S3 • E11 – Nov 30, 2022

Inside Marketing Design at RightMessage

with Co-Founder Brennan Dunn

with Co-Founders Brennan Dunn and

with Co-Founder Brennan Dunn and

In this episode, Charli talks with Brennan Dunn, Co-Founder at RightMessage. Brennan is one of only two people at RightMessage, and he talks about how he balances all the various tasks on his plate, including design. Brennan also talks about personalization, and how focusing on specific segments of your audience can lead to a greater connection and, ultimately, higher conversion rates. Right Message is a tool that helps creators survey their audience to segment them and provide the most relevant content for that segment, as well as personalize their websites to speak directly to a certain audience segment.


  • 02:01 - How design works at RightMessage
  • 07:17 - How Brennan describes the RightMessage brand
  • 14:28 - The strategy behind the new website design
  • 15:23 - Tools Brennan uses in the design process
  • 17:18 - How Brennan came up with the narrative flow for the new website
  • 19:02 - The most challenging parts of the new design
  • 22:47 - How long Brennan spends on a design project
  • 24:03 - How Brennan uses metrics
  • 34:26 - Are there situations where the effort to personalize doesn’t pay off? 
  • 40:32 - The biggest challenges Brennan is facing
  • 43:01 - Brennan’s proudest design win


Welcome to Inside Marketing Design, the show we dive deep into brand and marketing design processes and projects in tech. I'm your host, Charli Marie. I'm the creative director at ConvertKit, and I've spent the last seven years of my career working as part of very small marketing teams, but not as small, let me tell you, as today's guest, Brennan Dunn from RightMessage. RightMessage is a tool that helps creators survey their audience to segment them, and provide the most relevant content for that segment, as well as personalize their websites to speak directly to a certain audience segment, and give them, like the RightMessage, get it? Now Brennan is actually the co-founder of RightMessage and the team is made up of just him and his co-founder. And I don't mean the marketing team, I mean the whole company. It's just those two people. So, in this episode we get to hear a lot of details about how Brennan designs the marketing website as a co-founder, alongside his many other responsibilities and without having like a design team around him. And we're also gonna learn a lot about website personalization and how speaking to different niches of your audience can lead to a greater conversion rate success. So yeah, a lot of great marketing strategy learning to be had in this episode. 

First though, a huge thanks to Webflow for sponsoring Inside Marketing Design. I've been a very happy Webflow user for many years for the websites that I build for my business. And I must be onto something because 3.5 million other designers and teams are using it too. It's a no code website building tool with a very customizable CMS that lets you create whatever fields you like for a collection of content and then use that content however you like within your page layouts. So if you are used to something like WordPress, you're going to be shocked at how powerful the workflow CMS functionality makes you feel, I promise. Go try it out for yourself for free @insidemarketingdesign.com/webflow. Now, let's get into the episode and take a look inside Marketing Design at RightMessage. 

Welcome to the show Brennan. Very excited to have you here and cover a very different side of marketing design and tech than perhaps we've covered in other episodes. Given the size of RightMessage and your role as it's founder slash designer, the moment, tell me about Design at RightMessage. What do you design yourself and what do you outsource?

Brennan:- This might not be what listeners want to hear, but design is very much still an afterthought at the company.

Charli:- Ooh!

Brennan:- It's one of these things-

Charli:- We'll pull that knife from our backs-

Brennan:- I know, I know, I know, I know. Well, it's one of these things where there's two people in the company that are full-time. There's myself and my co-founder, Shai, he's the technical co-founder, so he does all the coding and the product stuff and I work with him on the product like direction, but he does all the development. And then there's me who's the marketing founder. So, I fit design under that umbrella of all my marketing tasks, which involve email marketing and doing the podcast rounds and manning support and like all that kind of stuff. So when it comes to design at RightMessage, it's very much like we created the website. It worked for a while. We started to see where people were getting confused through like pre-sales questions and then we'd go back and tweak it or decide to redo it completely. And it's had a few, probably about four or five full revisions since the original launch. We have better context into what we're building and what people want. Let's open up a Google doc, start writing the copy and then we will figure out the design to house the copy we've written. So it's very much copy first and then design is kind of a supporting infrastructure for the copy,

Charli:- That sounds better than afterthought, supporting infrastructure. But you have somewhat of a design background, right? It's not like you're coming at this totally blind when it was design.

Brennan:- Kind of, yeah, so back in high school in the early 2000s, my first job actually was as a "designer", but it was really an afterschool job at a print shop where most of my job would be doing business card layout. But how I got the job was I was a sort of kid who would go to the bookshop, grab the computer arts magazine and just flip through it and sometimes buy it if I had the money. I would go home to my pirate copy of Photoshop and do all the like adenoids, put a bit of blur and do that kind of like grunge thing that was pretty big in the year, early two thousands. Yeah, that was my design experience if you will, which was doing that kind of stuff. I had a great friend in high school who was a, he taught himself how to do font design and he's actually now a really well regarded photographer and font designer, which is kind of cool. But I kind of thought in a way that I would go down that path too. I never felt myself to be that creative, but I liked the technical work of design. So I almost went into going to design school or art school I guess. I went to a high school that had like a broadcast electronic arts kind of program in it. So I learned Photoshop, not formally, but just picking it up from, again, these computer arts magazines and just playing with a tool. But at the same time I was teaching myself PHP. So got into coding too and really enjoyed that. In a way, started to prefer software development to design. So I ended up not going to design school, ended up not going even into like software development or anything. I ended up going to a liberal arts college and studying Greece and Rome.

