Social Triggers: Turning Less Traffic Into More Sales?

How do you make more money off less traffic?

It was short-lived, but Derek Halpern felt great when his site got a million hits in a single day and he earned $7,000 from that traffic.

Then Brian Clark showed him how he got just 30,000 hits in a single day and earned $100,000 from that traffic.

The experience led Derek to learn how to attract the right kind of traffic — and monetize it. In this interview, he’ll teach you how he uses what he learned, and tell you how the psychology of online users lead him to write Social Triggers.

Derek Halpern

Derek Halpern

Social Triggers

Derek Halpern is the founder of Social Triggers, a blog that teaches how psychology and neuroscience improve online marketing efforts.



Full Interview Transcript

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Andrew: Hi, everyone. My name is Andrew Warner. I’m the founder of, home of the ambitious upstart. How do you make more money off of less traffic? Joining me today is an entrepreneur who has done that multiple times. His name is Derek Halpern. He is the author of Social Triggers, a must read website for people who want to learn to market and sell online. Let me give you that website again, ‘cuz you guys are going to love it. Social He also markets and sells software on DIY themes, makers of popular WordPress theme work. And he’s the maker of Webinar Bridge, which is a WordPress plug-in that connects GoTo webinar and your favorite mail list providers, AWeber or Mail Chimp. Derek, let’s start off this way. Can you tell my audience about the day that you earned a few thousand dollars? I won’t even say how much. I’m gonna let you tell it.

Derek: All right. Back in 2007 I was running a celebrity gossip website. And for those of you who don’t know how celebrity gossip works, it’s all about big traffic numbers. The more traffic you get, the more money you can make. So I figured out how to get more than a million pages views in a single day. And off of those one million hits I made something like about $7,000 in revenue.

Andrew: You got a million hits in one day?

Derek: Yes.

Andrew: Just pause your story for a second. $7,000 is a lot of money to make from one day from a website, especially from something in the gossip space. I admire that. But as a guy who fights all the time to put on the best frickin’ interviews possible, I go out there and I bring the top entrepreneurs here to Mixergy to get them to do interviews. I don’t get a million hits a day. That’s phenomenal numbers. That kind of pains me a little bit, but at the same time I want to open myself up to learn how you did that. All right, to put it in perspective, I think anyone who has a traffic can compare their numbers to that will realize how big that is. It’s impressive. $7,000 a day also impressive. Continue the story.

Derek: I should actually note that the site was actually down for eight hours that day, too. And it still did over a million, and my server was basically crashed with traffic after the first three hours, and it was up and down a little bit later in the day.

Andrew: I had Joel Spolsky on Mixergy here earlier this week. He is one of the top software entrepreneurs in our space. He’s the guy who teaches others how to do software, and he’s launched multiple companies, including Fog Creek, and Stack Exchange, and now Trello. Anyway, popular interview. I got maybe 20,000 hits on that. 20,000 to your million in a day. All right, so this is huge numbers you’re putting up on the board.

Derek: Yep. So, I made $7,000 and I was ecstatic, like you know, here I was, fresh out of college, making several thousand dollars in a single day. What could be better? But then I had talked to one of my friends well, one of my friends right now, Brian Clark from . . .

Andrew: Another guy who is here to do an interview on Mixergy, a phenomenal entrepreneur.

Derek: . . . yeah so, I talked to him and he liked the idea that I had all these big traffic numbers, but he had shared a story with me about this time where he had something like 30,000 unique hits, in a single day and made over $100,000.

Andrew: In that one day?

Derek: Yeah in a day or two, something like that, it was over a hundred grand basically, although 30,000 people — and I’m pretty sure it was over $100,000 my numbers might be a little hazy, but the bottom line was he earned a ton more than I did off significantly less traffic. I realized I was in the wrong business. Driving a million hits isn’t easy and I’m sitting there thinking, if I can only drive 30,000 hits that would be a much easier thing to do and I could make more money. The solution was, it wasn’t about big traffic numbers anymore. It was about loyal traffic numbers who are ready to buy stuff from you, who are ready to buy stuff.

Andrew: Loyal traffic from people who are ready to commit to buy.

Derek: Exactly

Andrew: OK.

Derek: So after I had that discussion, I kind of stumbled on the whole copy writing world, salesmanship world, and I started testing things. I realized that it really is much easier to make a bigger amount of money over less traffic, when you’re dealing with loyal people instead of just big hits. Big hits are great. I think that first year I ran the gossip site I did something like 27 million hits or something like that and I made a bunch of money. It wasn’t really satisfying because everyday it was like a strainer. I’m sitting there pouring water into the strainer and the traffics coming out the other end, not keeping anyone because I was trying to send everyone to Adclicks. The whole goal was to get more Adclicks, I was like a drug addict looking for more clicks. It was kind of depressing, which is why I was talking about the copy writing and that was really the savior, was learning how to sell stuff to less people.

Andrew: You did a course on Mixergy where you taught people how to stop the strainer. How to build a sales funnel essentially, where you do have a lot of people at the top, but you don’t just let them go off to the traffic, excuse me, go off to Adwords. You build relationships with them and with the tiny few, you end up having a really solid relationship with and they end up buying from you.

First of all, you blew away my audience. The people who signed up for premium membership said, ‘Derek’s course made the whole thing worthwhile. I could screw up again, and again, and again, but they give me that flexibility because I give them a lot of value from the course that you did.’ So, they way you do it I understand it, you taught it in a separate section, but give my audience an example of what you did afterwards with this new understanding. You should us how you got a million hits and $7,000 in revenue. Give me an example of where you got maybe fewer hits and how you got more revenue.

Derek: OK. For example just a few [??] ago I did a webinar with my close friend Lewis House. It was for a launch of his new training product that showed people how to get more traffic using video. What I did was I sent out an email to maybe 10,000 people or so, told them about this webinar I was holding, inviting people to join the webinar, got maybe 1,500 people to register for the webinar, something like that.

Lewis House and James [??] did an hour long of content and at the end of that webinar we did a small pitch, just a small pitch that lasted maybe 10 or 15 minutes compared to an hour of content. We did something over $10,000 in sales over the course. Like we did the webinar, sales came in, and over the next few days in over $10,000 in revenue on this one traffic product. Only 1,500 people, as a registered person for the webinar.

