Jermaine Griggs may have been an entrepreneur right from the very beginning, but even a 16 year old piano prodigy had to learn a lot to monetize his business on the Internet. Over the years, Jermaine has accumulated an incredible amount of knowledge and strategy that he applies to his businesses every day. In this episode of Project Ignite, he shares the core strategies behind his marketing and how he monitors his metrics.
Transcript: What Is Marketing Automation & How To Use It – With Jermaine Griggs
Welcome to the Project Ignite Podcast, this is your host Derek Gehl, and in this episode, I’m really excited to have the opportunity to interview an Internet entrepreneur that I’ve known for over a decade, and someone that I have a massive amount of respect for. That is for two reasons: the first being, he’s got an incredible story, and he’s built an incredible business. The business has now helped millions of people start learning to play piano. The second reason I have so much respect for him is that he’s such a savvy Internet marketer who will uncover his online marketing strategies. He has taken this business and applied a certain level of automation to it and to his marketing. I think it would be fair to call him the King of Automation. He’s been named the “Infusionsoft Marketer Of The Year”, and he’s just a damn smart Internet marketer. So I’d like to welcome Jermaine Griggs to our show.
Jermaine, thanks for taking the time to be here.
Hey Derek, it’s an absolute pleasure to be here. Especially with you, because you’re a big part of my earlier story, you and Cory, so it’s great to come full circle.
It is totally awesome, I’ve been looking forward to this day. It’s been quite awhile since we’ve had the chance to catch up. It’s funny, on Facebook, even if you don’t talk to someone often, you still feel like you know what’s going on in their life. Though you’re not an avid Facebook poster.
Right. I think I’m more of a lurker, though. So I’m watching. Even though I only post two or three times per year, I’m always watching. So you’re right; even though I haven’t seen you, I’ve kept up with you. You’re still here.
Alright Jermaine, so we’ve got a lot of people listening to this podcast that are just starting this journey into building businesses online, and people that are further along. But where I want to start, before we get into the automation, can you just share your story, of how you got started? I truly believe it is such an inspiration to people.
Absolutely. It really was a natural progression. I’d been playing piano since the age of seven, and you’ve heard this story so many times. My grandma had this piano, and she’d play it in our living room. I lived with my grandma, my mom, and my sister, and we lived in the inner city–in the projects. I didn’t know they were called projects until my friends in high school told me. We have such a close-knit, loving relationship. My grandma would be on the piano, and I’d get the pots and pans out and play them, and eventually, I got onto the piano. By seven, eight, I was playing Disney tunes. I just wound up with this knack for playing without sheet music. And that’s important, because about a decade later, I would be teaching people to play without sheet music.
Some of that was just natural proclivity, but a lot of it was learning patterns, and listening strategically. I just developed this interesting way of listening to music. I started playing in church at ten, choirs in high school at thirteen or fourteen, and then parents in the neighbourhood started asking me to teach their kids. So I said, “okay, I’ll do it.” So I’ve got six or seven students, and I realized that I had this desire to make workbooks out of it. So I had already developed this automation leverage mindset at 16. Teaching the same thing to a few different kids, let me write it down. That was my first set of products. Obviously, I was on the Internet at this time; AOL 2.0! You’ve got mail! One thing about me, as young as I could remember, I had this desire to be more. I wasn’t playing gameboy. I was selling Avon at 12So that same kid, at 12, willing to sell Avon, was the same kid that at 16, was ready to harness the Internet. And that’s the company name, HearAndPlay.com. Because I hear, and then I play. Simple as that. HearAndPlay was born August 6, 2000. We’ve celebrated fifteen years this month.
Thank you! It’s been a journey. And it hasn’t always been easy. It wasn’t like I put up that site and the masses came.
Now you’ve done something that’s a bit of an exception. You started your business in 2000, and I think in your niche, there’s a fair whack of competition.
And yet, over the past decade with all of that competition, you’ve managed to consistently grow and sustain your business. Through that, you’ve also become known as the Automation King. Obviously, you’re also a very smart and savvy marketer. You’ve got books, and lots of material, so when you started out, getting traffic was a bit easier. How did you evolve your business to effectively compete in today’s market? Particularly in a niche with so much competition.