Charli:- Oh!

Brennan:- So something completely different. So I have no, I have no formal training in either software or designer. I have a complete-

Charli:- But somehow now you end up working in both of them.

Brennan:- Yes, exactly.

Charli:- Yes,

Brennan:- Exactly. So I'm very self taught I guess in all that stuff. But it's working.

Charli:- Yeah, and I think that there's a lot of designers out there who are actually working in design roles. You know, that's the title who are self taught too. That's the reality and kind of a cool thing about our industry is you don't have to have formal training to do it well, but why did you make this choice then? Like given your design background, it's there but it's minimal and given how many other tasks and like work there is for you to do at RightMessage, why did you decide to be the one to design the website versus outsourcing it?

Brennan:- We raised funding when we launched, so we had money in the bank and we figured well we're supposed to hire people with this money, right? So we did actually hire somebody to do the first version. My partner Laura did the design of it all in Photoshop and then she gave the PSDs to somebody who basically converted it to HTML, the first version of the site. I didn't do, we didn't really know what the job of the website was and we ended up in a way creating a really nice looking website but it was the wrong website. I would eventually get kind of frustrated with it and think I wanna do it right now that I have more data. And to be honest, I'm not the greatest delegator. So because I do know a bit of design, I end up making the very bad decision of thinking I'll just do it myself because I don't want to roll the dice and potentially get somebody who is what I would consider somebody who's more focused on the look and feel rather than the objective of the website. You know, there's always that risk and Laura's busy with her own stuff so I didn't wanna keep pulling her in to be RightMessages on off designer type role, if that makes sense? So yeah, I ended up just doing it myself and ever since that's how it's been. I mean really the only thing at the minute that's on the website that I didn't do is the logo, which is what Laura did when we first launched.

Charli:- There we go see and you've made it work and it's obviously been working out well for you as RightMessage has grown and evolved over the years and we're gonna definitely get into talking about the new RightMessage site or like landing page currently as well. But first though, I'm curious to know how you would describe the RightMessage brand 'cause a brand is obviously more than just the look and feel like you said. There's a lot that goes into it. So I'm curious to know that and also with this V2 launching of RightMessage, are there any changes you wanna make to how it is perceived as a brand?

Brennan:- When we first released the product back in 2017, our focus was on full website personalization and that was what we tried to bake into the product and the messaging around the product and everything else, which was you tell us something about the people on your website and how you tell us that is by integrating your website with your email platform. So somebody's tagged customer, they're on your website, we then wanna give them a different experience than somebody who just showed up from Google. So that was kind of the initial thought with the product. The branding issue with that was most of our competitors and this is still true to this day, are very high in the enterprise space. They tend to be like not self-signup, no pricing on the website, it's all like book meetings with account rep people and all that kind of stuff, right? So that's our competition then. That's our competition to this day. And I think the reason we've always been this outlier is 'cause they knew something we didn't, which is most companies unless they're these enterprise type companies, don't have the data to be able to do true personalization. So they're not tracking the industry of people on their email list or the job role or the company size or any of these sort of things. Like very few companies have anything beyond a first name and an email address. So it was very hard to use RightMessage for them and we ran into this issue of well we could do like the the Bounce Exchange route. Bounce Exchange is a company that basically created their own really nice smart opt-in tool but it's not a thing you can just buy, they're an agency that has their own internal product and you need to hire them and their designers and their copywriters and do the whole agency thing to get it. So we thought we could do something where, because a lot of personalization involves copywriting, so different copy for different variants and you need to do a lot of like upfront strategy work and it's not as simple as just throwing a tool at somebody. We could go down and do the route of making ourselves effectively an agency and doing that again 'cause that's my background and I was really reluctant to do that again, where we're doing a lot of like pre-sales phone calls and the sales cycle is super long and I just looked at friends of mine who ran SaaS's who have like marketing site people go plug in their credit card and buy and I thought that's more what I want. I don't wanna have a calendar full of sales calls.

Charli:- Let the marketing site be the salesperson for you.

Brennan:- Exactly, exactly.

Charli:- Yeah.

Brennan:- So that was really impossible to do we found with selling ourselves as a personalization tool. So we've shifted now especially with the new product we just launched into being the ultimate platform for understanding your audience. So how do you go beyond, I have a list of like 10,000 people. I have their first names, I have their email addresses, but beyond that I don't really know much. I don't know what they're struggling with on individual levels. I have gut assumptions but I don't know quantitatively the breakup of the people I'm serving. We've kind of rebranded as this tool that makes it really, really painless and easy to survey and quiz your audience to get the data you need to give you a bird's eye view of who, who your audience is, but also individual level like Charli, this is what we know about her and so on and so forth. So we can send targeted emails that speak directly to what she needs. So that's kind of what we we're focusing on now is how do you go beyond basic first name and email data to have a rich profile of everyone on your email list.

