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lead generation sumo

How to Grow Your Email List Virally

Almost every company struggle with one question – how to get more leads? One of the companies offering solutions for this problem is Sumo, and I got to interview David Kelly who is the General Manager of Sumo Dojo — part of the Sumo.com and AppSumo brands.

Within KingSumo, David leads the KingSumo and SendFox products. These SaaS web products have generated seven-figures in revenue, and have been used by 2.5+ million people including New York Times bestselling author Ryan Holiday, finance guru Pat Flynn, and more.

Before Sumo Dojo, David was the first marketer for Student Loan Hero (sold to LendingTree for $60 million), a copywriter for I Will Teach You to be Rich, and a Product Manager for News Corp.

Now, over to the interview!

David Kelly, General Manager of Sumo Dojo

What is Your Company’s Background?

Sumo Dojo, and the KingSumo and SendFox products, were conceptualized by Noah Kagan — an early employee at Facebook, Mint, and the founder of Sumo Group (Sumo.com, AppSumo).

We built Sumo Dojo because we wanted to create amazing products to help small businesses grow — inexpensively and automatically.

There are a lot of marketing tools and marketing channels that are expensive or built for enterprises. But we wanted to focus on small mom-and-pop shops, small online businesses, and e-commerce stores just starting out.

What Problem Does Your Product Solve?

The first product, KingSumo, helps small businesses get more customers and grow their email list at a much lower cost than other marketing channels.

The second product, SendFox, is a very affordable and simple email tool.

What Does Sumo do, and why is it Important to Your Customers?

Marketing is hard. And most marketing tools are expensive. We built KingSumo and SendFox to be easy and affordable.

KingSumo helps you grow your email list and customer base quickly and inexpensively using viral giveaways. We built the KingSumo tool because when we ran viral giveaways for one of our sister companies, it worked VERY well.

In the early days of one of our sister companies, giveaways made up 20% of our revenue. (And now that sister company is an 8-figure business.)

Viral giveaway, before entering


Viral giveaway, share to increase chance of winning

So we decided to release the same tool that we used internally to the general public — so that ANYONE could set up a viral giveaway in 5 minutes to get more email subscribers and customers.

SendFox is a very affordable email tool. It’s meant to be a simple tool that helps you communicate effectively with your customers, without all the bells-and-whistles.

In our experience, we notice that email marketing is too confusing, too complicated, and too expensive.

We wanted to take the overwhelm and doubt out of email marketing and make it easier for all small business owners and bloggers to use.

Can You Give a Few Examples of Lead Generation Strategies that Work Well Now?

There are a lot of marketing strategies out there that people will tell you… but they’re too expensive. Or there’s too much competition. Or they just don’t work well.

We built our companies with guerilla, on-the-ground marketing. Many times, we had a zero-dollar marketing budget but we still were able to build 8-figure businesses — so we’ve actually walked the walk.

Here are the big three marketing channels that are working GREAT right now. Just don’t tell anyone. 😉

  • It’s popular, but it works extremely well. Here’s the thing people don’t know about YouTube… you can LEVERAGE your competitors. Instead of Google, which is a zero-sum game with everyone fighting for a spot on the SERP, you can use your competitors on YouTube to win. The key is targeting the keywords they’re targeting, and you’ll appear as a suggested video. Just look at the page source, see what other popular videos are using for keywords, and create a video with a click-y title based on that topic, and make sure to use the same tags in your video. 5 tags work well. One last tip: We tested putting a link at the top of the video description and the bottom. And the bottom of the description, with a maximum of 100-200 words in the description, works great.
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  • We did an analysis on posting on LinkedIn every week for about two years. We even did a correlation analysis with 532+ points of data, and we saw that the BIGGEST success metric for generating more clicks are getting more views. And the best way to get more views are to get more likes. So push people liking your post as much as possible. The biggest keys are not using images, writing two amazing intro lines, and keeping your post compelling and short. Another trick is asking people to comment to get something (like a PDF) which will boost the number of likes.
  • Direct outreach. Yes, it’s manual. And yes, it’s also a great way to generate leads. Use a spreadsheet to track people you contact, and a tool like reply.io to build an automated funnel with simple follow-ups. Some general outreach tips: Always mention the person’s first name in the subject line, keep your emails ultra-short, and follow-up every 24-48 hours for a few days in a row.

How Would You Grow an Email List From Zero With Little Traffic?

Viral giveaways are the key. Starting a simple viral giveaway and then sharing with all your friends and everyone you know will help you grow a list.

I helped a friend who was starting a new business run a viral giveaway recently, and he increased his list size by 30% through a simple viral giveaway.

Also, if you’re really starting at zero ask you friends to join your list. Seriously. You need to start somewhere. I grew a list of about 200 people by asking a bunch of friends if they wanted to receive a new newsletter I was starting, and then it started to spread a bit virally.

I also recommend using “lead magnets” or content upgrades on any blog posts you write.

We notice that lead magnets (also called content upgrades) convert 2-10x higher than normal popups. To make a simple lead magnet, use a popup tool like Sumo, and link a related YouTube video you love for the content piece.

For example, if you write a blog post about marketing, tell people to enter their email address to get access to your FAVORITE marketing video ever, and then redirect them to the YouTube video. Easy! You don’t even need to create new content.

In Your Mind, What is the Future of Digital Marketing and Marketing Technology?

Good products make marketing. The better your product, the easier your product will be to market — and the more successful your marketing campaigns.

Also, referrals are something we’re betting on big at Sumo Dojo. We think that motivating people to share a product or service by offering incentives is one of the best, longest-term marketing channels there are.

Do You Have Any Other Thoughts on Marketing Technology and its use in Marketing onwards?

Experiment a bunch. In the past, we’ve come up with a strategy that was to test a new marketing channel every single month. At the end of the year, that means you would have tried 12 different marketing channels.

This is important because a marketing channel that works for one person might not work for another. For example, we’ve successfully used Facebook ads in one sister business, but not in another. And another sister business of ours was successful with content marketing, while it’s failed in different situations.

Marketing channels often work because they’re not saturated. Once a lot of people use a marketing channel, there’s a lot of noise and it becomes less effective. Think about Facebook ads five years ago vs. today.

To find those new and exciting marketing channels, you always have to experiment!

You can find David at dmkthinks.org, or on Twitter @dmkthinks. Connect with him on LinkedIn at https://www.linkedin.com/in/thedmkelly/.


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Magnus Unemyr

Author, speaker and consultant in the aras of marketing automation, artificial intelligence, and the Internet-Of-Things. Contact me if you need help! Learn more.