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EXECUTION Growing an email list with Google Ads

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PapaGang

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I think you're navigating through a landscape formed by companies to ward against looters and schemers (and to show due diligence in reducing fraud). It's tricky.
This is getting interesting.
 

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Andy Black

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I think you're navigating through a landscape formed by companies to ward against looters and schemers (and to show due diligence in reducing fraud). It's tricky.
This is getting interesting.
Yeah, and I’m in an industry full of looters and schemers so will have to be squeaky clean.

“Interesting” is a politer word than the one I had in mind...
 

Chris McCarron

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Yeah, and I’m in an industry full of looters and schemers so will have to be squeaky clean.

“Interesting” is a politer word than the one I had in mind...
Amazing results from your ads. People gloss over how important traffic is for conversions.

I’m looking forward to reading about how many sales you get.
 
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Andy Black

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Amazing results from your ads. People gloss over how important traffic is for conversions.

I’m looking forward to reading about how many sales you get.
Thanks for following and your support.

Thanks also for the little hint that I need to make an offer earlier!

On the subject of traffic and conversions: I prefer to call them visitors, and it’s the visitors that convert, not the landing page. That’s one of my main tips for media buyers, and business owners in general.
 

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And now my Mailchimp account is under review and I can't send emails. I presume because I mentioned "credit card" in the email?
Thoughts on this from my experience working at constant contact:

I don't think it would have been because of mentioning "credit card."

I think what tripped their spam/fraud filters is more likely the fact that you have email addresses from worldwide IPs, with continual signups happening from third world countries.

This may be flagged as suspicious because they don't know if they're fake. They don't know that you're running Google ads to build the list. They don't know that your intentions are to provide value to your subscribers. They don't know that because you are Andy, no other scenario is even in the cards than you providing value. This may look to them like the kind of thing someone would do to build a list of addresses that they plan to sell. Or it may look like a list that's being built through scraping the web.

An alternative hypothesis is that a few of your subscribers marked your email as spam. Hopefully this didn't happen, and in most cases, someone who JUST signed up for a mailing list is not going to flag the messages that they know they signed up for as spam. But it may be unpredictable what people's behavior is in the developing world. And the threshold of the number of spam complains that will get you blacklisted is very low (like 3-5 people per thousand, if I remember right). In other words, if you send to a mailing list of 1000 addresses, and 3-5 of those addresses mark your message as spam in Gmail or Hotmail or whatever they are using, you can get blacklisted. It's a very big risk for the providers of email marketing services, because if their servers get blacklisted, it's a very expensive problem that affects all their customers on that server, not just you.

This is an issue that's not just confined to MailChimp. Any email marketing provider is going to have a similar set of safeguards in place.

I also think I’ll keep my email content super short in future and sell people on clicking a link to a YouTube video or to an article on a website I own. I figure that the less I write in the email the less I can get flagged for.
Maybe I’ll stay safe by writing less?
Actually, if an email contains fewer than 50 words, it is far MORE likely to register as spam versus an email that provides more substantive content.

I'm already annoyed with ConvertKit and it's form and landing page templates. I just want it simple!
Oh my goodness, I AGREE!! I just signed up for their freemium product and I find it so frustrating!!! I thought it was just me!
 
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Andy Black

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Thanks @Bekit. I forgot you worked in Constant Contact for a few years.

Actually, if an email contains fewer than 50 words, it is far MORE likely to register as spam versus an email that provides more substantive content.
Ah. Nice tip. I’ll bear that in mind.

I think what tripped their spam/fraud filters is more likely the fact that you have email addresses from worldwide IPs, with continual signups happening from third world countries.
Again, thanks for the insight. I’ll either focus on the countries where I was getting plenty of cheap signups, or go direct to Tier 1 countries.
 
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Andy Black

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1) I'm setting up hello@domain.com email addresses for the three brands I'm going to build/test. I'm just using Namecheap's email addresses and they're $11.88/year for each.


2) I see I need to setup a simple website to get compliant with email marketing systems, and it will help with Google Ads too.

