Episode 99: Marketing & Traffic Advice from Facebook’s 30th Employee: Noah Kagan


Listen as special guest Noah Kagan, founder of Sumo and AppSumo, joins the experts to share how he grows his list and generates high volume traffic to his blog, podcast, and websites. From content distribution strategies to giveaways to the “Restaurant Strategy” that provides value, Noah and the hosts detail tactics you can use today.


  • What rap music and marketing have in common and how you can use this strategy to grow your audience size.
  • One of the biggest mistakes marketers who are running paid traffic make and how you can avoid it.
  • How all of your marketing and messaging can make a positive and lasting impact so your brand wins in the end (« Hint: This builds trust with your audience).
  • The one question you need to answer so you can outlast your competition and continue to scale your campaigns and business (« This is Noah’s #1 marketing tactic).


Episode 38: The 4-Step Podcast Launch Strategy
Noah’s How to Launch a Podcast Blog Article
AppSumo: The Growth Hacker Giveaway
Arron Sorkin’s “Bulk-Up to Write” from his The Craft of Screenwriting MasterClass:

Episode 99 Transcript (swipe the PDF version here):

Keith Krance: Hello and welcome to Perpetual Traffic. Episode number 99. We’ve got a great guest for you guys today, we’re super excited. We’ve got Noah Kagan, the founder of AppSumo, an eight-figure company. The 30th employee at Facebook. Yes, the 30th employee at Facebook, if you haven’t heard that story yet, he’s just one of those guy that’s always been way out front. Way out front, sometimes you’ve heard Ralph talking about Wayne Gretzky and skating to where the puck’s going to be instead of where it is right now and I think Noah really is a perfect example of somebody like that so if you want to sit in and listen to a conversation with somebody who executes and is always kind of figuring out ways to get more traffic fast, get more free traffic, just get more high volume of traffic, this should be a pretty fun one.
  Molly, thanks for making this happen. Noah, welcome to the Podcast.
Noah Kagan: Let’s get rocking and rolling.
Molly Pittman: Thanks for coming on Noah, I heard you’re going to talk about some smart stuff.
Noah Kagan: Hopefully.
Molly Pittman: So, you started the new Podcast four months ago.
Noah Kagan: Yes.
Molly Pittman: And your blogs obviously get a lot of traffic and I know you came on here, we wanted to hear about your content distribution strategies and how you’re building these warm audiences that you can retarget. That’s just called free traffic which is fun for everybody. What tips do you have? How have you gone about this?
Noah Kagan: With marketing I like having a very clear goal. My goal for my Podcast, Noah Kagan Presents, is to get 100,000 downloads an episode. It’s challenging. I think your goal should have some time frame and it should be kind of scary, not impossible but realistically impossible. The unknown of life is the most interesting part, for me. If you’re doing things that are super known there’s not really that much growth going to happen in it. That growth generally comes when you’re scared or you’re trying something new. Have a clear goal and with the Podcast, it’s being very clear about what effects the growth of it. I was shocked, I would buy ads to it, I bought a lot of Facebook ads to it, it didn’t do anything. I emailed out about it, the numbers didn’t change. You have to be like kind of, “Okay, what is changing the dial,” and so what I’ve noticed is that if I’m on other shows, it changes the dial. If I have higher quality sound, it changes the dial. If I have a topic, and I look at what topics have actually been the most popular, if I ever talk about business, very popular. If I talk about non business things, not popular.
Molly Pittman: Yeah.
Noah Kagan: I think people need to spend a little bit of time observing what’s working and then figuring out that diagram for what do you want to do and what does the market want and then find that happy medium in the middle.
Molly Pittman: No, I agree. I think the success of our Podcast, ads and email have definitely helped us in terms of launching and keeping people coming back and listening but making sure that we’re choosing topics that we know our people are interested in; when we stay away from traffic, people don’t like it as much. Right? When we talk about the latest, greatest, new tactical tips on how to buy traffic, those were our most downloaded episodes. Of course, the audio and our editor, Darren Clark, all of the work that he does has really helped the Podcast because it makes it more consumable for people.
Noah Kagan: Yeah. When I launched the Podcast, I kind of copied the launch model and it was just like this huge launch where I got a bunch of companies to give me free things. Another thing, a great marketing tactic which is go to companies that want free advertising in exchange for their product and then basically you can give out free products so that people can find out about you and then tell their friends so you get promotion, you get more people and then those customers get free stuff. Doing kind of like a conscious when I launched worked really well and plus those companies like Myles shorts or Minaal Bags or Topo Mats, whatever it was, they then promoted on their social channel. I actually think kind of an interesting strategy that’s worked really well for me is how do you do cross promotion effectively?
Molly Pittman: I love that. That’s something that we struggle with big time.
