Contest Domination: How To Launch A Software-Based Business (Even If You Can’t Write Software) – with Travis Ketchum

Posted on Aug 15, 2012 - 9:00 AM PST

How does a founder who can’t write software build a software-based business?

Travis Ketchum is the founder of Contest Domination, a tool that allows companies like yours to create contests that spread virally across the Internet and grow email lists. He built his company with no technical co-founder, so I invited him here to talk about how he did it.

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About Travis Ketchum

Travis Ketchum is the founder of Contest Domination, a tool that allows companies like yours to create contests that spread virally across the Internet and grow email lists.

Raw transcript


Mixergy’s audio transcription is done by Speechpad

Andrew: Coming up: automated sales funnel. If you’re in sales, I know that’s all I have to say to hook you and get you to watch this interview. It’s in there. And if you’re not in sales, you’d better watch that section, because you’re going to see why those of us who sell online get excited by that three-word phrase.Also, why you don’t need a technical co-founder. Today’s guest is going to show you how you can get others to build your software for you. He did it. And while we’re at it: How to get others to sell for you. He did that, too.

All that and so much more, coming up.

Before we get started, I want to congratulate Mixergy fan Brad Mills for creating this Nuvia Cafe. He says he did it while listening to Mixergy interviews, based on what he learned from those interviews. Can you imagine the first time, by the way, that an idea that he had became this box of coffee, or this cup of coffee? That he could taste, that he could feel, that he could see out in the world? That’s what Mixergy is about. Interviewers for doers like Brad and you. By the way, if you want to check out his website, it’s NuviaCafe.com. That’s where you can buy it.

This whole thing is sponsored by Scott Edward Walker of Walker Corporate Law. Do you need a lawyer who actually understands the start-up world that you live in? Go to WalkerCorporateLaw.com. I’ve known Scott Edward Walker for years, so tell him you’re a friend of mine.

It’s also sponsored by Shopify. Does anyone you know need a beautiful online store that increases sales and is easy to set up and mange? Send them to Shopify.com. It’s the platform that top online stores run on.

All right. Let’s get started.

Hey there, freedom fighters! My name is Andrew Warner. I’m the founder of Mixergy.com, home of the ambitious upstart. How does a founder who can’t write software build a software-based business? Travis Ketchum, who you see up on the screen, is the founder of Contest Domination, a tool that allows companies like yours to create contests that just spread virally across the Internet and grow their email lists. He built his company with no technical co-founder, so I invited him here to talk about how he did it. Travis, welcome, buddy.

Travis: Thanks, Andrew. It’s a pleasure to be on.

Andrew: How much revenue did Contest Dom — I go right into the revenue question.

Travis: Right for the throat.

Andrew: How much revenue did Contest Domination generate so far?

Travis: Well, we launched it in April, and so far we’ve cleared just over $100,000 in revenue.

Andrew: OK. So, we’ve got April, May, June, and we’re almost at the end of July. So about four months.

Travis: Yeah. About for months. I kind of had a couple peaks in there, but it’s consistently doing several thousand a month, still, even after our launch.

Andrew: Give me that number again? How much in revenue?

Travis: Just over $100,000.

Andrew: OK. And you didn’t develop the software yourself. We’ll find out how you got others to develop, who you got to develop for you, and we’ll talk about, if you would,, the failed first attempt at developing it.

Travis: Sure.

Andrew: But I want people to understand what Contest Domination is, and I think they’ll understand it best through an example. Can you tell us how Julep used Contest Domination?

Travis: Sure. Contest Domination is one of the easiest ways to run a contest on a WordPress-based site. Julep is a relatively large organization, as far as nail polish and nail parlors go. And so, they have a brick-and-mortar business, but then, they also have a WordPress blog. For them, they have a monthly subscription service, and so their main goal is to get a lot of emails.

Andrew: Subscription to people who buy their nail products?

Travis: Yeah. They actually have, it’s a monthly subscription, and they send them a box with two different nail polish colors and something else.

Andrew: OK.

Travis: My girlfriend’s actually on it, so I was like, “OK, I know they need emails,” because everyone lives and breathes leads in that area. So what they did is ended up launching a contest where they were giving away an iPad and their entire nail polish collection, which is 80-plus nail polishes. So that kept it relevant to their audience, but then had a tangible good as well.

Andrew: Mm-hmm.

Travis: The way that it worked is, people entered their name and email, and they got one entry into the contest. Then there was a customer referral link that every person got that could be easily shared on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, or copy and pasted into a messenger service, and every opt-in that that link created got them an additional 10 entries into the contest. It was a weighted entry, so there was a big incentive for them to share. And that makes . . .

Andrew: Not just share, but make those shares really count, because it they only get credit when they share, and that’s (?) results in an email address for (?).

Travis: Exactly, because we wanted to reward people who will actually be fluent (?) movers, (?), because that’s what the whole point of the campaign was. And so, we boast service that rewards strictly on performance. You see a lot of contest options out there that will give people points for liking three different pages, and just real active tweeting, but what we’ve found is that a lot times that reward, you will have tons of time, but maybe not necessarily influential, so we wanted to make it a really streamlined, easy-to-enter process so that if Andrew (?) decides to tweet a link out about an entrepreneur contest or something, that you may be able to drive hundreds of signups, whereas someone with just a few followers on Twitter may not be quite as influential. So we want to reward that, but still not count out the small guy, because it’s a weighted lotto entry, right? So it’s not like having the most entries guarantees you to win, you just have the highest likelihood of winning.

Andrew: OK. So how did it do for Julep?

Travis: It did quite well. They kind of did it in two phases. First, they opened it up, and they just showed it on social, and they saw, specifically, one link on Facebook, twice on Twitter to start, and they saw this massive lift on their social, and what happened is, over four weeks, which is as long as the contest was, they gained about 6,000 new likes on Facebook, 8,000 new followers on Twitter. They had a total of just over 31,000 people put in their name and email, and 8,000 of those had never been on their list before, so it gave them a new creative way to get content from their audience to convince them to get a lead, which for them turns into subscribers.

Andrew: 30,000 emails. And not just emails, names. I used to run a site called Grab.com, and it was a contest site, and one of the things I’ve noticed there was, when people enter a contest site, they use their real email address. They use their real name, and the reason they do it is, if they buy into the contest, when they win, they want to make sure that the check is written to the write person, the prize is sent to the right person. So that’s what the product does. That’s how much revenue you generated from it. Let’s go back in time and see how you built this business. Where did the idea come from?

Travis: So, I’ve been doing some form of internet marketing for a few years, and been full-time in it now for over a year, and I knew that email leads is always where it’s at. You talk to any other internet marketer, and they always say, “We need more emails to drive our business.” And everything else goes great, but at the end of the day, what most cared about was emails. So, I saw that there was a lot of buzz around contests, that people wanted to do contests, and that people are…

Andrew: Specifically, did you see it on anyone’s specific website?

Travis: I’ve seen it, like, Schumani and John Chow and things that had pretty good success with kind of close together contests, where it’s like, you leave a comment, and then sign up for a newsletter. A lot of people in the fashion world have been the same thing, where they had a list of rules to enter their contest, it was working well for them, but every single contest was different, so that’s a broken-up experience for the consumer.

Andrew: What about this? The contest that, people hate when I interrupt, but I’ve got to ask you this question. (?) and AppSumo ran similar contests a lot, used to buy ads for those contests on Facebook, his design once you click over from Facebook to the contest site looked very similar to what you’ve created. How much of an inspiration was that?

Travis: I mean, I definitely saw what he was doing and, obviously, mimicked the template that works. I mean, we modified it a little bit. It’s not exactly the same, but the general mechanics are pretty similar. We even launched, my first test was a Dropbox giveaway.

Andrew: And that’s significant because?

Travis: Because that’s one of the first contests I saw from Atsumo, was a big Dropbox contest, and more importantly, I saw the response from the community to something that was easy to use, and had a product they actually cared about. And so, we essentially packaged up something very similar and brought it to the market, instead of being all custom, in-house coded.

Andrew: I see. So you said, “Hey, anyone who doesn’t have developer, who wants to be able to add this kind of contest to their website should be able to install your plugin, and boom, their WordPress site has a content similar to what we talked about that Atsumo had, and much simpler than what John Chow, Schumani, and other marketers online who are creating contests are running.

Travis: I mean, there’s such a big demand for contests, there’s no reason that everyone should have to reinvent the wheel and spend thousands and thousands of dollars just to run a simple contest. So I brought that price point down to an even 150 bucks.

Andrew: OK. [??] is a very important part of my interview so I want to make sure that I’ve got this right. Even Jeff [??] said when he launched Stack Overflow that he and his cofounder were inspired by expert exchange which was charging and they said “You know what? If you can take away the charging and what he considers evil parts of experts exchange, then you have a business that would do pretty well” and that’s the basis of their business model. And that’s where their idea originated.