Charli:- It's doing similar things to the version one of the product, right? But is definitely a very different framing. I'm curious to know what design decisions you are making to help build this new like brand perception and if there's changes that you are gonna make there to how RightMessage looks visually as part of this?

Brennan:- We ran into a few big issues. The biggest one was in order to use RightMessage correctly, you had to use us to do your opt-ins. So if you're using say converted forms, you would need to sign up for trial for us, rip out all your converted forms, which is risky and takes time, put our thing in and then if you hate it you need to backtrack. It was really difficult to get people to transition, right? So what we're doing now, you can use any form, you can use converted forms, you can use whatever anything you want opt-in Monster. And then instead of showing the normal confirmation, like check your email page. You redirect them to the page we create for you, which is this survey that automatically knows this is the person who just opt in so they don't need to type their email address again. And then as they click through and complete the survey, that data is then synced up automatically and in real time to their say new ConvertKit record. The product itself the way we change things to make that easy is we basically replicated a product like Keynote for the web where you can visually create these really nice looking surveys and you can say when this button is clicked, when this answer's clicked, I wanna tag them up in their convert kit record with this or something and then I wanna move them down to this next screen and so on. So it becomes this really nice visual flow of screens and screens could be textual like, "Hey check your inbox, we just sent you an email." Or it could be, "Pick one of the following best represents your industry." and it's some pictures or something. So we've tried to make it really specific in terms of what you should do with a product. Whereas the original RightMessage was a open-ended platform where you could do anything you wanted with it, which was great for some people but for the majority of people it ended up being really confusing. We've gotten much more focused on we're targeting creators, people who are selling usually courses or coaching or whatever online. We're not going down the E-commerce route like we used to or the enterprise or anything like that. We're going after people who they sell digital products and they just want to be able to get a little more than they get from Google Analytics, which is like how many people are from Spain who are coming to our website. We wanna know what are people uniquely struggling with and what best represents, in my case, what I'm asking my audience for create and sell. Like what email platform do you use? If you don't use one? What's holding you back? If you do use one, what do you love about it? How experienced are you with it? And so on. And I get all that information so I can do things like, well if they say they use ConvertKit, I'm gonna pitch Master ConvertKit to them. But I wouldn't pitch that course to somebody who uses Active Campaign, right? It doesn't make any sense. So that's the kind of data that I wouldn't be able to do without this kind of surveying 'cause I wouldn't know for instance what people use. What we're trying to do with the marketing with that said is we're trying to think through, okay so we're going after a more focused audience, which frankly we should have done from the beginning. We shouldn't have been as broad the first five years of our existence we're really focused in on creators. They're very similar in a way to who ConvertKit focuses on, we're trying to make the core argument that a first name in an email address is not enough, that you need more knowledge of who you're serving. 'Cause with that you can direct the direction of the business and say we have, you know, "80% of our list is struggling in this way so let's make sure we focus our future content on serving them." But also like I was mentioning the individual level stuff like let's not pitch this one product that helps agencies to somebody who's a freelancer or something.

Charli:- Yeah, that makes a lot of sense. One thing that I noticed looking at the new RightMessage site compared to the previous one is that honestly it feels like a different brand because you've gone complete dark mode with it dark compared to like yeah very light version before. How did that decision come about and how do you see that fitting in with this new brand perception you wanna build?

Brennan:- You wanna know the honest answer? So-

Charli:- Is it 'cause you just like dark mode?

Brennan:- No, I actually don't use dark mode. Tailwind just came out with the new templates.

Charli:- Okay.

Brennan:- And one of them was a SAS website template and it defaulted to a dark blue background.

Charli:- So and you're like, "That looks nice."

Brennan:- Let's go with that, I really like the transistor website. So Transistor FM, the podcasting platform.

Charli:- That's what we use for this podcast. It'll be interesting to see how it compares like the performance of the site to the existing one, right? I know it won't be easy to test 'cause it's a different offer but honestly that was a question I was gonna ask you though was ask someone who wouldn't maybe consider themselves a designer, what tools and things do you use in your design process to make it easier? And it sounds like templates, Tailwind is part of an answer here.

Brennan:- I designed the browser, I have Visual Studio code open. I write stuff and hit save and look at the web browser and see if it looks the way I wanted to. I have actually just started recently doing some stuff with Figma just as a way to quickly mock up things. I'm a big fan of Tailwind CSS, I find it really jives well with the way I do work. The new website is built in Next.js Which one nice thing about that is it compiles in like milliseconds. So I have on the left side of my screen the coded on the right side of the screen, Chrome. I add CSS classes or whatever or Tailwind classes, click save and then immediately on the right side of my the screen I see what it'll look like.

Charli:- And it sounds like you're more comfortable with like or can work faster in code than in mocking up in Figma anyway. So that is your way to like yeah figure out the design faster is just to go straight into coding it.

Brennan:- My big issue is from like a practicality point of view, if I go into Figma and mock up a new page design, I then still need to translate it into each Html and css. To me at least it seems inefficient doing that versus just doing it in the final prime.

Charli:- Right, 'cause you know what classes are and what the options are there versus designing something and then figure out what option gets me closest to this result that I wanna have.

Brennan:- Yeah, exactly.

