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A Rainmaker Case Study on Using the Access Approach to Drive Business Results
24th March 2016 • The Digital Entrepreneur • Rainmaker Digital LLC
00:00:00 00:33:59

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Robert Bruce and Chris Garrett join Jerod Morris on this week’s episode to discuss some real-life examples of what we discussed on last week’s episode.

In this 37-minute episode Jerod, Robert, and Chris discuss:

  • The evolution of the New Rainmaker strategy to sell the Rainmaker Platform
  • The power of repurposing
  • Why creating a logged-in course experience beats adding people to a simple email list
  • Why the access approach is essential to setting up marketing funnels that work
  • They key components needed to set up an access experience that works

Brian will be back next week, and we’ll be diving into the fourth episode in our five-part series on the necessary elements of the modern marketing website.

Listen to The Digital Entrepreneur below ...

The Show Notes

The Transcript

A Rainmaker Case Study on Using the Access Approach to Drive Business Results

Voiceover: You are listening to the Digital Entrepreneur, the show for folks who want to discover smarter ways to create and sell profitable digital goods and services. This podcast is a production of Digital Commerce Institute, the place to be for digital entrepreneurs. DCI features an in-depth, ongoing instructional academy, plus a live education and networking summit where entrepreneurs from across the globe meet in person. For more information, go to Rainmaker.FM/DigitalCommerce.

Jerod Morris: All right, do you guys just want to jump right in?

Chris Garrett: Let’s do it.

Jerod Morris: Cool.

Chris Garrett: Yeah, no idea what we’re talking about. I know you said something, but …

Jerod Morris: Hey, Chris, you know what? We’re just going to try and recreate our Monday afternoon call for the Digital Entrepreneur audience.

Chris Garrett: You mean, get us fired?

Jerod Morris: Right. Brian’s gone, so let’s have a little fun out of the Digital Entrepreneur while he’s gone.

Chris Garrett: We re going to talk about politics for an hour and a half, right?

Jerod Morris: That was my plan. We’re recording this on Super Tuesday number three. A lot of important things are going to happen today in the Republican primaries and the Democratic primaries.

Chris Garrett: Watch it, don’t say his name, don’t say his name.

Jerod Morris: Let’s give Brian something exciting to listen to when he gets back. Okay no, this is not politics talk, this is episode number seven of the Digital Entrepreneur. I am Jerod Morris, the VP of Marketing for Rainmaker Digital, and Brian is not here this week. But I have two very special guests with me to continue the conversation that Brian and I have been having.

We’ve been talking about the elements of the modern marketing website. Last week, we talked to you about the benefits of the access approach to online marketing. When Brian gets back next week, we’re going to be talking about using online courses as lead magnets. This is kind of an in-between-isode, to talk about both of those topics with two guys who know a lot about it.

The first gentleman is Robert Bruce. You know him well from Rainmaker FM and the earliest incarnations of the Rainmaker podcast. Robert, welcome to the Digital Entrepreneur.

Robert Bruce: Thank you, Jerod. I’m only here to talk about one thing today, and that is Donald Trump.

Jerod Morris: Toby, edit that. We are also joined by Chris Garrett, the chief digital officer for Rainmaker Digital. Those of you who have been inside of the Digital Commerce Institute or participate in our Q&As, you’ve gotten a lot of insight from Chris. He has a lot to share about this topic, so I’m excited to have him here as well. Welcome, Mr. Garrett.

Chris Garrett: Thanks for having me. I didn’t realize we were going to talk about Trump on this call. I didn’t come prepared for that.

Robert Bruce: Apparently, my first amendment rights are going to be taken away from me here if it’s edited out, but I’ll just keep saying it

You know what I was thinking? Isn’t it about time that, like in my case, you just start calling me Talk about the master marketing stroke. Why aren’t children being named after URLs yet? I mean, just take it straight there.

Jerod Morris: That’s interesting. Wasn’t there that one guy who sold his last name? It was something SurfrApp, and he just sold the rights to his last name. But you’re saying, like when my child is born, just …

Robert Bruce: You get the URL and you just name him the URL. Now, if you can’t get a real name URL, you’ve got an issue.