Noah Kagan: Everyone wants more customers. I’ve never met any business who’s like dude, we can’t have more customers. Maybe if you’re like a tiny ramen shop and then you have to be a hipster and then you have like Tatsu-Ya in Austin, now you have like a one hour line to eat some noodles. The point is, everyone wants more customers and so I think if you can approach people with a message like, “Hey, can you give me your product or service or software which is almost free, I’ll promote it to a certain amount of people and then you’ll get all this exposure at no cost,” most people will say yet to that. And then subsequently you can even ask them, “Hey when I launch this thing,” whatever it is, “do you think you can mention it to people?” And it doesn’t even have to be a launch, you could have this just ongoing. People are doing this lightly but I think it’s a strategy that’s worked really well for me. I probably even need to do more of it. I actually do giveaways once a quarter.
Molly Pittman: How do you go about it? Do you just kind of like email someone at another company and say, “Hey, let’s do this thing”?
Noah Kagan: So, there’s a few things that have worked overall and I can also go on more tactics but I also like encouraging the strategy and the theory of things because I think it helps in understanding. A lot of people think well, I don’t have a large audience like you so I can’t do this and that’s total horse shit. What you do is just reach out to companies that you already use. For me, I just use certain products so I use a Manaal Backpack, I use a Topo Mat, I eat Quest Bars. I’m not even trying to give plugs, I’m not sponsored by anybody or anything but I reach out to them and I say, “Hey, I really love your stuff,” do it on LinkedIn, do it on Twitter, do it on email, do it on their Facebook, whatever it is, Instagram, “Hey I love your stuff, is there a way, can we talk about working together in some way?  I have an audience.” You don’t have to say how large your audience is because frankly, it doesn’t matter. You could have 100,000 email subscribers that don’t care about you.
  The more important part is that can you actually help them with their business? Most people are pretty excited to have other people promote them. If I was selling banana’s and you said, “Hey, I have this Instagram account, I want to promote it, can you send me like a pack of banana’s?” Damn, that’s awesome. Guess what happens? Once you do that, other people will see that you’re promoting them and they’ll be like, “Hey man, you did this, can I send you my product now too?” And it’s actually worked out well.
Molly Pittman: So it’s kind of a snowball effect.
Noah Kagan: Well it has. What I’ve noticed for me is that at Sumo, one of the biggest ways that we’ve grown and even with OkDork and my Podcast and what I’ve encouraged other people is through contests, either as a co-promotion or as a giveaways and so now, once a quarter I systematize it where it’s in my calendar, we use King Sumo but there’s like Gleam that I owe or Raffle Copter and a few others and we run giveaways so I just get other partners to give me their stuff because I’ve spent time building the relationship. I promote the crap out of it and I get new people finding out about me, the partners win and then people, either find out about me and get free stuff which kind of everyone wins.
Keith Krance: Yeah, I’d love for you to elaborate a little on this. We used to have a coaching client Julia Huss, she’s a great example that if you’re listening right now and you don’t have a huge audience, you can start small and start with other smaller partners and you guys build each other up. So, Julia has four years ago, she had never written a book in her life, she was like a scientist. Now, she’s a multiple New York times best-selling author; fiction author, not nonfiction but fiction. She’s friends now with the author of 50 Shades of Grey, she’s done all of this through social media and she amplifies everything with Facebook ads so when she has any books coming out, she runs Facebook ads but she does a lot of the contests, the giveaways like you’re talking about and she partners up with other fiction authors. There’s a small group of them and they always help each other and it’s made a massive impact that’s built her entire brand. She makes like big money now just purely selling her books. All of her revenue comes from her books. No courses, nothing.
Noah Kagan: I think conception at a high level, Keith, I really like that story, it’s that it doesn’t matter if you’re small or big but other people have your customers and you have other people’s customers and there are ways in non-competitive groups and areas that you can try to figure out ways to work with them. It doesn’t have to be just a give-away, it can be a guest post, it could be just like, “Hey, let me promote something for you.  Hey we could do a bundle together,” I just think it’s more of as a strategy, look for people complimentary to you that you can work together with.
  I think part of the problem that most people have, Keith, is that they try to do it too late. So, they want to work with someone else and they’re like, “Hey can I just do this for you?” I’m like, “I don’t know you.”
Molly Pittman: Yeah.
Noah Kagan: So maybe make a list of the 10 people that you’d love to work within the next six months and then once a week, you spend 10 minutes just emailing them and trying to connect with them or setting up a phone call. By the end of the six months, I promise you, you would work with at least one of them and you’ll get some results out of that.
Molly Pittman: Yeah, we created a short list at DM like 10 other brands that we might be interested in doing some sort of co-promotion with in the future. We gave that list to our social media manager and she started mentioning them in Tweets and distributing their content and kind of trying to make social media friends with them. Right? It’s kind of like the Customer Journey for your business. You probably want to run ads to something of value before you ask someone to buy. I think these relationships work in a very similar way. A good way to start is yeah, email them once a week or Tweet their content. Make sure that they see you doing it. Try to place nice before you ask them to do something for you.
