GE 112: How Neville Medhora Grew AppSumo’s Customer Base to 750k With Email

neville photoHey everyone, today we’re talking to Neville Medhora, who’s an entrepreneur and copywriter who’s helped businesses like AppSumo exponentially. He’s also established Kopywriting Kourse, a place where anyone can go to learn copywriting that actually gets results. Listen in to learn how he helped AppSumo’s Noah Kagan (who used to hate sending out emails) use email marketing to grow AppSumo from zero to 750,000 customers in under 18 months.

A Long Time Ago, Eric Tried to Copycat Neville

Before the show, Neville and I looked through our email history and saw that a long time ago, I’d emailed Neville’s supplier about a business he owned years ago because I wanted to start a competitor.

I was just getting into internet marketing and saw that Neville was killing it online, so I decided to copy it.

But it wasn’t anything new. Neville says that in those days, especially when it wasn’t such a thing for bloggers to share their revenues, he had to deal with lots of competitors cropping up. In fact, it got to the point that it seemed like for every business deal he started, he’d have three competitors the next day doing exactly the same thing.

It’s one of the biggest reasons why he stopped sharing his revenues and business how-to’s online.

What Kopywriting Kourse Accomplishes

When Neville was working on growing AppSumo, everyone kept asking him how he made his emails so darn persuasive.

People told him they were afraid to open his emails, because they knew if they read through it, they would have to buy.

It was something he was quite proud of, so he created a course based on that demand. Initially, it wasn’t meant to be its own website, but it took off, and more and more people kept wanting him to write for them.

The course has only sold better and better over time, and his goal for 2015 has been to grow KopywritingKourse.com and dominate the copywriting industry.

Right now, he’s got 21,000 subscribers and has around 40,000 unique visits per month. As of April this year, he’s started focusing on growing via email.

The Use of Copywriting

Neville says he always forgets that people don’t know what copywriting is, but he gives an example for how effective it can be.

For example, if you have 100 website visits per day, one person might convert. But with good copywriting and adjusting the way you message people and talk about your product, you can easily bump that up to 8 to 10 conversions per day, without increasing your traffic numbers.

But nowadays, copy goes beyond more than just text: it includes videos, images and gifs as well. In fact, Neville loves gifs, saying you can use them to transmit more feeling and information than you could ever hope to transmit in a video or plain text.

The main purpose of copywriting (or kopywriting), he says, is to transmit information from one brain to another via a computer screen. A good copywriter is someone who can get that information into someone else’s brain in the most effective way possible.

Growing AppSumo from 0 to 750k in Under 18 Months

To start with, says Neville, there was a great team behind AppSumo, and Noah was really good at Facebook ads.

However, the reason people were so into AppSumo was because of the emails. In fact, if you went to the AppSumo website, the only thing you really saw there was the option to sign up for their email list.

The first email deal Neville sent out for AppSumo was one of their best-selling deals ever. They thought it was a fluke, so they tested it again and again, but kept getting great results. For the next two years, Neville wrote every single email that went out from AppSumo.

Within the emails, Neville avoided highlighting silly things like 10% off a product. It’s a quick sale and a few might buy, but no one will get all that excited about it.

Instead, he made at least 70% of the email copy about good uses and first-hand experiences on how using the apps helped people. Only in the last 20% to 30% of the email did he mention that a certain product was on sale or they had a promotion going on.

First and foremost, he says, the emails were educational and people liked reading them regardless of if they were going to buy.

One of the best-converting email he ever wrote was about when he got robbed of all his computers and how violated he felt after that. It was a really long story and a bit of an emotional rollercoaster, and at the end he wrote about a computer software that can track the location of your computer with great accuracy.

Swiping Copy From Other People

Everyone has to start somewhere, says Neville, so if you need to steal the structure of Facebook ads that you like for your own Facebook ads, that’s fine.

To help yourself become a better copywriter, Neville suggests Gary Halbert’s Boron Letters. He says to print them out (or buy the book in printed form) and watch how he makes you turn the page, gets you interested, pulls your feathers, and keeps you interested for the next chapter.

He also recommends The AdWeek Copywriting Handbook by Joseph Sugarman to learn about the 27 different triggers that make people buy.

Building a List From 0 to 1,000 From Scratch

To dominate an industry, says Neville, you need to identify the audience you want to go after and then get featured on every single place that person hangs out online: the podcasts they listen to, the blogs and newspapers they read, and everything else they see.

If you can do it in three months or less, people will think you’re a big deal because they see you everywhere.

Further, people with the biggest email lists (100,000+), have been giving away quality, free information for years before they got to that point.

But more importantly, says Neville, is to ask yourself why you want a big list, and why it’s necessary for your business. If it’s not all that relevant to your business model, he says, there are other ways to success.

More Advice for Email Acquisition

Using Noah Kagan as an example again, Neville says he’s got three lists he’s built to well over 100,000 subscribers: AppSumo, SumoMe, and his personal blog.

Each time, he starts at the beginning of the year and sets a goal date.

With that date in mind, he opens a Google Doc with how many subscribers he currently has, how many he needs, and how many he needs on a month-to-month basis.

Then he makes a list of all the influencers or people he knows with large audiences and brainstorms items they’d be able to promote about to their email lists.

Another way, he says, is to make your niche’s best blog post in a particular topic, and add a content upgrade at the bottom of it that readers have to opt in for.

Consistency: Neville’s Biggest Struggle

Before, Neville would go through a period of time when he was putting out a lot of good content, and then he’d just stop. His traffic and Alexa rank would plummet, and then it’d go back up once he started publishing again. It felt like a treadmill he could never get off of, he says.

But then he realized that the guys with the big email lists (like Ramit Sethi) had great consistency and were dedicated to the slow, everyday, publishing churn of content at least once per week.

Now, to solve his consistency problems, he pays a business manager to yell at him if he doesn’t do his stuff. He also holds himself accountable by telling himself he has to do something against his moral code if he doesn’t finish each month’s goals before the end of the month.

At one point, he even skipped out on a Halloween party to get his work done because making the promise to do something that was immoral to him worked so well.

A lot of solopreneurs, he says, don’t have that level of accountability, so it’s easy to get comfortable and coast along without anyone there to kick you in the ass.

The Daily Structure (& a Pair of Earplugs)

Since Neville doesn’t have to work from an office, he spends his first few working hours working from home, and then either goes to a WeWork co-working space or the AppSumo office.

To work in co-working spaces, he suggests hearos earplugs: they’re really comfortable, cut out a lot of noise, and isolate you from the rest of the world in a good way.

One Must-Read Book

Neville recommends reading his own book, This Book Will Teach You How to Write Better.

It’s cheap or free on Amazon, and will help you learn how to write better within 30 minutes.

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Disclaimer: As with any digital marketing campaign, your individual results may vary.