Talk Marketing

Optimize and Automate Email Marketing (with Vignesh Kumar)

In this episode, John McDougall talks With Vignesh Kumar from Neil Patel’s Ubersuggest and Answer the Public. Vignesh explains the power of email marketing. Then, he talks about tools and strategies to optimize email marketing efforts.

John  McDougall: Welcome to Talk Marketing Made Easy. This is John McDougall with Vignesh Kumar, the marketing director for Ubersuggest and Answer The Public. Welcome, Vignesh.

Vignesh  Kumar: Thank you for having me, John. Thank you everyone for being here. Wonderful and excited to be talking to you all today.

Email Marketing Lets You Send Meaningful Messages to Huge Audiences

John: So, what do you enjoy the most with email marketing and digital marketing?

Vignesh: I would say it is the ubiquitous reach that it has. It has definitely been a passion of mine for years, especially when it comes to email marketing. I love the personal nature of email marketing. It allows you to send direct meaningful messages to a huge audience.

On the other end of the spectrum, with email marketing specifically, you’re able to generate an ROI in the quickest manner possible. It’s something that other channels just do not have. For example, when it comes to SEO or pay per click, you do not have that immediacy that you have with email. You can specifically figure out who your audience is, who they are, what you’re doing, et cetera. So that is something I love about email specifically and also with digital marketing. Yeah.

Disruptive Changes in Email Marketing

John: Nice. And what changes in email marketing are happening that you think might even be disruptive?

Vignesh: Well, the introduction of artificial intelligence, machine learning in email is pretty disruptive. Right now, we have access to things like AI-powered email content, email creation, to predictive analytics for optimized send times. You’re also able to put dynamic product recommendations in emails these days. For e-commerce specifically, that is something super exciting, I would say.

There’s also the fact about just segmentation with audiences. You’re able to figure out who’s male and female based on your list. You’re also able to figure out what age range they are. For example, if your audience is 25 to 35, or 18 to 24, or are they 40 and higher? You’re able to send different messaging to these audiences as a result of that. So there’s a lot going on there.

John: It’s so sophisticated now that just the old days of just a basic, basic email tool are gone. If all that’s involved.

Vignesh: Yes, most definitely. That is the most exciting part for sure.

Key Elements of an Engaging and Clickable Email

John: Yeah. Well, I think it’s good for agencies in a way, because I think there’s a lot to it. Kind of like the early days of SEO or websites, people really relied on agencies. And now sometimes people think everything can just be DIY, but true to some degree. But with all these advanced capabilities, probably a good idea to at least get help or training or services from agencies. So what are some of the key elements of an engaging and clickable email?

Vignesh: Well, we send about Neil Patel specifically and other clients we work with. I personally am responsible for sending out at least three million emails a month, roughly. And then during Black Friday, Cyber Monday times, I was sending out personally like 20, 30 million emails in that 45-day timeframe. Where you have Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and then you have that Christmas, pre-Christmas, New Year type of zone. Free shipping day type of thing, like that 45-day timeframe.

Personalized Content Including Their First Names

I think this year we had sent out a huge number of emails because that was a high season to send out emails. What we learned was that it’s about relevance and personalization. If the content is personalized to the recipient and their interests, it tends to work really well. We try to use their first name multiple times in the email, so just having it once is not enough these days. Just having, “Hey, first name,” is not quite enough.

There have been emails where we use their first name three times or four times. And it gives them a sense of, “Hey, they’re talking to me personally.” It feels really personal. That seems to be something that’s a huge kind of step in the right direction.

Catchy Subject Lines

On the other end of the spectrum, having a really high quality subject line makes sense. A really catchy subject line seems to be definitely on point. Another thing that is huge in terms of open rate, is that it makes a lot of sense to double check your sender name. So if your sender name is properly recognizable to your audience, that increases open rates by 59%, we’ve noticed.

Recognizable Sender Names

Because sometimes you might have a new employee and then they say, “Oh, this is so-and-so from X company.” That tends to not work well. But if you have your company’s name in the subject line, I mean, sorry, with that in the sender name, that tends to work pretty well. You don’t want to have the employee’s name in the sender name, versus have the entire company name in there, and that tends to work pretty well from what we’ve seen.

Image-Based Emails

Lastly, we have been testing things that are image-based emails, versus gift based emails, versus plain text emails. Most of the time the text-based emails tend to perform really well. If you are sending informational content, if you’re sending things that are just to inform the customer of happenings in your industry, then text-based emails are good. But if you have an e-commerce product quote/unquote, and you’re trying to sell people on it, then that is most definitely graphically emails.

John: Yeah, you’ve got to see it.