Charli:- Yeah. Anything else that comes in as part of your design process? Like these little things that make it more efficient for you to design?

Brennan:- You know, a thing I have started using is Coolors, I think? Or something-

Charli:- Oh, yeah!

Brennan:- The like color palette website. So that's been kind of cool 'cause I've always been really horrible thinking or coming up with complimentary colors and stuff like that.

Charli:- Yep, I love coolers just hitting that space bar and having it generate different ideas for you, very addictive. Well, let's talk a little bit more about the design of this new landing page then which you created to launch RightMessage V2/ Like we said looks visually very different from the previous page but also in terms of the structure of it, it feels quite different. Like it seems like you've taken more of a narrative approach to this page than a traditional SaaS or it's like image on one side, text on the other. Talk me through how you decided to lay out the page this way.

Brennan:- There's two people, or two companies I should say, not people, that I was looking at for inspiration in terms of what I really liked. One of them was NOCO time, it used to be called Freckle. It's a long form sales page that is very much copy heavy, starts out with here's the problem, gets into the solution and so on. And I also looked at Laura Rotor's new coaching platform, which again it's a SaaS but it's sold kinda like an info product. I think we need to in a way convince people that it's important to segment. Just having features on how we can help you segment your list. That would be insufficient 'cause I think we need to also make a strong case for why segmentation needs to happen. So this is my attempt at doing that. There's not as much copy as there could have been. I think there's some other projects I've done that have been technically software where I do sell it as effectively a long form sales page. This site for instance, it's a single page site at the minute, but it started out as a Google doc where the Google doc I tend to write a decent amount of copy. Then it comes, "Well how do I then use structure and design to make this stuff really digestible?" I see the job of design for me at least as being to make the content easier to to read and to consume, to make it more obvious what's going on. When I got into the kind of the traditional grid of all the different features and benefits, that started out as bullet points in a Google doc and I was thinking, "Well would it be better to show a long list of bullet points or have a grid type blocky thing." So that's why I went with that and that was honestly the only reasoning and rationale behind that. I know what I wanna say. How do I use design to make it more obvious?

Charli:- Was there any particular part of this page that was most challenging to figure out what is the right structure for the packaging of the content to make it more digestible like you said?

Brennan:- You'll notice there's like outside of the video, there's no screenshots to the product and that's because we launched it to be functionally really nice. But to be honest, I'm not super proud of the UX at the minute. I know some software companies will do like fake screenshots where it's not actually like a proper screenshot in app. Instead it's just like a, they go into illustrator and make it look like this could be component or UI component but it's not. So I thought about doing that. I ended up just making a text based and I think I just have like honestly unsplash images as the background for each of these four steps. And I wanted to make that very focused on outcome. The roadblock we always ran into with the original RightMessage was it seems like a lot of effort to go through the work of segmenting your audience and then using these segments to then personalize content. That seems overwhelming and I'm already stretched for time so I wanted to make something that's like a very quick and easy. The four steps that will happen. So step one, pick one of our templates. Step two, we have this new AI powered thing that'll help you come up with a set of questions. Step three, integrating stuff usually sucks but in this case you only need to type in your API keys for convert kit and click save and tagging and identification of people is done automatically. And then the final thing, which is the fourth step is more of like a strategic thing of like once you create your survey you go and email it to your list. And then based on our own data and what customers have done in the past, if you could set up today and do what we tell you to do, by tomorrow you could have a third of your list segmented with knowledge of who they're and what they're struggling with. If you go to the website, it's very copy focused. There's no visuals except there's Unsplash gradiented background images. But yeah that again 'cause this all came from Google Doc for better or worse urgently. But I think it's worked 'cause I think makes a case for why you should do it and there's a video if you really wanna see that it is a legitimate product, you can actually see a usage video, but yeah.

Charli:- I think I've spotted the first little piece of personalization on this page. I don't know if this is counted but it says right now it's Tuesday and it says segment at least 30% of your list by Wednesday, that's tomorrow. And I was like oh my god Wednesday is tomorrow.

Brennan:- That is, yeah that funny thing about that. So that is JavaScript that's doing that but I did it. We have caching so when we launched it was always Monday or whenever I deployed it.

Charli:- Oh right.

Brennan:- So my co-founder was like you realize you've cached that dynamic content. That's the only personalization we've done so far. But on the old site, which is still live, we do quite a bit more.

Charli:- Yes, and I definitely wanna dig into that a little later as well because I think that that's something we can all learn a lot from.

Brennan:- This week, I'm thinking of how do I reconcile the old product which is still gonna exist as RightMessage Pro with this new RightMessage because we're about to switch the domain to be, so when you go to RightMessage, it'll be really the new site and then slash Pro will be the old product. There's still a lot of unknowns honestly about how I'm gonna do that effectively, but that is like my task for the next few weeks is reconciling the two.

Charli:- What I love about your approach though is that you're not waiting until you have the exact right answers to make the change. You know, I could see a lot of companies if they had these two very visually different sites to explain two different products, feeling like, "Oh if we bring them onto the same site then we need to redesign this one to make sure it looks the same first." As a designer I'm like I see many benefits in doing that and having that visual consistency. But we should never let that hold us back from like taking the actions on what needs to happen in a business either. It'll be interesting to learn from what happens when you flip those sites over as well and how the conversion rate changes on the the new page. Yeah, lots of good data we can get into as well. So we know that you use tools like Tail when you're designing the browser. How long do you spend on a design project? Like this new page for example?