Noah Kagan: As Stephen Covey said, which is one of my favorite books, The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, you’ve got to do urgent stuff but you’ve also got to think about the important not urgent stuff. That’s where you get a lot of big wins. Some of my biggest growth in business success, I’ll tell you is because I spend a lot of time building relationships, setting up dinners, hosting events with Tim Ferriss’ and the Ramit Sethi’s and with Ryan, years before, you know, 10 years before. For people just thinking, if they think in that 10 year time frame, they’re way more likely to work with the people they want to.
Molly Pittman: So, your Podcast specifically, what other things are you doing? You’re getting on other Podcasts like this one, which should be great. Everyone goes into Noah’s Podcast.
Noah Kagan: Oh, Molly. You say that to all the nerds. You know what’s been interesting is that each different product has different marketing channels. What I’ve tried to do at a conceptually high level is called “Content Multiplication Framework,” basically it’s, instead of taking one thing and then having each channel, like you have to keep figuring out new things, different products have different marketing needs. With AppSumo, ads have worked really well, content marketing has not worked well. With Podcasts, being on other shows and just doing high quality interviews is the only thing that I’ve ever really seen it drive subscribers versus other things that have not moved the needle what-so-ever. I think you have to be aware of what channels are actually working for your medium and then go really deep on that.
  The second part of content multiplication is how can you not keep starting over? I made a video called Big Marketing Strategies and then I put that on YouTube and then I put it on Facebook ads, then I put it on my blog and then I put it on Quora and then I put it on LinkedIn and then I eventually, you’re like, “Okay, which channels are actually the most effective and how do I make that systematic each week?” I have a guy that I work with, that I hired to say, “Hey, I wrote the original idea. Can you help me edit and multiply the ideas that I’m already creating,” instead of always trying to find new things. Take what’s already working and then spread that to a lot more places.
Molly Pittman: Yeah.
Noah Kagan: He just has KPI’s you tweak, which is like help me post it on Quora, help me get one guest post for it. We used to do Pinterest but that wasn’t doing anything. We’re testing out Instagram but I’m probably going to kill that.
Molly Pittman: Right.
Noah Kagan: It’s like how do you multiply what’s already working versus always trying to find the next new thing?
Molly Pittman: I love that too. It’s so specific to each product and each avatar that you’re speaking to. People ask me questions like, “Does Instagram work,” or “Does Pinterest work,” and it’s like, “Of course it works but it depends on your business and your product,” right? It’s not, “Does this platform work?” It’s not a black or white answer. I think that you’ll find that the different distribution networks are going to depend on your market and who you’re speaking to.
  I saw that you did an ‘Ask Me Anything’ on Reddit. Can you talk to us about that?
Noah Kagan: Yeah.
Molly Pittman: That was cool.
Noah Kagan: It was fun and I actually got a crap ton of traffic and I was surprised how few haters I got.
Molly Pittman: So, how did it happen?
Noah Kagan: Someone reached out and said, “Hey, would you want to do an AMA?” I was like, “Yeah, sure, whatever. I don’t care,” and I love Reddit, I’m a big Reddit-er and I’ve been on Reddit a few times and mostly people just talk shit to me. Like, “Oh you’re a fake,” I’m like, “All right,” there’s no point to this. This guy said, “Hey-
Molly Pittman: You get in Reddit arguments.
Noah Kagan: Yeah and then they’re all calling me like, “That one time, you were a bum,” I’m like, “Okay, I don’t understand why you guys are so angry.”
Molly Pittman: Yeah, thanks.
Noah Kagan: Anyways, this guy posted it and it’s actually really nice to give back. One of the things actually, I didn’t try to hack it but I was like, “Oh, it would be cool to be one of those popular posts of all time,” so I said that I would donate to Reddit for every comment and it turned out it actually worked out kind of well. It wasn’t like my intention, I just thought it would be really fun and I’ve been trying to donate more money and people ended up getting I think it was like 1200 comments or something like that. It was some ridiculous amount and I really enjoyed commenting back. We have to give downwards as much as we want to take from upwards, is kind of the mentality that I look at. I want to meet people that are more successful and have done things that I aspire to but I also think to get there, you also have to make sure you’re giving back to people that want to get to where you are today.
  What happens as you get older, I’ll just say from experience is that as you do more. It’s what old people say, “You know, in my day Molly and Keith, let me tell you about the birds and the bees,” no so what happens though is that as you get more experience, you kind of just start saying, “Well, I did that before and it’ll never work again,” that’s not good. Just cause one date didn’t work out, doesn’t mean that you’ll never date again. It’s just that date didn’t work out. I think, as a marketer, you have to stay naïve.