Vignesh: Yeah, you got to definitely see it, showcase it, things of that nature. GIF based emails are wonderful, meaning you take a video, you take a five-second clip of that video, you turn that into a GIF, and you send that out to your entire database. That tends to work really well.

What is working these days for a clickable email, engaging email is that it’s a combination of all of those. You have a really beautiful headline at the top, and then you have a subhead at the bottom. You then have the product shot underneath it, and then you have a watch this video or learn more.

And then at the bottom of that, you have the GIF of the product where you’re turning the product around and it’s like a video shows the product and all its features. And then below that you have a call to action. That seems to be working pretty well right now, specifically for e-commerce. So it’s a combination of all of this, and that is what’s engaging and clickable at this moment in time.

John: And I’ve seen some subject lines work in just testing some of my own stuff, almost very off the cuff, kind of slightly wacky. As opposed to overly businessy subject lines. Do you see anything like that?

Vignesh: That tends to work in certain markets, right?

John: Yeah.

Vignesh: Not in every market, but definitely in some markets where you have rapport with the audience, it definitely tends to work.

Using Subject Lines to Invoke a Sense of Curiosity

John: Yeah, look, I did, Don’t Be Shy, was a subject line, dot, dot, dot. And it’s about marketing, but it got a pretty good click through. And then Worried About Your SEO? That actually had 50% or whatever open rate. So the worry, I don’t know. So anything like that, emotional or quick thoughts on where you get ideas for subject lines?

Vignesh: Well, what we tend to look at is usually when it comes to subject lines, we’re trying to invoke a sense of curiosity. It’s kind of what you mentioned there, right? Worried about your SEO. That definitely creates curiosity. What are we talking about? Where is this coming from? Did something happen? You know what I mean? That definitely creates a sense of urgency and definitely kind of piques their interest.

So anything that has the factor of creating curiosity, urgency, or a sense of value, tends to work really well. That’s what we’ve seen at least. Also using their first name, a recipient’s first name in the subject line, that tends to always work.

One type of subject line that we’ve been testing recently is just having a reference of their past purchase in the subject line, if at all possible. So you’d be like, “Hey, customer of Ubersuggest X, Y, Z. We noticed that you recently purchased X, Y, Z,” and then that always tends to get a really high open rate compared to a generic subject line.

John: Nice.

Vignesh: So those are just some ideas that we’ve tested.

Emails for Ecommerce Vs. Blogs

John: What’s the difference between email marketing for e-commerce and for website visitors and blog readers?

Vignesh: Of course. So I would say email marketing for e-commerce is often more transactional, sales driven. You’re focusing on a product promotion, or cart abandonment, order confirmation emails, transactional emails, browse abandonment, things of that nature.

On the other hand, if the email marketing is for a blog or for website visitors, it tends to be more content focused. Where you’re providing educational resources, content, blog posts, encouraging engagement from users to come back to the website, visit it, click on something, et cetera.

So one’s more transactional, more focused on revenue. The other one’s more like, “Hey, come back and visit so you can kind of get more info from us, et cetera.” That’s kind of what I’ve noticed these days.

The Importance of Data-Driven Email Strategies

John: And how can small businesses or bloggers benefit from integrating data-driven strategies into their marketing efforts?

Vignesh: Of course. So data-driven strategies usually provide more insights on what’s working and what’s not working. So for example, if you have specific days that allow you to see on these days our sales are really high, and then on these days it’s not. So usually we don’t necessarily send out emails on the days that don’t really perform well.

For example, we have specific clients we worked with in the past, where no matter what you do over the weekend, their business just does not work. When I say not work, their sales are down 80% on Saturday and Sunday, no matter what you do. But on a Monday and a Tuesday, their sales are like 140% or 240%, whatever it was on normal business days. So we tend to only send emails during those days and just kind of ignore the days that don’t tend to work.

John: Interesting.

Vignesh: Yeah. So having the data allows you to see, okay, these are the dates that work, these are the times that work. So it allows you to basically make more informed decisions and optimize your efforts to get a much higher ROI from your time spent doing email marketing specifically.

It also improves the customer experience, the effectiveness of the content. You can also personalize better. You know what I mean? So if your Mondays and Tuesdays are the busiest times, you could send subject lines where emails are pre-header text that say, “Hey, Monday Blues, get this to kind of help.” You know what I mean? So that tends to work really well. So yeah, that’s how it works.

Personalization and Segmentation in Email Marketing

John: Nice. What about the significance of personalization and segmentation in email marketing, particularly in today’s constantly evolving landscape?

Vignesh: I would say, absolutely, personalization and segmentation are really crucial these days. By segmenting your audience based on their behavior preferences and demographics, you can send more relevant and targeted emails that actually could work higher than if it was more generic, right?

