This is a transcript from episode 24 of the OMGrowth podcast, published on April 28, 2021
I’m stoked to be sharing another behind-the-scenes episode today because I recently collaborated on a bundle – which was my first time doing so – and I’m sharing how it went, what my results were for this list-building and brand awareness strategy, and what I learned in the process.
My biz pal Kate Doster (Hostess of Inbox Besties) reached out to me in late-2020 to ask if I was interested in participating in a bundle she would be hosting, and I had never done one of these before.
WHAT IS A BUNDLE?
For the uninitiated, in this context, a “bundle” is when a bunch of digital product sellers collaborate by bundling their paid products together for either a very low price or, in this case, for free.
Now, why would you give your paid products away for free?
The goal of collaborating on a bundle is two-fold:
1) to build brand awareness; and
2) to build your email list.
There was also the possibly to convert to sales but we’ll get to that later because there’s actually more to how this is set up.
HOW A BUNDLE WORKS
The idea with a bundle is that people can sign up for all of these paid products by clicking through to a landing page where they provide their name and email address.
These new subscribers would then be sent a list of links where they could access the products from the bundle for a limited time. This master list of subscribers, if you will, are now signed onto the bundle organizer’s email address so whoever is organizing this event gets THE biggest number of new subscribers of anyone.
Rightfully so because the organizer has a lot to manage: the landing pages, the opt-in sequences, the collaborators, the delivery of products, the inbox management and trouble-shooting throughout the bundle, and pretty much every little detail that needs to be coordinated and accounted for.
However, the organizer isn’t sharing the contact information for all these new subscribers. That’s actually super-illegal to do so don’t do that.
The way it works – in a very law-abiding way! – is that once these new subscribers receive their list of products from the organizer, it’s up to them to click-through on the links and sign up for the offers that interest them.
This means when people clicked through on my offer, they would be directed to a special sales page where they would provide me with their name and email address in exchange for being signed up to the product.
MY BUNDLE CONTRIBUTION
The product I had contributed to the bundle was The Dashboard Bundle. This is a course I offer and I chose it because I felt it was a good introduction to what I teach, how I teach it and getting bosses to start seeing their numbers in a way they can feel connected to and interact with.
All contributors were asked to promote the bundle to their existing email list at least twice and on social media at least once.
Again, the idea is to get in front of each other’s audiences, expand our brand awareness and gain new subscribers, so promoting is a necessary component of collaborating on a bundle.
MY LIST-BUILDING RESULTS
The promotional period was for 12 days, from Monday February 22 to Friday March 5th, and I generated 1625 subscribers during this time period. Only 162 of those were people who were already subscribed to my own email list so that means I had 1463 people who were brand new to me – huzzah!
Consistent to how most launches perform, I had my biggest sign-ups on the first and last day, which accounted for 17% and 24% respectively or 41% of my overall sign-ups on those two days alone.
Also consistent with how sales typically go down for me is that another 26% of my sign-ups came through on the weekend.
Knowing your own existing audience trends and patterns is a huge factor in evaluating the success of a new promotion.
It’s your ability to compare your expectations to your audience behaviors that gives you that clairvoyant skill to predicting your own future and performance.
And so far, these behaviors were typical to what I’ve seen and expected.
MY SALES CONVERSION RESULTS
What was less typical from what I see – but I did expect these results to be different – were my conversion rates to sales.
I mentioned earlier that there was a possibility for making sales on the bundle, even when you’re giving away your paid product: you can make sales on an add-on product (or what some people call a tripwire product) that is promoted after sign-up and you can make sales on the evergreen sales funnel (or what some may call a sales nurture sequence) that new subscribers enter when they join your email list. I had both of these in place.
The add-on product was the ROI Calculators I promote as an add-on to all purchases made for The Dashboard Bundle. This is a $12 add-on designed to help bosses visualize the spend and profitability of investments they’re making in ads, on workshop-hosting, on summit-hosting, on their evergreen funnel, and a whole bunch of other areas you want to see what it takes to actually be profitable with.
For organic traffic, the ROI Calculators convert at about 27%, meaning that out of 100 people who buy The Dashboard Bundle, 27 of those will also buy the add-on.
I specify organic traffic for 2 reasons: 1) I haven’t run paid traffic to this offer yet so I’m not sure what those numbers are; and 2) my referral traffic converts much higher, which is normal because this is “social proof” traffic where someone has vouched for how great you are, and referral traffic will almost always show up with higher conversions.
The add-on conversions for the bundle came in at just below 2% and while I felt kinda bummed, I also expected that, logically.
After all, there’s a huge difference in the mindset of people who are signing up to pay for a product versus the people who are signing up for a product because it’s free; one is already expecting to make a payment whereas the other one has no intention on doing so.
All-in-all, I made $360 on the sale of ROI Calculators. This was lower than what I had hoped for but it’s a nice reminder about we hope for:
You can’t base revenue projections on “hopes”; you’re going to need to put some baseline numbers in place.
This was my first experience with this kind of strategy, I now HAVE that baseline I can align to my expectations with the next time I participate in a promotion like this.