Keith Krance: Yes, I see this all the time so I let somebody else say, “We tried video ads, they don’t work,” it could be something subtle that you did with that strategy or it could be the wrong timing, it could be anything.
Noah Kagan: I think that’s a very, very good way of putting it. Yeah. Video ads have not worked for me but I have a friend who runs a fitness business through Instagram making eight figures. There’s other people that do just YouTube that make probably seven figures, Simple Pickup or Christian Guzman or some of these other guys. So, you have to also figure out what medium is your advantage. I suck at taking photos. I take a photo, I put it on Instagram, it looks like poop cause I just don’t care. My friend Mary, a Paleo Chef, she takes a photo and then she changes the lighting, then she changes all these other filters.
Molly Pittman: The uses the filters.
Noah Kagan: She uses the filters, which I don’t even know what to do. I’m like, “I don’t know, it looks fine, I thought it looked fine,” She’s like, “Can’t you see the glare?”
Molly Pittman: Like taco, don’t you like this?
Noah Kagan: “Can’t you see the glare and the angle,” I’m like, “Nope.” Get this, then we’re at the Warrior’s game so she takes a photo to post on her channel and I think this is a very good lesson, it stuck with me; so she takes a photo and I’m like, “All right you’re going to post it right?” She’s like, “Yeah, I’m posting it,” I was like, “Okay,” and then she takes a photo in the first quarter and then by the fourth quarter, she’s still on her phone. I’m like, “What are you doing?” She’s like, “I’m working on the caption,” I’m like, “What do you mean you’re working on the caption? Post the photo,” I mean it’s not that I wanted to be featured, I was like, “What are you wasting,” she’s like, “Oh no, I want it to be right,” and on one end you can do that, clearly they’re stupid about social media but no, it was actually the opposite. She was taking it seriously and she was a professional with it.
Molly Pittman: Yeah, it’s copywriting.
Noah Kagan: Yeah, it’s the copy in it, it’s the photo, it’s the filter, she takes it seriously so sometimes when things aren’t working, it’s cause you’re treating it like a hobby and you’re not treating it like a professional. That’s why Mary has a thing called Fat Fudge, which is a food that she created, I think it’s almost sold a million dollars mostly from her Instagram account.
Molly Pittman: Wow.
Noah Kagan: That’s because she doesn’t treat her Instagram account like me with my poop. She treats it like a professional, which is amazing. With my content, I try to do that and I’ve actually realized with my YouTube, I got to put a lot more time into prepping the videos instead of just kind of adlibbing them. Yeah, you might see other people do it and it works for them but the reality is that it maybe just seems like it’s that easy when they’re actually spending a lot of time on it.
Keith Krance: I think this is a big one. I’ve been apologizing to my team a lot because I tend to take a long time creating a story board for a video, even if it’s a short video or a long copy post or something like that. It’s interesting because it usually comes out and works really, really well but I end up taking a long time, sometimes two to three days to write one post. But then, I look back a few months later and I was like, “Wow, that’s a post that I can run for like year straight,” and I was just listening to an amazing book, it’s called Pitch Anything, and it’s about framing and stuff and pitching to start ups and funding and stuff like that.
  The point was, he was using the example of Jerry Seinfeld, how he spends about a month prepping for any good comedian for a three minute segment and how the first three minutes is everything but even for his typical 20 minute segment, spends about two to three months prepping for that one 20 minute segment. We go and we look and we see these guys and we think that they are just so naturally funny, which they are typically, but nobody realizes the amount of prep that’s put into some very, very short pieces of content. It’s amazing. Sometimes that right there, what you just said, is game changing. That’s why sometimes I tell people, “It’s okay if you spend too much time thinking about what you want to say on a message because that’s what’s going to make the biggest impact.”
  Aaron Sorkin, he’s got a MasterClass actually, I saw this in his MasterClass about screen writing and just story based writing, he’s one of the best screen writers in Hollywood. A Few Good Men, Social Network, Steve Jobs; the good one; The West Wing. There’s this little clip and maybe we can put the juicy quote of it in the Show Notes, but he talks about bulking up to write. It’s exactly what you talked about, Noah, about the research that you do. Your best articles that have gone viral are the ones that you put the time and the research into. I just want to play this:
Aaron Sorkin: Once I say I’m starting until the moment I deliver it is usually about 18 to 24 months on a screenplay. Most of that time is spent bulking up, preparing to write. Once I start typing the screenplay, if everything’s going great, I can usually do it in two or three months. What came before that was months and months and months, probably a year of not writing, of banging your head against the wall, of doing a lot of research on whether it’s reading or meeting with people. Most days you wake up in the morning and you go to sleep at the end of the day and you haven’t written anything. It’s a demoralizing feeling. On the other hand, those much less common days, where you did write and you wrote something good, you feel like you can fly.