Andrew: So we’re not talking anymore tens of thousands of people in your mailing list or in the webinar. We’re not talking about millions of people on the website. We’re just saying 1,500 people came to the webinar out of a mailing list of 10,000 people and in that one webinar you guys brought in $10,000.

Derek: Over 10 and actually it was 1,500 people registered for the webinar, but only about 400 people or 500 people showed up, and then the other 1,000 caught the replay of the webinar. It was only 500 people on live, another 1,000 people got the replay, and over the course of a few days over $10,000 in sales.

Andrew: I see and Lewis is actually, I was going to say one of the few people, but I can’t think of anyone else, he’s probably the major person to talk to when it comes to using LinkedIn for traffic, for revenue, for business, and for something other than building connections and relationships for building actual sales. Everyone else is talking about Face Book, some are thinking about Twitter, many are thinking about Google Ads, but I think he’s the only popular person who’s talking about LinkedIn, though. I see the value there for the audience. I see the revenue that you got. I want to understand the process more fully. So, you have a list. You had a list at the time of 10,000 people.

Derek: Yes.

Andrew: Walk me through what you do to get that revenue, and get people to end up at the bottom of that funnel.

Derek: OK. So, let’s say you are selling something on the Internet, whether it’s software, it could be consulting, it could be whatever it is you’re selling. It doesn’t matter. The whole process is quite simple. You send out an email, like first you build your list, and if you’re creating content, you’re blogging, your list will build over time. You build the list. You announce the fact that you’re running a webinar. You tell your list about it, and invite them to join this live web event where they’ll learn XYZ. They’re going to want to show up. Webinars are very high quality presentations that people want to enjoy.

Andrew: OK.

Derek: I actually learned that from Lewis House. He sent me on the webinar path. So, people sign up for the webinar. It’s a live presentation. They love to be there. They love the energy. It’s like seeing someone talk at a conference live.

Andrew: OK.

Derek: Give them great content for an hour. And then, at the end of that hour, you simply just sell them something. You just say, ‘Hey, if you loved this content you’re really going to love this.’ And if you’re selling a software product you sell your software. If you’re selling consulting, you sell your consulting. If you’re selling financial services, try to sell financial services. You could see whatever it is you want to sell.

Andrew: Let me pause. I want to come back to how you sold, and the way that you phrase a sales pitch to get people to buy. But let’s start at the top of that funnel. One of the reasons you told me that webinars work is because there’s a natural limit to them, and a natural scarcity. Talk about that.

Derek: OK. A webinar, by default, if you’re using GoTo webinar, can either have 100 people sign up, 100 people on live, 500 people on live, or 1,000 people on live.

Andrew: Because those are the three tiers that they sell. They can’t allow any more people in the room?

Derek: Exactly. That’s it right now. I think they’re working on newer ones, but right now it’s 100, 500 and 1,000. The price goes from $99 a month for 100 people to $299 a month for 500 people, and $499 a month for 1,000 people. It’s expensive. So, if you only have the hundred-person plan at $99, you could just tell your email list, if you have like, you know, I had a 10,000 person list. I got about 1,500 people to sign up. That was about 10% of my list. Why did they want to sign up? Because they knew that there was only limited seating, so it got them to take action. Now if you have the 100-person plan, and you have an email list of say, 2,000 people, you could just simply say, ‘Hey, this email’s going out to 2,000 people. I’ve only got 100 seats on this live presentation. It’s not my fault; it’s my plan with the GoTo webinar, ‘cuz that’s how they’re pricing works. I can only have 100 people on live. Sign up right now to reserve your seat.’

Andrew: I see.

Derek: And, it always works. It’s just a great pitch.

Andrew: Scarcity is a really powerful motivator. And that’s one of the reasons, I think, why people buy so much from Groupon and Living Social, and the others. There’s just a limited amount of time; there’s sometimes a limited availability. People sign up.

Derek: Yeah.

Andrew: OK. So, that’s how you get them to come in. Do you also do anything to go beyond your list to bring in more people?

Derek: Yes. And we talked about this in the Mixergy Master Class. I think I went into it in great detail in that Master Class. So, if people want to learn that fully, you could check out the class. But the long and short of it is, after you get people into the webinar sign-up, you simply just do a follow-up email saying, ‘Hey, congratulations. You’re all set. The webinar’s going to go down at this date.’ And then encourage them to share this with their friends. And they’re going to want to share with their friends, because the fact that they signed up to your webinar means they’re expecting good content. Why would they want their friends to miss out on it? And you’ve probably heard this before about whole loss aversion. People act a lot faster when they have the chance of losing out on something, than when they have the chance of gaining something new. So, if you really hit that ‘loss’, you know, if you don’t send it they’re going to lose out. And if they’re a good friend, they’re not going to want their friends to lose out.

Andrew: I see. And you talked about how people want to take the webinars together. They want to chat about it, about what’s going on and say, is this real? Do you believe this? Can we implement this? Can we avoid it? Is it being ridiculous? Is he being a visionary and opening our eyes to something we hadn’t seen? And of course, afterwards, they want to have a shared conversation and see if they can implement it. Do you do anything to promote that, to maybe have a one-click share button for them to post it on Twitter, Facebook, etc.? Do you let them email their whole list? Do you do anything like that?

Derek: Yeah. So, inside the email there would usually be a link that they can click that when they click it will auto-populate a Twitter update. That way they can share it with Twitter very easily. I know there are ways of doing it with Facebook, also. I haven’t implemented that in, though. I have to test it. But, I do the one-click tweet, and that works out great.

Andrew: One click, because they just click; it repopulates. They think it’s OK. They hit ‘submit’, and it’s done–or they edit and hit ‘submit.’ All right, so now, you get them into the webinar. In fact, actually, you don’t get everybody in the webinar. You get some people in and some people don’t make it in. The people who don’t make it in, what do you do with them?

Derek: The people who register, you then remind them that their webinars going to go down, and usually between a 40% and 50% attendance rates, sometimes a little bit lower at 35%. So, if you have 500 people register, you might have 250 people or 180 people show up. That’s just the way it works.