Seems like that similar thing happened with you. You don’t have to come up with an original idea. You just have to say “How do I simplify what’s already out there?

Travis: Yeah. I mean, I have the desire to do contests anyway but of course, the Axiom version was really kind of honed in as something simple and so that was something we could kind of template off of and go that direction.

People are familiar with that and so it was something that people would easily understand when they hit the page.

Andrew: All right. So I’ve got a lot of developers in my audience and a lot of friends are developers and what I notice about them is when they come up with an idea, they just sit down and they coded and they come up with the product instantly. Either it survives or it flops and very often all they do is they link to it from Hacker News and they get their quick response and they know whether they should continue building it or letting it go.

But you don’t have that skill. I don’t have that skill. We’re not developers.

So what’s the first thing that you did to build this out ?

Travis: So the first thing that I did is I had to come up with my list of requirements. And not just like my if it was everything I wanted it to be feature list. I’m talking the MVP, the Minimal Viable Product, and what was the least amount of coding I had to pay someone to do to teest to see does this work. How are people going to respond to this so that I mitigate my out of pocket cost.

Some of my friends, when they create products, I notice that they go crazy on features and that ends up being a $20,000 dollar project for them to build and it’s next to impossible for them to make a profit on it.

I tried to come with a very simple use case which was email specifically, a referral link. I was very specific about the social buttons that we wanted tied in and the different connections we had in the backend. And then I went out and started pricing it.
Andrew: Before we get to pricing, what kind of connections on the backend that you have in mind?

Travis: So I just knew that they needed to put in contest rules. I knew that they needed to have a place to put in their email service provider so I can [??].

Andrew: By them you mean the contest host, right?

Travis: Right. And then the people would want to also connect their social accounts. That’s it. Plain and simple.

Andrew: Connect their Twitter. Connect their Facebook. So that if people follow them on Twitter, Facebook, they get a point for it.

Travis: No. Actually just get updates in the future but it is one of step 3 for future contests. But still is a pretty good [??].

Andrew: Got you. OK. So there’s not even a reward for it beyond just getting to see who won.

Travis: Right.

Andrew: And that’s all you wanted in there? No Pinterest. No Tumbler. No nothing. You wanted to keep it that small.

Travis: Yes. Because they way I figured is if I can really nail down that use case, then you have cash flow later on if it’s working, to create different contest use types which is actually what we’re doing now.

So there’s a lot of plugs that want to do like a photo contest and so you can do something unique and specific for, say, Pinterest where they’re going to get the most lift from a photo contest but I wanted to test the one that everyone’s was kind of telling me it was the holy grail which was an email with the incentivized referral component to it.

Andrew: What’s one thing that you felt a little bit of a struggle when you removed? Which one feature that wasn’t so easy to keep out?

Because right now, when I look at it I say “Of course. All he wanted was an email address and name. Of course all he wanted was Twitter. This wasn’t a hard decision”.

Was it a hard decision? Was there a feature that was tough?

Travis: I mean, I was looking at things as far as [??] what’s the cost to develop this compared to the benefit that the person is going to get? And I wanted originally kind of like more flexibility and the forms, like email forms that you could get kind of crazy with ZIP Codes and maybe back that into affiliate offers, always kind of crazy things.

But the cost was going to start climbing exponentially and so the hardest thing for me to do was to just say “All I need is this list”. Because I’m saying I could think of a hundred ways to use this and it’d be great if it had this and it’s be great if it had that and just turning my mind away from that and saying what is my core user really going to need to almost immediately see the value of this product. And so just saying no to features was probably the toughest part.

Andrew: OK. Can you give me another example of a tough feature to get rid off? And the reason I ask is because it’s so easy when we’re watching someone else’s business to say, ‘Oh, yeah. It makes sense what he launch”. But mine has to have and then list a bunch of features that we feel we have to have.

So I always want to ask a founder what are some of the tough decisions that you made so that we can see how you prune and hopefully do the same when it comes to our feature list?

Travis: When I was originally going through it, I really wanted more API integrations with some of the different service providers. My [??] was like am AWeber and the different email.

Andrew: I see. You’re saying “Hey, sure. I’ve got AWeber. I’ve got MailChimp but what if the customer who buys this plug-in wants to run a contest happens to be on iContact and they’re not going to want to buy this”. Or what if they happen to be on Constant Contact, etc. You said “No. I’ve got to get rid of it”.

Travis: Well, I gave them an general opt-in form, like where they can drop an opt-in form code [??] email but that wasn’t quite as clean and clear as I originally wanted because all I wanted was [??] integration with everything so after someone set it up originally, they never had to touch code. All I wanted them to do was have a drop-down list and make it as simple as possible.

Like I explained to my developer, imagine a 17 year old female fashion blogger is going to be using this. Make it friendly enough for them to use and they don’t like code.

Andrew: That’s a really good thing to do actually to envision the end customer, not just do it for ourselves but to tell the developer who that end customer is because we’re so used to seeing ourselves in our customers or imagining or I guess the developer too so used of trying to please you by giving you what you probably want. And you said “No.Think about the guy or the girl who’s a teenager, who’s a fashion blogger, very far from tech. What would she want?”

OK. That makes sense. You made this list. Now it’s time to find a developer or did you already had one in mind?

Travis: I needed to find one so I asked my social channels ‘Hey, who knows a good developer? I’m looking to make a WordPress plug-in. Here’s kind of the light just of it.” You have to be motivated enough to actually do it.

So I wasn’t worried about sharing my idea so I asked for some referrals and I had a handful of people I was pointed towards and took a handful of bids and of course, it was the spectrum from cheapest to most expensive.

Andrew: And all you’re handing them is a list of the features that you want in there. And screenshots, mock-ups, anything?

Travis: I had some like very, very rough mock-up. I’m talking like almost as bad as Microsoft Paint. Like this is the general function 1, function 2, drag, and drew stupid arrows and stuff.

Andrew: OK . But you said this is the first screen users see. Here’s the second screen. Here’s the third. And when they come back this is what they see and now here is what the end user, the contest entry person sees, boom, boom, boom. All on Microsoft Paint-like format.

Travis: It was pretty bad to start with because I wanted to see what price range we were in before I asked friends or hired a designer to make me a real template. So unfortunately I made the decision to go with the lower end spectrum because, like I said, I was boot-scrapping it all out of pocket.

Andrew: So you went with someone who you found through your network and you went cheap.

Travis: Yeah. They were referred to me through Google+ from another developer and I ended up finding out that he had never actually worked with the person he had referred me. It ended up just being a nightmare.

Andrew: All right. So for someone who’s in the audience now saying “I could put together a feature. I could find an idea the way that Travis did. I could put together a feature list the way Travis did. I could prune it the way that Andrew seems obsessed with doing for the first version. Perfect. Now I can go out and look for a developer”. They’re seeing that you made a mistake there.

What advice would you give them to stay away from the mistake that you just made there?

Travis: Well, a lot of times you get what you paid for.

Andrew: So pay a little bit more than the lowest. Don’t just [??] on price.

Travis: Pay a little bit more. Find someone who you know has made some products that are of the caliber and quality that you want. And even if they’re two or three times the price that you think you can get it for, if you know it’s going to be a great experience, you know it’s going to be a killer quality product, which I can get to it later thus far as the best support needs of your product, do whatever it takes to come up with the extra cash. Like Paul Graham always says ‘Be relentlessly resourceful’ and do whatever it takes to get to the level of work. I mean, in fact, the higher the developer that I had talked to had been open to liek a rent-share agreement because he liked the idea.

Andrew: The one who eventually built it right.

Travis: Right. So that was on the table. I didn’t end up taking that. I just came with the extra cash but there’s options out there for people that are trying to get that high level of quality. If they have a clean, simple, sharp idea.

Andrew: What did you pay for this first version?

Travis: My total cost when it came down to design and development and everything ended up being about $6,500, including the sales page, so by the time . . .

Andrew: Well, give me the first one. $6,500 is the second version, right?

Travis: Yeah. The first one was only, like, $700.

Andrew: $700. Oh, I see. OK. So that gives us a sense of the difference. $700, did that also include the design?

Travis: No. The actual, just corded on part, the cheap guy was $700 and the expensive guy was $5,000.

Andrew: OK. But the development for the first one just didn’t work out. How much back and forth did you have to go through before you realized, “Hey, you know what, I got to throw my hands up in the air. This just is not going to work.”

Travis: Well, first of all, he kept delaying and delaying and delaying the development, which is painful for me trying to plan a launch. Then, when I finally did get the code, it was useless. It didn’t install on the back end like a normal plug-in did. His idea of simple to use for a 17-year-old fashion blogger was that they knew how to code PHP and get into a cPanel. So that just didn’t work at all. I even gave the code to the new developer. I was like, “Can you do anything with this?” and he was like, “Uh, no. In good faith, I can’t.”