Keith Krance: If you want to do something and make it good, sometimes that extra research that you put into it, it changes the game, it makes that video, post or Instagram that much better.
Molly Pittman: So Noah, if you were starting from scratch and you wanted to generate new customers for your business and you wanted to create content to do so because you know that’s a good way to give value first, where would you start?
Noah Kagan: All right so I’ve had an idea, it’s a stupid idea but those are my favorite. I want someone to create packing lists, meaning that people who are travelers-
Molly Pittman: Yes!
Noah Kagan: Right? It’s like if you’re traveling to … I’m actually going camping this weekend.
Molly Pittman: Packing list for Thailand.
Noah Kagan: Exactly. Like hey, here’s a few of my preferences, here’s where I’m going, check the weather, figure it out and just tell me what to get and maybe I don’t have to follow it but at least make my life easier. There’s two separate things, which is number one, when you’re starting a business, you want people to have that, “Yes! That sounds great. Okay, here’s the money.” Most people have a business and it’s like oh yeah, that’s kind of cool. So you’ve got to find things that people want. So, with content, I would, Molly, my thought, as I was kind of saying earlier is that not every marketing strategy will work for every business.
  Content marketing never, like traditional blog content, did not work for AppSumo, it’s our number three thing for Sumo.com though. You know, our email marketing software, it works great for that. AppSumo, it doesn’t. What I do is I say, “What’s my goal? What’s my time frame? What are my targets each month and then what are the marketing activities per month that I’m willing to test out and what is the expectation of I?” And then every month I review the performance of it and then I cut some and then I increase others.
  So I say, “All right well, content did well, let me do more of that. Ads didn’t do well, cut that. PR did well, partnerships did well, affiliate,” there’s pretty standard ones, I’m sure there’s some list that people can find. I think that’s more important than me saying that content is the only way to grow a business.
Molly Pittman: Absolutely.
Noah Kagan: For people that are saying, “Well, I have no, nothing. No, nothing. I think content’s it,” fine, sure. Most importantly is that you have to actually put great content that people want to read, which people know that but they don’t put in the work for it. Let me make it very clear. If you’re creating content, do two things. You have to put in a minimum of 20 hours of writing it. If you do not put in a cumulative minimum of 20 hours of writing it, it’s not great. I’ve never seen a really great article that lasts forever with an hour put into it. There’s a direct correlation of the articles that I’ve taken the longest to write and I’ve had editors and paid people to help me review them and how well they’ve done. So, my Tony Robbins article went kind of viral. My article about how things go viral, because we researched a bunch, went viral. How I Got Fired by Facebook went viral. Viral, I’m talking like 100,000 views in a day. It’s only because I spent a month to three months writing it.
Molly Pittman: Right.
Noah Kagan: It could still be short but I put a lot of hours into it. The second thing, if you’re starting out is that I would probably spend the majority of my time writing guest posts on other people’s platforms because they already have people. It’s kind of like throwing a party and you’re a DJ and you have great music but you’re home alone. You’re home alone, it’s kind of awkward, go DJ at someone else’s party.
Molly Pittman: Get out there.
Noah Kagan: Like think about what do rappers do? Yeah, get out there.
Molly Pittman: Right.
Noah Kagan: Like I said, I’ve never found a girlfriend because I wait at home and they’re just magically going to knock on my door. You can learn a lot about marketing from rappers. One of my different strategies is that they all feature each other on their music. Why do they do that? One, it makes their music better.
Molly Pittman: Cross promotion.
Noah Kagan: And they each expand the pie for each other.
Molly Pittman: Absolutely.
Noah Kagan: So, Drake got big because of Lil Wayne and he has good music but Lil Wayne, Birdman and Nicki Minaj and the thing about Justin Bieber, now he’s been with all these rappers so no one thinks he sucks anymore.
Molly Pittman: Right. Well then they create this little tribes and they’re all cross promoting one another.
Noah Kagan: Yeah and then they each help each other grow and it works out. Symbiotic.
Molly Pittman: Yeah. I think even from a content perspective, if you’re just starting out and say you’re not a good writer, you can’t get good writers and you really have two things to offer. You either already have an audience that you’re going to expose them to or you can pay them money. There really isn’t an excuse for having bad content if you have an audience or if you have money to pay someone who is a good content creator in your market.
Noah Kagan: For a lot of people out there, you also have to figure out what medium is your strong point. If you’re ugly, I probably wouldn’t do YouTube. My friend JR, he’s a good looking Asian guy and he loves doing film but he’s never put out a blog post. It’s like why have the blog? No. If you love doing photos, go on Instagram. If you like doing writing, do blogging, if you like audio, maybe do Podcast and so it’s kind of if you’re more of an analytical, psychological person, maybe just do advertising.
