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SPI 385: The Next BIG Thing for Marketers Is . . . Email?

SPI 385: The Next BIG Thing for Marketers Is . . . Email?

By Pat Flynn on

I’ve been noticing something the last couple years, and I’m wondering if you’ve noticed it too. I’ve worked really hard to build communities on platforms like Facebook (where I have a hundred thirty thousand likes) and YouTube (where I have about two hundred thousand subscribers). When I publish a new post or video, however, only a few thousand people see it. These are people who have already opted in and said, “Yes, I want to make sure I see everything you publish.” Yet Facebook and Google’s algorithms are getting in the way. I’ll be honest, it’s frustrating.

The truth is I could already see this coming when Facebook first launched the “boost this post” button in 2012. The problem with building your community on someone else’s platform is that it’s a walled garden—at the end of the day, you have to play by their rules. Not only that, but they can change the rules on you at a moment’s notice and there’s not much you can do about it.

In this episode, I explore your options for solving this problem. One option is to create your own platform, using a tool like Mighty Networks to help make that easier. The other thing you can do is go back to an old standby—email. Email is coming back in a big way. Yes, people are inundated with sometimes hundreds of emails a day, but there are still things you can do to make sure your open rates remain high. You can write better titles, you can take steps to make sure you’re delivering the value that makes your audience actually look forward to every email they get from you. I have a guide, Email the Smart Way, that can help.

This is one of the reasons I wrote Superfans in the first place. If you can’t rely on the algorithms to get people the content they’ve already said that they want, you need to make sure that your fans will have the drive and motivation to find you. Google, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, all of these platforms need to worry about their bottom line, and unfortunately, that doesn’t always align with what we need from them. It’s time to look for new ways to reach our fans, and hopefully, I can lend a hand.

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Pat Flynn: It is getting harder now. It’s getting harder to reach the audience who has said they want to hear from us on our Facebook pages. That’s where I first saw this happening. This was a number of years back. I grew a Facebook page to about a hundred and thirty thousand likes. These were people who have said, “Yes. I want to hear more from Pat here on Facebook.” Alright. Then all of a sudden I’ll put a status update up there, and only a couple thousand people see it. Now, don’t get me wrong, a couple thousand people is great to reach, but it took getting a hundred thirty thousand likes in order for that to happen. I’ve even seen it on bigger brands. This isn’t just me, but for example, Marvel’s Facebook page I once saw with millions, like tens of millions of likes, a post that they put up that was only seen by about five thousand people. It’s getting harder, and that’s where it all started.

We’re starting to see these algorithms get in the way of the audience who has voted and said, “Yes. I want to hear more.” On YouTube, for example, I have about 200,000 subscribers. I’ll put out a video, and depending on how it goes, and depending on the algorithm, and depending on how YouTube feels that day, I may only see a few hundred views. Now, sometimes, the nice thing about YouTube is sometimes things blast off, and videos that were old will, for whatever reason, the algorithm says, “Okay. We’re going to vote this one up today,” and then it’ll get hundreds of thousands of views. So, that’s the cool thing about YouTube. But with Facebook, and with Instagram, and with Twitter, and Linkedin, these algorithms for content that is only shared once and content that is not everlasting, they never get seen at all. Which is why on platforms like Twitter it’s important to repeat what you say a few times, do it in different kinds of ways. But on Facebook and Instagram doing that, people are going to unsubscribe. They’re going to unlike you. They’re going to unfollow. It’s getting harder. I have the secret. I have the next big thing, the thing that’s actually going to work. So, stay tuned. We’re going to talk about that. But first, here’s the intro.

Announcer: Welcome to the Smart Passive Income Podcast, where it’s all about working hard now, so you can sit back and reap the benefits later. And now your host, he’d love to go fishing on the Nile River one day, but I think he’s in De-Nile, Pat Flynn.