Andrew: Did you have to pay the person $700?

Travis: Unfortunately, because I had put some payments through on PayPal, if you contest them and it’s service, PayPal doesn’t care, if it’s service. So he got paid.

Andrew: Wow. OK.

Travis: So unfortunately I got burned for that.

Andrew: How many weeks of wasted effort did you spend on that?

Travis: Oh, at least two and a half months.

Andrew: Two and a half months?

Travis: Yeah.

Andrew: OK.

Travis: Just because he was taking forever. I had no concept, because I’d never developed my own WordPress plug-in before, I had no concept of how long it should actually take to build that, given that other people have other projects and things. Then, when I went with the $5,000 guy, by the day he started working on it, he had me a working iteration in four days.

Andrew: Oh, wow. All right. That does . . .

Travis: And it was pretty close to what I wanted.

Andrew: I’m going to get to how he did it in — you know, let’s go to, how’d you find the new person?

Travis: He had been referred by someone who had actually hired him before to build at least 10 other WordPress plug-ins.

Andrew: How’d you find someone who needed 10 other WordPress plug-ins developed?

Travis: Because they’re in Internet marketing. They like to do the same thing I do. [laughs]

Andrew: How’d you find someone like that?

Travis: He actually lives in Seattle, and so I had bumped into him about two years ago, I guess, getting lunch with John Chow. Because John Chow’s at Dot Com Pho on Saturdays, and so I ended up meeting him there, and met him at some other meet-ups in the area. So we had some contact before, and I knew he was doing well. So when he said, “Hey, you’ve really got to go hire this guy, don’t worry about how much it costs,” then I was like, “OK.” I just wised up.

Andrew: All right. You know what? We’ve been doing dinners at Mixergy, through Grub With Us, and I can see that kind of power really at play there. I was hoping you’d say, “I just went online and I found someone.” I know that there are ways to do it. Anyone who took our course on how to develop an iPhone app if you’re not a developer can see the whole process. In fact, there are tons of ways to do it. But I think it’s interesting to see that you met someone at a dinner a couple of, I guess you said a couple of years before, and that conversation, and that relationship ended up leading you to the right developer. Who is this person?

Travis: The developer, or the person that I met?

Andrew: The person who you met. You can give the name.

Travis: Yeah. His name is Chris Guthrie.

Andrew: OK.

Travis: He makes a bunch of, his core business is that he has a bunch of sites that do well on Google and get a lot of traffic for Amazon links, and so he typically grosses about six figures a year just off of Amazon Associates.

Andrew: OK. That’s a good guy to know when you’re building something like this.

Travis: Yeah.

Andrew: So he gave you the introduction, he gave you a sense of how long it was going to take, you hired the guy. Were the specs that you put together, just the MS Paint screenshots, those mock-ups, and the feature list, was that enough for him?

Travis: Enough for him to get going. Part of our agreement to keep the price even at that level was that I would deliver all of the design components, and so once I felt confident that I had someone that was actually going to do it, and the few people I told were excited enough about it, I had a designer friend of mine put together what the landing page would look like, and what the different steps would actually look like in PhotoShop. And I just send him the design files, and he put it all together for me.

Andrew: OK. A designer friend of yours who charged you $1,500.

Travis: Yeah. Well, part of that $1,500 was also the sales page and some different custom WordPress designs like that.

Andrew: Who is that person? Your sales page looks really hot.

Travis: Yeah, so, his name is Andrew Gay. I’ve actually worked with him for a couple years, off and on, on small projects. We actually worked on sales funnels together, and so he’s more the technical side of that stuff. But this was my own project, and so he was helping out with some of the design stuff.

Andrew: All right. We’ve got to get to the sales funnel in a bit. I’m really curious about what you did there. All right. So, you get the, you get the first version back in four days. What does that first version look like?

Travis: It looks pretty similar to what you see now.

Andrew: So you’re saying that a good developer can essentially build this plugin in four days?

Travis: Yeah, because while they’re not necessarily just using every little code that they’ve used before exclusively, a good developer like that, a lot of these functions, like working with email service providers, and creating (?), a lot of that he has in his code base already. And so, he can kind of just do it like Legos, put it together, for most of the functionality, how you need it, and then he does some custom work on top to make it work for you, which takes a day or two, and then he has a new finished product for you that is all code that he originally wrote. It’s not like he’d just grabbing it off the internet. He wrote it at some point, but because he’s established in the marketplace, and that’s what he does, he’s able to quickly put together something for you to test.

Andrew: Oh, that’s awesome. OK. So, you get it back. What’s the biggest thing that you needed to change from this first version?

Travis: Um, there were a few bugs, as far as design is concerned. It’s obviously a nightmare, developing for different browsers, so while it’s great on Safari and Chrome and most versions of Firefox, there’s a couple versions of Firefox on Mac, and then a couple on Windows, as well as Internet Explorer, that cause clipping of the text, or that kind of thing. As far as where the plugin’s concerned, compatibility with browser is, understanding what version of WordPress it will actually be on, and then after we did launch it, incompatibilities with certain plugins, because some people have thousands of plugins themselves, it feels like.

Andrew: I feel like we do, too. Right. We might install it on our site and say “There’s an incompatibility with wish list member, one of my critical favorite plugins.” You either adjust it, or you say, “Hey, Andrew, you’re one of few people that have it. I can’t do it.” You have to at least be aware of these issues as they come up.

Travis: Sure. There’s only been a few cases where we haven’t been able to necessarily get it to work with their jigsaw of a website, and so the work-around for that, that people have done is a (?) WordPress install at, like, contest.mixergy.com, so that it’s a plain vanilla WordPress install, and then throw our plugin on top of that.

Andrew: OK. All right, so, everything is up and running. Everything is up and running. It’s time to start marketing it, right, or did you start marketing before you even launched it?

Travis: No, I waited until I actually had a finished product, because one thing I hate is when people always have vaporware. They just look at me and look at me, and they have nothing to show you, so why fight for consumer attention until you have something that they can actually open their for?

Andrew: Before we move on to marketing, then, give me one other piece of advice for the person who’s listening to us who says “Hey, I’d like to build an app, too. I’d like to build some kind of software product, and I’m like Travis. I just don’t know how to develop it myself. What other device do you have for them, on how to get it built?

Travis: Just be prepared to barter with the developer. The key there is finding a high-quality developer, and understanding that it’s going to cost you time, money, maybe equity, whatever it takes to get it built. At the end of the day, don’t skimp on that. Make sure you find the highest quality person that you can that will develop it and be flexible on your terms of how to get it developed.

Andrew: OK. Did you have to go into your credit cards in order to fund this thing?

Travis: A little bit.

Andrew: OK.

Travis: Yeah.

Andrew: Was it risky? Were you scared? Were you nervous?

Travis: I think all entrepreneurs are risk-takers by nature. It’s not like I put five grand on my credit card, but I did put some on there. I don’t like doing that, but I knew that it was worth it to get into that next bump, and this was kind of the break I needed, as far as getting my own product with my own name on it out there.

Andrew: Was there something that you did that made you feel like this is going to work? Did you talk to someone who said, “Absolutely, I would buy it”? Did you run it by someone who said “This is a good product, my customers would be interested”?

Travis: There were several people who, in the Internet marketing space that I had, kind of demoed it for, and they’re were like, “This is awesome.” It’s like it solved a pain point for them. I said, “OK. In that case, I can’t slow down; if anything I have to put the gas on.” I also knew that there was couple other people who had been trying to bid a contest plug in. In fact, the developer who was making this for me, a couple days after I signed a contract with him someone else was pitching him, trying to get him to make a contest plug in, and because he’s got the code he passed it to someone else. He’s like, “I’m trying to rush this out for you because people are in the marketplace trying to make this happen, so that…

Andrew: So why didn’t you stop at that point? When you saw that there were other people who were going to build it, why didn’t you say, “Hey, you know what? Someone’s going to beat me to this. I already had a failed effort. I lost 700 bucks, let’s just move on.”

Travis: Well, because at that point I had already signed a contract. I was in it for a couple thousand for sure, so at that point, it was kind of like the dip, right, stuff going into the dip. I was in the dip. I had already paid the money, so now it’s just time to speed up the efforts, and get the return.

Andrew: OK. So, let’s talk marketing. What’s the first thing you did to marketing?

Travis: So the first thing I did was, I set up a Click Bank sales page, which is actually what you see, but it runs on Click Bank. I just kind of seed it into my very small blog list, and people who had never really bought from me before on blog, and I instantly sold a couple copies, which was a good feeling. It was like, “OK, people who have never opened their wallet for me before have decided to buy this from me.” And then I knew, OK, I made a couple thousand bucks back, but I still didn’t quite break the…

Andrew: A couple thousand, just from your own list?

Travis: Yeah, just from kind of a media network, and one friend who another small email list sent out one email for me. So we got a couple of thousand dollars back. I was like, OK, I’m not quite there yet, but that’s a good sign.