I've started creating a template Basecamp project. Here's the To-Do Lists. I'll flesh it out and add to-do items to them.

This is for selling courses.

29925
 

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Andi, i love what you do! Things look so easy, when you do it!
 
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Andy Black

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Andi, i love what you do! Things look so easy, when you do it!
Ha. Thanks.

You realise I’m figuring this out as I go along?

And that I’ve earned a big fat zero from my efforts to date with this?

I want to get that first sale sooner rather than later.
 

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Ha. Thanks.

You realise I’m figuring this out as I go along?

And that I’ve earned a big fat zero from my efforts to date with this?

I want to get that first sale sooner rather than later.
I know that feeling all to well, working a couple of months for nothing and all of a sudden $3 hits your bank account and your a genius.
 

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@Andy Black,

Following this!

I learned about self-liquidating offers a while ago. And, unfortunately, it's a topic that you don't find much actionable information on Google.

I'm curious about your experience with them - mainly being:

How do you troubleshoot them? (No one ever talks about this).
 

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Ing

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@Andy Black
what program for collecting do you use (still chimpmail? fixed the problem) and how exactly does that work?
(beginner/beginner level)
 
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Andy Black

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@Andy Black
what program for collecting do you use (still chimpmail? fixed the problem) and how exactly does that work?
(beginner/beginner level)
Mailchimp never got back to me about that account that it put under review. I’m about to start up another test with another domain and email address. I’m undecided what to use for the email marketing part.

These platforms are pretty simple to get started with. Mailchimp is by far the most popular, probably because of its free plan. But I presume having a free plan means they have to be very careful how their platform is being used, and they need automated systems to shut things down it suspects are on the shady side.
 

Ing

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I ve just seen, that my provider offers the program Majordomo for email lists. It seems not to be too easy, but I think I ll invest some time. Does anyone know that?

edith : wiki shows it to be just a bit outdated!???
 
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Andy Black

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I've kicked this off again.

The differences:
  1. I'm asking for name as well as email address (so I can send a personal video if I want to).
  2. I'm using the Lite plan of ActiveCampaign ($15/mth) and not a free Mailchimp plan.
  3. I'm targeting just one country and not worldwide. I picked the country that got the most conversions last time round. It's still in the developing country, but the CPCs and CPA were dirt cheap last time so I want to send these cheaper visitors through my funnel to test it all works before going to the 1st tier countries.

EDIT: After a quick message with Lex I'm going to run it worldwide, same as before. He's getting students signing up to his ActiveCampaign lists from over 100 countries.


EDIT2: Haha. Had to laugh at this:

I turned off the Indonesia campaign but not before I got 3 clicks and 1 signup. The conversion likely won't be reported for 12-24 hours.

33946
 
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Andy Black

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17 signups this morning!

I get an email notification when someone signs up. It’s that top email in my inbox where they’re all threaded together. I’d prefer to see them all come in separately like last time when I did this with Mailchimp, but this will do fine.

Note the $9 Stripe payment for my paid email newsletter on Substack (see the paid email newsletter progress thread). This is where I’m going - send these free subscribers to useful content on a new YouTube channel, and also offer a paid email newsletter.

33950



Stats today so far:
  • The budget was €5/day so Google overspent (as expected).
  • I had set bidding to manual CPC and bids of €0.15 to kickstart the campaigns again. I'll drop bids back to €0.10 since the daily budget was hit then exceeded early this morning.
  • Conversion reporting is a few hours behind... we can see them trickling in for the earlier hours of the day, but none yet from 2am onwards.
Screenshot of hourly stats today:
33957
 
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Andy Black

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This is so annoying. Look at my daily budget. Look at what they took. OK when it's €5 I suppose. What if that was €500 though?

33967


I may remove the requirement for people to add their name. It seems to have reduced conversion rates by quite a bit. I'll give it a few more days like this and then test removing it. In reality I'm not going to send people personal video messages now. I'm getting too many signups and would be better creating videos for YouTube and my courses.
 