Pat: What’s up, everybody? Pat Flynn here, and welcome to Session 385 of the Smart Passive Income Podcast. Thank you so much for joining me today. I’m here to help you make more money, save more time, and help more people too. But it’s hard to help people when people who have said they wanted help from you aren’t able to see your stuff. We have seen it in the YouTube community, in the social media community, things are changing. Even Google.Michael Stelzner, the founder of Social Media Examiner, founder of the Social Media Marketing World Conference that happens here in San Diego, and a dear friend of mine (he’s in a mastermind group with me). He wrote this sort of op-ed, this opinion piece for Social Media Examiner. I’ll link to it in the show notes, but it’s about how Google is now getting in the way of having people who want our information—or who could likely at least benefit from that information—find it.

If you do basic Google searches for a lot of things, you’re going to find that no longer are you actually seeing the top ten results there anymore first. Yes, there are ten results on that first page before you have to click to the next one, but guess what you’re seeing: Google. You’re seeing snippets that Google chooses to place there. You’re seeing not just ads, but you’re seeing definitions, you’re seeing FAQs and all these other things. You’re seeing YouTube pop up on Google searches, as well, above—sometimes—the number one spot. So, everybody is starting to see lower click-through rates now, which is changing the game of SEO. It’s changing the game of how our websites get found. It’s really changing things.

Where you’re starting to see social media move is into communities, and you’re starting to see companies like Mighty Networks come out, which is really interesting. We’re going to have the founder of that company, who is helping to create communities, similar to having your own Facebook, but it’s outside of Facebook. It’s your own thing that you get to control, you get to own. The founder’s going to come on in the future, in this year, hopefully. We’re still working out a schedule situation, but we’re going to have her come on the show and talk about it, and we’re going to dig into that. So, make sure you subscribe to the show if you haven’t already. But today, like I said earlier, I have the secret. The way to start getting people to pay attention to what you have to offer, the way to start serving your audience even better, especially for those who have voted with their actions to subscribe.

What am I talking about? Well, I want to read a tweet from you from DHH. DHH is short for David Heinemeier Hansson. He’s Danish. He’s a programmer, but he’s the creator of Ruby on Rails. He’s also a partner and co-founder of Basecamp, a popular project management tool. The crazy thing about this is here’s his tweet. He said, “Email is the next big thing.” Yeah. Actually, I realize that the title of this podcast episode probably gave this away to you. Hopefully, that was enough of a hook to get you here. But anyway, this is what David said. He said, “Email is the next big thing. We’re finally realizing just how precious these open standards were all along. Your way around Facebook and all the other walled garden parasites goes through email.”

Email, the thing that every year we hear people say, “Email’s dead. Facebook is going to replace email. Linkedin is going to replace email,” all that stuff. Here is a trusted business owner, a person who I truly admire and feel is sort of a virtual mentor in the way he runs his business. He’s written some good books. Rework (Amazon link) is an old school one that I really enjoy. [Full Disclaimer: As an affiliate, I receive compensation if your purchase through this link.] I trust his advisorship, and I’m so happy to hear about this because email is something that I was always big on. It’s something that I think that you’ve heard me talk about many times before. I’ve had many YouTube videos about email. Email’s coming back, baby. I’m so excited about this. Hopefully, you can hear I have a little bit of a different tone in this podcast episode versus some of my interviews. This is here. Yes, I’m going to teach a little bit when it comes to email, but really this is a realization. This is going to be a shorter episode and something that’s going to get you hopefully fired up to get involved in your email again.

What’s really cool is there have been people and companies who, all along the way, have been touting email and have been all-in on email. I’ve definitely been somebody who’s been a proponent of email, but not necessarily a hundred percent all-in because I have been dedicating time to these other platforms that are now getting in the way of the audience that I’ve built there. And I’m not saying that you need to escape, or leave, or flee from those places, but I’m just saying that no matter where you’re at, you’re going to have to have a place that is your own walled garden, your own thing that you can control. These places where things that you can control actually happen. Yes, of course with email there are things like open rates. There are things like click-through rates, which will show you, hey, not everybody’s opening your emails, but that’s different. That’s not Facebook kind of going “Sorry, guys. Even though you voted to go and hear from this person, I’m not going to actually let you do that because this person hasn’t paid to do that yet.” Or on YouTube, “Sorry, the watch time on this video, even though you’re a big fan of his, we’re not going to show you that video because the algorithms are saying that there’s lower watch time. And what we want to do is have more people spend more time on YouTube watching videos that actually people are going to watch, and therefore we’re going to make more money for our investors, and our advertising is going to be seen more.” That’s the reason these things are happening, but with email you get to control.