Molly Pittman: Yeah.
Noah Kagan: I think you kind of have to play to your strengths instead of, “Well I have to write because everyone has a blog,” now that blogging is called content marketing and I’m sure in another year, they’ll call it a different name.
Molly Pittman: Right.
Noah Kagan: Figure out the thing that you like doing that you’re good at.
Molly Pittman: Yeah, blogging does not equal content marketing. Blogging is like one, one thousandth of content marketing. Find something you’re good at. Keith and Ralph and I just like to talk into these microphones and bring cool people like you on so that’s why this Podcast has been a success. We enjoy doing it. I think that’s key too.
Keith Krance: Absolutely.
Noah Kagan: Just go make sure your stuff is really good and then it makes everything a lot easier and then do your marketing and advertising all around the stuff that’s great. So, find whatever your best article is and then just advertise that to a very targeted audience. I’m sure there’s articles on johnloomer.com, I’ve put one out on OkDork about how to do ads or DM has a bunch of content on marketing for advertising. For me, the way I’ve done it, I kind of call it my restaurant strategy. All my ads, I never do an opt in right now and it might change but right now I just say, “Hey, here’s a great article, here’s a great thing. There’s no opt in, just enjoy it.” It’s like a meal. Come enjoy the meal.
Molly Pittman: Yeah.
Noah Kagan: So, when you go to a nice restaurant, they don’t give you the bill first, they give you a meal, which is kind of weird but that’s how they do it and then at the end of the meal they’re like “Hey, if you enjoyed it, here’s your bill,” and you’re like, “Cool, yeah, that was a great meal.” That’s kind of the approach I’ve been doing with my advertising, which is come enjoy whatever I’m marketing so content mostly and then I do re-targeting, which is my opt-in. I don’t actually ask aggressively at all during the initial meal. That’s actually so far I’ve been getting like a rounded dollar email sign ups. It seems like quality people just based on stocking the people that sign up.
Molly Pittman: Totally. I mean that’s the value for strategy that we use and it allows people to experience you before you ask for something. It’s like walking up to someone on the street and asking them for money but if you called me, Noah, and said, “Hey, I need some money,” I would probably be more likely to give you money than the person on the street because we know each other, there’s some relational equity there. It’s the same thing with online marketing. I agree most of what we do at DigitalMarketer now is simply re-targeting people that are coming in to read our blog, listening to our podcast, people that have already gotten value and they say, “Wow, these people are smart, I trust them,” right? “They’ve given me value so if I give them something in exchange it can only be better than what I’ve gotten from them in the past,” I really think that’s the way to especially build any type of online media business right now.
Keith Krance: I think that’s a very good message.
Molly Pittman: Yeah.
Noah Kagan: At our company at sumo.com we did Instagram and we grew it to 100,000 followers, we spent maybe 20, 30 thousand bucks and it drove zero dollars. I kid you not, we promoted on the Instagram account for months like, “Hey, check out Instagram, check out our site, check out our site,” zero, literally zero. Not like it was maybe 50 cents, no, literally zero. You read another article that’s like, “Instagram’s the greatest,” and I think the bigger concept though is that 80%, I hate the 80, 20 rule because we all know it but we don’t do it.
Molly Pittman: Right.
Noah Kagan: Everyone’s heard it. I have 80, 20 but I’ve got to do 80 of everything. I think we have to be aggressive on is surgically killing things that are not working or not even showing any promise, very aggressively and then very aggressively on the flip side of that, any promise you’ve got to go crazy on.
Molly Pittman: Understanding that if you do find something that’s working, you’re probably the visionary or the person that’s staying out front to figure out the new and cool stuff. If you do find something that’s working, hand it off to someone who’s a little bit more consistent, who’s okay with doing the same thing every day because it will allow you to essentially keep that machine in your business running while you can go find other cool stuff to do.
Keith Krance: I think part of it is what you brought up right when we started this little conversation here is a little bit of it’s fear. I think a lot of it is because we do get bored but I think part of it is fear, we don’t want to be left behind. Who else is doing something better than us? We don’t want to be left behind so we want to be doing some of these new strategies and I think some of it’s that too, so I think having the people on your team, just like Molly said, and then also being able to very, very intentionally look back every month or every quarter, what really was working, let’s make sure we keep doing those things.
Noah Kagan: I think people should not feel guilty.
Keith Krance: Right.
Noah Kagan: Molly, like what you were talking about. A lot of us that run companies or do marketing have a lot of guilt.
Molly Pittman: Yeah.
