TAM 002: Thrive Leads’ Shane Melaugh – Building Your Mailing List Faster
In episode 2 we talk with Thrive Leads creator Shane Melaugh. Shane Melaugh runs Thrive Themes, which we use and recommend. The themes are stripped back, fast and focused on marketing and converting readers and getting them onto your mailing list.
Shane has also just come out with a new lead generation WordPress plugin, called Thrive Leads. Thrive Leads comes with some fantastic features such as:
- Easy form creation
- Targeted offers based on categories, tags, pages and more
- Split testing
- Multiple optin types (popups, scroll boxes, slide ins, ribbons, etc)
- Multiple trigger types
- Mobile only options
- Lean, fast loading code
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Links Mentioned In The Show
Shane: Get in the habit of publishing stuff uncomfortably fast. That's one of the most important things you can do as an entrepreneur I think.
Announcer: Welcome to The Active Marketer Podcast where we talk about how to design, automate and scale your business to the next level using sales and marketing automation. You can find out all the tips, tactics, and techniques you need to get more costumers and sell more stuff over at TheActiveMarketer.com. Now, here is your host, Barry.
Barry: Welcome back to Episode 2 of The Active Marketer Podcast. I'm your host, Barry Moore. The Active Marketer Podcast is where we talk all about marketing automation, sales and conversion. We have a really great interview for you today with Shane from Thrive Themes. They've just released a new plugin called, “Thrive Leads,” which is really really cool. I want to get him on the interview and talk about what you could do and how you can use it to build your mailing list faster, some really great advice in there from Shane.
Before we get to that, I just want to talk about some upcoming events. If you're in the Sydney area, March 5th and 6th, I'll be down there at Manley at Super Fast Business Live. If you see me walking around down there or you'd like to catch up and talk marketing automation, by all means, shoot me an email at Barry@TheActiveMarketer.com.
Before we get into the main interview, I just wanted to apologise ahead of time. We were having a great chat about how you can build your mailing faster and conversion and opt-ins when the grounds keeper decided to come around with this really really noisy lawn-mowing equipment. There is a little bit of noise in the last few minutes of the interview. He came and rain down our parade just when we were getting into some really great stuff. I tried to get it out as much as I could with the editing software but there is a little bit of background noise there for the last few minutes so I do apologise.
All right, so this week, we talked to Shane Melaugh from Thrive Themes. Their new plugin at Thrive Leads has just come out that allows you to do some really great stuff, split testing, different kind of opt-ins, split testing different [modalities 00:02:08]. You'll hear all about it in the interview. I think it's really worth checking out. It's a great plugin. I'm using it now and I think it's fantastic. Let's get in the interview.
All right. I'd like to welcome to the show Shane from Thrive Themes. Shane, how are you?
Shane: I'm good. Thanks for having me, Barry.
Barry: I'm very excited to have you actually because the new site that we just set up at TheActiveMarketer.com is actually using one of your themes from Thrive Themes.
Barry: Somebody put me onto you guys a while back. Once I had a look at all the groovy stuff that's actually built into your themes, I could start calling all the stupid plugins that I've had to put in over the years. I was really impressed at how conversion-focused you guys are over there and marketing-focused rather than the pretty stupid sliders that everyone has all over their sites.
Shane: Yeah. I mean, that's what we're trying to do. That's where we try to differentiate ourselves. I feel like most companies have a design-focus. I wasn't very happy with that myself. That's not what I need. Yeah, we try to just put a conversion-focus into everything we do. Yeah.
Barry: For those of the people in the audience who aren't necessarily familiar with Thrive Themes, do you want to give us a little bit of the Thrive Themes history?
Shane: Yeah. Well, Thrive Themes was launched publicly just about a year ago. Like we just said, the idea really was we wanted to create a company that would create Word Press products, so Word Press themes and plugins that are really business-focused and conversion-focused. That's something that I wanted for my own business. I'm also a Word Press user. I have, essentially, a very simply marketing business. My job is to sell products to people, which you think was fairly basic but really I couldn't find any themes specifically that were really made for that kind of thing.
It seems like it's much easier to find a theme that has an amazingly fancy multi-layer animated full screen video background slider than it is to find a theme that's actually useful for setting something. That's how we decided to enter the market. We wanted to basically make good themes that have a conversion-focus, and also create these products that have conversion-focus, these plugins I mean.
Barry: We talk a lot about email marketing here at The Active Marketer Podcast. None of that actually does you any good if you can't get people to opt into your list in the first place. When you set out to start making a theme that was conversion-focused, what were the key elements that you wanted to focus on right out of the gate? Did you start from scratch? Did you just say, “Right, we're going to build our own framework from the ground up,” and that's it?