Andrew: Got it.

Derek: Now, you want to send reminders to those people that the webinar’s going down, because here’s the bottom line. People forget. It’s not on purpose. People are busy. I’m busy, you’re busy. You know what it’s like to maintain a calendar, and sometimes things just fall through the cracks. So you always want to send them a reminder. That gets them to show up. You’re going to find that when you remind people to show up a lot of people will respond to you and apologize for not being able to make it. Now, this is an interesting approach, because even though you’re going to be giving them great content, you are also going to be selling them something at the end. I mean, do not do a webinar where you’re just going to sell for an hour. You’re going to burn your list out, and p*** people off, and they’ll never sign up for a webinar again. But, they’re going to miss out on this webinar, and they’re usually going to ask if there’s going to be a replay available. And you know, if you’re pretty cool, you’re going to offer them a replay. But they’re also going to give you reasons why they can’t make it, because they feel bad for missing the live event.

And I’m not in the business of trying to make people feel bad, but it’s a good sign when you’re doing some free content, doing a free live event, when people really want to be there. So, it’s really in their best interests to be there, and when they don’t show up they usually have very good reasons for not showing up. Like, one guy told me that he was in a car accident, and in the hospital, and he couldn’t make the webinar. Could I please send him a replay? And I’m like, yes, you didn’t have to let me know. I was going to send you a replay anyway.

Andrew: That’s what I was going to ask you. Do you send replays to everyone anyway?

Derek: Almost always. The only time I haven’t send the replay is when my recording messed up. And now, that probably won’t ever happen again, ‘cuz I usually have two or three people recording it for me.

Andrew: Who do you have recording it for you? That’s a real issue, because you’re a Mac person. I’m a Mac person. GoTo Webinar tends to . . . actually, they have recording for PC, but not for Macs.

Derek: Yeah, I have Screen Flow. I have two Macs. So, I’ll usually record once and I’ll have another one recording another one, on two different Internet connections. And if I have a friend around, or a different presenter is available, like if Lewis was on, for example, he’ll usually be recording one. And we’ll usually have two or three recordings going, just to make sure we catch everything.

Andrew: By the way, the reason we’re talking about GoTo Webinar is because they are really good. I used WebEx first, and I’ve got to warn people against WebEx. I hate going negative, because I always imagine there is an entrepreneur on the other side. If I go negative, I haven’t really heard his story, and I’m closing out the opportunity to hear their story. But, these guys absolutely stink. I signed up for WebEx because it was the most expensive solution I could find, and in my head I assumed more expensive means better. I assumed they were more corporate, so they’d be better. It was so frickin’ slow. Every page turn takes forever to show up on the screen. People in the audience end up being minutes behind. The audio recording was bad. I just assumed all the webinar software was like that, because, you know, the world just hadn’t advanced yet to a place where a good webinar software works. Then I realized, absolutely not. It’s WebEx. Oh, and here’s the other thing. If you want to cancel, you can’t just cancel with WebEx. Now I sound like I’m ragging on them, but I got to do people a public service. Stay away from WebEx. I promise you, people in my audience, when I tweeted my problems with it said, ‘Wait ’til you have to cancel.’ I didn’t realize. I think you have to cancel with a fax machine.

Derek: Oh, I hate that.

Andrew: You have to sign paperwork to commit to them for months, and then you have to cancel with a fax machine. I’m so lucky I’m in an office that actually has a fax machine, or else I’d still be stuck with them, because I’m not going out to FedEx or figuring out software to fax. I’d just deal with the expense.

Derek: I’ve used WebEx. I didn’t like it either. I used to work for a Fortune 100 company; they were big on WebEx. Let me tell you, I hated it. I thought about, when I was looking webinar software, I did consider WebEx, and I got so turned off by their whole sales process that I decided to just go with GoTo Webinar, and I’m glad that I did.

Andrew: You’re so lucky to have done that. I would hate someone in my audience . . ., and most people here are software people. They’re selling software online. And we’ll talk in a minute why this is effective for software. But, you don’t want to present yourself so poorly. You want to show that the software works, like that. It’s one thing if it’s information and PowerPoint takes a minute to load. It’s another thing if you say we’ve got the fastest web crawler. We’ve got the fastest wizzy-wig editor, so you can test your landing pages, and then people see it five minutes later. It just doesn’t work. OK. So, for software, and before I continue, let’s say someone has software like Mix Rank, where they want to help you figure out where your competitor is buying ads. Or maybe they’re got something like Optimizely, we work with them, here. They didn’t interview here on Mixergy; where they let you take your web page and edit it on the screen. Would webinars work for software makers like them?

Derek: Oh, absolutely. Absolutely. Like, if your Optimizely split testing service, right; you could create a webinar like the Seven Deadly Sins of web conversions, just go through all these different results, and all this different data that you stumbled on about conversion rates, give the free content for an hour, and then at the end of the presentation you say, hey, if you’re wondering how we tested all those things, and discovered all that data, all you’re got to do is check out Optimizely, and you can walk them through how Optimizely lets people figure out how to get those same results that they just talked about for a full hour.

Andrew: Gotcha. So first, you teach them. Here are the big mistakes that you need to watch out for when you’re making landing pages. And you just walk them through. You can give, give, give so much great, useful information that they can use, even if they never sign up for Optimizely. And all this stuff is really basic to you, because you’re studying this endlessly as a software maker that helps people figure out what works and what doesn’t. You teach, you teach, you help them improve their landing pages, and then at the end you sell. Now I want to talk to you about the sales process.

Derek: Yes.

Andrew: It’s not enough, I’m guessing, for you to say, ‘Go buy.’ You’re a copy writer, you’re a salesman, you know how to persuade people to buy, especially strangers who came in to get something for free. How do you get them to sign up for something that costs money?

Derek: OK. It’s actually quite simple. When you’re selling software, selling software is much, much easier than selling information, because people feel like they’re actually getting something, and they’re getting something to use. So, let’s talk about software and how to sell software, since I imagine most of your viewers are software sellers. There’s something that Billy Mays, the pitch man, has called the monster ability. Have you heard of that before?