Andrew: Two thousand, roughly?

Travis: Two thousand. Roughly two thousand.

Andrew: Pure profit.

Travis: Of revenue. That was money taken after paying affiliates.

Andrew: When you were first doing it yourself, there were no affiliates, right?

Travis: Right.

Andrew: To your audience, no affiliates? I guess you had to pay your friend for use of his list, right?

Travis: Right. That was the only affiliate payment I had.

Andrew: Why did you decide, by the way, to sell this through Click Bank instead of building your own sales process? Why did you decide to build a thing, actually, let’s start with that, why did you decide to use Click Bank?

Travis: Sure. So I’ve (?) that question before, because Click Bank has fees, and there’s other things associated with it as a service that cost you more money per transaction. But since this was my first product that I was bringing to market, and I knew that it was going to have to be heavy on affiliates, because I didn’t really have an existing audience yet. I wanted there to be absolutely no question that if you promoted this, you got paid as an affiliate. Because Click Bank, they just take the money, and they divvy it up, and I literally have no say over it, unless I say, “Only people I approve,” or something, but I wanted it to be so that if someone promotes me, they may have their own Click Bank account in good standing, they’re going to get paid for my product, period. Even though I felt like I was credible and I’m trustworthy, I never even wanted that to be a talking point of why people wouldn’t promote me. So, I just wanted to take that off the table, and went for Click Bank instead.

Andrew: Also means you didn’t have to develop anything yourself.

Travis: It made my merchant services easier. That’s true.

Andrew: Why’d you hesitate there for a second?

Travis: Well, because nothing is quite as simple as drag and drop.

Andrew: OK.

Travis: Because with Click Bank, while you, there’s less development time, you have this big approval process, because they try to keep the quality of their network at a certain level, make sure people are (?), are actually delivering what they say they’re delivering. And so, anytime you create a Click Bank product, it’s not like you’ve just thrown the code, flip a switch, and you sell it today, there’s like a five business day wait for them to approve it, and then if you want to do any up-sale, there’s a five business day wait on that, and then once you do have a transaction, you have to wait a certain amount of time before you can get a percentage of that money.

Andrew: I see.

Travis: There’s drawbacks to it that are, you always lose something in every scenario. That’s just, in this case, instead of being development time, it happened to be approval time, and fees.

Andrew: The other question I was going ask to ask earlier is, why is there no DRM?

Travis: Well, it’s on WordPress, so to be honest, I just trust my users. The cost of adding that to all those features that, to add a licensing key system, was going to be thousands of dollars and I wanted to mitigate my risk a little bit and I figured at the end of the day, all I’m really selling is customer support, and I can check to see if they’ve actually paid me or not to help them, so it was just kind of one of those gambles on my users that I took.

Andrew: I think it was the right decision, of course. Alright, so you decided to just sell it on Click Bank, you marketed originally to your audience, your friend’s audience, you did pretty well with it, it was encouraging, but you needed to grow. What did you do next?

Travis: Sure. So I knew I needed someone big to help me promote to the next level, and everyone including Chris Guthrie had been saying, “You got to sell in the (?), which is an internet marketing forum, for those who aren’t familiar with it, and I had never really been on there before. I heard mixed things about it, and it always looked kind of like a clunky system to me, to be honest. And so, I wasn’t ingrained in it, and I knew people were selling products on there, a lot of them, and I just wasn’t that guy in the forums. I needed to find someone who had a complimentary product who had a similar audience who wanted to help me launch it for just splitting revenue with them.

Andrew: What’s Warrior Forum, for people who don’t know it.

Travis: Yeah, it’s a forum for internet markets.

Andrew: That’s all internet marketers. Some of them very aggressive.

Travis Ketchum: All internet marketers.

Andrew Warner: I’ve seen people, I’ve heard of people who did nothing but online launches there. They don’t have their own sales pages. They just sell their products in those forums.

Travis: And you’d be shocked how well they do sometimes.

Andrew: I see you in here. I’m looking at the forum right now. You were thanked 24 times. You have 22 posts. All right, you said, “I don’t know enough about this. I’m not that active on it.” In fact, you still have zero posts yourself?

Travis: Because they only count posts as if you post in a non, like in a thread that isn’t selling something, right?, So I have a ton of posts replying to customers and answering questions, but I was brand new to the forum before we launched, so I hadn’t gone in and kind of earned my street cred on the forum. I hadn’t gone through and answered a bunch of questions and done kind of the typical way people start on it.

Andrew: Who did you get to do it for you? You went to Mark Thompson, and you asked him to do it?

Travis: Yeah. So, Mark Thompson is one of the most honest, you know, has your best intentions at heart of internet marketers I’ve met. As soon as I talked to him, he was insistent that that was kind of how he works. I was, “OK, this is a good candidate.” He has a complimentary product called List Eruption that focuses on the viral aspect of list building, so I knew he understood the mechanics, so he understood how to sell it, and he launches on the Warrior Forum very often, as often as what is called WSO of the day. He is getting all of these promotions where he has kind of the best product available for that particular day. I know that this is a good candidate. We started talking, and he liked the product, and this type of product had never been launched on the forum before, which means it was another good candidate to launch. We both saw opportunity and just decided to work together.

Andrew: Do you pay him to do this? To be your guy in the forum?

Travis: I paid him a percentage of the forum launch specifically.

Andrew: OK.

Travis: So of all sales that came through the forum he got a portion.

Andrew: So, he’s like a super-affiliate.

Travis: Yeah.

Andrew: And if he gets any affiliates that are under him?

Travis: He also knew all of the affiliates on the forum, right? So, it’s in his best interest to get all of them to mail for this product for both of us because we both get a win out of it.

Andrew: So tell me a little bit about what he does to promote you, beyond of course what I’m looking at here is his post on the forum. What else does he do that you can’t do yourself?

Travis: He has a lot of connections and people that kind of owed him favors on the affiliate side of things where he had promoted their products in the past. So, it was essentially their turn to return the favor. He was like, “Hey, I’ve got this really unique product. I’m working with Travis on it, and here’s what it does, here’s the price point.” Then a lot of them would mail their lists and give their audience a bonus from their kind of armory of products.

Andrew: I see, so it would be, “Buy this, and if you do I’ll also give you some software that I created or some e-book that I created, etc.”

Travis: Right.

Andrew: And they of course make money by promoting you.

Travis: Yeah, and some of them made great money. We paid a little over 50% on both steps, and so the affiliates actually made more money than we did, but at the end of the day we still were making great money because we got a little bit of everything and, more importantly, we built an email list very, very quickly.

Andrew: How big is your email list now.

Travis: Specifically from this launch it’s about 4500 people.

Andrew: OK. By the way, I’ve got all kinds of monitors apparently in front of me. I’ve got notes from our conversation yesterday where you broke down the revenue. I’ve got right here the websites we’ve been talking about. What I want you to know is if there is anything you told me in private that you don’t want to say here in the interview, don’t say it. I just can’t edit it out. I want you to say everything, but I’ll leave it to you to decide what you want public and what you don’t.

Travis: OK, yeah. Fair enough.

Andrew: All right, so he does that. Well, actually, let’s see, you said there are two levels of affiliate pay out. What does that mean specifically?

Travis: So, after someone buys the initial product, we offer what’s called a one-click up sell. After they bought the initial product, and they fill out their payment information, and they buy it, they get a one-time offer, right, where it’s like, “Right now, you can decide, you already have product A, but if you want to, you can get either this upgraded version of product B plus some other stuff for this one time low price. So, what we ended up doing is we ended up paying [Billards] 60 percent on the initial product we brought and 50 percent on the up sell.

Andrew: Gotcha, and what was the up-sell product?

Travis: So, in this case the up sell was another plugin. It was another kind of viral plugin that Mark added in. Instead of Contest Domination which is the default background that came with multiple skins which you saw yesterday, so we had more ways to kind of customize the look and feel of it.

Andrew: Gotcha. All right, so, people then brought it. What was your sells from that initial push?

Travis: Well, the first day we opened it we sold just over a 1,000 copies, the very first day.

Andrew: At about 35 bucks a pop.

Travis: The average selling price, yeah, was about 35 . . .

Andrew: OK.

Travis: . . . bucks a pop.

Andrew: I’ve told you in private that I thought that you were undercharging for it. Now that you’ve gone through this, do you still feel that 35 was the right price?

Travis: You know I think it’s fair because it’s the price that gets more people in the door because it’s not just about the money. I mean of course it’s important that we turn a profit, but I’m, like, absolutely hung in on getting lifetime customers, and the more of them that I can get, you know, involved in what I’m doing, the better. It’s not like I’m just going to be pitching them all the time, but you know, getting someone kind of used to me and the way that I do business is kind of the number one goal. The number two goal being revenue.