Personalization, using, again, their recipient’s name or recommended products based on their past purchases, also enhances their user experience, makes your email stand out from a really crowded inbox usually. But these days, in 2023, people expect you to be personalized and also segment them appropriately.

And if you send them too many emails at the same time, that’s not relevant, what they usually tend to do is either unsubscribe or they go to their preferences tab on your email and basically say, “Oh, they don’t seem to be personalizing their emails. They don’t seem to be doing a lot of segmentation, so I really think maybe I should only be subscribed to their newsletter. Or I should be only subscribed to their workflows, et cetera.”

So a lot of email services these days, what they’re doing is they’re able to say, “Oh, I only want members only content. I only want their workflows. I only want their campaigns. I only want their newsletters.” So they’re actually able to segment out what they want from the sender using the sender preferences.

And almost all email providers, like email marketing providers, CRM providers, et cetera, they are actually able to help you set up this managed preferences tab, which then allows you to segment out what the users want. And that decreases unsubscribe rates by roughly about 30% in our internal testing.

Turning Blogs, Podcasts, and Video Content Into Emails

John: Nice. I’m going to have to listen to this podcast again. You’re so full of good ideas. How can small businesses leverage their blog, podcast, and video content in your email marketing?

Vignesh: Of course. So typically what happens is that businesses can actually repurpose the content in their newsletters, essentially. And what you can then do is you can provide a teaser of the content, you can send it back to the website. Typically, what we do at Neil Patel is an example, Neil himself, who is a savant of marketing and just-

John: Definitely.

Vignesh: Wonderful human being all around. I’m biased because I’ve been working with him for as long as I have, which is roughly nine years now, I think almost. Almost like a decade of my life spent here. So I am biased. But one of the tactics that-

John: You’re right though.

Vignesh: Yeah, indeed. So one of the tactics that he follows is that he will take one piece of content, be a voice note to himself, or to one of our writers, like our editor in chief, and then that will then get published as a blog post. And then that would also become a topic for a podcast at a certain date with Eric Sue with his Marketing School Podcast.

And then at some point, it might even become a video on YouTube. And then that video then gets taken and published on YouTube, on LinkedIn. Essentially also published on Instagram as a reel, a shortened version in that video gets published as a reel. There’s also, it gets created as a TikTok as well, and kind of published there. And just overall then sent back as a newsletter to email.

John: That’s the full cycle is getting the most bang for your buck out of your time for one topic. One really good keyword you want to hit or talk about the concept. And why not do an article, a podcast, a video? Multiple types of videos on multiple platforms, send emails about it. I love making the most of it like that. So it sounds like you do that to the ninth degree basically.

Vignesh: Yes, and it tends to convert really well. And again, we didn’t invent it. We basically got that from Huffington Post. That’s what they do usually.

John: Oh, really?

Vignesh: Yeah. That’s how they get to where they’re at. They take that a whole nother level, where they take a topic or an idea, and then they will write multiple videos, multiple blog posts, multiple podcasts, and they’ll just explore that exclusively better than any other company out there. And that’s one of the reasons for their success.

John: Very interesting. Yeah, they’re taking the niching down, drilling down into a topic and just owning it. So you stand out a sore thumb in Google if you’ve covered it just that much.

Vignesh: Exactly.

How to Encourage Subscriptions

John: Yeah. So how can businesses encourage website visitors and blog readers to subscribe and stay connected?

Vignesh: Well, one effective strategy is essentially to offer something of value for their email address, such as an ebook or discount code or an exclusive piece of content. We used to do things like content upgrades. So for example, we’ll have a topic on how to build a blog or a blog post or et cetera. And then within that post we would say something like, “Hey, if you want to learn more about creating a blog, et cetera, please enter your email and we’ll send you a content upgrade.” And that tends to work amazingly well.

Making the process as simple as possible. Do not do double opt-ins and things of that nature. Double opt-ins do not tend to work in your favor, especially in the long term. If you do a double opt-in, you’re going to lose 60% of your leads. It’s not a recommended practice, right? But yeah, anything that’s straightforward, communicate clearly about the benefits of subscribing, is going to increase your subscriber base. You know what I mean?

John: Yeah. We do a fair amount of eBooks. For all our SEO clients, we add an ebook, so we’ll make blog content, podcasts. Turn the podcast into pros, turn those into eBooks, put them on the site. But for a lot of small sites, the goal tracking in analytics, we don’t always see a ton of downloads of the eBooks.

We tell our clients, and when that happens that it’s still a conversion factor. So if you go to a lawyer’s site and there’s an ebook about dog bite law and they go to some other law firm that another personal injury firm, and they don’t have that, you probably stand out and you might get a lead. And you don’t even know that that ebook helped you because it adds some of that in a way, EEAT, or at least Google’s preference for having some trust and things like that and authority.