Andrew: No.

Derek: Well, the monster ability is all about you want to show people how whatever you’re selling works. And you don’t need to be hyped. You don’t need to hype it up. You don’t need to do anything but simply show people what you’re selling can do, and make it so you’re connecting each different thing that your software can do to a specific benefit that people want. Walk them through the process. I do this at webinar bridge, where I have no hype. I don’t even tell you can build a list of 1000 people in two weeks. I don’t say any of that, you know, garbage. What I do say, though, is, you have a problem, you run webinars. You can’t get a name in email into GoTo webinar and take those emails and put them into your A Weber account, because A Weber won’t let you import those emails.

Andrew: Right.

Derek: So, with my software webinar bridge you can actually do this all at once, and I just walk them through how the products work. Now, if you’re in Optimizely, for example, you could simply say, if you gave an hour presentation where you showed the Seven Deadly Sins of Conversion, and then had a test for each one of those sins, you could then say, hey, look.’ If you’re wondering how we got those results, I want to let you know that web conversions are usually on a site-specific basis. And even though this is a good starting point, you always need to test to make sure these particular sins are sins for your site, as well. Let me show you an example. Remember, this test I showed you earlier in the webinar? Well, here’s how we set this up in Optimizely.

Andrew: And you just would do it in Optimizely? You would take a web page, like for example if you visualized it a bigger, clearer call to action to increase the sales, and Optimizely lets you create a button in multiple sizes. So you would do it. You would bring up the page in Optimizely. You’d create one button, then you’d hit duplicate this, and in the duplicate version you’d make a bigger button. Then you say, that’s as easy as it is, [??] and you’re ready to test on your website.

Derek: Now you’ll be able to test it on your site to see if this will have the same results for you. Optimizely only costs X amount of dollars per month, and there’s no contract. There’s a guarantee where if you sign up, let’s say, you get your money back. You just go through the benefits, and show them something that people want to do, and they’re going to want to do it, because you just spent an hour showing them why they want to do it. And then show them how easy it is to do it, and then make the pitch of ‘buy Optimizely’. You could say, well, if you want to know more about Optimizely, let me take you through some of the other things that Optimizely can do. And then you could go into just a product demonstration, much like Steve Jobs describes the new IPhone, where he just makes everything sound very cool, and it’s always you focused. It’s not focused on what my company does. It’s focused on what my company does for you. So, just take them through the product and you’ll find that it’s going to convert really well, especially if you are getting the right people on your webinar and if you’re doing a webinar about the seven deadly sins of conversions, chances are you’re going to have people who are interested in conversion rate authorization and then they’re going to be the perfect audience for optimizing.

Andrew: I want to keep digging into this because I’m feeling like any entrepreneur who shows their software it’s going to be, it’s likely to be boring to be honest with you. We’re very proud of all the details of our software. We want to show exactly how it works. It takes some time, even if it takes 10 to set up a task or even if it takes 10 minutes to demonstrate a product, that’s fast when you’re working on it by yourself in your office, but it’s slow when people are looking over your shoulder. How do you make that demonstration feel interesting and not feel like something that people can just dump out of the conference call and move on with their day [??]?

Derek: All right, this is the beauty of webinars. Again, Louis [House] showed me all about this. This is great. If you get people on a webinar listening to content for a full hour, you going to have maybe 20 percent of the people drop off during what they call pitch time, but if they’re already there, they’re there. They’re going to listen. If you’re not boring, you want to show everything very fast pace, do not, do not start talking about optimize where you focuses on giving users centric testing ability for website.

Don’t say stuff like that. You say, “Look, if you want to get this result on your site and you want to make sure this result has the same effect on your site as it did in our personal test, you can use our software to see if you can increase your call-to-action clicks by 100 percent. Be very you focused.

Andrew: Very you focused, very benefit focused and demonstrability. You just want to keep demonstrating, demonstrating, demonstrating. What about scare city and other sales tactics that would work? By the way, the reason that I asked you about that boring part is because I’ve seen task where people create great web pages but they’ll have these long videos that last five minutes demonstrating their full products and on the landing page it just does not work. You’re saying it’s a totally different kind of audience. Someone who checks out a landing page or a home page and sees a call to action in a video that last 10 minutes is not going to click the video to watch 10 minutes and not likely not click the [actual [??] to call to action].

When it comes to webinar people are much more patient, much more willing to engage. All right, that sounds great. And it also means that if you’re going to create a demo video, you might want to do a couple of webinars and see where people ask questions as you’re demonstrating, see where people . . .

Derek: Exactly.

Andrew: . . . drop off, see what people want more of and what they want you to slow down and show and then based on that you can create your page video for the landing page or for your home page and then you can shape it down definitely from 10 minutes down to maybe a minute and a half.

Derek: Yes. Shorter almost is always better when you’re dealing with . . . I mean if you’re dealing with prerecorded video on a web page and you’re dealing with [sale] pitch, shorter video and then use copy, where as if you’re dealing with a webinar you’ve got a little bit more time. Think of it like comedians. Chris Rock is known for going to all of these local comedy clubs before a big show, testing all of his jokes.

This is a way for you to test all of your pitches to see how many people drop off or see how many people stay on. You can see comments in real time. It’s like doing a live software demonstration and you’re going to see people typing in the chat box, seeing what they’re thinking and you’re going to be able to address that in maybe in your prerecorded video that you’ll put on your website.

Andrew: Yeah, that’s one of the things that I get excited about when it comes to doing these kind of webinars. You do get to see feedback, feedback, feedback. [??] is a master salesman. He can on TV in a half an hour pull strangers who are skeptical on a new device that will spin their turkeys around and apparently also cooked them dinner on it’s own. The reason he could do that is because for years he was pitching one-on-one or one or two crowds of people in person and seeing where their objections were and seeing the way their faces act when they weren’t interested.

The better he got at it the more he knew what triggers to get people to buy and what triggers to get off of boredom and that’s what made him into a great salesman. I want us to learn that stuff and translate it into the way we communicate in general whether it’s email, one-on-one or whether it’s a sales page or landing page or maybe future webinars. I like learning that from our own product.