Chris Garrett:

Robert Bruce: But you know, then you’ve got 20 years of preparation. See, this is where Garrett gets into the conversation saying that in 20 years, URLs won’t even be around.

Chris Garrett: I was thinking cruelty laws. Surely there are laws against that.

Jerod Morris: Yeah.

Robert Bruce: You’re probably right.

Jerod Morris: That poor child who has to have an underscore or a hyphen in her name.

Robert Bruce: Yeah, with a bad URL, that’s a good point. All right, sorry, just thought I d throw it out there.

Jerod Morris: No, it was a good idea.

Robert Bruce: I’m trying to think, you know …

Jerod Morris: Robert, this is a safe space. All ideas are welcomed here.

Robert Bruce: Okay, thank you.

Chris Garrett: It might get edited out.

Robert Bruce: I don’t want to trigger anybody.

Chris Garrett: You said Trump, so

Jerod Morris: Robert, here’s a question that I wanted to ask you. I wanted to lead off with it, because one of the examples that Brian and I have been talking about is what you guys did in the beginning with the New Rainmaker podcast and how that led into selling the Rainmaker Platform.

We’ve obviously been doing stuff with membership sites and with the access experience for a while, with My Copyblogger and some of the other things that we ve done, but launching the Rainmaker Platform was something really different. It was a brand new product, it was off site. We were building new properties and a new SaaS application. There was a lot of new stuff going on, and you guys had a new strategy for us, which was to get into audio and start doing this podcast.

Can you walk the audience through just how that came to be? And the conversations you guys had? The big picture strategy there with what you were doing in the beginning with the New Rainmaker podcast?

Robert Bruce: Yeah, you know, for the main strategy, Brian thought it up. And I actually struggled with it for a long time, with the idea of launching what would become our main line of revenue, hopefully, from what was essentially a brand new podcast. At that time, of course, we didn’t know.

I got it, and I knew what we were doing in terms of the podcast and the content and all of that, but I had my doubts as to whether this would work based on how we had done things in the past. So yeah, the idea was, from the beginning, we start this new podcast And anybody can do this, by the way. You can go register for free at Rainmaker.FM and go through the free course. We’ll talk about this later, but there are essentially seven episodes of that podcast.

We launched this podcast, put everything we had into it. We decided to do a couple of things differently, which were, in the beginning, more high-end production value. We wanted to move at least a notch or two toward kind of that NPR idea of things and see how it worked. But really, what we were doing was not talking about the platform, although we did do that too. Instead, we were talking about the things that you could do in your business and with your business via the platform.

And as those episodes went on and on, this bigger picture appeared of what could be possible with the use of the Rainmaker Platform, for instance, the objections to it and the ways that you could go with all kinds of different things in regard to the functionality that we were going to have.

So in one sense, it’s very simple. We started this podcast and we talked about the way to build a business. I think the main line we used back then was how to build an audience that builds your business. And that led directly and literally to the launch of the Rainmaker Platform. I think later we’re going to talk about what we did with that initial content.

Jerod Morris: Yeah, and that’s what I want to talk about next, because that’s what has always been so interesting to me about that strategy. That you created this podcast and those initial episodes, correct me if I’m wrong, but those just went out as podcasts as normal through iTunes. And they were all freely available so anybody could just go get them.

When did you repurpose those podcasts into the free course and then require people to actually register? Instead of just opting into an email list, they actually had to register. And they got those first seven episodes plus three webinars as a free course.

Robert Bruce: Yeah, the timing is a little fuzzy to me. I’m not really good with dates and times and things, but generally what we did was we took the first seven episodes of the podcast, and then Brian did another three more intensive webinars, like you said, and we packaged those all up in really just a basic repurposing play.

We did not re-record anything, we did not do any special editing, so there’s some stuff in there that you’ll see if you go again and register and listen to that course. It’s all really, really great information. We didn’t overdo it in terms of reproducing it as a course, necessarily, but it’s all laid out in there.

Chris, on the back end, on the dev end, and all of our developers working on the actual functionality of the membership site and delivering courses in that way — that was all being worked on in the platform. Then we could demonstrate it. Rafal, obviously, designed that course.