But any suggestions for small businesses trying to, I don’t know, how do you get more people to download those eBooks? Is it making them shorter, making the value proposition stronger?

How to Improve Ebook Download Rates

Vignesh: So one of the main things about that is, again, going back to what we were talking about earlier, you want to go where the users are at, right? Such as if you have a piece of content and the piece of content is valuable, it’s useful, it’s something your audience wants.

Recently what’s happened is shorts have taken over, social media shorts have taken over on all platforms, essentially, not just YouTube or TikTok or whatnot. Every platform is basically becoming a shorts platform. So what we tend to do is we don’t change the content, but we change the medium of delivery. So instead of that becoming a huge 50-page ebook or whatever, we take it and we try to turn it into a short, so more people see it.

And then we also say things like, “Hey, I know I couldn’t give you everything in this 59 second short, go back and click on this link and sign up and we’ll give you the whole thing. It’s 70 pages. It’s super comprehensive. It has everything you need.” And that’s one way to get more downloads on PDFs, at least the ones we’ve tried recently.

Drip Campaigns to Nurture Leads

John: Nice. How could businesses leverage email automation and drip campaigns to nurture leads? And maybe provide an overview of workflows and how they enhance digital marketing efficiency?

Vignesh: So one of the main things about that is you want to first choose a platform that allows for advanced automation. So for example, if you have things like, for example, platforms like Omni Send, Klaviyo are amazing if you’re doing e-commerce, right?

If you are in a general sense, you just have a blog and you want to do some basic automations, things of that nature, ConvertKit is probably great. If you just want to have informational content and you have a blog, and that’s pretty much what your focus is, you can use ConvertKit and that tends to work pretty well.

Now, if you want more advanced features such as more advanced automations, things of that nature, HubSpot is probably great. Ontraport is probably great. Keap is relatively good. is also good when it comes to having much better automations, et cetera, things of that nature. So the platform plays a huge part.

Because if the platform cannot do advanced automations or just drip campaigns, et cetera, then you’re kind of stuck. For example, MailChimp is cheap. It’s almost free at most times, but they cannot do a browse abandonment workflow, or behavior based triggers, based on how their platform is set up. So you want to avoid situations like that where you build everything on a platform which cannot actually do the type of triggers and automations that you want it to execute.

So that’s the first step. Apart from that, the first couple of automations that I would execute is probably a welcome series. That’s pretty much a standard thing typically. The formula that we follow for a welcome series/lead nurturing is that the first email is typically interest and desire. Just kind of pique their interest, invoke their desire to talk to you essentially. So that’s kind of email one.

Email two is how it works. Whatever you’re doing, how it works, how it’s made, the behind the scenes look of it, how many customers you have. All of the intricate details of how it’s made essentially is email two. We call that bonding and trust, kind of building rapport with them right there.

And then email three typically is proof, samples, testimonials, case studies, that’s email three. Typically depending on B2B or B2C, that’s what you’re looking at. And then email four is the call to action. You are essentially giving them the next steps that they have to take to move down the sales process.

Now what’s happening there is that this is not something we came up with or I came up with. It is how sales and marketing tends to work. So let’s just say you’re walking down the road and you meet someone who’s a potential prospect for your business. The first thing you’re going to have to do is you’re going to have to basically build interest and invoke their desire to talk to you, right? First off, that’s the first step.

Second step is you build rapport with them, bond with them, build trust. The next step after that is you show them that you have proof that you’ve helped other people do what you’re saying that you’re going to do, right? Whether it’s a product, whether it’s service, whatever the case may be. And if you’ve done all these three steps, and then the last step is call to action, meaning sign the contract, sign your name on the dotted line, et cetera. And essentially if you don’t do that, then that whole sales interaction is not probably worth anything.

But that’s how it works in the real world. All you’re doing is you’re taking that framework of what works and how you actually sell offline. You’re bringing it online through emails, and you’re doing it through four emails. Sometimes you can have two or three emails for each step. So you could have two emails for the first step or the second step, et cetera. But that’s what’s happening there.

And that tends to be an amazing lead nurturing/welcome series. We’ve seen that convert higher than any other type of welcome series or lead nurturing, you know what I mean, in the past.

John: After they get the ebook for the first time, that’s you throw them right into that workflow?

Vignesh: Exactly. That tends to turn someone from a, “Oh, I just downloaded your ebook.” To, “Oh, I know everything about you and I know exactly what you do. And I probably will become a customer at some point.”