I think at that price point it may [??] difference as far as who can kind of be introduced into running a [high] quality contest, because, like, my competitors out there are charging $150 or more for a single site license and it doesn’t work even as well. But, you know, they’re charging significantly more, but I’m more interested in having more market share for this particular product because it means I have more [??] as for future products for different options down the road.

Andrew: All right, so, one thing I’ve noticed as I’ve interviewed hundreds of entrepreneurs here is that the way the world sees your product when you finally launch it is different from the way you envision them seeing it when you’re building it on your own. So, after the launch, what did they see that you didn’t expect? What did they do that you didn’t expect?

Travis: People want to use it in different unique ways. So, just the number of used cases kind of surprised me. You know everything from they wanted to only promote say affiliate offers to they wanted to run this on a bunch of different client sites, but, like, to have all these client sites running within one instance of WordPress. So, I had things like pretty complicated ways they were trying to use it and it kind of both blew my mind, but A, they were trying that hard, but B, it was like a great research and development cycle for me because I could see how are people actually using it.

You know, in the forms, specifically, people kind of typically want everything for nothing, so even our price point, you said it was too low, that even got pushed back. People didn’t like how high it was.

Andrew: Was there anything that made you just slap your forehead and say, I can’t believe I didn’t think to build that in?

Travis: Oh, yeah. Of all things, I forgot to have my developer add in a space to put in Google analytic code in the first version or the ability to export the entries from the data base instead of just using your mail service because a lot of people . . . that was surprising that people did this could care less about an email list. They just wanted it to collect leads and then maybe, you know, like their Facebook page, it was more of an engagement tool then a list building tool.

So, I surprised how [people] did that. When they did that they had no way to pull the leads out of the data base. So, I was like . . .

Andrew: I wouldn’t have expected that either.

Travis: . . . head slapper, you know, thing, and, so, as soon as I launched it I went, I tried [??], I don’t really care about how much it cost, just make this real quick, I’ll pay you, and then I gave it as a free update to everyone.

Andrew: OK. What about . . . actually, you know what? There’s a lot . . . you walked me through the back end yesterday, there’s so much of it that was just really well done that I wouldn’t expect someone who hadn’t built software before to add. Like, each contest that I could run, and I could run as many contests as I want using Contest Domination, but each one becomes its own blog post for example. I can make changes to individual contest but also have universal settings. All those things are pretty complicated involved. I can’t imagine you thinking them through on your own and then adding them into a paint doc and showing it to a developer and having him build base on that.

Was that you, or was that the developer or just an evolution?

Travis: Well, anyone who has to talk to me for like more than a couple of hours realizes that I pick a couple of things and kind of obsessed about them. And so those actually wear me because I was thinking through how do we make it easy for someone and the fact that came into the idea to generalize things and then I also thought that not every contest is the same in that if I was running one, I would want my campaign to be flexible so that this contest A I may need that to go into a different email list than contest B. But more importantly, I’m may need different sets of rules because this one maybe it’s a credit to drop box at anywhere in the world [??] but this one I might be shipping them an Amazon Kindle and I may only want to ship that to someone in the U.S.

So having the flexibility and granularity between the contest was something that I was “This has to be here. Otherwise, it’s not nearly powerful enough”.

Andrew: So that was then in the first version. You just knew that that’s something you’re obsessed about.

Travis: The very first [??].

Andrew: All right. What about this. I’m on your site and for a landing page you have a bunch more links than I would expect, including a link for a form.

Why did you decide to add a form to your site?

Travis: The more ways that I can make it easy for someone to ask a question and for me to answer them when and where they need it answered, the lower my return will be and the more satisfied someone will be with their purchase.

And so, if you notice on my site I have a couple of things. Typically I have live chat but I have it turned off right now because I’m talking to you. I have live chat, one of the positives ‘Hey, what can I do for you?” and all day long I’m working at it. I love answering customer questions so they can shoot me, essentially, I am [??] of the site. They can fill out a question on the forum about [??] request which list problems they’re having and then I have a whole support desk, which is the same system you use which is Desk.com where they can look at a fact list, they can insert a question via webform, they can email me a question. There’s another chat service there they can use. I just want to be everywhere I can possibly be that they would ever consider asking me a question for customer support.

So we essentially sold customer support. We’re selling customer support.

Andrew: That is the way it is mostly with themes and plug-ins with WordPress. On the WordPress platform, they basically encourage openness and so anyone can essentially steal a theme and go and use it. But if they ever have a problem with it, they need that support and that’s what a lot of developers are, essentially as you say, charging for.

Did you get, what did you get from the live chat that you wouldn’t have gotten otherwise? Beyond sales. What did you learn about your customer, about your product?

Travis: It was interesting to see what parts of the world were online with my website at anyone point in time because the service I use tells me the location, what [??] refer from, so whether they came from affiliate link, from Google search, from someone’s blog post review, whatever.

So I get a sense of what parts of the world and what keywords were found, triggering my flow of traffic and I can look at them in real time. People don’t always essentially realize that you’re on a different part of the world and so when you’re talking to someone in another part of the world where it’s 4 o’clock in the morning their time and you’re just within 30 seconds with Instant Messenger, it blows them away.

Andrew: All right. That’s about your user.

Did you learn anything about the product? Anything that made you say “Oh, we should add that to the product” or “That’s another great idea for a future product that I hadn’t thought off”?

Travis: Just the open candor in being given some ideas for use cases to build out in the future. And none of them are really necessarily groundbreaking. I would say it was more of a customer service than a sales tool definitely, meaning and I said not only about sales but it made a massive impact on our sales just because of the immediacy of answering our questions.

Even if it said the answer on the page, people still like just that direct response. It’s like working with your local salesman.

Andrew: All right. Let’s talk about sales funnel.

Travis: OK.

Andrew: What kind of sales funnel did you create?

Travis: For this one it was relatively basic in the sense that when they buy, they have a one-click upsale for a multi-site license. And as you know, we don’t use a license in key system so it’s more of an honor system and it’d be easy for me to tell if someone’s asking for support on two, three, ten different pages and I can just look up in the accounts and see what they buy.

And that had a surprising difference on the earnings per visitor because it was a little bit more money than even the original fee so they paid 37 for a single site license and they paid an additional 47 for multi-site and about half of the people who went through and not buy from multi-site. And so, it’s a lot smaller part of our total traffic compared to the forum, but it keeps our average selling price much higher. It’s just a nice clean, no distractions, it is exactly what you get as a bullet list and buy it or skip ahead to the documentation.

Andrew: You get email addresses also as part of this process, obviously from customers. Do you get it from non-customers too?

Travis: One thing that is beautiful about this is to demo the product, every month I give away a license of contest domination, so I will just add someone to the buyers part of it. So, for them to demo the products, there’s a live contest, so they actually end up entering their name and email to try the product and then they get a couple of auto responders from that specific …

Andrew: I see what you’re saying. I see it right at the top of the screen …

Travis: … case studies, different information to help them understand the use.

Andrew: So, the way they would see it is, it looks like at the top of your screen you say, “Hey, give this a spin and enter to win a free copy of Contest Domination.” You’re basically saying, “Look, you’re curious about how this works, try it for yourself the way your users are going to try it if you buy my software and put it on your site.”

Travis: Exactly.

Andrew: So, I’m going to click here, the way you suggest. I go to the July contest and basically what you’re asking me for is my name and email address, of course, and if I enter that, if I put in that information I get one entry in your contest. If I then tweeted out and get my friends to do it, I get what, ten entries every time one of them joins?

Travis: Yep.

Andrew: OK.

Travis: It keeps kind of the concept flow of new fresh traffic into our site.

Andrew: OK. This is where you do your own sales. This is a more sophisticated sales final. The first sales funnel is, people come from Warrior forum over to a sales page, they click the buy button and give you their email address, of course. They give you their credit card information all through ClickBank, they buy. The next part of the funnel is the up sale. 50% of the people buy that and I’ve got a customer and an email address so you can sale them in the future. Very simple sales funnel that anyone would set up. This is a more complicated one where, once they give you their email address, you get to drip them. Tell me a little bit about what you’re dripping out in order to grow your sales.

Travis: Sure, so, when I first launched I didn’t have any kind of case studies so I just told them about the amount of time and effort I put into it and how cheap $37 really was. That worked pretty well and there was a second follow-up …

Andrew: Hold off then. Let’s understand that process. Was this all in one email? They give you their email address and you say, “Hey, I’ve slaved over this for a long time, it’s cheap at 35 bucks, buy it, click here and that’s it. That is essentially what it was?

Travis: That was the first email and then 4 days later I actually did send them an email about AppSumo and how they used a similar system.

Andrew: I see. This is a pretty standard technique. If you don’t have your own case studies yet because you’re new, you want to find case studies of other people who are doing something similar and say, “This is how great this idea is and my software empowers that idea for you.” So that’s what you did. You showed AppSumo as a case study?