Shane: Yeah. We built the theme completely from scratch. A couple of things that we focused on were on the one hand, was to include options that would make it easy to create like a more stripped down and minimal page that you would use for things like a sales page or a landing page or something like that. That's one of the things I wanted to make sure that our themes supported so that you could build your sales pages and stuff like that. Another thing that we also focused on in the themes was to include some lead generation options, some list-building options. There are some basic ways in which you can just add lead generation elements to your website using our themes. Then we've just released a plugin called Thrive Leads that makes those a bit obsolete as well.
Barry: Yeah. I'm really excited. Actually I just downloaded Thrive Themes and started playing with a little bit. I haven't really gotten into it too much. It certainly looks again like you'll be able to replace a bunch of different other plugins that you might have on your website or even external services. I know a lot of the listeners probably use things like Lead Pages or Insta Pages, stuff like that, which are all great products. Again, you lose a little bit of control there with it being an external service. When you set out to make Thrive Themes, I mean Thrive Leads rather, what were some of the key focuses that you wanted to have in that product and some of the key outcomes that you wanted for people who are going to use it?
Shane: Well, the simplest way to say it is that the goal with Thrive Leads is to provide a plugin that helps you build your mailing list faster. That's quite an important distinction. It's not about just building your mailing list. It's about accelerating the speed at which your mailing list grows. When we were considering building Thrive Leads, we were looking at the competition. What we could see was that we have a very large selection of what I'm calling Last Generation List-Building Plugins, which all in some form or another give you various ways and options to add lead generation elements to your site. Whatever it is, maybe you can add a pop-up to your website or you can add some opt-in forms to your sidebar or something like that. There are hundreds of plugins it seems that let you do this in some form or another.
That's okay. That's like the first step that's necessary. We wanted to take this a step further. We started looking at, “What are the smartest and most cutting edge marketers and companies doing with their lead generation? How can we build a plug in that takes it a step further than just publishing an opt-in form?” The result of that is Thrive Leads. The idea is that there is really two main things in the plugin that help you take this list building thing to the next level. Like I said, the basics are there. You can add popups and slide-ins and rip-ins and widgets and what not. You can add forms and you can design forms and so on. That's just the basics. That's all there. What really makes it better, what really takes this to the next level is that we have, first of all, very easy and very solid split-testing built in. It's very easy to create variations of your forms and then test against each other to see which one converts best.
We built the testing in such a way that you can basically test everything. You can test different designs against each other. You can test different triggers against each other. You can even test entirely different offers with entirely different follow-up sequences against each other. We really wanted you to have the freedom to test anything because that's one of the things that really sets the smartest marketers and companies apart is that they do a lot of testing. Instead of just saying, “All I need is a popup that shows everywhere. That's good,” they just keep testing, keep testing, keep iterating to make their list grow faster and faster. That's one thing we wanted to build in.
The other thing is that we have very detailed targeting options because again, this is something we just found in our own testing as well and we found that some of the most switched on people out there are doing a lot of very detailed segmentation. They will show different opt-in forms to different segments of their audience to make those offers more relevant. That's one of the most powerful things you could do to increase your conversion is to make a more relevant offer to your visitor. In Thrive Leads, we have a whole range of options to let you do that where for example, you can create a different offer and a different opt-in form to show across your website depending on which category of posts someone is looking at right now.
Barry: That's triggered off the blog post category, is that right?
Shane: Yeah. You can trigger this off of basically any recognisable factory in Word Press. You can use categories, tags, other taxonomies, post types, page templates, just anything that's identifiable within Word Press, you can use for this targeting.
Barry: Then so you're basically showing your different offers. Say you're on a health and fitness side and if someone is looking at a blog post that has to do with exercises, you could have a different opt in, and if they were looking at a blog post that had to do with nutrition, is that what you're saying?
Shane: Exactly. This is something that really can make a huge difference. If someone is looking at a nutrition article and you show them an opt in offer that says opt in here to get whatever, this free report with more nutrition-related stuff can make a huge difference compared to just having a single catch all offer that you're showing everywhere on your right.
Barry: Right. On the nutrition page, it's like the five foods you should never eat if you want to lose weight. Then on the exercise page, it might be like the five exercises to get ripped fast or something like that?
Barry: Right, very cool, very cool. Just to loop back to something you said before about split testing. I think split testing is like exercise, everybody knows they should do it but most people don't get around to it. You mentioned something that you can even split test on different triggers, what did you mean by that?
Shane: Yeah. There is different ways to trigger your opt-in forms. This is specially relevant of live box, popups and slide ins, where basically you don't have the form showing inside your content. The form appears on top of your content, there is different ways to trigger that. You can say, for example, you can say, “Okay. I want to show this after three seconds, when someone comes to the page, wait three seconds, then show it,” or you can say, “I want to show it when someone scrolls to a certain point on the page or scrolls to the end of the post,” then show this.