Tools for Email Automation

John: Yeah. That’s a nice workflow. And so what are some of your favorite tools? And maybe might be good to explore a little bit in some categories. Maybe starting with a slightly deeper dive where you mentioned HubSpot because I’m a HubSpot partner, I also use Keap. I’m newer to Keap, and it is complex.

I mean, people used to joke when it was Infusionsoft, Confusionsoft, but it’s super, super awesome in a lot of ways. And then MailChimp has those kind of lower end, I guess. I haven’t tried them, the automation workflows, but from what you just said, probably wouldn’t recommend that to clients. But just for listeners that might be trying to figure out which way to go there? And then maybe drilling down after that into some of these crazy tools like Instantly and all this crazy stuff.

Vignesh: Sure. So like I said, my favorite e-commerce ones are Klaviyo and Omnisend. Omnisend actually works way better, in my humble opinion. So that definitely is something I would start with. If you’re on something like Shopify, if you’re on BigCommerce or WooCommerce, those three, those two tend to be amazing.

If you’re on Magento though, you probably want to go with Klaviyo because they have a native integration with Magento. Omnisend does not have a native integration with Magento. And we’ve had tons of clients, when I say tons of clients, actual tons of clients who we worked with in e-commerce, who are on these platforms. And they definitely see a great ROI really quickly. You set up a couple workflows, you set them live, they start seeing an ROI pretty fast.

Now, if you are more sophisticated and you’re doing more sales, CRM. You’re selling services or done free services, done services, things of that nature. They’re selling consulting or coaching or things of that nature, HubSpot tends to be amazing. HubSpot has all of the capabilities for you to be able to do things like browse abandonment. After call abandonment, meaning someone talks to you on the phone, but then they go dark after a couple of days. You can reach out to them with specific workflows, content, case studies, things of that nature to try to win them back. And it tends to work.

And you’re able to push people through dynamically in deal stages. So for example, if you are in the discovery stage and then you just spoke with them and then you are moving them to the proposal stage, you can have all of that stuff happen automatically on HubSpot. Sometimes it takes a little bit more work, but that tends to work out in the end.

Now, if you’re on a budget and you don’t have a lot of budget to work with, is amazing. So it’s a great way to get started to do some of these tagging and automation pieces. That if you’re just getting started, it’s really inexpensive to get things going with a Drip dot code to start sending out emails, et cetera.

If nothing else, you just kind of get MailChimp, which is completely free, and you start collecting emails and you start sending out some newsletters and basically get started on it. Now, what’s really funny is that, for example, there are a lot of newsletters that actually are these days doing $100 million.

For example, there is this newsletter called The Morning Brew. Last time I checked, they have done almost $100 million in revenue from that newsletter. People pay. I say people, I mean advertisers pay to advertise on that newsletter.

And again, it’s a wonderful business model these days, where you just have a newsletter, you write content about contemporary topics and trends and news in your industry. And then you have new advertisers advertise to pay you to basically be on the spot in your newsletter. And that is an actual business now.

John: That’s a big one too. 100 million.

Vignesh: Yeah, for sure. So it’s something that these days you don’t even have to have a product to do email and generate revenue for that. You know what I mean?

Keap and Infusionsoft: Advanced Email Marketing Tools

John: Yeah. And where does Infusionsoft/Keap fit in, in that consulting-done-for-you world?

Vignesh: I would say, here’s the thing with that. So the reason I didn’t speak too much about Keap is because it’s a little bit tough when it comes to set up. It takes a little bit more know how. And you need to have a little bit more coding or institutional knowledge when it comes to Infusionsoft to kind of set it up.

Again, they offer trainings. They offer workshops to customers. You can reach out to their success team if you need help, but it’s just something that takes a little bit more of a learning. There is a learning curve involved. And that sometimes can be a three-month timeline, sometimes it can be a six-month timeline, but they can do some advanced things. For example, I had a client who was in the wedding photography space. And they were doing six figures every week, you know what I mean, when it comes to their marketing and their revenue numbers.

And they were using Keap and they had 36 workflows set up essentially. And they had one for each scenario, one for each team member who was in the team. They had one for every salesperson. When the lead came in, how it got split in to them, what messages were being sent. They even had SMS integrations. When this salesperson would text the customer something, that would get logged into Infusionsoft under their contact tab.

So there’s a lot of things that we could do with Keap. But again, it’s not something you can set up on your own if you’re just getting started with email. You know what I mean?

Solutions for Cold Outreach Emails

John: Yeah, that’s a good way to phrase it. And what about if you’re trying to do a little more larger numbers? So you’re maybe going to use something like Instantly and you’re getting other domains and maybe a brief foray into that world?

Vignesh: So one important thing with that is, so Instantly is more of a cold outreach type of scenario. So typically how cold outreach tends to work is that you as a person who’s trying to send cold emails to non-opt-in contacts, you can typically use something like a SendGrid, a postmaster, or you can use something like a Mailshake even to get started, I would say.