Noah Kagan: Because oh, I should be doing this, I shouldn’t be doing that. It’s like no, find the things that you’re great at. So, I’m great at starting. In terms of marketing, I’m great at finding new opportunities. One thing I’ve been looking at is like Google Chrome, as like the Chrome extension market and I don’t think a lot of people have tapped that out. I’m really great at finding it and figuring it out and getting it kind of going but similar to you, Molly, I personally am not as great, I’m not bad but I’m not great at maintaining. I truly believe you’ll only be as great as the people around you.
Molly Pittman: Absolutely.
Noah Kagan: So, go find your strength, whatever it is and don’t apologize for your weaknesses and focus on your strength and then find other people to compliment that. I think people know this advice as well. Most of the stuff we say, you’ve probably heard before. I mean we can talk tactics but again, it’s like you know the answers, which is go do what works, focus on what you’re great at and then bring people around you that can support you in the other ways.
  I have a guy who I found that’s amazing at Quora. I think you guys know Quora.
Molly Pittman: Yeah.
Noah Kagan: He’s a top thousand or top hundred person on Quora so I pay him to help me with Quora and teach me it. Why? Because that’s not my jam.
Molly Pittman: Right.
Noah Kagan: Right. I don’t go into medical school, I just go to a doctor.
Molly Pittman: Right.
Noah Kagan: You know?
Molly Pittman: Yes. You don’t need to know everything. Or do you?
Noah Kagan: I don’t think I’m the best marketer out there. I think what I’ve done professionally what more people should think about is, “Do I have the right product? Is my product actually great?” It’s not generally marketing challenges and then from there, how do you find the people that are best in different marketing strategies or channels and really just enable them?
Molly Pittman: Right. Well if you have the best product, I mean marketing is really just the articulation of how your product takes someone from an undesirable before state to a desirable after state. Marketing is really just the articulation of why your product is good.
Noah Kagan: So, that’s a very good question. How do you know when your product is great because a lot of people out there are like, “Well, I’m doing these marketing tactics and I love DM and Noah, I’ve listened to your stuff, Noah Kagan presents Podcasts and I’ve tried all this shit but it’s not working,” how do you actually know when it’s working? What do you think about that?
Molly Pittman: I think you know if your product or service is good if you can actually change someone’s life with it. If you can in some way improve the way someone feels, what they have, how they think about themselves, their average day, if you sell a razor and maybe it saves someone five minutes a day, you have transformed their life in some way. They will tell you, they will tell other people, they will become an advocate, they will promote your brand. I think that’s when you know you have a good product or service.
Noah Kagan: I was using Slack this morning and it has become more popular with a lot of tech companies and they’ve been down the past two days and that was actually a very interesting reminder, it kind of sucks, I really need this product to run my business better.
Molly Pittman: Right.
Noah Kagan: That was the moment that I was like, “Oh, that’s a good product.”
Molly Pittman: It was the pain of disconnect.
Noah Kagan: I’ve actually never traditionally studied marketing. I didn’t have a mentor but I found mint.com when I worked as the Director of Marketing and I was like, “Oh, this is a really great product. Who do you think are the most likely people,” and we did a bunch of research, we went out and talked to people, which most people that work online don’t want to do.
Molly Pittman: Right. Talk to other humans?
Noah Kagan: But it meant I spent a lot of time thinking, “Who really needs help with personal finance? What’s the messaging for them,” and then I zeroed in on those people. For Mint, it was personal finance bloggers and it was like young professionals because for them it was a really appealing market and so then I only marketed towards them and this is actually for everyone listening, a really great way you know you’re doing your marketing well, you have people say this, this is the phrase they’re going to say, “I see you everywhere.”
Molly Pittman: Right.
Noah Kagan: And it’s not re-targeting, it’s not the re-targeting.
Molly Pittman: Right. I hear about you everywhere.
Noah Kagan: Yes. That means you’re doing your marketing well because the right audience is seeing you everywhere.
Molly Pittman: Right and talking about you. Noah, what’s funny, I’m not sure if you remember this but a few years ago I ran into you in a bar in Austin and you told me that our ads here at DigitalMarketer were boring and now I take that as a compliment based off of this conversation.
Noah Kagan: You are quite welcome.  It’s interesting you say that, I do remember that conversation and I don’t apologize for it. What’s interesting with that is that with sumo.com or even with okdork.com, my personal site, we’ve spent a good amount on ads and I’ve spent, I helped build Facebook ads and I’ve spent millions, personally on ads.
Molly Pittman: You worked for Facebook.
Noah Kagan: Yeah. But what’s interesting is sometimes in business, we make these assumptions like it’s boring but sometimes you do have to test it and see what works so a lot of times, I just want to be funny or I think I’m funny but that may not actually work. With advertising, I think it’s one of the coolest channels, specifically, because you can actually try scary, funny, hope, statistics, whatever type of method and actually see psychologically what convinces people to go and purchase your product or engage with you.
Molly Pittman: Yeah.
Noah Kagan: Don’t make the assumptions about what will work.
Molly Pittman: Oh, totally.