Brennan:- The new website took about three days from start to finish. That was from the Google doc. I mean it helped having that starter template from Tail too. Yeah, Shai and myself, we kept going kind of in these circles of delaying the launch 'cause we knew we had to do the new site. We knew we had to do all the launch emails, we had to get the product ready and so on. And I think we both just kind of agreed like let's just ship it, let's just get it up, let's make it what it needs to be. And yeah, as we add new features, as we get like proper UX done for the actual product that makes it really nice and shiny, then we will start posting like screenshots of the product and stuff on the marketing set. But for now let's just make it very much like straightforward and simple. So yeah, I mean it took about three days to get the long firm copy written, bring it into the next .hs shell to then populate all the content and then we had to get it wired up to the new product. It was quick-ish, I mean a lot of it was getting the video done 'cause I, like I mentioned, I don't delegate well, quarter of the video did all the editing myself, had to kind of remember how to edit video. It was a lot of hopping in and out of different tools.

Charli:- But still three days and the site was done and you're ready to ship.

Brennan:- Yeah.

Charli:- I love it. Okay, so the site is live. What metrics do you look at for success on the marketing site? Like when you make a change, when you ship a new version, what are you looking to move the needle on usually?

Brennan:- I'm gonna talk more now about the original site just 'cause it, it's been around longer and I've actually made changes this, I haven't changed anything on this new site yet, outside of that caching bug, now that we're done with our lifetime deal, we don't have the new pricing up yet so there's not really a call to action on the new site. With the old site, my focus was if they are hanging around the blog and they come from like say social or search, our goal was to get them on the email list into an email course we created. If they're already on our list, our goal is to get them into starting a trial. So what we would do then is a lot of the testing we did was actually around the RightMessage powered widgets we have on site. Somebody's are on our list and they're back on our site because maybe they just got an email from us and we link them to like an example in our gallery. We know they're on our email list so they're never gonna see an opt-in form 'cause that would be stupid to show a email opt if they're already on our list we show a trial, you know, kick off a free trial, click here, that would then go to the pricing page. So our optimization would be around if we're bringing our email list back to our website and sometimes they come back just more organically, but for the most part we're bringing them back with email. Let's get it so when they're back on the site, whether they're reading a blog post or they are looking at an example funnel in our gallery, we're then gonna focus on getting the exit popups and the slide up widget and any other embedded calls to action to get people to start a trial. So that would be our biggest thing. But then if they're anonymous we wanna get them into the email course. If the same blog post is being read, one person reading it is not on our email list and the other is on our email list, the calls to action would be different and we would just kind of heavily test those two, basically the offers we were using to try to get them on our list or to try to get them to start a trial.

Charli:- And I'm guessing you were using RightMessage to make those changes?

Brennan:- That's right, yep.

Charli:- Nice, it's funny you say like, oh it's stupid to show someone an opt-in if they're already on your list. I'm like, "Oh dam, I do that on my site."

Brennan:- Everyone does it. The worst is when it's an intrusive thing and like you get an email.

Charli:- Yeah, like a popup.

Brennan:- "Why do you want my email, you just emailed me, you know my email."

Charli:- You've, you know, done testing on these different offers at those two different stages. Can you tell us about any of those or like what impact you've seen from having this personalization in place?

Brennan:- What we're doing at the minute is we are segmenting everyone. We have some behavioral segmentation. If you come to our website from convertkit.com, 'cause maybe we're mentioned in your help docs and your integrations listing and all that kind of stuff, we're gonna assume that you are a ConvertKit user which tends to be fairly safe to make that assumption. So if and when you did opt in or convert otherwise, we'll then push up to your record that you use ConvertKit. We've also done other things like when affiliates send us traffic, like when Pat Flyn sends us traffic, we would then classify that traffic as digital products people 'cause they're probably not like software companies who come from Pat's site. The majority of people are coming from smartpassiveincome.com are people doing like courses and stuff like that. That's one way we segment. But the main way we segment is when you're on our site you're anonymous, we ask you point blank what kind of business do you run and there's four options. It's either software, digital products, e-commerce or services. And then when you choose one the offer will change to be, focused on e-comm focused on software or whatever else. And I think I sent you a screenshot of the software one.

Charli:- Yeah we see ready to increase your software sign-out rate for if someone has.