The long-term solution is SendGrid basically. The reason for this is that there’s a lot of cold outreach services that are basically just built on SendGrid, SendGrid’s kind of where everything kind of begins and ends when it comes to cold email type of stuff. So instead of us or you going into a service which is sub accounting, you have a SendGrid account, but they don’t tell you that it’s built on SendGrid, they just have a front end that looks different. But then on the backend infrastructure, it’s basically just a SendGrid account that the company owns.

You just go directly to SendGrid, open up an account, and start sending out cold emails. Again, there is a learning curve to making SendGrid work that you probably will not experience if you just use a cold outreach service or at least something that on the front end looks like a cold outreach service.

But long term, if you want to send out cold outreach emails, I would highly recommend setting up a SendGrid account, getting familiar with how to do their single send option, and how you can set up automations in their platform. And that tends to be the best long term solution when it comes to cold outreach and just outreach in general.

John: And what about other tools, just sort of in general that you like for email or in general? for Sales Team Follow Up

Vignesh: Yeah. Another one that I really love is or AI, I don’t remember. But basically, Outreach is a tool that we use for our sales team. It tends to work really well. It does automatic follow-ups after the sales call, after the discovery call, after the pitch, et cetera. It’s a great way to enhance your salespeople’s follow up efforts without having-

John: It’s like marketing automation for salespeople essentially? Instead of the marketing team crawling around and doing everything we just talked about, it’s just like if you’re a salesperson and you’re contacting… Some salespeople have to call 100 people a day and maybe they get through to 10 or 15 of them.

But if you’re manually calling back everyone or manually emailing everyone, that can be a lot. So what you’re saying is, if I understand it correctly, is Outreach is a way to just keep in contact with those 15 people a day, maybe even, right? With say a series of what, three to seven emails or something? So something like that.

Vignesh: Exactly, exactly. And great thing about that is it also works for cold outreach. It doesn’t matter if it’s inbound or if it’s cold outreach that you’re reaching out to people from, Outreach actually caters to both, which is absolutely amazing.

John: And since I have HubSpot and Infusionsoft, would there be a reason for me to use this tool? Like it’s just fun and easy just to just go have it as an extra tool?

Vignesh: I would say it’s definitely fun to have. It also has a lot of these indicators that you just don’t get with an Infusionsoft, right? You don’t see, “Okay, this person opened up the email for this meeting that you have. This person didn’t open up the email for the meeting that you have.” Things of that nature.

And that’s what is happening there, right? It’s helping you make your life a little bit easier during those micro interactions. And it has a lot of templates that you could just get, set up, execute, right?

With HubSpot and with Infusionsoft, you have to write the email, you have to set up the triggers, test it, et cetera. With, you actually have the option of just, they have a lot of pre-built templates and workflows, so you can just kind of set up. Yes, I’m not saying it’s going to take 15 minutes to set up. There is a learning curve there as well, but it’s a lot faster than normal.

John: That’s really cool. I’m very tempted to try that. That’s fun. And I have a person, a sales person, my sister actually, that has a traditional agency that I want to turn her onto that. That’s cool.

And what about your tools at Neil Patel Digital and Ubersuggest and all the cool things you guys do? What are some of the exciting things going on?

Ubersuggest and Answer the Public

Vignesh: Of course. So as you know, I work for Ubersuggest and Answer The Public. So any of the emails that go out from our company on those brands is me. So we are super proud of Ubersuggest. We’re competitors for SEMRush, AHREFS, and a bunch of other tools. But again, we recently just launched our AI writer on Ubersuggest. So that tends to be pretty amazing. As you know, AI writing and AI content has basically taken over these days.

And we just recently, when I say recently, like last week, less than five days ago, launched our AI Writer tool, it’s pretty amazing. It helps you write great headlines, content, and just overall just absolutely way better than our AI writer one. It also is SEO friendly, meaning it’s not duplicate content or whatever the case may be. It’s really unique content that tends to work really well. So that’s something that we’ve launched inside Ubersuggest pretty recently. That’s super exciting for us.

Answer The Public, again, that’s a recent acquisition that Neil himself acquired a couple months ago. And we basically revamped the entire platform with new training, new content, new features. Just works a lot better. I think we had five or six releases happen in the last two or three months even. So we’re aggressively expanding that also.

There’s also another SaaS tool that we launched called the Ads Grader. You could just Google Neil Patel Ads Grader, you’ll find it. And it grades your PPC account basically for free. Kind of like how Ubersuggest will go and grade your website for errors and mistakes and things that it can fix, et cetera. The Ads Grader actually will grade your pay per click account and say, “Oh, here’s all the things you can change, update, to decrease your ad cost.”