When you register at Rainmaker.FM, it s a free registration. You go in and you can see all of this displayed out, and what that is, again, is the first seven episodes of that podcast plus three webinars that Brian did. What this is, at this point, is an actual demonstration of what the Rainmaker Platform can do. You’re in there experiencing this content and this free training course, and you’re going through it, but you’re also in an environment which is, in real time, delivering the experience of the Rainmaker Platform to you. That was the idea.

Jerod Morris: Yeah.

Chris Garrett: It also told us what we needed to add to the platform to make it easy to do these things. A lot of it actually worked as education for us because it was a real thing rather than a hypothetical. It was a real use of our features. It also tells us that it’s really important to use your own stuff. It’s called dogfooding, eating your own dog food. I was saying, How do I do this and how can I make this better? And so it fed back into the platform as well. It was a demonstration of the platform, but it improved the platform too.

Jerod Morris: Yeah, I mean, there were myriad reasons why setting it up this way was so smart for us, and really necessary in a lot of ways. What I want to ask you, Chris, is for most of the people listening who want to create a course and kind of set up a funnel like we did because that’s what we were doing here. People signed up for that free course, then there was an autoresponder email sequence that went along with it. So as the lessons got dripped out, they got emails with the lessons. And then interspersed in that autoresponder, there were calls-to-action to the platform.

Obviously, there were lots of reasons for us to do it, just from learning more about the platform, improving the platform, using it as a demonstration for a platform. But this idea of requiring a log-in to create this access approach, and then using an online course as a lead magnet, even if you’re not developing a SaaS app. If you don’t have a learning management system that you’re trying to improve, this is a tried-and-true, a smart strategy. Why does this approach work so well and why is the access part of it so essential?

Chris Garrett: I will tell you now that if you just change your existing email opt-in form into a registration form, it won’t work. That confuses some people because there are people who say, Well, doesn’t it add friction? Doesn’t it give you a barrier? Won’t it lower conversion rates?

We always refer back to the My Copyblogger free member library over at, where we had a 400% increase in conversions. Some people say, Oh just changing it from an email opt-in to a registration increased conversions. No, it wasn’t just changing the form that increased conversions.

There’s a higher perceived value when you actually justify the registration, when you tell people what’s on the other side and what the future outcome is going to be of signing up. That’s the big difference in terms of the conversion. If you don’t give people an incentive, if you don’t tell people exactly what they’re going to get and what the experience is going to be like — make it easy, explain it, and then tell them what to do and show that it’s going to be valuable — you’re not going to get an increase in activity and action. You’re going to probably just confuse people.

Robert Bruce: I think you can argue too that creating that natural barrier of registration can be and is a really good thing, although it is not necessary or optimal for all digital businesses. Like you said, Chris, you’re not going to get the kind of activity and drive and numbers that are so impressive, that so many people talk about online.

But what you’re getting when you create a barrier like that or even a simple registration is the people who really, really want to be around what you’re doing. And ultimately, they will hopefully want to do business with you. Instead of high numbers, you’re getting high quality in terms of the type of people who are actively seeking you out and have probably come through word-of-mouth, which of course, as we all know, is the most powerful marketing there is.

Chris Garrett: They re more serious because they’ve taken the extra step. Actually, it’s custom something, even though it s not custom financially, it’s custom a little bit of effort, so they value it higher and you only get the serious people. It filters out the people who would just put an email address in just to get rid of the pop-up form. People do that, you know. If they can’t find the close box on a pop-up, they’ll just put their email address in, thinking that’s how to get rid of it. In this way, you’re filtering out the wrong people. They know what they’re signing up for. They have a little bit of a hoop to jump through.

But also, it feels higher value. It has a higher perceived value from the start because you’re registering as a member for this thing, and Look at all the things that I get. They know they can have it in the future because it’s not going to get lost in their email. It’s not just going to get foldered away somewhere, it’s going to actually be somewhere that they can come back to. They can reset the password if they forget it. It’s going to persist, and hopefully, you’re going to add to it or there’s going to be something substantial there. It’s not just sign up and get this crappy video.

Robert Bruce: Yeah, I echo that. Your log-in experience allows for a much more rich media delivery, and, as you say, so does keeping it there in a place that’s always going to be there.

Jerod Morris: It does, and what...