Brennan:- So an eCommerce company or creator wouldn't see that language and then when they do opt-in, we redirect them and this is kind of the bread and butter, the new RightMessage, we redirect them to a survey where we tell them lesson one of the email course is gonna be sent to them in five minutes but we wanna make it more relevant to them, we wanna make it more personal. So we ask a few questions about why did they join, what are they hoping that this email course helps them with? What if we don't know what email platform do they use, if they don't use one, why don't they use one? If they do use one, how experienced are they with it? I think it's like seven different questions and we get about a 73% completion rate, so-

Charli:- I'm sure it's really fast for people to to go through it-

Brennan:- Yeah it's just it's point and click. It's not like fill in the form or anything like that, it's just rapid fire. But we're getting about three quarters of all new subscribers who do that, which is really nice 'cause then that's all now attached permanently to their record in our email platform. So when they're back on our website and they're going to the pricing page or if they're reading a blog post and they ConvertKit, every usage of the word email marketing platform is swapped out with ConvertKIt. It would say, "Here's how to segment your ConvertKit list" and likewise if you use HubSpot it would say, "HubSpot list" and it's kind of silly parlor tricks like that. But what it does is if you are a software business, so SaaS and you're on the website, yeah we talk about all the integrations but we really focus on HubSpot, you know, what we can do benefits wise but we really dial in on software businesses. So that's the testing we're doing if you will. And it's multivariate, we're doing all the segmentation, 10% of all traffic we're segmenting but we're not making any changes with it. They're seeing the default content.

Charli:- So you get the data but it doesn't impact what they're seeing on the site.

Brennan:- Yeah, they're seeing the standard website.

Charli:- So like the opt-in might for them might just say ready to increase your signup rate without saying your software signup.

Brennan:- Correct, exactly, yep. So we have a default, I forgot what it is, but it's just a default catch all thing. So the other 90% are seeing these changes which include image changes but also mostly like headline changes and stuff. I've looked over from May through today about a 40, 41.6% lift in conversions from doing that. So, very happy with that. Basically what we're trying to do is niche websites tend to do better than generic websites, right? So like a niche sales page that is targeting designers who want to increase their budgets with design, you know like what their clients pay them. That would do better when a designer's looking at it than a generic thing of like if you're a fill in the blank freelancer and you wanna make more money. Like everyone wants to think that seemingly made just for them. So if they're seeing creator again and again and again, they're gonna think that's that's me, right? Use ConvertKit, I'm a creator, this is what I want. So what we're doing is we're nicheing without actually nicheing. Which is why I think or why I know actually the lift is what it is. If we rebranded and said RightMessage only serves convert creators, that would probably be similar to the conversion rate we'd be getting but we'd be excluding a lot of people's-

Charli:- A large chunk of your current audience. Yeah and that makes total sense. Like for sure you wanna look at a site and when you're looking at a marketing site, you're trying to see is this product for me? Is this gonna solve my problem? When things are more general, you can make mental leaps to be like, oh yeah, they're talking generally about, like you said, increasing budget, I'm a freelancer, this can make sense. But if you go that one step further and you are speaking to specifically that person specifically their problem, even if it's the same product, you feel more confident, right? That it's gonna solve your problem and it makes the whole thing more convincing.

Brennan:- You're leaving it up to them to yeah read between the lines and and apply this generic stuff to their situation. So if you could just tell them point blank, this is how it'll help you.

Charli:- Makes it easier for everybody.

Brennan:- Here's people like you, here's a case study with someone just like you. Where this really struck home for me years ago was my first software company was a tool called Planscope, which is project management software and we helped freelancers and agencies, I remember this call I was on with a agency owner and he told me any tool that works for freelancers won't work for us. Because I think there was a degree of like, "Oh I've made it past being a freelancer, I'm a awesome agency owner." I had to respond with like, "You know, the only difference is really just more than one user." Anyway, when I heard that I was like yeah, but if I could just spin up like plan scope for agencies.com and copy the whole marketing site and just make it more agency focused and gets people like this person to see that website instead of the other website, same product. It's just the, the positioning different and that's what we're trying to do is we're trying to dynamically position our product RightMessage contingent on a few different dimensions.

Charli:- So I'm assuming that once you have gone through the work of getting the new site onto the main RightMessage.com url, you've made that switch, are you gonna start doing more personalization on that page as well?

Brennan:- Yep.

Charli:- What will be the first thing that you look to?

Brennan:- The distinction between do they have any segment data? Are they currently segmenting it anyway? Like are they using type form, are they using like Tally or something to currently segment their list or are they not? Because what we're gonna do is if they are currently doing something and let's say they use Typeform, imagine Typeform, but being able to do, do like change question two if they're tagged customer can't do that in type form.

Charli:- I've tried to do that in type form and been very disappointed to learn that you couldn't do that.

Brennan:- Yeah, exactly. But we're gonna say imagine what you're already using now but with the ability to have it be contextual and to change copy, change questions asked depending on input data, like stuff you already know about them. That'll be shown to people who, who say I currently use Typeform to segment. Whereas somebody who uses Tally, they'll see a slightly different message. In a perfect world, long term, we'll have people who have ditched Typeform for a RightMessage and what, you know, if you use Typeform you're gonna see their story, because again, people wanna see themselves in the product, they wanna see people like them. Which again, if you're not currently doing any form of segmentation and people opt in and go to, they're like the stock, not to say anything bad about ConvertKit but like you know the default hosted page of like, you know, congrats check your email. You could use this as an opportunity to get more data about people. Which is the argument we're trying to make. They're excited, they wanna hear from you now tell them I wanna send you better stuff that's relevant to you. That's the messaging we wanna put to somebody who's not currently doing that but people who are currently doing some sort of post-op and survey, we wanna slightly change the direction of the page if that makes sense.