So those are some of the tools that we’re working with in our world. It’s pretty exciting for us. And yeah, that’s kind of where it’s at.

Ads Grader Assesses Your PPC Account

John: Yeah, I saw an email about Ads Grader. I’ve got to try that. That’s a new one to me. I haven’t tried it yet.

Vignesh: Pretty exciting, John. Just saying.

John: Yeah.

Vignesh: Maybe I’m biased.

John: No, I want to try it. I want to run some of our ad clients through it. And back, just maybe in closing here, the big hot topic of course, AI right now is so hot. And as you mentioned, you mentioned that content’s kind of being taken over by AI. Yeah. What are you seeing there in terms of SEO services?

We offer a blog a week to our customers for at a minimum. Some of our clients we’re doing 15 articles a month kind of thing. Are you seeing a lot of people taking that in-house and just using an AI tool like that and doing all that? Or using those tools to have your writers extend what they’re doing?

Is it possible to have push button SEO content from a tool like that? Which usually seems risky, maybe a penalty or whatever, but you mentioned it’s SEO friendly. So in the grand scheme of things, how is that really shifting what Google will rank and not penalize? And where’s that all headed?

Understanding the Effect of AI on Internet Search Through the Lens of History

Vignesh: I would say, John, I’ve been around here for a really long time. So you can ask me things from 2004 and I would know, and 2004 was the year Facebook launched. So I’ve been around here, so I know, I’ve seen the cycles.

So it’s really funny when it comes to Google, I’ll take a moment to give folks a quick history lesson, it’s ancient history, but folks need to understand how things have evolved. So back in the day in 2004 or ’05, you could just build what you call a mini site with five pages and you’ll start ranking for pretty much whatever keyword you wanted. And you can just throw a link, a couple links at it, and you were ranking for it.

John: It’s true.

Vignesh: That was 2005 ish. And then things evolved. So the new algos came out from Google and you couldn’t no longer just throw a couple pages and build some links and be fine with that. You now had to build an actual website. You had the write content that was valuable. You had to actually build a real website with real products and real people and real addresses and everything.

So that’s kind of happened in 2008, 2009. Then there was a bunch of other updates that came out that made the system more powerful.

John: Panda and Penguin.

Vignesh: Yeah. All the Panda Penguin stuff happened there. For example, back in the day, there was all these things called link wheels where you could basically build a bunch of different links from different social media properties. And then you would start ranking because of the web 2.0 links. And then that evolved into where 2010, ’11, ’12, there was all these things such as link farms and linking websites where you can go buy links, you know what I mean? And you could do that.

And then that evolved into where you could just basically spam the internet for links with comments and things of that nature and all this other stuff. And each time this happened, John, what ended up happening was, Google got smarter. People thought, “Oh, I can do this thing to outwit Google.”

And what they fail to realize is if you can Google and find a link farm on Google, they probably know it exists and they can easily penalize anything that you can think of because they’re a trillion-dollar company. You know what I mean? Collectively speaking. So they are pretty smart when it comes to finding all of this, et cetera.

So fast-forward 2015, ’16, content marketing was really hot. Putting out content and just doing all of that was really amazing, hot, and everyone was talking about content marketing. And then a couple years later, machine learning, data analytics, all that kind of good stuff was hot. Now AI is really hot when it comes to SEO and content creation, et cetera.

The important thing to realize is that throughout all of this, in the last 15, 16 years of this timeline that I just gave you, the only thing Google is trying to do is they want to provide the best user experience humanly possible. And if you do that, whether it’s through AI content, whether it’s through other mediums, they’re fine with that.

But if you are not doing that and you’re basically plagiarizing content or duplicate content, things of that nature, you’re going to get penalized. An example of this is that people talk about ChatGPT a lot. But what they fail to realize is ChatGPT will kind of give you the same results it’s giving 15 other people.

CNET even got penalized really recently where they were starting to use ChatGPT content to write some of their articles. And then Google found out, because the same article that CNET had, a bunch of their competitors had on their website, because they basically probably put the same prompt in and it was about the same topic.

And so 15, 16 articles on the internet started looking like the exact same thing, and then 100s of articles written on top of those articles written on CNET started to look the same. So that’s the danger when it comes to AI content, you need to use it as essentially a brainstorming tool and not a content creation tool.

So you want to take the content that AI gives you, but you want to put in human emotions and human thought and contemporary feedback into the content. Make it relevant for where it is right now, where we’re in 2023 and that’s what I’ve been seeing work. You use AI as the starting point, but then you actually take that and then actually write it. You know what I mean? That’s the only way it tends to work and it’s safe, you know what I mean?