Yes. Open rates, you’re not going to have as many people open your email as you send to, but whose fault is that? You need to step up and write better subject lines. You need to step up and create emails that are actually worth opening. I think we’ve been taking advantage of this thing called email, and of course, we’re on the receiving end of it. So we all feel it too of just spam, impersonal conversation, promotions—lifelessness. We need to start adding more life into email. We need to start, through our actions, through our words, through our emails, training our audience to know that these A, emails are coming, but B, that it would be a mistake to not open them.

I’m so thankful that companies like ConvertKit, an email service provider that I use that I recommend, I’m a big fan. I’ll link to an updated demo and tutorial, in case you want to get involved with that. But I’m not here to promote ConvertKit, but I am an advisor. I am an affiliate. But these companies are stepping up because they are realizing that this is the way to grow a community. This is the way to converse with your community, to have conversations with them, to deliver value to them, and keep under control the connections that you have with them. The reason I bring up ConvertKit is because they know that email’s important. They’ve always known that, and they’re adding tools and resources to help us better do that, which is really amazing. Another tool that I’ve loved recently is called RightMessage. We’ve had the founder, Brennan Dunn, on the show before. I’ll link to these tools. I’m also an affiliate for RightMessage. Personalization on your website based on what email segment a person is in, and asking questions, and even surveying people before they get on email so that they get in the right place in your email. [Full Disclosure: I am a compensated advisor and affiliate for ConvertKit and RightMessage.]

I mean, these tools are here to serve us. There is just much more opportunity I feel if we start focusing on email. But of course, beyond the tools, just the emails itself. What are we going to send people? How are we going to make them feel special? How are we going to make them feel like we’re actually caring and want to have a personal relationship with them? There are ways and strategies to do that, and we’re going to talk about that in several episodes. I’m also involved in an upcoming course about that, which is going to be really fun and exciting. There’s going to be stuff for people for free. There’s going to be some premium stuff for people who want to go a little bit deeper into the more advanced stuff. It’s going to be a lot of fun. This is why this is on the top of my mind right now because this is what’s needed. This is where I think the future of connection with your audience is going, beyond the community.

Yes. Building a community, growing a following: perfect. But how are you going to stay connected with them? Email to me is an insurance policy. I remember in 2013, I had gotten my website hacked, and I was unable to access anything. I was unable to log in. Of course, people were seeing errors when they got there. However, I was still able to connect and keep in contact with my audience through email. I was also able to do it through other channels as well, but those channels no longer allow me to reach everybody anymore, but email always has. Again, it’s our responsibility to—within these emails—make sure we’re delivering value, which means we have to understand who is on our list, what they need help with. This is where that segmentation stuff really comes into play.

But if you want to get a quick guide for some email marketing and what you could send your audience, I’d recommend checking out my free guide, an opt in. It’s called Email the Smart Way. If you go to, you’re going to find a resource with ten different templates, if you will, that you can use when you have your email list. Even if it’s just one person on your email list, now you know what to send to them. A lot of people talk about growing your list and that kind of thing, but how do you nurture that list? How do you utilize this list that you’ve built? You’re paying money, monthly, to house this list. Well, let’s make sure people are having a good time in this house, but also that you’re benefiting from it as well. Check that out. It’s just a free gift for you for listening to this episode. It’s been out for a while. It’s helped a lot of people, but I haven’t really talked about it much because to me, back then, email was just another thing to do. Right now it is the thing to do.