Charli:- Yeah. You're gonna frame what the tool does in relation to what they already know about their current process. So you can speak directly to the ways that it can improve.

Brennan:- If I'm at a conference and there's an after party and we're talking shop and somebody asks what I do and then I find out what they do and they're interested in hearing more about RightMessage, I'm absolutely gonna take what they've told me and like use that-

Charli:- Put in that context, yeah.

Brennan:- Yeah, exactly. So it's, we all do it, anyway.

Charli:- Well okay so we've heard a lot of great things about personalization and and what it can do to speak more directly to an audience. Like we can even change up the design based on the audience and what they're gonna appeal to most. Has there ever been a time for you when the effort spent to personalize something didn't pay off? What should we look out for and when can we go overboard with this, basically?

Brennan:- If you're reading any of our blog posts from a commonwealth country, you will see S's instead of Zs.

Charli:- Oh, well I appreciate that.

Brennan:- It was basically a giant fine and replace metrics of like, I write with color the American way of color and then if you're say in the UK or New Zealand or something, swap out color with colour with a U. So I don't think that had any effect on anything. I just thought it would be kind of a interesting so.

Charli:- So that didn't lead to like, I don't know, more time,

Brennan:- Oh, no, massive sign.

Charli:- Up increase conversion rates. No-

Brennan:- No, no, no.

Charli:- Hey it's a cool touch, just little Easter egg.

Brennan:- Right? But also personalization being a giant rabbit hole that leads to no, no results. I think what a lot of people are inherently scared of when thinking about do I start doing personalization and that would be like, hey Brennan, how is Lestershire today? It is raining or something, you know like that kind of example.

Charli:- Looking out your window.

Brennan:- You see, you see this often with like, I don't know if you've seen like the drift widget or whatever where it would say like you're at a random cafe and it pops up up in saying you know, how are things at IBM or something? It's like IBM and I guess somebody used to co-work at that cafe and they kind of assume that this IP address is IBM and now they're so.

Charli:- So the personalization is based on data that isn't accurate, basically.

Brennan:- Yeah, it's like an IP address equals a company and it's like well a lot of us are remote and so that can be a little faulty, right? Or it can be a little too intrusive. I like permission based segmentation where you're asking people, I wanna basically make your decision making process easier so could you share this data with me and then I wanna tell people that I'm using this data to show them a better example or show them better case study or something, right? That's all fine because it's not spitting out first names on sales pages, which you could do. There's that backfiring which is the intrusive kind of like creepy personalization.

Charli:- Yeah.

Brennan:- Which I'm not a big fan of.

Charli:- When that starts to make you question, how much data does this company have about me? This is a little concerning.

Brennan:- Exactly.

Charli:- Do I wanna submit some GDPR request?

Brennan:- Exactly, right? And then the other thing would be you, you do all this like copyright variations and stuff for a segment that has like three people in it, I tend to recommend let your segmentation run for a while and when you see a big percentage of people pan into a certain few segments then go through the effort of like coming up with personalization campaigns for them. But you see this a lot where people will think, "Okay, I've got five different groups like industries and I'm gonna go and equally focus on creating content or variations I should say for each of these industries." And then you find out that one of these is like single digits you just, it's not always worth it. So obviously it's judgment call. I tend to let my, my segmentation stuff run for a while and then when I start to see how things pan out then I'll go for, 'cause sometimes you see like runaway successes where it's like 50% of people respond in in one way. And then it's like well that's half of my audience. I was fitting this one profile so maybe I should really focus in on them and do a bit more for them. On top of that, when you get this breakdown you can think, I'm looking now at our own data, so like 23.8% of people on the RightMessage list use ConvertKit, and then active campaign is 15.2%, drip is 12.9% and so on. When it comes to email course goal, getting more leads is 46.8% of people's what they want, right? And then everything else like converting more leads, customers, that's all lower numbers. But what that tells me is, focus on that, right? Like focus on the big percentages but also I now have an idea of the default. The default is a convert kit person who wants to get more people on their list, 66.5% of people are getting less than 10 new subscribers a day. That's the kind of stuff that I, I wanna use to develop like the baseline in incognito mode on our website. We know nothing about you, who do we speak to? I want the the data to compile or to collect so I can figure out who to focus on but also who to to focus on really holistically, if that makes sense?

Charli:- Yeah, I think honestly what we're learning from this is not just the value you can get from personalization and segmentation, but just from looking at data in general to understand. Like I could imagine as you were saying the largest bucket of email products on your list is ConvertKit. So if I was imagining we're laying out like we integrate with all these email partners in a section on the page, you'd probably wanna put the ConvertKit logo first or like the most prominent one.

