesn’t all this sound too good to be true?

    If you send an email once a year or once a quarter, your sales funnel will not work. As I said earlier, the lack of consistency is the main reason why people fail with email marketing. The three-step funnel works only if you regularly send educational, value-add and helpful emails to your subscribers. So you need a content plan and a calendar of value-added content that you know will engage your audience.

    Stuck for ideas for your content?

    Click below for a free 'content twister' to help you develop a range of content for each theme

    Aside from building trust, you should be sending emails regularly because your audience’s needs change over time and only a tiny percentage of your audience will have a need for your service when you mail them.

    Keeping Your 'Sand Timer' Filled

    sand timer

    To highlight this point, let’s say you have 1,000 subscribers. If you send them all 1 email you will be fortunate if 5 of your leads happen to need your services when they receive the email.  So you could expect to eventually win 5 sales. The remaining 995 subscribers will be indifferent to your email because they don’t need your services now (i.e. they are not suffering from the ‘pain’ right now that your services can solve for them). So, what are you doing to stay engaged with the other 995?

    Now because you are building a TARGETED list of your ideal clients in your email list (read all about defining your customer avatars here) the other 995 will undoubtedly need your services in at some point in the future. This means that you have to be in front of your target customers when they have ‘pain’ that you can solve!  I liken this to a ’sand timer’: every time you communicate with your audience you refill the sand timer yet if you haven’t communicated with them before the sand timer runs out then they will forget about you.

    So if you are consistent and send out emails regularly, then you will hit 5 other people, and then 5 more. Furthermore, your older customers who have purchased from you already will become repeat customers and advocates.

    This is what the power and challenge of email marketing are about. Email marketing isn’t merely about winning one-time clients – it is about building trust, nurturing your customers until they are ready to buy from you, and establishing long-term connections that are much more valuable than one-time interactions.

    Delivering Value - Don’t Sell

    Finally, one serious mistake email marketers often make is pushing too hard on sales-oriented emails. Needless to say, your goal IS to make sales, but you will put people off if you make your emails too sales oriented. Think about the person who sends you a connection request on LinkedIn and immediately you have accepted you get a sales email from them. I don’t know about you, but I would never buy from this person and I usually remove them as a connection.  The same applies to email marketing. Nurture first and build trust before trying to sell.

    Instead of pushing your products, tell your customers personal stories and share case studies.  Give them useful tools, tips and approaches. Encourage them to chat and share their challenges with you. Trust me, if you build customer relationships this way, you will be at the top of your subscribers’ mind when they need a solution to their problems.

    What’s The Role Of Email Marketing Platforms In All This?

    It’s a challenge to manage an email list with thousands of people and regularly deliver educational or promotional emails to them.

    This is where email marketing automation platforms come into play.  

    If you are trying to send out your emails manually, your time is going to get sucked up focusing on the wrong things and there is little chance you will do it consistently and regularly! So, here’s where email marketing automation systems are a must.

    In part 1 of this series, I’ve talked about the reasons why you should be focusing on email marketing as part of your 2020 marketing strategy. And if you recall, the key to success (and a significant challenge) is consistency and regularity of content.

    If you are trying to send out your emails manually, your time is going to get sucked up focusing on the wrong things and there is little chance you will do it consistently and regularly! So, here’s where email marketing automation systems are a must.

    As promised, in this follow up post, I will share with you a few email marketing tool options to consider (with a focus on beginners and SME agencies).

    If you are trying to send out your emails manually, your time is going to get sucked up focusing on the wrong things and there is little chance you will do it consistently and regularly! So, here’s where email marketing automation systems are a must.

    email automation

    Strategic Email Marketing that Gets Results

    If you want to learn more about email marketing then grab your FREE copy of my indepth guide

    Best Tools For Email Marketing


    MailerLite is pretty a good option if your budget is limited and want a free email marketing tool. There are some limitations, of course, but MailerLite provides an easy way to get started.

    As long as you have fewer than 1,000 subscribers and are sending out fewer than 12,000 emails per month, you are eligible for the Free plan. Above these numbers, the monthly cost of MailerLite goes from $10 to $1,915, depending on the number of contacts and monthly emails (this is the model that most email automation systems use).

    What I like about MailerLite is that you are getting the same features in all paid plans. In most other email marketing tools, you usually have several price tiers with varying features to choose from. With MailerLite, you only have Free and Premium tiers, with the Free plan offering the necessary functionality for automated email sending – most importantly, email automation, interest tagging, and segmentation based on behaviour. 