There was actually a Wall Street Journal article that came out titled, “The Hot New Channel For Reaching Real People: Email. Frustrated by social media, businesses and others looking for an audience turn to an old standby.” It is old. It’s been around for a time. I remember Gary V. talking a lot about his email list back in the day and how he was one of the first to be somebody using email marketing platform for marketing with his wine company, and he was getting like 100 percent open rates. I mean, we’re not going to get 100 percent open rates, but we can I think come darn close. Especially when you consider why are people subscribing to your list, what you can offer them—that’s what we need to focus on, guys. That’s why I’m here. Not shouting, but having a little bit more aggressive of a tone today. Do you see the movements that are happening right now with how we are able to reach people and how we are able to communicate? People who have voted to say, “Yes. I want to hear from you,” are not hearing from us. Why? Because these other companies and platforms, a.k.a. other sandboxes that we’re playing in, are changing the rules. They’re changing the algorithms. Yes. They’re there to serve search. They’re there to serve their investors, and they do. Things are getting better. But for us content creators, who are looking to communicate with the people who have voted and said, “Yes. I want to hear from you . . .”

A good friend of mine, Roberto Blake, he’s been on the show before, he has this channel with over 400,000 subscribers. He comes out with a lot of great stuff, but he came out with this video the other day about passive income, and it was so real, so raw, and I was like, “Yes. Thank you, Roberto. Hopefully, everybody on his channel sees this.” You know how many people saw it within about a week? Like eight thousand. He has four hundred thousand people who I know can benefit from that message, yet only eight thousand people see it. Times are different. Things are changing. But one thing that has always been there that I think we need to focus more on is email. Guess what, everybody? Email’s back. It’s the next big thing again and it’s not dying. I think it’s going to come back to life in many different ways, and I’m excited for the software. I’m excited for the resources. I’m excited for just focus on communication via this channel.

The big thing is how do you stand out? People are receiving hundreds of emails a day. How can we ensure that a person will number one, see our email. And no, it’s not just about adding emojis in your email, which I’ve done and I’ve tested, and sometimes it works. Sometimes it doesn’t. But it’s about making sure people who are on the other end know these emails are coming. It’s about letting them know what’s coming next, so that the next time that email comes, the next email that comes in the funnel . . . I’m not saying this all needs to be broadcast only now. No. You can use autoresponders to automatically send emails out after a person has subscribed—after you know about them. Those are things that we should absolutely be doing. But what I’m saying is we need to know why a person needs to open. If you can tease in one email what the next email is going to be about, then it’s going to be more likely to be seen. It’s going to be looked forward to.

I know a lot of you . . . I’ve been late . . . Years ago, my content wasn’t as strong in terms of its rhythm, meaning I wasn’t always publishing my podcasts on Wednesdays, because I was late. That’s because number one, I didn’t have a good content calendar. I wasn’t planning ahead enough. I finally got smart and realizing that it’s important on a podcast to stay consistent. We’ve been consistent for the last three-and-a-half years, and largely due in part to Janna, who is my editorial content manager and director, who’s been on to really help me understand how to plan better with content. With the podcast now it’s consistent. But I remember back when I wasn’t consistent. I was kind of consistent, but I remember Thursdays would come around, a day late, and people would email me frustrated, because that email that they expected, or excuse me, that podcast that they expected wasn’t there like they thought it would be.

Why can’t we have the same effect with email, that people would love our emails so much and want to open them like it’s Christmas? How could we do that? I don’t think that we even think of email as an opportunity to do that, but I think that needs to change. Hopefully, you’re with me and you realize this, and hopefully, this is just a good wake up call. I’m not expecting you to share this. I just want you to wake up to email. Likely, you already have an email list and you’re not utilizing it, or maybe you haven’t even started an email list yet, but you have Instagram followers. You have Twitter followers. Or maybe you have nothing. You’re starting from zero. Where do you start? Well, it’s not about picking a social media channel to build your base on anymore. I think it’s still important to be there, but you need to build your base, your home base with email. I would even say that before a website. You can build an email list before you build a website, but if you can get people to subscribe to you because they know you have a certain kind of information, or expertise, or education, inspiration, influence that they want, well then they’re going to, right from day one, look forward to every other email. They’re going to know that they’re on the right place. They’re going to know that you are their go-to person. Hopefully, over time, they’ll become superfans, and you’ll have, through those many touchpoints that we could offer through email, make a difference. I’m excited for you. I’m excited for this. I am really happy about this. I am really happy.