Brennan:- Yeah, ConvertKit, active campaign, drip, something else. I dunno what to do that, nothing else. I mean nothing else is a big one too because I'm doing this now with one of my other companies, Create and Sell, where they choose nothing else. I'm a convert kit affiliate and I use Convert Kit so you've had to believe I'm like hey you've said you don't use anything yet, that's awesome. We've all been there. And then I also find out why they're not using anything yet. They're not sure what software to pick, they don't have a business yet or whatever else, but they say they're not sure I really go all in and really push my affiliate link hard with them and it works out, right? Like and I can also eventually try to get them to you know, join my ConvertKit course. So there's so much stuff you can do when you have this information. I mean that's the kind of stuff that takes time to implement 'cause it's a lot of content to create but you can think, hey like with my list onboarding, once they have this data, once they see how things split out, 723 people on my list have said that they are not using anything yet. Like is that worth it for me to dedicate a simple broadcast email to them or an automated email? That's what I'm always looking to try to do is like get the data, see how things pan out, what does the data tell me about where I need to go in general with the business but also on an individual levels like how do I use this data to make my onboarding better for them? Or when I go to pitch like a new product, how do I maybe change the subjects of the emails I'm sending to be more specific to them and their needs.

Charli:- Just like getting to know your audience really deeply, right? That clearly pays off from the conversion rate lifts that you've been talking about. Well I always like to end an episode by talking about any current challenges you're facing and also like what's coming next. So let's start with the challenge first. What are the main marketing design challenges you're gonna be facing next at RightMessage, specifically? I'm also curious to know is there anything you wish you could prioritize and you wanna be doing but you can't because you are not a full-time designer at RightMessage?

Brennan:- The biggest challenge now is what I mentioned before, which is we have the original RightMessage which everyone knows, which is like widgets for lead capture and website personalization. If you go to RightMessage.com as of the day of this recording, that's what you see. The only way you get to the new thing is if you know to go to new RightMessage.com. The design challenge now is thinking do I just ditch both websites and make a new website where I have like product at the top and it's a dropdown and it's like RightMessage Pro, RightMessage and it's that confusing. But I think going forward when we get like people who just hear about RightMessage in the wild. What am I gonna do to merge the two under the one domain? Is it just gonna be one pricing page because it's, they're two separate products so it's not as easy as just thinking that it's different features being offered, like they're two different products. That's my biggest challenge at the minute is how do we make the distinction big enough. I'm not quite sure how I'm best gonna solve that.

Charli:- Yeah and design can definitely help you there but it can also be a major part of the challenge to like visually separate and explain these things. We'll be looking forward to seeing how you solve that eventually. But any new skills you wanna add, as you continue it sounds like you don't plan to hire a designer full-time at RightMessage anytime soon that these design tasks are still gonna be handled by you for the foreseeable future, at least.

Brennan:- We're not planning on, I mean the next hire would be more of the engineering side so that makes sense.

Charli:- Yep, so knowing that then, is there any new skills that you wanna be adding to your design tool belt or like something that you wanna focus on getting better at while you are still gonna be the one responsible for design at RightMessage?

Brennan:- I think the big thing is CSS animations, not, not necessarily the like scroll and have things fly out from the side but more the data flying into like their ConvertKit record or something, you know what I mean? Like I kind of technically know how that's done but I'm not sure if people are writing it with code or if they're using like an app that then creates the css, you know key frames and stuff for them. We have like this little flow charty thing and that actually is my humble attempt at doing some CSS animation which kind of worked but it's not nearly as cool as I want it to be.

Charli:- Well we'll look forward to seeing that too. The last question I always like to ask 'cause we always like to end on a good note. What design win are you most proud of from your work on design at RightMessage?

Brennan:- We did this thing that we did for a short term that was like a thing to value your subscribers, a little wizard type tool where you'd plug in like your list size, how many new people you get a month and then it would ask things about like what was your annual turnover last year through people who bought through email and it would just kind of compute like the value of a customer's this, the value of a subscriber's that and then it would give you some ideas on how to like increase each. And unfortunately, this was kind of a bit of a casualty when we changed platforms that we haven't really brought back up yet. It was a lot of fun because it was a VGS app with some really nice design and animations and transitioning stuff that was going on. But it was fun 'cause for me I got to think how do I make a really nice calculator? 'Cause that's kind of what it was. A calculator that does the job is really useful but I was also really powerful and like would be engaging to use and could go back and forth. I don't know if cop-out answers the right way to put it, but it was designed but it was also a coding challenge and I really like.

Charli:- Yeah, well they go together so yeah, that makes sense. I love it. Well thank you so much for everything you've shared Brennan, and I'm sure that you will have opened some designers' minds to ways that we can better make the sites we're creating appeal to specific users through personalization. So thanks for everything you shared.

Brennan:- Yeah, thanks Charli. Thanks for having me.

Charli:- I know that in a lot of companies a designer has handed the content for a webpage and it doesn't really, really feel like you get a say in the strategy behind it. But I hope that learning about marketing strategies from Brennan in this episode might give you a little bit of confidence to get involved with the strategy behind the pages you're designing and maybe even bring up some ideas of your own for like ways the copy or content could change to better speak to the audience. A huge thanks to Brennan for sharing his process with us. It's always really interesting to learn about the time saving things that can be done when there isn't a whole lot of space to spend a long time on the design of a page. I hope you enjoyed the episode. Leave alike in the YouTube video or a rating and a review an Apple podcast if you did. And remember, you can find a bunch more episodes of the show at insidemarketingdesign.com. Thanks again to Webflow for supporting the season. You'll find a link to try out Webflow as well as check out RightMessage and follow Brennan in the show notes. And lastly, of course, thanks to you for listening and I'll see you next time. Bye.

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