Travis: Yeah, and so now I treat this so instead of just sending them a buy link on an at first email, it sends them the case study from Julep Nail Parlor. That has screen shots of how our whole campaign worked…

Andrew: Hang on, stick with the first one. I want to really draw this out so that I understand how these funnels are developed. First you start off by showing the value of the product and the effort that went into it and talking about the price. People either bought or they stayed on the list. Four days later you sent them the AppSumo case study. Again, with a buy link and the case study was all in the email?

Travis: Mm-hmm.

Andrew: OK. Next. What’s the next step if they didn’t buy then?

Travis: If they don’t buy then they kind of fall into my non-buyers list that still gets some other promotions that I do internally. If they didn’t buy my product, but they were obviously interested in word press plug-ins then each month it changes. I might send them, like, here’s a different word press plug-in and here’s a different word press theme and so there’s still buyers in that list, they just haven’t bought my product yet.

Andrew: OK.

Travis: They’re still valuable, but they haven’t moved on to buying my product yet.

Andrew: I see. Did you say that you also run affiliate programs through it for other people?

Travis: I do. That’s why the leads are so valuable is because each month I can promote. I usually do about two campaigns per month. I don’t mail everyday like most people. I do about two campaigns per month and there someone else’s product, but it’s something that I’ve vetted, figured out the use case. I can trust that they are going to take care of the users if they go over there. That’s going to be profitable for me…

Andrew: Emailing and saying, “Hey, look, here’s a tool that I found online. I think it’s valuable. I think you’d want to try it.” Especially if you are someone who is interested in contest domination which means…

Travis: A lot of times it’s a product that I get an advanced copy of it and I use it on my own site and I say, “Hey, I used this Welcome Splash and added 3000 people to my email list.”, or whatever the actual data is.

Andrew: OK. Gotcha. All right, so that was the first version of your sales funnel. Take me to the next version. The next thing that you did was, you had your own case study as the first email that you sent people. How well did that convert?

Travis: You know, that one was kind of funny, because it’s kind of like a slow burn. So, instead of like the immediate click, it get people, people who actually read it, it’s a very high buy rate. Obviously, less people read it. Overall, I saw more sales off the initial bump. The odd part of it, too, is I’ve let other people send out this case study with their affiliate links in it to their audience. I let them kind of re-brand it as a white paper.

Andrew: Right.

Travis: And I see this kind of long, drawn out buy cycle. It’s not like they wait a long time, but instead of the normal huge pops of sales that people see with affiliate promotions like that, I’ll see a smaller pop, but I’ll see it again, and again, and again, because people take their time from when they actually read it, but after they read it, their like, “This is awesome. Why wouldn’t I run this on my site?”, and they end up buying.

Andrew: OK. All right, so that’s the first email. What comes after that?

Travis: I still have the App Sumo one in the sequence, but what’s most important is that I have some logic built into my email system so that if they do buy from any of the several locations I sell it, it will remove them from the drip. So even if they go demo it and then never click on any of the case studies, if they then immediately buy after they try it, it will remove them from the demo list.

Andrew: I see. You don’t want to keep selling to people who have already bought. You, at that point, want to sell them something else that you have and you are earning affiliate commission on.

Travis: If you’re asking somebody to do something, you might as well maximize what that is. If they’ve already opted into your email list, you don’t want to show them an option form, but if they’ve already bought your product, you want to show them a different product.

Andrew: Very straight forward, very simple funnel. We’re not talking about one with tons of logic in there. We’re not talking about something you have to build yourself. Let’s talk about how you were able to build this on the fly without a developer. There are a couple of different ways to do it. You can do it using something like AWeber, and you can of course also do it even better with InfusionSoft.

Travis: Right, and InfusionSoft is where I worked with that partner that I had mentioned earlier, my business partner, and we’ve built pretty complex sales funnels for speakers and best-selling authors.

Andrew: Can you hold off on that again? I’m only asking you to hold off because I want every piece of your story to get the space and the time that it deserves and to make sure we fully understand it, because here’s what I want to get — You’re not using InfusionSoft as far as I can tell on Contest Domination, you’re using AWeber. AWeber is very simple software to use. How do you create automation with AWeber? And I know the answer to this because you told me in private yesterday, but I want the audience to understand how you do basic automation and basic logic using something as simple as AWeber.

Travis: Sure, well that kind of supported the decision to go with Clickbank, too, because AWeber and Clickbank have an integration, so that when people buy from Clickbank it actually sends a transactional email to AWeber with their PayPal email and then sends them a confirmation request. Even though they didn’t fill out an opt-in form, they filled out a buy form on Clickbank, Clickbank sends the right information along to AWebber, and then once they opt in, then they’re on that list. With AWeber you can have multiple lists, right, in how I talked about how I have a demo list, a buyer’s list, even an up-sell list, and so I have logic built in there with a thing called List Automation, where you can make rules where it says, “If someone is added to, say, the buyer’s list, remove them from the demo list.” By doing that, when they buy and Clickbank sends that integration back to AWeber, it cleans them out of the list they’re not supposed to be in and puts them in the new, fresh list, so you understand where they are in your sequence of things.

Andrew: With AWeber, if someone comes in just to give you their email address because they’re a lead, of course they have to confirm that email. Then they come back a week later and they buy. Your system, through Clickbank, automatically adds them to the buyer list and removes them from the lead list. But do they have to confirm that email?

Travis: It’s up to you on how you decide to do that. You can turn off double opt in. I still leave it on just to make sure, because the only downside to that is that Clickbank sends their PayPal email, and that may not always necessarily be one they still check or use. If they send me a message saying, “Hey, I never got,” because I put a little bit of information there that they need so it helps me understand that, yes, they can get my emails, because like I said, emails, having them on my list, is the most important thing. Making sure I have the most valid email to them is important. I leave the opt in confirmation.

Andrew: And if they don’t confirm what do you do?

Travis: After I confirm it I give them the links again to the documentation.

Andrew: No, I mean if they do not confirm.

Travis: Oh if they don’t confirm? They usually let me know, ‘Hey I didn’t get my stuff.’ I’ll say, well did we get the right email? If we didn’t I’ll put in a different one and have them confirm or I’ll just send them billings directly from my inbox, ‘Hey, pay.’ I’d like to have you on my list but here’s the links and we’ll take care of you.

Andrew: All right. I want to get two Infusions off the list. Do one other thing here when it comes to funnels. You told me if I were to use contest domination on my website what I should probably do is have people join two lists at the same time. What’s the process that you think we should use?

Travis: OK. I know what you’re getting at. What a lot of people, the best use case, is you want to be able to somewhat segment your users in how you message them. Our contest typically is going to be a two week or a 30 day or some interval of time. But you want them to come back a couple times and share their referral link because when they come back and they share it it’s more exposure for you. It makes sense to message them say every seven days or something while the contest is active to remind them to come back and earn more chances.

Andrew: Right. I could see myself doing it the day before the contest ends, emailing out and saying, hey the contest is going to end today.

Travis: Yeah.

Andrew: If you want to get 10 points per person who you refer this is pretty much the last chance to do it. Click here and go do that. Of course that ends up getting some action on it. How do I do that kind of automation?

Travis: For someone like you that runs a blog and it’s primarily content based, what you want to do is you have your master list and what you do is you create a secondary list specific to your contest. You can do a rule that says when someone opts into the contest they also opt into my master list in AWeber. That way you can set up a sequence specific to people that opted in for the contest but then you also have them on your master list so when the contest ends you still have your main lead list.

Andrew: OK. All right. That’s all one confirmation gets me . . .

Travis: One confirmation. Technically in AWeber you could have them added to every single list in your AWeber automatically by confirming once. Being smart about it is key but for a lot of people a master list and then a contest specific list so you can create a sequence just for those who have entered the contest that way you’re not over-messaging your main list, but they’re still there for when the contest eventually passes.

Andrew: OK. All right. Let me just do a quick plug here before I ask you about the ultimate automation.

Travis: OK.

Andrew: That is to say that if you’re into any kind of email automation, if you’re into this process, we’re doing a series of courses on Mixergy Premium where we talk about email automation. Go to MixergyPremium.com right now. When we do it we’re going to have, I’m not even going to say the name of the person, but we’ve got someone who’s an expert who’s going to turn on his computer screen or give me screen shots of his computer screen and is going to show me how he automates his email, and how he takes someone who’s a stranger and converts them into a customer over time by making it feel like there’s an online dialogue with the user. And after he gets that customer how he does the up sell and so on.