Absolutely. I think over the years, that’s where you and Cory come into the picture, by using direct response marketing on top of what I had already done. Over the years, I’ve got to say, I’m part of the competition, because half of the websites I see pop up come to me and say, “I was inspired by your story!” and I’m like, really! Okay! We’ve got lots of competition. We’ve got big boys on one side, mom-and-pop shops on the other, and then we’ve got the garage piano players on YouTube, which is a huge competitor. Those are big threats.
What we’ve done over the years is really harness the power of personalization. I always say that the problem with the Internet now is that there’s too much information, but we’ve created the possibility of giving people the right information in the right order at the right time. The abundance of information alone isn’t enough. I noticed early on, that if I grab someone’s name and email–they say that the money is in the list, but the fortune is in the data-rich, personalized list. That’s around 2006, 2007, I really started to harness this idea that when I get someone’s email, I want to take them down a personalized path.
The best way to describe this, if I were a big box retailer, is Amazon. Amazon is all about selling; but unlike most other retailers, what happens when you look up specific kinds of cameras? Or you show interest in business books? Or horror novels? You start to get an experience, not only on the page, but off the page, based on other data, and other reviews. Amazon has some kind of proprietary thing that ensures they don’t overwhelm Derek all at once, because I know he’s looked at ten different things, but over time, we’re gonna push those things back to Derek if he hasn’t taken action. Similarly to HearAndPlay, you have to ask a lot of questions. While other marketers are going for the name and email, I’m thinking, what will happen if I ask what skill level they’re on? If I know whether they’re a beginner, intermediate, or advanced, I can take them down a personalized path that won’t overwhelm if they’re a beginner, or underwhelm them if they’re advanced.
If that’s going to take me down two percentage points for opt-ins, if I’m getting 38% instead of 40%, I’m willing. Because I’m gonna make that up when you look at the lifetime value of that person going through that funnel. Then what if I add their favourite genre? That was my biggest distinction in the beginning. That was what set me apart, and to this day, you get a personal experience from me.
What you just said was so loaded with important tips. I hope everyone’s taking notes. I’m gonna reverse for a second so we can go over what stood out to me, and there was a lot that stood out. So the first thing you said was, I think anyone starting out needs to know, that we’re in a place where there is too much information out there. You’re a perfect example; you’re in a niche, but you have tons of competitors. So many people starting out say, there’s all this free stuff! How can I compete! But I love how you position yourself–and I’m gonna steal it for future positioning because it’s so good! People ask me that all the time.
I always try to explain that people want it, they want to know that they’re getting good, personalized information, and that they’re getting it in the right order. I love what you’re talking about there as far of personalization–and I’m totally guilty of it too. First name, email address. And then you get even more people right now in Internet marketing saying, “don’t even ask for the first name! Just go for email!” Now that’s interesting to hear your positioning on it; you’re saying, if they’re not willing to give me a little bit more information, I’m willing to forgo having them on my list.
And that makes sense, you know, it’s the quantity versus quality thing. You’ve been around for so long, and we call like to yak about the size of our database, but it’s about the quality and personalization. So you ask for first name, email, how far do you go? And do you ask all at once?
Right, very good question! Over the span of our relationship, I ask for a lot of information, but not all the once. The more you ask, the more your conversions are going to drop. Even well intentioned focussed people. That’s what we’re dealing with. Up front, I only ask for two additional pieces of information, and it’s always in line with my offer. People might ask, “why do you want to know that?” So that’s the question we have to address. So I do first name, email, and skill level. If some jerk emailed us and asked “why do you want to know if I’m a beginner?” I would have fun with my reply. And then genre also makes sense. If you’re into jazz, I don’t want to send you gospel.
There are other pages on my blog, and I measure what they’re looking at. Robert Cialdini taught us that in the book Influence, right, commitment and consistency. And it’s true! Micro commitments. My sequence can’t start without those two questions. The most I can do with you is remind you to go back to that page to provide skill level and genre. You have to go down that path. Once you do that, I send you four videos broken up on purpose, and under each video, are two additional questions. I was asking this stuff back in 2003, I’m still on it. It’s important. If you say that you just want to play piano to have fun, that’s a different sales page or video than someone that says, I want to make this my profession. So I’m a data collector for sure, and even triggering emails based on the answers you give. It’s easy in this landscape and environment with technology.