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I love this! I have been doing something similar, only using Facebook ads.

I send them to a landing page with an email form for them to fill out, and they get sent a free piece of value.

I got dozens of sign ups within a few days and only spent 30-40 bucks.

I will say that you do have to have a little understanding of a few things like how to actually use the ads platform, how to make an offer your audience wants, and creating a piece of value for people, but man it's a great way to get started relatively cheaply and get that feedback loop going.
 
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Andy Black

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I love this! I have been doing something similar, only using Facebook ads.

I send them to a landing page with an email form for them to fill out, and they get sent a free piece of value.

I got dozens of sign ups within a few days and only spent 30-40 bucks.
Good for you! What's the next steps?

I will say that you do have to have a little understanding of a few things like how to actually use the ads platform
Yeah, I think this is probably the most important to get started.

how to make an offer your audience wants
In my case the offer is:

Get XYZ Tips
Straight To Your Inbox

I don't know if I can make that any simpler!

creating a piece of value for people
Yes, I'll get round to doing that. Currently I don't have anything in the autoresponder series other than a brief welcome email.

Note that I've started and have signups BEFORE I've created the piece of value for people.

man it's a great way to get started relatively cheaply and get that feedback loop going.
100% !!!!

Getting those signups is a beautiful thing. I like to create feedback loops asap.
 
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Andy Black

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Stats for Fri 10-Jul-20

07:45 am
  • I looked at ActiveCampaign first and can see there's 9 new signups.
  • I'll assume all 9 came from the Google Ads campaigns that restarted at midnight.
  • Here's the Google Ads stats so far today: 33971
  • Conversions and Impression Share stats won't be reported accurately for the day till sometime tomorrow.
  • So possibly 9 signups from 29 clicks = 31% visitor-to-signup rate.
  • Possibly 9 signups for €2.45 = €0.27 CPA.
  • I didn't create some content like I meant to last night. Everyone so far on the list just got/gets a welcome email.
 

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Good for you! What's the next steps?
Get my CPL down, I was spending about $4 per lead so I think I need to make some tweaks to the audience/offer

Also create a product to sell to my growing audience, I currently have no way to monetize them
 

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Andy Black

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Week Commencing 13-Jul-20


Spend last week was €27 for 65 reported conversions.
  • Total number of email subs on the brand new email list created last week was 101 when I checked this morning.
  • This includes some who signed up this morning, and some who signed up from my other small email list.


Weekly Trading:
  • I've created a Weekly Trading sheet for this project and updated it with stats for last week.
  • The main channel I'm focused on is Google Paid Search. I'll get to other channels later.

33995


Goal this week:
  • Send an email to the list pointing them to a video on a new YouTube channel. See whether I can generates views, likes, comments, and maybe even shares of a brand new video on a brand new channel.

Tasks this week:
  1. See if we can get more clicks for the €5/day budget.

    We lost 79% Impression Share due to hitting the daily budget last week. I'll drop bids from €0.10 to €0.09 to start with. I think impressions dried up when I dropped bids to €0.08 last time.

  2. See if we can increase the conversion rate.

    The landing page asks for name as well as email address. I didn't ask for the name last time. This time I thought I'd send personal video emails to people, but there's way too many signups coming through for me to do that. I've asked my developer to remove the name field today so we can run most of the week without it. It will be interesting to see what effect it has on the conversion rate, bearing in mind I'll drop bids which might change the visitor search intent too.

  3. Publish the first video on an empty YouTube channel.

  4. Send my first proper email to the list.

  5. Add that email into the autoresponder sequence for the new folks signing up from now on.
 
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Andy Black

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It's Friday morning and I'm just checking Weekly Stats (the full week is Mon-Sun).

I don't know if it's statistically significant yet. The conversion rate doesn't seem to have gone up that much after we went from asking for Name + Email on the landing page to just asking for Email.

I've been gradually dropping bids to see if we can get more clicks and signups for our budget. Currently at €0.08.

1594977737921.png


The first video has been uploaded to the new YouTube channel. I'd like to create a second video before emailing everyone about the first video Sunday evening.
 