Let’s talk about some sales tactics. [Beyond just showing you] scare city, I imagine, and offer and discounts and other tactics work. Tell me about some of those.

Derek: There’s a lot of different sales tactics out there, but there are lot of people who are not salesmen. If you’re not a salesman, trying to learn 100 different sales tactics could be kind of annoying and it could be very time consuming. I always try to tell people to focus on demonstrability, that’s the main thing, show people what they’re going to get and what it could do for them.

The second thing is the [risk-a-versa]. People before they spend money they’re always thinking in the back of their head, ‘Am I making a mistake.’ You want to make sure that they don’t feel like they’re making a mistake. You can do this by doing money back guarantees. You could say things like, you don’t pay now, you have a seven day free trial and then you get billed. You could do things along those lines where you want to hammer down the [risk reversal].

The third thing that you always need to include is you don’t necessary need scare city, but you need to make sure people have a reason to act now instead of tomorrow or two days down the line.

Andrew: Urgency.

Derek: Exactly, create a sense of urgency in all of your sales pitches. Now, I’m not saying to make up time limits. I’m not saying to lie. I’m not saying to artificially inflate how many seats there are, but you create urgency in a more positive way, just as not necessarily as high converting as limited seating, but it could work where you could say, ‘There were just 34 people that signed up in the last five minutes.’ That implies that oh my God, there’s this big rush of people signing up right now, so, let me do it right now to. You can kind of create that urgency without being an ass.

Andrew: I could see, for example, someone whose interview was very popular here on Mixergy is Ruben Gomez of Bidsketch. If he did a webinar showing how his software helps people send out proposals, help [??] send out proposals, at the end he might say something, like, ‘not only don’t you have to pay for the first month or the first week is on us, you get a first week free trial. If you’re not happy, you get to keep all of the proposals you send out and you don’t have to pay anything, but I’m also going to reduce the price. 50% off for the first month . . .

Derek: Yes.

Andrew: . . . but only for the first hundred people who sign up as a result of this webinar. You guys have listened to this whole thing. You know this better than other people. You ‘re the kind of customers who I want in on my software. If you go do it in the next hour from the end of this webinar, I’ll give it to you, or if you do it within the next hour then I’ll be able to give you some free guide . . .

Derek: Yeah.

Andrew: . . . or some free help or another . . .

Derek: I think that’s a great opportunity. I’m very hesitated to [??] discounts because . . .

Andrew: Interesting, OK.

Derek: . . . now, with his particular service I’m actually, I’ve been emailing with Ruben. He’s a cool dude. I like what he’s doing over Bidsketch. I’m very hesitant to discounts unless you’re dealing with some like what Ruben’s doing. Ruben has a monthly service where you have to pay him monthly. Offering a discount off the first month is OK, but if you’re dealing with a piece of software and you’re only selling it once, if you’re regularly discounting that you’re going to piss people off.

I remember I brought ScreenFlow. I’m a happy ScreenFlow customer. I love ScreenFlow. The day I actually brought my license for ScreenFlow the following day on AppSumo there was like a $20, $30 savings or whatever on ScreenFlow. And I’m sitting there thinking, like, ‘Dam it. I just spent $30 more on this product yesterday when I could have got it for less.’ That created a bad mindset.

So, if you’re dealing with something where you’re going to have a monthly fee, you can offer a discount off the first month or you could even give the first month free with a guarantee of start of automatic payment. If you’re offering a one time download, a piece of software like [??] for example, where it’s a one time fee, you don’t want to discount, you want to instead add value.

Like, if you’re on this webinar not only are you going to get this, but you’re going to get 10 tutorials on how to do x, y and z which you can’t get anywhere else. You want to add the value onto it . . .

Andrew: Got you.

Derek: . . . as opposed to discount your product.

Andrew: Another plug-in another theme, but we’re not reducing the price because this is special?

Derek: Exactly.

Andrew: Got you. All right and you know what? I like the idea of just eliminating the number of sales tactics that you use because you’re right. It does become overwhelming. There are all these different sales tactics from getting testimonials to increasing the call to action to creating landing pages without other links around them, tons of them. If you just focus on three, you get enough power behind your product to increase sales but not so much that you overwhelm yourself.

Derek: Mind you, having all of them will help you sell better. I’m not trying to pull your chain here. If you use all the sales tactics for a pitch, you’re going to sale better, but you’re likely a software developer. You’re not a salesperson. If you’re trying to boot start your company, you don’t want to spend $10,000 on a professional salesperson to craft all your copy and you just want to get something out there, just to get some revenue in the door, focus on those three. Do not try to overdo it. You can try to overdo it, but doing a tactic wrong makes you look worst than it helps you sell more stuff.

Andrew: I’m writing notes here to make sure that I cover everything properly in the interview. That’s why you sometime see my head go down as we talk. I’ll come back and tell you about what I wrote down. I want to find out a little bit about your background. You had this site that did really well . . . Actually, tell me where you started online? What’s the first big company that you built?

Derek: OK. So, I started online . . . Actually, I’ll take you right from the beginning. I stumbled on this site called Are you familiar with

Andrew: The guy came on here. He’s got an insanely passionate audience. I said, ‘Tucker forget about all the stuff you talk about in the book, like you piss people off and you get women to sleep with you is just like whatever,’ I said, ‘Tell me how you market Tucker Max. How do you get all these people to be fans of yours?’ He talked about it, which was fascinating and useful for me but his audience is rapid. One Tweet from him got me, I think, 1,000’s of hits more than links from other people’s websites, like Hacker News mention. One freaking Tweet. That’s how good that guy is and how passionate his followers are, anyway, absolutely follow the guy.

Derek: I stumbled on him in 2005. I saw here’s this, this idiot, which I thought to myself, writing hilarious stories about his dating follies and I sat there, I’m in college at the time, I’m thinking I can write about my dating follies. So I wrote a blog about my dating follies, it wasn’t nearly as fun. I got no traffic. None. No one cared about my dating stories. What I had noticed is that Tucker Max is always linking to a celebrity gossip blog, which I had told you about and then I said, ‘All right, I’m not that funny, but I can make fun of celebrities, their funny.’