This stuff is fascinating and it’s not covered enough I don’t think online outside of the internet marketing space. we’re going to be doing a series of sessions on this at MixergyPremium.com. Of course we’ve got the AWeber email course that is already up there. It’s one of the first ones that I highly recommend. So if you’re a Mixergy Premium member just go to MixergyPremium.com right now and sign up. If you’re not go over and join us and you’ll get access to all these courses. That’s the difference between premium and regular. Premium gives you access to all the course. So go join. The sooner you join the sooner you can start seeing some results. I absolutely like Travis. I see everywhere I look for Travis including on the forums. Guarantees everything even though he gives away software that people can use after they get their money back, he guarantees it and he will give back their money. I’m the same way, guarantee it. If you’re not happy, if you’re not seeing the results you want, well you know who I am. You know who’s running this company. You can of course ask for a refund and it’s yours. MixergyPremium.com. Go there now.

All right. Let’s talk about the more sophisticated stuff. You’re someone who’s obsessed with this. You’re someone who know this more than just about anyone online. You gave us the small, medium, large. Give me the super-size.

Travis: Yeah.

Andrew: If we really want to get clever give me a sense of what it is.

Travis: The super-size is where it starts to get really interesting. This is where I work with my business partner Andrew over at school and we do it for, like I said, primarily speakers and book authors but it can be applied to anything. What we do is, you map out the entire customer life cycle, from anywhere they can possibly come in contact with you and give you a lead, to work them through the most optimal route of product search as a value through your entire life cycle. A lot of times, these bigger business will get leads from maybe a Facebook tab, a webinar, an opt-in on their main page, sell a product, etc. And so, customers come in from all over the place. What these big funnels do is they have logic that says, if they came in from a webinar, what webinar was it? So you can give them some extra tags that say, “This webinar was about marketing,” or, “This webinar was about product creation,” or they opted in for an e-book about whatever.

When you give them those tags, you start building a much more complete picture of who your customer is and what they’re interested in, so you can map them through, giving them more value. If they went to a marketing webinar and they didn’t buy anything, you can give them more pieces of information, videos, content, etc. about marketing, and ultimately maybe send them into a drip where it gets them into an event, a live event about marketing.

I actually posted a LinkedIn case study where this worked very well, where we could get a lead-in and then get them to sign up for a live event, and then tries to get them to buy a three-day event, which then tries to get them to buy ultra high-end coaching.

So you find these leads, and you watch them work their way through the system, and based on the actions they actually take — which is, if they opened an email or they didn’t, if they clicked a link or they didn’t, whether they went to watch the whole webinar or they left halfway through. Do you send them an email that says, “Hey, we noticed you left at 30 minutes, but there was something really, really cool that happened at 35 minutes. Go watch the video.”

Andrew: And you know that they haven’t watched all the way through, and you can message them if they watch before, automatically?

Travis: Automatically.

Andrew: OK. And this InfusionSoft, right? Again, off the shelf, higher level than AWeber — I mean higher level in the sense of automation — and it can tell you things like how far people watched.

Travis: Yeah. If you use all the features that it gives you, you can really get at people in how they’re using your content and how they’re engaging with it. Because if your pitch in a webinar comes at 55 minutes, but you give the biggest, juicy golden nugget at 35 minutes, you want to make sure that anyone who leaves before that comes back and watches the replay, because they didn’t get what you really wanted them to get out of it. See, you re-engage them in a way that’s meaningful. Because then they’re like, “Oh, you knew I left?” They feel more significant as part of your funnel because you have some intelligence around what they’ve actually done or not done.

Andrew: So what you might do is, you might tag people who come from Mixergy differently than someone who comes from (?), and if they come from Mixergy you might do a first email that says, “Hey, I’m a big fan of Mixergy also. By the way, Andrew allowed me to give out one of his courses on automation, or on email. Here’s a link. Go and watch that.” And then the next day, you might say, “What did you think of that? By the way, if you want to do what you saw in that course with my software, here’s how one other person did it,” case study with a link to buy, and so on.

Travis: Mm-hmm. Sure.

Andrew: Or you might send everyone an email that basically says, “Here’s how to use my software if you’re just looking to engage your audience, here’s how to do it if you want to build a list,” and so on, and depending on what they click, you can put them in a whole other funnel, and start talking to people who don’t want to do email marketing, without saying, “Use it for AWeber and use it to grow your sales.”

Travis: Yeah.

Andrew: But just say, “Look, we have the ability to give you all the names and email addresses of people who enter so that you can pick the winner, but also you should know that afterwards, here’s another fun way to engage your audience, and here’s another blog post that you might (?).

Travis: Yeah.

Andrew: I see.

Travis: It gives you, essentially, automated marketing intelligence. Right?

Andrew: Right.

Travis: That’s the key, is understanding what people actually care about. Because if you blanket email everyone, which you have to in a lot of cases, you just don’t have enough information, and people don’t care about what they don’t care about. It sounds simple, but if you can remove the things that they care less about, you can message them more often for things that they’ll actually open, click on, buy, etc.

Andrew: All right. Let’s look at what we promised the audience in the beginning. Automated sales funnels. Yes, we talked about that. I promised that I would tell them about how to build a software-based business if they don’t have a technical co-founder. We talked about that. I said that I would show them how you made sales by getting others to sell for you. That’s affiliates. Can you say what percentage of your sales come from affiliates, as opposed to direct sales?

Travis: It ends up being 80 to 90 percent of our sales, so it’s very heavy on affiliates.

Andrew: 80 to 90 percent.

Travis: Yeah. But I just wanted to mention earlier, I know you said that ClickBank for the (?). ClickBank is only for the private sales page we have. We actually use a different platform on the forum and that was mainly to expose ourselves to different affiliates. Because every platform has different affiliates.

Andrew: What do you mean how do you sell on the forum?

Travis: People use one of a couple of different systems. You can use ClickBank but a lot of people use this system called WarriorPlus. [??] or DigiResults.

Andrew: And these are different ways that you let them buy and let them keep their affiliates?

Travis: Yes. It’s a different merchant service which ultimately means, because you also show up on their marketplace on their backend. So it actually exposes you to different marketplaces and not every affiliate is on every affiliate platform. So if you do it in kind of cycles, everyone who is on the Warrior Plus system and promote you on WarriorPlus, around JVC, to people who decided that’s the only kind of merchant account they want to promote, they can go promote that.

Andrew: I see. OK. I see it right here. The link that I clicked took me to DigiResults Limited. That’s what what’s doing it. That’s good to know.

Anything else that I missed that we need to know about?

Travis: Not that I can think of.

Andrew: That’s pretty much it. I’m going to do before I give you one last thank you, I got to thank someone. Emile from HelpJuice. When I was in Turkey, I got what they call tespees. I said ‘You know, I love to get another one of them’. And Emile’s a fan of Mixergy. He heard me say it and sent me this and he sent me some chocolates and other stuff including this.

So I want to say thank you to Emile, a Mixergy fan who is in Europe right now. Who lives there and who’s website is HelpJuice.com. Emile, thanks for hearing me say that and for being so supportive of Mixergy and also of my need to just keep doing something because I’m so fidgety.

And if anyone wants to connect with you Travis, we didn’t even talk about your other business. I’ve got my notes here about College Startup. Is there a way for them to see the case study that I missed, that I didn’t get to talk about here? For college startups?

Collegestartups.com, what is that?

Travis: So I have a couple of case studies on the collegestartups.com and then obviously I got some case studies on contestdomination.com, as well.

Andrew: What is collegestartup.com?

Travis: What’s that?

Andrew: What is the collegestartup.com?

Travis: It’s a blog I started when I was in college. But more than anything is like the spirit of the entrepreneur, the college entrepreneur, which is eating ramen. You’re kind of scrappy, trying to make some effective marketing decisions on a kind of two-string budget.

And I tried to kind of [??] with that type of mentality when I post on there. There’s a case study on there where we try to spend $10,000 on wing tip hats. There’s also lots of interesting case studies that people might find useful.

Andrew: It’s your, from what I can tell, it’s your entrepreneurial journey. What you’ve learned as you’ve done. I think the latest blog says that ’12 months since I left my cubicle job, here is what I’ve done. Here is what I’ve learned’.

Travis: It’s a blend of like a little bit of personal, what works for me trying to be an entrepreneur and then it also talks like here is a new networks that’s kind of untested. I threw much money at it or built this kind of creative way to approach it. Here are my results. If you want to try it. This is what I got.

Andrew: All right. So they can check out collegestartup.com or contestdomination.com to see the two sites that you built.

And as always, I recommend to anyone that watches and gotten any value out of it to send a thank you note. Find the way to do it. Maybe you do it through the live chat if you go on to Contest Domination and pops up, interrupt his day and say ‘Saw you on Mixergy. Thank you.’

Maybe if you’re out at a dinner in Seattle, you go over and you say to him in person. Find a way you can say how when Travis connected with someone at a dinner, how it changed his whole business because those kind of connections lead to people who you want to work with. People who care about the product that they do for you.

So my suggestion is, before you need anything from Travis, before you need a referral to a developer, before you need I don’t know what, shoot him a note, say Thank You for doing this interview. Thank you, I learned something from it and then in the future you’ll have, I believe, a relationship that you can draw on.