Exactly. And that’s the crux of being where we are now compared to where we used to be, because technology makes things so much easier. Now, I was at a conference in Las Vegas, and I met up with Chad Womack, and we started talking about you. He was saying, Jermaine is such a smart marketer, because he’s got all of this stuff so dialed in. He drops an email in the front end of his website, and money comes out the back-end! He’s created this machine. So, how many funnels now exist within the HearAndPlay umbrella. Can you even answer that?
I don’t mean to intimidate anyone, but in terms of campaigns, there’s probably six dozen different campaigns. And then there’s my big campaign, my bread and butter, but that is 168 steps. Over time I’ve added different things here and there, because when you get into automation, there’s so much you can do. Now that doesn’t mean you should do everything at some point, because somewhere down the path, you might not get a return. But if it takes ten minutes to write an email that becomes step 169, why not? I can send you an email, and track whether or not you opened it, and then I could send another the next day just because I know you opened it. And then if they don’t open, there’s many different themes.
If this were a tree and those were all branches, it doesn’t make sense to go all the way down those branches. But if you’re like me, and you get into skill level, you can get to be like Amazon, where, if Derek’s clicked the last few emails, let’s send him the offer! And if we get him to the sales page, there’s opportunities there too. Does he opt-in? Does he not? There’s a natural progression. What happens if they do what I want, what happens if they don’t? And then on top of that, if you’ve got a 20% open rate, that means 80% didn’t even read it! Your follow up could just be forwarding the same email that they didn’t open the day before!
There’s so many things that affect email. We talked about open rate, say it’s 15% or 20%, you still haven’t interacted with most of those people. You need to keep working on them. If I go to your website and I opt-in for your four videos, and I give you that data, what is the length of that automated sequence? People say, I’ve got my first ten days automated, and then after that they just start sending out random emails. I’ve always been a big believer in automating as far out as you can. How far do you go?
Well that sequence, because it’s my bread and butter, if you opt-in today, I could pass away tomorrow, but you would still hear from me two years later. I will live on for at least two years. I always say, there’s several ways to set these up. And I’m not saying to negate the manual part, you know. Jeff Walker does his launches, and that’s cool. That’s what I would put into the manual category. But those launches give you so much data, and the very next step is to systematize it. That’s just taking out specifics, and if I wanted to redo it, or have an assistant do it, we could do the launch again. It could happen without me, again. The next step is automating it. Because they’ve never seen the launch that I made five years ago, it’ll make just as big an impression when they watch it on their way through the funnel. I still have emails that you and Cory would use twelve years ago. It isn’t old, because there’s new people coming through! Just use it ‘til it doesn’t work anymore. Recycle assets.
One of the keys to your success is that over the last five or six years, product launches have become huge. What I see happen is, people launch and have an influx of opt-ins, and then they spend the next six months, or year, servicing those sales. But now their leads have dried up, cash flow dries up, and they panic. So how you’ve done this, in my books, is the right way to do this. I love launches, if you have a product, and a database, and affiliations, launch it. But then do what you’ve done; make it timeless. Make it Evergreen. When we say Evergreen, we mean taking a launch sequence for a product and making it timeless; so it can run on autopilot. email is still the foundation of communications you’re using, is that correct?
Absolutely. And we do broadcasts as well, because the automated sequence is only so long. There’s a mixture between automation and broadcasting.
So obviously you’re emailing a fair amount. What is the amount of emails I could expect to see from you if I were to subscribe?
Well with InfusionSoft and these things, frequency will depend on how active you are with me. Some of the emails you’d get are only because you clicked on the first video, or on a blog post. Everything we do, we’re collecting data.And there’s future emails that you only get if you are active. Think of it like a pyramid. On the base level, you might only get an email every ten days. If you don’t do anything, I’ll stay in contact with you four times per month. The second layer, if you engage, I look at you as a different kind of engaged user. Then you might get an email every four or five days. If you up your interaction further, from acquaintance to whatever it is that we call the next step up, you might get emails every two days. But at that point, you’re so engaged, you don’t mind. You’ll delete the rest, but you’ll save my emails. I don’t assume that I’m that person right away. Once you get to that place, with the tagging systems, to reward you, I increase frequency. If you’re my best client, you might get less reminders, but it all depends. On average, every three to four days if you’re doing what I want you to do.