I started making fun of celebrities and from start to finish, I built the business running Celebrity Gossip. I then branched out to women’s fashion, make-up, and all that. By the end of 2007, I realized something, I didn’t wear women’s clothes, I hated Celebrity Gossip, and I definitely didn’t wear make up. So I had to really reassess what I was doing. I quit my online business and did what any normal person would do, got a job at a Fortune 100 company earning, in a year, what I earned every few months on the web. I call that my youthful mistake.

Andrew: Why? Why do you do that actually, why do you go from earning money on your own to suddenly getting a job that pays you less in a year than a month of your own business?

Derek: A few months in my own business. The reason I did it was I was still young back then, I was 22 and I didn’t really know what I wanted to do next. I knew that I wanted to make money. I read some books about Jack Welch. I read four books about Jack Welch actually, and I’m like oh, man this Fortune 100 thing could be really cool. I went head first into the Fortune 100 world. I did really well there. I did pretty well for joining a large company. I was giving presentations to a lot of C-level executives and I was working directly with a lot of the top echelon of that Fortune 100 company. It was great exposure. I learned a lot and the one thing I probably came out of it, the one thing I learned the most was to be active reader of books.

I noticed every C-level executive there had tremendous libraries and always were quoting books and quoting famous business people. I realized I needed to start reading books because of working there. I also realized that my path would be 20 years down the line before I could be a top tier in the Fortune 100. I was 22, by the time that happened I would have to be 35 or 40. That wasn’t fast enough, which is why I quit the Fortune 100 company to go back on the Internet focusing on what I had learned over the last few years, which was selling online. Actually teamed up with to help them sell. Did that for eight months. I’m still there helping DIY Themes out and I launched Social Triggers, as a way to share the things I have learned about selling and helping people sell stuff online, over the last six years or five years I’ve been doing it.

Andrew: Were you running those the gossip and makeup sites while you were working at the Fortune 100 company?

Derek: Secretly.

Andrew: Secretly. So you still owned it, were you still earning money from it?

Derek: Yeah. I still earned, I actually had outsourced all of the writing to a bunch of freelance writers for about $5.00 an article. I got it down to where I think I worked on the gossip sites maybe 10 minutes in a year. It was great, I was basically getting free money while I focus my energy on the Fortune 100 job that I was doing.

Andrew: Let me pause there for a little bit. There are a few things we agreed going into this you never talked about this part of your life, I don’t think you’ve really talked about it, but there were a few things we agreed we wouldn’t talk about, we wouldn’t bring up names of company’s for example, right?

Derek: Yes.

Andrew: Their there, they don’t necessarily want to be associated with what, you don’t necessarily want to be associated with them and they don’t necessarily want you to reveal what they’re doing. But without giving their name, can you tell me about how you go from being a nobody, you can’t get your dating articles to read to suddenly getting a million hits a day. Give me a few tactics that I can use and my goal isn’t to get hits, my goal is to get deep insightful business interviews, but I still want to learn from you and I sure as hell want my audience to be able to learn from you if they’re sitting on a few hundred hits or a few thousand hits they want to get closer to a million than zero.

Derek: Yeah. I did one simple tactic and this is probably the main thing that I did back then and I only did this; I would find competitor celebrity sites and see what they were doing. Right? I would say, here are 15 other sites that are getting a bunch of traffic. I would then see where they were featured and linked, from either mainstream media or from the tabloids, and just see where they were being linked featured. I would then figure out how to position my site for a story that I was writing, drastically different than what was currently being said. And I would pitch that same editor, or pitch that same site, ‘Hey, I saw you featured this site; I want you to know that I have this as a follow-up, and it’s a stark contrast to what you said,’ to try and create that controversy, ‘cuz people like controversy. And I would just do that all the time.

Andrew: So, let’s take Mel Gibson, for example. Big news story: Mel Gibson insults the cops’ religions. Says he’s a Jew, something. You see a website that’s a competitor of yours; write a blog post on it and get featured somewhere. You walk me through. Make up a story and show me how you would think it through.

Derek: I’ll give you a real story.

Andrew: Oh, good! All right. I wasn’t sure how deeply we could get into it. Hit me.

Derek: Do you remember when Kanye West interrupted Taylor Swift?

Andrew: Absolutely.

Derek: So, I wasn’t running the gossip site at that point, but I saw that happen. I knew this was going to be a big opportunity for traffic. I popped in for the gossip site and realized that at this time not only did Kanye West and Taylor Swift, you know, have that little thing on TV, but Twitter was raging about it. I saw on Twitter it was raging about this whole Kanye West and Taylor Swift thing. So what did I do? I went into Twitter, took like 20 comments from people on Twitter and then wrote an article, ‘Here’s what people on Twitter have to think about the Kanye West and Taylor Swift ordeal.’ And did an article about that. I then shared it with people on Twitter. I then pitched it to tabloids. I then pitched it to these other people, and before you know it, this article went insane on Twitter because Twitter’s very vain. They like to talk about Twitter.

And it then sent a massive amount of traffic to my site, because I was talking about something that was a hot news item, which I talked about in the Mixergy Master Class, how to chase hot news. And had that unique angle on it, and then it just went viral, you know, just all viral marketing basically, by pitching or finding stories and finding a new way to hit that story, and then making sure you go out to get people interested in sharing that story.

Andrew: What kind of tabloids would you hit with this?

Derek: All right, so, like, US Weekly, had a magazine. I think National Enquirer had a website. There are some British ones called the Post Chronicle; basically every magazine that I could find, you know. I don’t have the exact list, ‘cuz I haven’t done that in like three or four years, or so.

Andrew: You’d have a list of people who were just blogging at tabloids.

Derek: Exactly.

Andrew: You have their email address, because they often give it out. Right?

Derek: Yeah.

Andrew: You just email them and say, this is my take on it. This is what Twitter is saying about this, and maybe come up with an excerpt or two from the blog posts, from other people’s tweets, send it over to them. They then write about you and link to you?

Derek: Exactly. And that was a big thing, ‘cuz at that time Twitter was hot. And at that time the Kanye and Taylor thing was hot; so it was gooey to mesh the two. And when you can combine those two things, it’s a really sure fire way to get some traffic.