    Mailchimp is also a great option if you want a free email marketing tool. In fact, Mailchimp allows you to use its services for free if you have up to 2,000 subscribers!  This is the tool you may well have heard of.

    However, Mailchimp segments its services and features into 4 tiers, meaning that you have less flexibility than with MailerLite. With that said, you won’t be paying for features that you don’t really need.

    While Mailchimp and MailerLite offer the same basic services (automation and segmentation), Mailchimp is superior in a few departments. One of these is reporting – aside from raw numbers, Mailchimp provides tools for testing, send time optimisation as well as comparative reports.

    Mailchimp also offers social posting features with scheduling, which may be just right for you if you are also active on social media.


    Next comes ConvertKit, which is the tool I use personally. While ConvertKit’s plans aren’t designed for tens of thousands of subs out of the box, it has got a few things for which I absolutely love this service.

    What I really like about ConvertKit is that it doesn’t impose any limits on the number of emails sent per month. This definitely makes this service more flexible. Other service providers typically start to do so at some point – MailerLite, for example, starts limiting monthly mails once you get over 50k subs.

    I also like that the features in all plans are nearly identical, meaning that you won’t miss out if you have only a few subscribers. The only thing that’s not available in some plans is the Free Concierge Migration feature that allows you to migrate for free if you have over 5,000 subs.

    ConvertKit may not be the very best email marketing platform when it comes to reports or the sheer number of features, but it’s been working great for me. I don’t really need the additional features of the other platforms on this list, which is why I give my vote to ConvertKit.  I am not paying for stuff I won’t use. ConvertKit also integrates with most other tools I use (e.g. Teachable).

    What Should Your Email Marketing Sequence Look Like?

    In part 1 of this blog, I emphasised the importance of not just sending sales emails but actually building trust with your audience by sending value-added content. This could include top tips, case studies, how-tos, cheat sheets and many other things. Since each agency is very different, it’s fairly difficult to give specific tips on how you should layout your email strategy.

    With that said, here are 5 points to consider (including how to start your email marketing sequence):

    1.     Welcome Your New Subscriber

    Send out a welcome email to new subscribers. In this email, give the subscriber the promised incentive (if that’s the reason for subscription), let them know how often they should expect emails, tell them more about yourself, and point them in the direction of other useful content (e.g. your blog, podcast or YouTube channel).

    2.     Communicate Regularly

    Then send out bi-monthly emails. Remember that while your goal is to make a sale, you should deliver value with your messages. Provide tips, how-tos, useful information, share stories, encourage replies, and let the subscriber know about important news in your field.

    3.     Be Consistent

    Send out emails consistently. Keep an eye out on stats provided by your email automation tool. If necessary, make corrections to your templates and track how they work out.

    4.     Test to see what works best

    Try A/B testing subject lines to see which ones resonate best with your market (tools like ConvertKit make it easy to do this)

    5.     Ultimately make the sale

    Once you sell something to a subscriber, you may send out a trigger-based email that would provide the customer with specific tips on how to make the best use of their new acquisition.

    Now I dive into a ton more detail in the accompanying eBook connected with this blog, so make sure you grab your FREE copy.

    How Often Should You Mail Your Audience?

    How often should you email your audience? Well, not too often and not too infrequently. Anywhere from once or twice per week to once or twice a month would probably work for you.

    But depending on your business, you may want to get in touch with your subscribers more or less frequently. For example, if someone has purchased from you, you may want to send daily emails to ensure they are using your tool correctly and successfully.

    How often you should send out emails also depends on your ability to generate unique and original content.

    With this in mind, it’s a good idea to plan ahead for a few weeks or even months (I work with a content plan of 9 months).

    You need to create a content calendar. Here are three-steps to help you get started:

    1. Stand in your customer’s shoes and think about 6 challenges they have (that you can solve)
    2. Approach the structure of your content by
      • Stating the problem
      • Agitating the problem to emphasis the pain
      • Presenting your solution (to that pain)
    3. Create your content plan, considering keywords and creating engaging titles (and a/b test where you can)

    In Conclusion

    Planning ahead and having a clear strategy is vital if you want to make email marketing work effectively for you.  It is one of the most cost/time effective ways to engage with your target audience yet there are a number of pitfalls you need to avoid, as outlined across these 2 blog posts.  Select the best tools, have a plan (and plan ahead), send engaging and regular content and you will soon start seeing ROI with an engaged audience ready to buy from you.

    I have captured a ton more information about best practices for email marketong & automation in my brand new guide, so click on the link below to grab your FREE copy.

    Subscribe & Download

    If you prefer to listen to Podcasts, you can listen to the episode on email marketing