As frustrated as I am about these social media channels getting in front of our audience who has, yes, said they wanted our stuff, but aren’t able to anymore unless we pay . . . Especially on Facebook, you got to pay to play. That boost post button is . . . Man, when I saw that come out, I was like, “Oh, man. Things are changing.” That came out a while back. I don’t know what the year was, but when I saw that, I was like, “You’re telling me that I have to pay now to get my audience, who said they wanted to hear from me, to hear from me now? Wow, Facebook. Thank you.” And yes, we are playing on free land. We are in somebody else’s sandbox and this is what happens. But with email, which if you’re doing it right and you’re investing a small amount of money to grow your list on a platform, perhaps ConvertKit, which is my recommendation, to build that group of people who can expect to hear from you and expect gold when they open those emails, it’s going to be great. It’s going to be your insurance policy, and it’s going to be how you grow your business.

If you make it easy for them to subscribe, and you give them a reason to do it, and you give them reasons to open your emails in the future, well you’re golden. You’re set. That combined with building superfans who even if your email account were to die, they’re going to find you, well, you’re set for life. You’re, future-proofing your business. I’m excited for this new movement and I’m hoping that you are too. I think we’ve all realized that now. Wow. We’ve always had that opportunity to treat email that way, but it was because we were just drooling at how easy it was to send a Facebook message and then fifty thousand people would see it, but not anymore. No longer. No longer do those social media messages get shared like they do. Right now, What’s working on social is groups, groups on Facebook, Facebook groups. I have a Facebook group if you want to check it out, I’d love to welcome you in there. We have about 40,000 entrepreneurs, and its admin, Brandon Hufford, who has been on the show before. He’s amazing. He’s an amazing admin there, and he’s a big community manager. I love what he’s doing there to help mobilize that community, keep them engaged, and keep them excited, and also control the spam. There’s a lot of other moderators, and spam checkers, and moderators as well, so I appreciate all of you, too many to name. But groups are where it’s at. However, since you’re playing on free land again, guess what? You’re likely going to start to see ads in groups. You’re going to start to see things being throttled in there, and it’s already starting to happen. It’s crazy. Right? Things are changing, but what’s not ever going to change is the fact that people will want to hear from you, and you need to control that experience. That’s what it’s about. So hey, guys. New, big things here. Welcome to email.

If you want to check out more episodes, make sure you subscribe. Check out the archive. We have a lot of great things going on, a lot of strategical . . . strategical? Yeah. That’s a word. Strategical strategies, a lot of content to help you. I would recommend—if you’re hearing this for the first time, for whatever reason—just number one, thank you. Number two, subscribe. Number three, don’t go back to episode one and listen to all of them. Go into the archive. Find the titles that resonate with you, that you’re curious about, that hopefully relate to your next thing, whatever your next thing is, and listen to those episodes, and then take action. Please. The action I would want you to take here, which will also put you on my email list, I’m very authentically telling you that, is If you want to know what emails to send people once they’re on your list, go to

I’ve also recommended a couple tools here. ConvertKit. If you want to subscribe for a free trial to get access to my favorite and biggest top recommended tool that I could offer you to help you grow your email, you can go to One more time, I’m an affiliate and an advisor for the company. I believe in what they’re doing so much, and I believe you should get involved with that. If you have an email list of I believe over five thousand already and you want to migrate to them, they have a service to help you do that for free, including how those emails are connected and those funnels and things. Finally, RightMessage from Brennan Dunn. If you go to, you can get involved with that and see how you can start personalizing your web content based on what emails and what survey results you’ve gotten from them. [Full Disclosure: I am a compensated advisor and affiliate for ConvertKit and RightMessage.]

If you go to you can see that in action on the bottom right-hand corner, if you haven’t answered those survey questions already. That’s helping me learn more about you so that I can help you better and send you better emails. That’s what RightMessage can do. A lot of links, things mentioned here. Go to the show notes page to get access to all that, And one more time, Thank you so much for listening and I appreciate you. Thanks for hearing my, I don’t know if you can call this a rant today, but I think it’s something that we can all get excited about. Email people, it’s back. It’s here to stay. Use it wisely. Thanks so much. Take care, and I’ll see you in the next episode of Smart Passive Income, and Team Flynn for the win.

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