We also have an exit intent trigger, so you can show it when someone is about to leave your site. More importantly, you can actually test these different options against each other because you can find a lot of opinion about this out there but there is not a lot of data because it used to be quite difficult to test. What's better? Should you show it after 10 seconds or after 3 seconds or after someone scrolls down 50% of your post? Now, you can just test these different triggers against each other and see what actually works best.
Barry: You can trigger different modalities, like a light box versus a scroll trigger box or something like that?
Shane: Yep. Yep.
Barry: Very cool. What about users that might be hitting you via mobile? What do they get?
Shane: Yeah. Everything you build in Thrive Leads is mobile responsive by default, so it will work on mobile devices. There is also a mobile on-off switch because there is more screen real estate on a larger screen, you can say, “Okay. Maybe for my desktop users, I want to show a ribbon at the top of the screen and also a popup.” Then on a mobile device, maybe that ribbon just takes up too much space, so you just can say, “Okay, if it's a mobile device, don't show this one.”
Barry: Right. Very cool. Very cool.
Shane: Now, another thing actually that you mentioned about testing, like exercise, everybody knows they should do it but they don't. I think this is actually a very important factor. That's one of the things that we also wanted to build into this plugin is to me, it's very important that when we're building something like this that's quite feature-rich, one of the really important things that we put a lot of emphasis on is making the user interface as easy as possible and as enjoyable as possible because I've had this experience as well where I purchase a tool or I own some tool that is theoretically very powerful. But it's such a pain to use that you just never use it because every time you sit down to think, “I should build whatever, I should this,” you suddenly remember all this other stuff that you'd rather be doing, right.
It's no use having a split testing feature and a plugin like this if it's such a pain to use that you just never do it. That was really important to us. With Thrive Leads, it really is very simple to create AB test. We've made that as simple and as quick as possible, so that you don't feel like it's this huge chore. Now, I also have to do a split and set. It's actually so simple to do that you can set up a test within a few minutes and then have that running. Hopefully, what will happen is that you'll get a good result and it's encouraging. You go, “Oh, this is actually pretty good.” Then you continue testing. That's quite important. That's a factor we kept in mind, like the exercise fact.
Barry: For sure, for sure. I think we've all done that. We've bought some really wiz bangy tool and you get excited about it for a couple of weeks and then it all becomes too hard.
Shane: Yeah, exactly.
Barry: Thrive Leads is a completely self-contained Word Press plugin. It's some external service that you need to sign up for anything.
Shane: Yeah. That's correct. It's just a plug in.
Barry: Is there much of a performance hit then in that case, if you're data basing all that data on your own site and split testing data in the graphs and all that?
Shane: No. No. To the front end of your side, to your visitor, there is virtually no difference in performance. I mean, we're loading those forms. That's the only thing that impacts the visitor experience. Again, we have a strong conversion-focus. We made sure to keep the code that we use as lean and as fast as possible. Yeah, on the technical side, I don't want to go into too much detail but we do some pretty … We go very far, I'm pretty sure further than any other plugin developer in the measures we take to make sure that the loading speeds are as fast as possible for what we build.
Barry: Yeah. I was actually really surprised by your theme as well when I started playing with it and starting building this site and how lean and quick it is considering how much stuff is actually contained in the theme and how many features there are and stuff like that. I think you guys have done a great job. Keeping in mind that one of the important conversion elements is speed, so you can have all the wiz banger you want but if it kills you site speed, then …
Shane: Exactly. We're a bit obsessed with site speed at Thrive Themes.
Barry: Well, I guess people have been using this for a little while now. You beta test yours in some of your early adapters. Are there any groovy little conversion tips or takeaways that they've given you as feedback?
Shane: Well, I think when it comes to this, I think I have two things to say that address two different groups of people because from my experience, the first group of people is let's say the beginner where the most important tip is that you get in the habit of shipping, right. You get in the habit of actually shipping. My first tip for people when they start using this is to create a form and publish it as soon as possible. It's the kind of thing where don't get in the habit of putting it off until later, and don't get in the habit of thinking, “First, I will come up with the perfect headline and then I'll make the perfect offer and then I'll build this chorus. Then I'll integrate it with that,” and so on.
Then it's weeks passed before you publish your opt in form. Get in the habit of publishing stuff uncomfortably fast. That's one of the most important things you can do as an entrepreneur I think. Yeah, so that would be the first. Just whatever you can publish right now, do that. Even if it's the simplest form with the least enticing offer ever, even if it's just sign up below to get emails from me, which is not a good offer essentially. Even if do that, it's better to do that right now and then start working on improving it than to just put it off forever. That's like the …
Barry: Uncomfortably fast, I love it.