So I want to extrapolate something here. I want to clarify, to send something every three or four days, that can go really well, like it does for you, or it can go poorly. I get hammered with emails, every two days or so, telling me to buy their product. If you did the same thing, you’d probably wind up with list fatigue, and unsubscribing. But something I want to point out, is that you’re not actually emailing a set sequence; because autoresponder technology has gotten so good. InfusionSoft has an autoresponder, Aweber does, GetResponse does, and now they’re action-based autoresponders. People only get an email if they’ve done something; so it’s relevant to them. You can email someone daily if they’re engaged, and we now have the technology to tell and to send them more content on autopilot. That’s a really important lesson.
Next question, you’re not just using email. You also text people. We’re in a world now where I believe email is still the dominant communication channel to get the highest response, but there are peripheral channels. What are the different channels that you use?
There’s always that question, what else can I do? What we do is make an offer, a low-in offer, like the CD set. And that will give us an address and a credit card number. And with that, we will incorporate our first set of direct mail. With InfusionSoft, just like a regular auto responder, you can throw out a letter, or a CSD file. We’ve already got all of our letters, ready and labelled, but I don’t want to give everyone those letters. As you ascend in your customer value, you’ll get more. As you’re watching the four videos, you’ll get an offer to join my Monday Music Minute, and that’s a text message of the week program. And I created those texts in 2008. They’re like little tweets. Took me like two or three hours. What this does is it’s a unique way to get a cell phone number. You’re not meant to send them a text six months in the future just because they gave you their number unwittingly one day, but if you’re sending them a Monday Music Minute, into perpetuity, it’s okay. I’ll send 156 messages over three years, and ‘ll include little offers, so that tag-teamed with an email they got on a Wednesday, they won’t mind that.
So how do I incorporate all of these channels but in an unobtrusive way? We also give monthly CDs in the direct mail. So now I have your cell number, your direct mail, your email, your birthdays–which you can just ask for, but strategically. When they buy our products, we give them digital downloads, and I ask for their email and their birthday as their password. And then you get a birthday card from us; or a gift card, or a cookie, and in strategic ways. So we manage to get our messages into different places.
That’s brilliant. The lesson to take away from everything you just said is that so many people get online and they just focus on email. But there’s so many creative ways to use these channels, as you just shared with us. What I want everyone to take away, is doing it in a stealthy way, where it never feels wrong or dirty–like you’re just asking for stuff. We’re running out of time, but I have a couple more questions for you.
Anyone that’s in your position, that has this sophisticated of a marketing system, I don’t even have to ask to know that you’re a data driven person. You’re probably constantly measuring stuff. When people are getting started, what are the KPIs, Key Performance Indicators, metrics, whatever you want to call them, that you’re looking at regularly?
Great question. I take this approach: forest, trees, branches, leaves. Leaves are very specific things. For a beginner, to be wasting on a red versus a blue headline, that’s very leafy. If you’re sending out a million pieces of mail, it makes a difference with a million pieces. But if you’re sending out 100, changes like that won’t affect your bottom line. The bigger metrics or forest metrics are–if I plug in an email address to check the lifetime customer value, and this isn’t hard to do, for the people listening, you’ve already got a track record and customers, in InfusionSoft, we can go to reports and I can say, “tell me everybody enrolled in January 2014, and what that group is worth,” and then I divide by the number of the population in that group. That tells me that that group is worth on average $500 each. I can keep doing that, and figure out what my customers are worth. And it’s always gonna get higher. People get discouraged, but it will bring up the lifetime value down the road. If you wait a year to get ten per cent back on an investment, why not wait 60 or 90 days to get 50% back on the Internet. We can’t treat the Internet differently than other financial vehicles. It doesn’t have to get too advanced, just have a good idea of how a person is going to be worth down the road. It’ll give you more confidence. That’s a forest number. That’s big picture.
Then for tree numbers, things like, what is your opt-in conversion rate? All of those things will affect, you wanna make sure your opt-in conversions are right, your double opt-in conversions, then you’re looking at RFM data. Once they buy, it’s not over. The party starts at that first sale. RFM means Recency, Frequency, Monetary. So how long does it take for customers to come back and make their next purchase? You should focus on decreasing that number. How many sales do you get from the same customers? Monetary–how much is that person going to be worth? Knowing those numbers are huge. Because if you do want to spend a little more on these people, you have to know which ones to target; the ones that have done business with you most recently, frequently, those that spend the most. I’m looking at those metrics.