So Travis, I’m going to be the first person to say this, dude. Thanks for spending an hour, for walking me through your business yesterday before you even knew that I was angling for an interview. Thanks for showing me your software and thanks for doing this interview.

Travis: Of course. It’s my pleasure. I like the work. It’s fun to be on.

Andrew: Thanks for sharing all your numbers, too, publicly. And thank you all for being a part of Mixergy. Bye.

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  • coachbyron

    This was a great, content rich and candid interview. Wow… a lot of great information for any newbie like me who is diving into the app and software development world. I can also vouch that Travis Ketchum is the real deal. This interview convenced me to try Contest Domination over another option because I was still on the fence. He is a stand up guy that delivers on customer service like he said. I purchased Contest Domination right after seeing this interview and the customer service (i.e. Travis) is what he says it is. Great interview Andrew… great product Travis!

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Ben-Fisher/668941671 Ben Fisher

    I started working with Travis well before he launched Contest Domination. I can vouch for him, he is one of the most honest, hard working individuals in the Affiliate business. More than that , he is a over the top ethical person that really cares about deliving value to his customers. Contest Domination is just one example of that.

  • http://mixergy.com Andrew Warner

    Thanks for the compliment.

    And I’m glad you got his software. Let me know how it goes for your business.

  • http://mixergy.com Andrew Warner

    I’ve known him for a long time too. Good guy.

  • Lenny

    It was tough to say it was an AppSumo contest replica? haha Curious if they ever got a call.

    Thanks both for the great interview!

  • http://thecollegestartup.com/ Travis

    AppSumo was obviously something we looked at while developing it, but many thousands of contests happened before AppSumo too you know ;)

    Glad you liked the interview though, it was a fun experience.

    And no, we haven’t had any calls… in fact I even showed Noah Kagan the product after we finished it and sold the first few hundred copies and he didn’t seem to care at all about the similarities that did exist.

  • http://thecollegestartup.com/ Travis

    Thanks to both of you for the kind words, I always try to be as genuine as I can be in what I do.

  • http://thecollegestartup.com/ Travis

    Glad we were able to connect nearly instantly after you saw the interview via IM. Funny that you had seen it months before from John Chow but waited until Andrew interviewed me to decide to buy.. I love the psychology of the purchase process!

  • Lenny

    Thanks Travis, def loved it! I admire that you are going the next mile with your product, very different of what one see offered a WSOs.

    Much success.

  • http://thecollegestartup.com/ Travis

    Thanks Lenny, it’s pretty unfortunate that a lot of WSO’s are treated like a hit and run for so many “marketing people”. To me it’s massive market validation and an opportunity to earn a few thousand customers in an astonishingly short amount of time.

  • http://WebStartupAcademy.com/ Andrew J. Gay

    Travis,

    Pretty cool to see you on Mixergy, definitely a step up from back in the day when we were on late night, beer laden rants on Ustream with split personality wacko call-ins! Very cool man, and thanks for the shout out.

    Andrew,

    I love your interview style, you definitely dig in and ask the tougher questions. The only thing I think needs to really be said about Travis’ launch of Contest Domination is that the real magic of this whole thing came from the intense entrepreneurial drive and vision that went into this.

    I get that for the viewers the nuts and bolts of building an app is important, but in all reality that is the easy part. It isn’t hard to find a good developer to fit within your budget, sure sometimes you get a bad deal, but that’s typically if you choose the “sounds too good to be true” bid.

    I watched his whole launch and development happen, and the really impressive parts were A) The vision: seeing a need for a good product is key to any successful launch. Just answering that key question, “what do people want” is challenging. Then being able to launch for real. I don’t mean posting once or twice on a social network or buying a couple of facebook ads.

    Sure, sometimes, every once in a while people amazingly fall in love with something and it doesn’t take much, but typically you need to market a new product well for it to take hold in the marketplace.

    So the part I think didn’t come out enough during the interview was how Travis hustled to make this thing a success. He does biz dev so well, and doesn’t give up. Anyone that is not a developer that wants to be in the software game needs to have a little bit of genius in product selection, and a ton of hustle.

    Once again, great interview, was fun to watch.

  • Samir Balwani

    This is a great video, learned a lot by going through it and am a huge fan of the plugin. Highly recommend it if you’re serious about your list.

  • http://mixergy.com Andrew Warner

    Thanks. It’s a really well-built plugin.

  • http://mixergy.com Andrew Warner

    He really is incredible at the founder persistance. I don’t know how to communicate that well within an interview. He has that *thing* that makes people want to work with him.

  • http://WebStartupAcademy.com/ Andrew J. Gay

    Honestly, he just asks, when most people wont. Of course he does actually attempt to build some sort of a relationship with people, but he just finds out the “that person” is he needs to leverage and goes for it. I’ve been saying yes to Travis for years and it’s usually not something paid for. He’s a great guy and is always down to return the favor as well, people get that and they don’t mind working with him.

  • http://www.facebook.com/mattsmitty Matt A. Smith

    Travis is a great entrepreneur. Love working with him on all his great projects. Keep hustling Andrew and Travis!

  • Matt Alexander

    Travis is truly a serial entrepreneur. And that makes this world a better place. I have only know Travis for a few months but am continually blown away by his creativity and work ethic. He creates cool products that are not only useful but with ease of use in mind. Thanks for making great stuff.

  • Ross

    Loved the interview!

    Travis, I have a technical question regarding AWeber if you don’t mind;

    You had mentioned having a demo list and a buyer’s list, and when someone becomes a buyer, they get cleaned off the demo list.

    My question is… what if they used abc@domain.com for the demo list, but then 123@domain.com when they purchased… how would the automation rules know these two emails are the same person?

    Thanks, Ross.

  • http://twitter.com/ChrisGuthrie ChrisGuthrie

    Great interview Andrew and Travis.

    Travis – thanks for the shout out, it is funny to think back to how important going to networking events can be especially when you look back on them years later. Happy to hear that Contest Domination has been such a huge success for you as well.

    One thing I might just add regarding the Warrior Forum is that for a long time I refused to even sell my products on that marketplace because I just always assumed there was just really scammy crap (and to be honest there are still a lot of people out there that think that because there are some questionable products from time to time) but it’s still a great place to sell something of quality at a discount price to a different market. Now my strategy has been to generally release the software there at a discounted price to help get an initial userbase and then release it on other platforms (i.e. Clickbank) at a higher price point and to then market the software to a different audience.

    In any case – running a software business when you’re not a developer certainly can be stressful especially when you generally have thousands of dollars on the line in development costs that need to be recouped, but I think by offloading development to someone else it allows you to focus on what you must do to be financially successful – in this case being sales and marketing. Failing when you have money on the line tied up with development costs is not really an option, but if you coded the project yourself and it fails the loss probably doesn’t hurt as much because there isn’t a hard cost associated with it other than time investment (but that’s just my opinion, I can’t code so perhaps I’m wrong).

  • http://thecollegestartup.com/ Travis

    Ross, glad you liked the interview!

    RE: AWeber list automation, you bring up a valid point in that there are going to be fringe cases where someone uses a different email address on each list, in which case the automation rule I suggested would not work.

    I think you’ll find though that this indeed a fringe case, and most people have one email they use all the time so it’s not as HUGE of an issue as you might imagine.

    This is basically the way to “McGyver” something together with AWeber, if you want true customer tracking and intelligence you’ll use a much more robust but expensive platform like Infusionsoft (my favorite), Office Automation, 1Shoppingcart or others.

  • http://thecollegestartup.com/ Travis

    I’m going to have to agree about the impression of the Warrior Forum being loaded with scammy “silver bullet” style offers. When you first suggested that I run one on there (and to be honest the first time I saw you promote your product on the forum) I couldn’t believe what was happening.

    After taking a second look and giving it a fair chance I saw that it’s really just like any other marketplace. Some people go above and beyond to make their users happy while cranking out high quality code that helps people accomplish their goals better than anything else on the market.

    You still have the people being crappy but since it’s a forum, members can quickly call out the garbage and those individuals are quickly washed out and blackballed from every really doing anything again.

    It’s been an awesome community to work with, and like Chris I like the idea of selling on the forum to collect that initial momentum and then going to a higher paid marketplace. It rewards your early users, give you an amazing test of your product to see if it has the chomps to get people interested etc.

    Thanks again for the introduction Chris, it’s made a world of difference in the direction I’ve taken personally and I hope to return the favor someday.

  • http://thecollegestartup.com/ Travis

    Thanks Matt, it’s been a pleasure getting to work with on a few things.. always great to meet a few other honest marketers in the rough.

  • http://thecollegestartup.com/ Travis

    Thanks for the recommendation Samir!

  • http://thecollegestartup.com/ Travis

    Excited for you to launch your next mobile app, I think people are going to love it.

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