Shane: Yeah. That's like the beginner tip, right. The more advanced tip is this is a bit more time-consuming but I want to encourage people to if you're doing testing and if you're really serious about growing that list, I want to encourage you to test value propositions and to test offers against each other, right. Don't get lost for too long in tweaking headlines and testing button colours against each other and stuff like that. Those are the last tests you should run. The most powerful test you can run that will give you the greatest results and also give you valuable insights into your target audience and how you can market to them are tests of your value proposition and test of different offers meaning that yeah, the value proposition is like the lower test where you say, “Okay. For the same offer, I'm going to frame this offer in different ways or I'm going to make the value look different for the same thing to see which works best.”
Then the next step up from that is to actually make multiple offers and test them against each other to see what works best because that's often the greatest leverage point. If you can find that one thing that people really want, yeah, that's the one of the greatest things that can lead to improved conversions.
Barry: Yeah. Test screams not whispers, as they say, yeah.
Barry: Just in your own travels at Thrive, what have you find as the most effective opt in that you've offered people?
Shane: In terms of offers or in terms of opt in type?
Barry: Lead magnets, opt in bait.
Shane: Yeah. Okay. Well, yeah, that's hard to say. I mean, the thing is I've had different levels of success with quite different offers. I've had fairly simple offers, for example, people kept asking me about how I make my videos. I made, really just in one afternoon, I shot a video just showing my equipment, right, showing my video equipment. That's one of the offers I put out. That's actually doing quite well. I also have a four-day course that was a lot more complicated to build which it's called Better Blogging in Four Steps. It was just a four-part course about how to build a better blog, how to build a more profitable blog. That was a lot more complicated to set up. It took a lot more time. It's also doing well. It's also tied in more directly with promotions, right. I think that's one of the advantages of a multi-step course is that you can tie every step into like … Not a hard sell but just an incidental promotion of something.
You keep promoting the same thing, that's something that I like to do is I get this repeat exposure because some people will see the promotion of your product the first time and be like, “Okay. Nevermind.” Then they see it again and again and again, that repeat exposure is what eventually wins them over and what eventually makes them go, “Okay. Maybe I should have a look at this product.” It's quite simplistic really but it's really the repetition is actually quite effective. If you just prod someone multiple times, without being obnoxious. You're giving them some useful content but you're also giving that prod, right, saying, “Hey, you should check out my product.”
Just the repetition, the pure repetition, it's not very intelligent, it's not like a super smart tactic. It's just you're just going, “Hey, check out my product. Hey, check out my product. Hey, check out my product.” Then that repetition is what eventually wins them over.
Barry: Yeah. I was talking to James Shrampco last week. He is very much an analyst guy and tracks everything. He was on his site. He was demonstrating that some of his customers have had 25, 26, 27 touch points with him before they've decided to purchase a product. If you just try and clap somebody over their head, you might get a few sales. If you nurture those people, then obviously you're going to get more and more and more. That's a great way to do it.
Barry: All right, Shane. I hear the lawnmower guy coming back so I don't think we have too much time of silence left. I really appreciate you stopping by and helping. I'm always keen talk on conversions. I'm excited to roll up my sleeves this afternoon and get into Thrive Leads. I'm going to go uncomfortably fast. I'm going to have a new opt in up by this afternoon.
Shane: Glad to hear it. Excellent. Thank you very much for having me, Barry.
Barry: Thank you, man. We'd love to have you back, talk conversions a bit later on. But thanks for dropping by. We'll talk to you again soon.
Shane: All right. Have a good one.
Well, that was a really great interview there with Shane, very clever guy and very clever stuff they're doing over there at Thrive Themes. Thrive Leads is a great plugin. I'm just going to be upfront and tell you that any of the links on the website over at TheActiveMarketer.com that you come across are affiliate links but that's only because I really really think it's a great product. I'm using it myself. The more I dig into it, the more I love it. You can find all this show notes over at TheActiveMarketer.com/Thrive, T-H-R-I-V-E or you can also use TheActiveMarketer.com/Episode2.
Here at The Active Marketer Podcast, we're trying to provide you with as much value and how you can get started using marketing automation to grow your business. It's a brand new podcast so we'd love it if you could tell your friends, share it out and review it on iTunes. It really helps push us up the chart and lets more people find this great information. By all means, please comment, share, and rate us on iTunes. We'd love to hear from you. We'll read out all your views on future shows. That's it for Episode 2, The Active Marketer Podcast. We'll see you next week when talk to Dan Norris from WPE Curve about how you can design a business for growth. See you next week, everybody.
Announcer: Thanks for listening to The Active Marketer Podcast. You can find the show notes and all the latest marketing information news over at TheActiveMarketer.com.