Another thing I had in place to convert to sales was my evergreen funnel. This is basically a sequence of automated emails designed to promote Boss Mode Metrics, which is my signature product on seeing your business numbers and performance.
This usually converts at about 4% and I was interested in seeing how this specific audience would respond… and I’m glad I kept my expectations low on this one because it was crickets.
I didn’t make a single sale whereas I could typically count on making at least 65 sales from the number of leads that were brought in.
Which goes to show you…
Not all traffic and lead sources are created equal, and it’s good to know and keep your expectations and projections in check for each of them.
MY NEW AUDIENCE TRENDS
Again, I kept my expectations low on this, though, for a couple of reasons:
1) I was targeting a cold audience whose primary motivation was to sign up for something that was free and to shift that motivation where they would open their pocketbooks would be challenging, to say the least; and
2) I knew I wasn’t the only person whose offer they were signing up for, which means these subscribers were probably receiving as many evergreen sales funnel emails as free bundle offers they had signed up for.
The open rates for the emails in my evergreen sequence dropped by about 12-18% during this period – so a significant drop! – and within a week of the bundle end date, 366 people had unsubscribed, which represents close to 22% of the new subscribers I had attracted. in the first place.
Once everyone was through the automated email series, I sent out a fun, promotion-free email to my entire list – which included these new subscribers – and while my unsubscribe rates for broadcasts usually hover around 0.2-0.4% with an open rate between 25-30%, this broadcast had an unsubscribe rate of almost 0.8% and an open rate of almost 24%.
I expected those numbers to be much different than they are. I thought my unsubscribe rate would be closer to 1.5-2%, and I thought my open rate would be closer to 20%.
It looks like I have some engaged leads on my hands here. They may not be especially motivated to buy, but they seem to be giving me the opportunity to build a relationship with them and I’m excited about that.
MY OVERALL IMPRESSIONS
Overall, I would qualify this as a great experience that I would recommend and I would do again (even though I would take a different approach, which I’ll cover in the Lessons Learned section).
The leadership shown by Kate Doster and her team, as well as the partnerships she attracted could not have been more favorable.
And to gain 1,000 subscribers in less than 2 weeks without paying for ads is definitely a worthwhile endeavor. Especially when I know that these are subscribers from people whose audiences are similar to mine based on the other collaborators.
That’s something else I want to draw a little attention to as well, because you may be thinking – because I thought it, too – “why would you give your paid products away for free?” but think of how much ad spend you’d be putting up to collect this number of leads.
Sure, they’re not buying off the hop, but they are audiences I know are like mine…
Which actually makes this a good transition into the LESSONS LEARNED I have for collaborating on a bundle:
1) All subscribers aren’t equal.
I wish that I had brought a little more consideration to the client journey for these specific types of subscribers because, yes, this audience was unique and really should not have been put through the same direct-to-sales path as warmer leads would.
To do this over again, I would definitely create a different funnel that did not pitch my signature product but rather, met those subscribers at the level of commitment they were ready and able to make with me… and that wasn’t financial.
The goal I should have had for these subscribers is to prove the value of my work and messaging – like, in dollars! – and I overlooked the fact that these people would have a lot of noise in their inbox that I had to somehow stand apart from.
I’m not saying I know what that looks like just yet, but this definitely highlighted that I want to prioritize taking a more conscious, client-centric approach to how I’m promoting myself and my offers.
2) All promotions aren’t equal.
This is why I say things like “there’s no such thing as a “good” conversion rate” because not all conversions are created equal. You can be hella-specific about the conversion rate you’re speaking of – so let’s say your sales page to purchase conversion rate, meaning the people who hit your sales page and bought your product – and you can and should still expect to see significantly different rates based on HOW you’re promoting that sales page and where your traffic is coming from.
Referral and affiliate conversions can and should be exponentially higher than rates from the cold audience you’re building with a bundle… and that’s OK!
And 3) Collaborate wisely.
I’ve mentioned that Kate Doster was the leadership behind this bundle and she was organized as-all-get-out with every single aspect of this promotion. The trouble-shooting was so on-point that problems were fixed before they were noticeable to me, her team was so proactive about everything that it felt easy, and the collaborators she attracted were people who fit into the audience I want to reach.
Now, I know Kate – we chat about money and Drag Race and real estate investments on the regular – so I knew she would not only have her ish together on this but she would also have my professional best interest in mind as well.
Her leadership, organization skills and the team she has helping her behind-the-scenes made the process incredibly smooth, and I’m grateful for that. In fact, I’ll bring her on the podcast in a future episode to discuss how she manages to be such a collaborative rock star.
This experience was a strong reminder for me of the importance of context and meeting people where THEY are when they meet-and-greet my brand. It’s easy to say “this is what I want people to do when they land on my site/sign up for my list/buy my product” and that’s a great baseline to start with.
But as you grow and as your reach grows, creating the space and opportunity for connecting with people where they’re meeting you has to be prioritized… but it’s not so simple because it requires of you to grow and expand on the ways you show up as well.
“More” isn’t always “better” – the sales conversion rates for this type of promotion will prove that to you – but the intentionality you bring to “more” can certainly show up as better results for you, and I’m always excited about being given the opportunity to show up as a better boss!