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Andy Black

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Spend last week was €37 for 119 reported conversions.
  • Total number of email subs on the brand new email list created last week was 245 when I checked this morning.
  • This includes some who signed up this morning and those who I shared the landing page with.


Weekly Trading:
  • That's a nice improvement in CPA where it's gone from €0.42 to €0.31. This has been due to a reduction in CPC and an increase in conversion rate. (It remains to be seen how many subscribers get emails from me though. People who I know who are on the list tell me the welcome email ends up in their spam folder.)
  • I'm happy to leave this little machine running while I work on the next stage (the first real email in the series). I would like to tests letting Google optimise for conversions at some stage. Maybe next week when they've got a bit more data. Maybe not though... I don't know how good these conversions are.

34119


Goal this week:

  • Finish last week's goal (I just need to send the email).
  • Create the second video to send on Sunday evening.

Last week's tasks:
  1. See if we can get more clicks for the €5/day budget.

    We lost 79% Impression Share due to hitting the daily budget last week. I'll drop bids from €0.10 to €0.09 to start with. I think impressions dried up when I dropped bids to €0.08 last time.

    Bids ended up at €0.08 by the end of the week. Last week was also a full week while the week before was a partial week.

    I'd say we're getting slightly more clicks a day:

    34120
  2. See if we can increase the conversion rate.

    The landing page asks for name as well as email address. I didn't ask for the name last time. This time I thought I'd send personal video emails to people, but there's way too many signups coming through for me to do that. I've asked my developer to remove the name field today so we can run most of the week without it. It will be interesting to see what effect it has on the conversion rate, bearing in mind I'll drop bids which might change the visitor search intent too.

    It looks like it's increased from 23% to 28%. Not loads of data, but it is what we expected. We'll leave it where we just ask for the email address.



  3. Publish the first video on an empty YouTube channel.

    Done. I quickly added YouTube channel art and a YouTube avatar. No logo created.

    I then spent a LONG time this week creating the first video. I wanted it clear, concise, and suitable for a YouTube ad. There was some good feedback in the posts after I posted it here: SELL ME SAT - Self-Promotion Thread: Post Your Offer, YouTube Channel, Your Service (July/Aug)


  4. Send my first proper email to the list.

    I finished up at 1am last night and didn't want to send my first email via Active Campaign while groggy. I'll do that now as I want it to be sent out at the start of the week so I can get weekly stats.


  5. Add that email into the autoresponder sequence for the new folks signing up from now on.

    I'll do this as soon as I've completed 4. above.

This is what this looks like in Basecamp:

34121


This week's tasks:

  • I'll send that email and then think about what's The ONE Thing that would move us forward best this week.

This is what this looks like in Basecamp:

34122
 
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A "learning opportunity"

I'd noticed in the past couple of weeks that friends who signed up would say they've not received the welcome email. They always seemed to end up in the spam folder. I ignored it and focused on getting the first video tip created.

Yesterday I created the email to tell people about the video on YouTube, and sent some test emails to myself. They all ended up in spam. A friend told me there's likely something up with the ActiveCampaign IP being used (?), so I emailed their support asking why my emails all end up in spam. I didn't get a reply so sent the email out.

Only 2 opens out of 258 sent, and one was me (after I found it in my spam folder).

I put that email as the first in the automation so new signups get sent it immediately. No-one's opened it there either (which also makes me realise I should have checked the open-rate of the previous welcome email - it's just that I'm unfamiliar with ActiveCampaign and didn't bother figuring out how).

Anyway, while it's bad that I'll likely have to delete all 279 contacts from the current list, I will now put detailed screenshots onto the Thank You page to tell new signups how to whitelist my email address - so they can get the first tip sent to them. I wouldn't have thought to do this if the current results weren't so poor, and doing this may well be the best move I can make to improve open-rates.

Maybe I'll even setup an automation so people get sent the next tip after they've clicked to watch the video of the previous tip. This might keep open-rates nice and high.