Andrew: And then on Twitter you go back to the people who you featured and say, I featured you. You should link to this, and they link?

Derek: Exactly.

Andrew: Got it.

Derek: And I’ll add more people. I had like 50 people, or something like that. And the more people I just keep showing, ‘Hey, I put you in this article, here.’ And everyone likes to see their name in print, so they want to share with all their friends.

Andrew: What about another; how about a few sales tactics for bloggers.

Derek: OK. Now, my favorite way to sell is Webinars.

Andrew: OK.

Derek: My second favorite way to sell is video, and not sales videos, but content videos. And I’ll walk you through what I did earlier this year, where I created a video all about getting more traffic to your website. It was like a six-minute video. It got, you know, 2,000 users, or something like that. At the bottom of this, and the video is all content, no sales pitch, I could have included a sales pitch at the end, which would have been great, but I decided to leave the sales pitch out ‘cuz I wanted people to share this video on social media. Underneath the video I put a text sales pitch. ‘If you liked this video, one more thing … I want to let you know about this program that shows you how to get more traffic to your site.’ It’s a very under-the-radar way to sell an audience without making them feel like they’re being sold to.

Andrew: Right.

Derek: And it worked great. I think that page, I don’t have the exact numbers, but it worked out to something like a dollar per unique visitor that hit that page in that time period.and turned it to revenue. That’s my second favorite way.

Andrew: What else.

Derek: Video, then a small sales pitch.

Andrew: OK. How about one other one.

Derek: My third favorite way, and this is probably not one of the sneakiest, but it’s a very good way. If you read, you know I’m all about email marketing. Email marketing is the absolute solution to everything.

I could actually walk you through it on how Mixergy could use this sales tactic.

Andrew: OK. Go for it.

Derek: I know Mixergy has an email list of 15,000…

Andrew: Hang on. The video just died. There we go. Sorry. You were saying, ‘I know Mixergy…’ and then we lost it.

Derek: I know Mixergy has, say, 30,000 people on their list. You sometimes send out email updates about your interviews that you do.

Andrew: I do.

Derek: Right?

Andrew: Yeah.

Derek: So what you do is, you send out the email update and say, ‘Hey, I just interviewed Derek:. In this video, you’re going to learn x, y and z.’ Then what you do is, you create a segment of your email list. Everyone who clicks in that email to watch my interview with you, maybe two or three days later you say, ‘Hey, remember that interview that you watched with Derek Halpern? I want to let you know that Derek also created a master class in the Mixergy Pro.’

Now, you’re only going to pitch to people who know who I am. Who potentially watched this video. It’s going to be a small segment of your list and people aren’t going to get pissed at you for sending a pitch because it’s a highly targeted range. They just watched the interview about me. You see what I’m saying?

Andrew: Yeah.

Derek: Now, to back that up into a broad scope, if you have a blog, you send out an email broadcasting, ‘Hey, I just wrote this blog post about Seven Deadly Sins of Conversion.’ They click to read the article. Two days later you do a follow-up to only the people who clicked to read that article. ‘Hey, if you liked that article, you could really set up your own test and see what helps you do it by buying Optimizely.’

It’s all about sending to segments. I did this a couple of times. It almost always sends sales and gets very few spam complaints. No one really complains about it because they just watched that video or they just read that article, so it’s a targeted pitch.

It’s a way to keep your email list happy without over burdening them with sales pitches all the time.

Andrew: I love that. I love that. I love that idea. I’m trying to think, ‘How do I use this?’ Would it be an inside joke if I were an inside piece of information if I do this for the mailing list, specifically with this interview?’

Derek: I think, honestly, if you did it with this interview; if you did the follow-up to them, you’re going to be able to tell them like a p.s., ‘Yes, you learned about this tactic in that video with Derek,’ they’ll probably laugh about it. They won’t get mad because it’s going to be a little funny.

Andrew: I’ve got to try that. I’ve got to try that. What else do we have here? I knew that’s what it was. I got serious there after that because I realized there was something I forgot to ask you.

You do a webinar with someone else. You bring on an expert to do the webinar, in your case because you’re selling something, what’s the incentive for a guy like Lewis to do a webinar with you for your audience?

Derek: I get part of the sales and he gets part of the sales.

Andrew: I see, because you guys are selling his product.

Derek: Exactly.

Andrew: Got you. He brings in the product. You guys sell it together. Got it.

Derek: I don’t bring in anyone. I only bring in people I absolutely trust. I won’t just sell something for the sake of selling it. I sell something that I truly believe and have had a chance to look at and that I could vouch for.

At the end of the day, if you’re going to be pitching something to your list and just making some money here and there, that’s not how you build a business. That’s how you make cash. I’m not trying to make money. I’m trying to build a business.

It’s like that little nuance where you only bring in the right people. If you have your own piece of software, you obviously believe in it. You could actually do something similar, where you create a webinar and you could do your webinar to other people’s lists. If you’re going to deliver a great value, it’s going to be great.

Like I said, Lewis House taught me all about that. It’s a great strategy and I can’t wait to start using it every day of the week.

Andrew: I’ve known Lewis a long time through Mixergy and we’ve talked a bunch over the years. He’s a guy who was doing well. He was a guy who was confident. He had a lot going for him and then I saw him at South By Southwest and you know how when someone’s got it, is on fire, things change?

We talked for the briefest of brief moments. I was going out of the hotel where the party was. I think he was going back into the party. We talked for a second and I could see something had changed in him.

I said, ‘How are you doing?’ He goes, ‘Doing great.’ He didn’t even have to say great for me to know it. I could see that something happened and I said, ‘What is it?’ because I’m curious. I’m interviewing people in my private time. He goes, ‘Webinars,’ and I meant to follow up and I never got a chance to follow up. How do webinars; what are they doing for him. And then I started watching them online and hearing other people talk about it, and I see that he’s using webinars to sell, and he had this niche that it just took off. It’s amazing to see how well he’s done as a result of this. All right. So, I asked about that. What else do I want to know? I want to know about social triggers. The whole site is about understanding the mentality, the psychology of the people, and what gets them to do what they do–or what you want them to do. Give me one tip from social triggers, from your website, that my audience can benefit from.