Noah Kagan: I think that, that definitely is a bad trap for people.
Molly Pittman: Yeah, we just launched a traffic course here at DigitalMarketer and inside of the course, I give 11 ad hooks. Right? Because you never really know what someone is going to respond to and Keith, you and I talked about this, not only, which hook, whether it’s you have this afterwards that you didn’t have before or you’re going to feel different, your average day is going to be better, your status is going to increase or maybe use a story to tell or an analogy, a comparison, a logic statement, a fact, like you said, there are so many different hooks that you can use to sell and so many people are worried about which one is going to win. Okay, I tested all of this, now what’s the winner?
  It’s always fun to find the winner but it doesn’t mean that the other ones don’t work. Keith, you and I talked about this, it’s okay to have like four or five or 40 or 50 different marketing messages running at one time because they’re all going to appeal to different people.  Noah might respond to more of a humor based ad while Keith is more logical and I’m more feeling based.
Keith Krance: Yeah, I actually think that’s one of the biggest mistakes that people that are running traffic are making right now is getting over analytical and trying to turn off everything that’s not a winner because yes, one might be a little bit lower performance wise or costing you a little bit more on a per click or maybe a per lead basis but that person might actually end up spending more money with you. Unless it’s way outside your range you have to understand that there’s so many different personality types and it’s okay.
Noah Kagan: Everyone gets excited about AB testing but most AB tests, even though it’s got 99% confidence, there’s still 1% confidence that’s not going to work and what happens though is that it’s not longitudinal enough meaning that when you’re testing things, like we’ve done this numerous times, so we tested our email templates and it was like a 20% increase or we changed some of our pricing and it was literally a 10% increase in revenue. Most of our tests are one month long, give or take and what happens though is that you don’t realize that there’s sentiment that’s poor or it’s a crappy customer experience and six months later things are down and that’s happened on our email templates, that’s happened on our pricing with Sumo.
Molly Pittman: Right.
Noah Kagan: Then how you do even figure out, diagnose where that came from. I think just being sensitive and aware that we have to not just jump to conclusions right away.
Keith Krance: If people think about their marketing, treat people like you would in the real world. Like yeah, you might be able to be fake nice to somebody for 30 seconds to get them to give you their business card or get them to set an appointment with you. Yeah, you win in the beginning there but you don’t win in the end because he walks away with a crappy feeling. The same thing happens with your leads and your customers and that’s exactly to what you just said and so sometimes that’s hard to measure but if you really think about how can all of your marketing and messaging be making a positive impact on people, whether they take action or not, then you’re going to win in the end because they’re going to come into your funnel, into your world with open arms instead of closed arms and kind of skeptical.
Noah Kagan: Part of the problem is that when you get some level of success or notoriety or accomplishing of what you want, you kind of stop doing the things that got you there. Literally the number one marketing tactic and traffic tactic, like it’s literally 100% always works, all you have to do is once you’ve run your company for a year or five years, I’ve been running sumo.com and AppSumo for seven years, all you have to do is say, “All right, well what worked in the beginning,” and you’re like, “Oh, well we used to do this a lot,” and you don’t do it anymore and then you go do that and it works again and you’re like, “Why did I stop doing that?” I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had those conversations with people.
Molly Pittman: Yeah, it worked, we quit doing it. Why? Just cause we forgot.
Noah Kagan: I think the bigger thing is that it’s boring and I think that’s the part that a lot of us have to overcome in marketing where if actually the boring stuff wins-
Molly Pittman: Right.
Noah Kagan: -And if you can outlast your competition and if you can stick with something that’s working longer, you’ll generally win. We all want to kind of find the next new tactic that we can go try, when more than anything most people already have something working, what they don’t do is say, “How can I double what’s working today?”
Molly Pittman: Right.
Noah Kagan: How can I find something that works, do more of it and then kill what’s not working?
Molly Pittman: Awesome.
Keith Krance: I noticed on your site AppSumo.com, you’ve got a contest landing page and it’s at AppSumo.com/growthhacker-contest and we’ll link to that in the Show Notes but you’re going to give away $25,000 in prizes and it’s basically, I think if you want to go through what he talked about and see a contest in action, I’m not sure how long this will be running but if it’s not when the show goes live, maybe, I mean you said you’re doing about every three months or so, something like that?
Noah Kagan: Yeah, we do them every quarter so I’m doing one on OkDork next week.
Keith Krance: Love it. So maybe we can link to that. That’s it. Great stuff, thanks for coming on, appreciate it once again. Hit up the Show Notes. Good stuff. Thank you.
Molly Pittman: Thank you, Noah.
Noah Kagan: Big thank you, guys.
Molly Pittman: We appreciate you.
Keith Krance: Hopefully you enjoyed it, you, the listener, and we will talk to you on the next one.

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