Learnings:
  • Move faster.
  • Steps that you think will be simple often aren't. Catch mistakes earlier.

Campaign paused for now. Pretty good stats for yesterday though, although I might have to throw away all 21 of those new subscribers.

I'll check with a couple of people about whether they agree I should remove everyone from the list and start again. Ha... there were about 400 in that list in the Mailchimp account that got sandboxed.

We’ll update the Thank You page and then start again.


Google Ads stats for yesterday:

34141
 

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They always seemed to end up in the spam folder
Only 2 opens out of 258 sent, and one was me
I'm subscribed and also opened the email.
Those figures are off. Email tracking systems use a hidden image file to track opens.
Emails that end up in spam do not load images (at least for me).

Make sure your email is properly set up with Active Campaign. Check your DKIM/SPF records in the DNS zone (your developer should be able to do that for you).

Also, check this tool out: Newsletters spam test by mail-tester.com

Google Ads stats for yesterday:

34141
Crazy conversion rate!
 
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I'm subscribed and also opened the email.
Those figures are off. Email tracking systems use a hidden image file to track opens.
Emails that end up in spam do not load images (at least for me).

Make sure your email is properly set up with Active Campaign. Check your DKIM/SPF records in the DNS zone (your developer should be able to do that for you).

Also, check this tool out: Newsletters spam test by mail-tester.com



Crazy conversion rate!
Damn. Only just spotted this reply. Thanks for the tips @Fid.

Sure enough, ActiveCampaign support directed me to this article to setup my DKIM (whatever the heck that is - this is like another language!).

My homework for tonight:
 
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Andy Black

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Ads were turned off last Tuesday until emails aren't going to spam. The ticket raised with ActiveCampaign has been escalated to their deliverability team. Waiting to hear back from them.

Pretty good conversion rate and CPA for the day and a half last last week though, albeit low numbers so not necessarily statistically significant. I'll start filling in the yellow columns going forward.

34235
 
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Andy Black

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W/C 03-Aug-20

Google Ads Stats Last Week:
  • No spend due to ads being paused all week.

Current ActiveCampaign Stats:
  • 315 total Active Contacts.
  • 24 new contacts last week?? I don't know where they're coming from as the Google Ads campaigns were paused.
  • Some new contacts have first and last name as well as email address which I don't understand as I'm only asking for their email address.

Current YouTube Stats:
  • No subscribers.
  • 1 video with 12 views and 3 likes.

Actions Taken:
  • I've just sent an email from ActiveCampaign to everyone who's not already opened an email.
  • I've also enabled the Google Ads campaigns again.

34340




EDIT:

Awesome! 16 minutes after sending that email I can see I've got a lot of opens (although it seems suspiciously high?):

34341

The YouTube video has had 20 views now, and I've got an extra like on it and my first YouTube subscriber.
 
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Andy Black

Andy Black

Dad, husband, entrepreneur.
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May 20, 2014
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Ireland
I had a quick look at stats this morning:
  • 8 email signups from the Google Ads campaigns yesterday.
  • 79 visitors (clicks) today, no reported conversions yet (there's a delay in reporting), but counting new ActiveCampaign signups I can see 30 came in this morning before 7:17am. The €5/day budget is hit so the campaigns likely stopped then (Google can overspend by 2x). Lots of potential here with a bigger budget and higher bids (got to get profitable first).
  • Have an issue in that the first automation in the email series isn't getting sent to folks. Ha... nothing ever works first time. It's like inching forward by the finger nails.
  • What's interesting is that the ads for yesterday ran in the afternoon, and the ads for today ran in the morning. The ad position is much higher in the morning, as is the CTR. I wonder if that's because of the country(s) the ads show in?

Screenshot of daily stats:
34353


EDIT:
  • I'm baffled. I've a new email signup just now, but the Google Ads campaigns aren't running (due to hitting the daily budget a couple of hours ago).
  • I also see that the first email in the automation has been sent out to that person. I've not made any changes (I don't think) so have no idea why that email got sent this time.
 
Last edited:

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