Derek: Minimalism wins online. The less is more is totally true, and I can’t really say that I created this idea. It was a Sheena Iyengar, the author of The Art of Choosing. She is famous for the [Drager] Supermarket Jam Study. Have you heard about that study?

Andrew: Through you, yes.

Derek: All right. So, the whole Drager Jam Study is where she had two different jam displays. One display had 24 jams; the other jam display had 6 jams. The 24 jam display attracted more people. More people came by to see the 24 jams, than the 6 jams. But the 6 jams sold something like 1000% more in jam sales than the 24 jam display, because less is more. When you give people too many options, they take no option. So, when designing your website, you’ve got to know that people, even though they like to see options, they don’t take action when they have too many options. They take action when there are fewer options. So, when you’re designing your site, or when you’re figuring out what to put in your sidebar, when you’re figuring out what to put in your blog poster, how many links to place, remember, less is more always. And if you’re an e-commerce site, it’s obviously not possible for you to just start eliminating products. So what you want to do is, you want to chunk things to take advantage of the less is more. And the best example of that is Zappos. If you go to, right there in the top left you see, ‘for men, for women,’ and then ‘clothing’ or something like that. So, even though there are four or five options under each chunk, it’s still feels like, all right, I’m going to make one decision. Let me pick one to three. All right, I’m a man. Now we pick one to four. All right, I want that. It kind of chunks the decision, and makes it easier for people to stomach looking. It’s easier to look at a batch of three, and then a batch of four, than a batch of twenty.

Andrew: Cool. Minimize, and if you can’t get rid of options, chunk it down.

Derek: Exactly.

Andrew: The website is Social Triggers. It’s full of articles about the psychology that you need to understand if you want to influence people online. Is your goal to be like Robert [Sheildeeny] with the book influence, to be like that for persuasion and psychology online?

Derek: The mission of Social Triggers is about empowering people to sell more stuff on the Internet by using easy-to-implement, insanely-practical advice. There’s a lot of theory out there. There’s a lot of hoo-hah that isn’t backed up with data. I always back stuff up with data. I always break it down to something easy to follow, and I’m all about sharing that with people. I don’t want to say I want to be the [Sheildeeny], ‘cuz that’s not always applicable to everybody. I want to be even more hyper-practical than that to the web.

Andrew: I see. All right. Before I say goodbye, let me read an email that I got about your course. This guy took it, and here’ what he wrote. He emailed me, and he goes, ‘Wholly crap, Andrew. I managed just 25 minutes of Master Class Advance Lead Generation.’ That’s the course that you taught. And I am like so insane, that I can’t say a wholly crap, he must mean something good. But I always think, what went wrong and how do I fix it? What’s the problem? What does he mean? He wants a refund? Did we just somehow just screw things up? What’s the problem? So, when he started out, ‘Wholly crap,’ my head always goes to that. By the way, I think we did a great interview, here. An hour from now I’m going to go, what could I have done better? What didn’t I do right in this interview? I don’t know where my psychology comes from, but that’s the first thing I thought when I saw his email. ‘Wholly crap, Andrew.’ He goes on and says, ‘I saw just 25 minutes.’ Again I’m a little worried. Then he goes, . . . before I had to turn off the video and set up resource page for our blog. This is the most golden of gold dust. Gary Smales.’ I hope, Gary, I’m pronouncing your name right. He stopped, and I kept seeing this from people. They stopped at one point, where they found one little thing that they could use, and then they went and they implemented it. We didn’t even get into it in this session, here in this interview about the resource page.

But I know some people have said, wholly crap, I understood about webinars. They stopped and they signed up for GoTo webinar. You must have sold more GoTo webinar subscriptions, I think, than anyone who hasn’t been paid to do it. Or they stopped at another section about how to build email lists. We didn’t get to talk about it here. They said, I stopped, and then I went and just added one or two things to start collecting email lists, because I could see how that’s the top of the funnel. So, thanks for teaching that. Gary, thanks for taking that course. If you’re a premium member, stop right here, if you haven’t yet, and go to You don’t even have to pay anything extra. It’s there. It’s part of your membership. You can watch Derek and his computer screen. And what I love about watching Derek is, beyond how useful the information is, the guy’s like a magician when he teaches. He goes, “I sent out an email to a website”, kind of like what he said in this interview. He goes, “I sent out an email to a website, and I asked them to link to me.” And then he goes bam and he brings up the email right up on the screen. And then he goes, “And then they sent me a response.” And he makes that fly off the screen, and brings it up. You’re just thinking, what do we need to see, and you pop it in there, smooth, smooth, smooth. I could see why people at the end of a course will buy from you, or at the end of a webinar will buy from you. So really, I love your preparation. I always dig that about you.

So, there it is. That’s a long thing. I just get so proud of what you did, and I’m grateful to you for doing it on Mixergy both as an interview and as a master class on I spent a little more time, I think, talking about you than I would about others, because I’m especially proud of this. All right. We told people where to go,, where they could connect with you. I’m going to suggest one more thing. Sign up for the list for one reason. Even if you say, Derek is not for me, or I’m worried, or Andrew’s promoting for Derek.

Let me suggest this: sign up just so you can see that intro email that he sends. Our first holy crap moment with Derek was when we got that intro email that he sent out. David Saint, who works here at Mixergy, who produces courses, signed up. He got the first email, and he emailed it to me, and says, “Holy crap! Look at how good his intro email is. He gets you right away.” I won’t reveal the secret, I’m just going to say, go and do it for you. You’ve got to model it. And, of course, if you get a chance to say hi to Derek, take it. Get to know him one-on-one. You’ve seen that he and Reuben are chatting about their sites. If you get a chance to talk to him, do it. Take it. He’s incredibly helpful, and I’m grateful that I got to know you, Derek. Thanks for all the help.

Derek: Hey, thanks for having me. This was great. I hope everyone loves it.

Andrew: I know they will. Thank you all for watching. Bye.

Who should we feature on Mixergy? Let us know who you think would make a great interviewee.