The next level of metrics are very specific, like the open-rates of certain emails in my sequence, click rates, time on page, engagement numbers, and the leafy stuff, like I said is really, really specific. I’ve made enough money focussing on the forest numbers. If I want to go take out a line of credit, and know that the money will be back in six months, that’s a really powerful place to be. Focus on those big numbers for a year, and you’ll see drastic growth.
Wow. You just gave a Masters degree education in direct response marketing in about five minutes. That was beyond impressive. Everyone listening, you’re gonna want to rewind that a few times. Jermaine, I think that was the best explanation I’ve ever heard; the forest, the trees, the branches, the leaves–the levels you focus on, and one of the key points I want to highlight again is lifetime value. As Jermaine said, if you can spend more for the advertising to acquire a customer, you win. End of story. Thank you.
We’re coming up to the end of the interview, which really sucks. I’ll try to convince you to come back on this podcast in the future.
For people that are just starting out, you’ve been there, and you don’t have a formal education in this–what’s your message to those just getting started?
Gary Halburt said, and you know this Derek, be market centric. Find out where people are hanging out, congregating. Go activate your advertising section on Facebook. Go in there and type in keywords and look at the reach. Just look for specific, relevant groups. Become one of those people, and develop a clear sense of who the person that you want to help is. Their age, social status, income, what do they like to read? Demographic and psychographic data. Knowing that person intimately will have a huge impact when you go to copywriting. You know who you’re talking to, and you can take a lot of pressure off just writing to someone you know.
A guy just sent out an email today, that I saved, and it said something about “how to be in a relationship with an overachiever”. It was exactly for me and my wife. How did he know that would be a good topic? He’s spent time getting to know his market.If you pick your market right, and really focus on that group, even with HearAndPlay in the early days, it was easy to make mistakes but come back from it. I was in my niche, and you can just go a bit deeper and connect with a point. We taught by ear, and found a knack for the gospel industry, which was pretty ignored. So we were this new, fresh, company. We had no money, back in 2002. We made $6000 selling our first gospel CD in one day! That was big money! We just had a market that aligned with what we were offering. We got more specific over time, from forest to tree, to branches, to leaves, but you do not need to start there. You pick your position, and progress confidently, knowing that this is a business that you’re creating. Bring in the same amount of commitment that you would for a brick-and-mortar. Be flexible, reinvent yourself if you need, but do not stop.
Serious words of wisdom. Just to wrap things up, where can people learn more about you? I’ll fully endorse HearAndPlay.com. I’ve seen what Jermaine can do on the piano–it blew my mind. But if people want to learn more about business from you, where can they go?
Automationclinic.com is my home there, and if you’re looking for some specific videos, you can check AutomationVideos.com. And I didn’t get to thank you, Derek, after I went to college, I found you and Cory, this interview is probably the most special interview I’ve done this year, seeing that it’s been ten years, and you were a huge part of my success, moving me from the wilderness to putting direct response marketing strategies in play, and that all came together for me in March 2002. I still tell that story. March 2, 2002, I bought your course. I changed around my sales page, and that was my first $1000 day. We made $1100 that day, and my life would never be the same after that. I would be remiss if I got off this call and didn’t dedicate that to Cory Rudl, and you, yourself, Derek Gehl, because you have been a huge inspiration for me and my journey.
Thank you so much Jermaine Griggs, that means a lot to me. It’s been ten years now, and thank you for taking the time to be here. I’m gonna find you again, this won’t be the last interview we do. There’s so much gold in your mind that I want to get to. Again, thank you very much, I know everyone will learn so much. I look forward to connecting with you again.
Absolutely, thank you so much.
Alright, that was another episode of Project Ignite. I’d recommend that you listen to this again, and again. Jermaine shared so many strategies and tips; there was something there for everybody. That’s what I want to bring to you in this podcast. Jermaine Griggs is one of the guys that I respect most, and there’s so much to learn there. Thank you very much, and we’ll see you at the next episode.