The Effect of AI-Generated Content on Traffic

John: Cool. Yeah, that was a really well put explanation of this complex situation. We have seen a couple examples. This is a small study of two sites or three sites, maybe five sites. I have a student in my coaching program, we were teaching him how to lengthen and improve his content at topic clusters, and he was going straight up for six months or something.

Then he hires a writer off of Pro Blogger job boards. Not like a low end thing really. But a few months later he starts tanking and we’re like, “What’s going on?” I checked the content he was getting from his blogger and said it was like 100%, 97% AI content. I can’t say that that’s guaranteed to be why the SEO tanked.

But then I had this guy, a garage door open service company contact me. It was a lead from a Facebook ad. And he’s like, “Oh, man, my SEO’s tanking.” I checked his content, same thing, 100% AI. And it happened a couple more times to prospects I was talking to. Multiple people I’ve been talking to.

And I can’t say Google’s specifically de-ranking these sites because it’s AI content. But it is a little freaky right now how many that I’m seeing where Originality.AI is saying it’s AI content and they’re going down. But any quick thoughts on that?

Vignesh: Yeah, for sure. So here’s the thing. Let’s be upfront and honest with everyone here. Google is building their own AI tool/platform. So they’re going to always, and it’s not yet at where ChatGPT at. But ChatGPT is a direct competitor who is trying to dethrone Google in a lot of different ways.

Google, when they had like ChatGPT launch the same week or the week after, they’re trying to launch their AI platform, it’s just not up to par to what ChatGPT has. And so they lost $100 billion in market cap right there in a singular week because of that launch happening. So if they’re able to identify its ChatGPT content, and if tools online can do it, Google can do it. You know what I mean?

John: Yeah. Do you think there’s also a watermark coming? Is that a reality for a requirement?

Using AI as a Starting Point for Writing Content

Vignesh: Yeah. For example, I wouldn’t say a watermark. There are actually websites where you could go and you could just say humanize AI content. You could take a piece of content from AI and then you can humanize it. But even then it’s like Google can figure it out. They’re like a trillion-dollar company. If you can game it, they can probably figure it out.

But again, the safest way to keep out of all of that is that you use AI as a starting point. You do multiple prompts, but then you take that, and then you rewrite it in your own words, tone, language. You want to-

John: Add insight, empathy, emotion.

Vignesh: Yes, exactly. And just make it relevant.

Google’s Experience, Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness (EEAT)

John: And what about EEAT? The last thing because I got to run to another podcast in a few minutes. But I mean I’m promoting it. I mean Google’s saying use EEAT now, expertise added to experience. Or sorry, experience added to expertise, authoritative, and trustworthiness. Is that a big deal? Small deal?

Vignesh: Is definitely a big deal. So for example, the reason why they came up with the EEAT is that the reason why it’s so relevant, is that there’s a lot of content on the internet that was basically being written without a lot of scientific backing or just people are just making up stuff.

There’s a lot of mommy bloggers who basically, who have never been pregnant, let’s just say, but they’re writing about how to take care of your child during pregnancy. You know what I mean? That just does not work in the long term.

So what Google is trying to do is if you’re going to write about having a child and parenting and et cetera, you want to actually know what you’re talking about. Have you had a child? Or do you have a degree in parenting or in that kind of sphere? And then do you have that featured on your author’s bio on the website, right?

So making sure that Google knows that you are an expert in whatever you’re writing about is going to be a huge factor. And then referencing scientific studies, papers, articles in the writing also is a huge factor when it comes to how EEAT kind of pans out. But that’s how we have been getting past it. You want to actually include your credentials, bio anywhere possible on your website, and that tends to negate the new rules about the EEAT or EEAT as it’s called.

Contact to Learn More

John: That’s awesome. You’re just a wealth of information. Really, really wonderful to hear all this from you today, so I really appreciate it. Yeah. How can people contact you, get in touch, where can they follow you? Things like that.

Vignesh: For sure, John. So all they have to do is they can just email me at Vignesh at Neil That’s probably the easiest, fastest way to reach me. Apart from that, I am super happy to be here. Thank you for having me. I consider my highest honor to be on podcasts with you, John, specifically.

John: Thank you.

Vignesh: Because I’ve known you for almost like what, seven, eight years now?

John: Yeah. Quite a while.

Vignesh: You’re a great friend of mine.

John: Yeah. Amen.

Vignesh: I am appreciating the opportunity to be here and yeah, super excited.

John: All right, good. So this has been John McDougall with Talk Marketing Made Easy and Vignesh Kumar of Ubersuggest and Answer The Public. And just wonderful to talk to you today, Vignesh. Talk to you soon.

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