Episode 05: Turning the Sales Funnel Game on Its Head with Mike Kelly of Membervault

Join the relationship marketing conversation as Mike Kelly and I talk about turning the funnel game on its head. Mike shares with us about how much more profitable it can be to build raving fans versus playing the “numbers game” of running more and more people through your funnels without engaging them fully. As a funnel and ads girl, this conversation opened my eyes to a whole new strategy and will legitimately change the way I operate my lead gen game moving forward… in fact, it has already.

Bio:  Mike Kelly is the co-founder of MemberVault, a relationship marketing platform disrupting how we look at selling and engaging online using engagement tracking, gamification strategies and a binge & buy marketplace for free and paid products. Mike and Erin are based in Olympia, WA and run their SaaS platform while wrangling a precocious toddler, chubby baby and a rescue hound pup.
You can find Mike on Facebook here: https://www.facebook.com/membervault
Get your free Membervault account complete with training, and 6 email swipes to get you starter.

Allie: You’re listening to The Prosperity Lab Podcast, Episode number five.

Allie: Welcome to The Prosperity Lab Podcast. We’ve been given an amazing opportunity in entrepreneurship that’s never been available in any other time period. We live in a reality where the number of lives we impact can be directly reflected by the dollars in our bank accounts. Prosperity’s about more than income. It means living the good life and existing in a state of freedom, security, and well-being. This podcast will explore the paths towards living our best lives and the businesses providing for them.

Allie: In this episode, Mike Kelly, the creator of Member Vault and I talk about relationship marketing and flipping the funnel game on its head. I absolutely loved geeking out with him, talking about creating more value for our followers and how to create a binge and buy resource library for your fans. I can’t wait for you to hear everything that Mike has to share today. He is an absolutely amazing entrepreneur, human, dad, checks off all the boxes, and I can’t wait for him to share all of these knowledge bombs with you today.

Allie: What’s up everybody. Thank you so much for joining us for another episode of The Prosperity Lab Podcast. I am here with Mike Kelly from Member Vault, and I am so excited to talk to him today. He rocked my world the other day, learning about relationship marketing and coming from a perspective of ads and funnels, it totally blew my mind on what’s possible and really opened up the box that I’ve been putting myself in as far as all my marketing and what I’ve been doing for the last five years. It like completely changed the game for me, so I’m so excited to share his information with you and hopefully you can get some good info too. Mike, thank you so much for joining us.

Mike: Yeah, thanks Allie. How much can I pay you to announce me into rooms like that? Just follow me around and be like, “Alright, I’m introducing Mike Kelly now.” That would be awesome.

Allie: Every day. We’ll get a reel going and pump up music.

Mike: Intro music, yeah, yeah. Exactly. Awesome. Thanks. You really covered it here. My name’s Mike Kelly. I’m the co founder of Member Vault. Member Vault, it’s been three years now, we’ve been working and pivoting on it. It’s kind of a brain child of my wife who comes from an OBM, strategic kind of background where she was working with clients, doing a lot of the same stuff that you’ve been working with too. So like funnels and ads and putting content out there, and courses, and all this kind of stuff. Then I’m a developer. I’m a nerd. I write code, and I’ve been a developer ever since I’ve been in high school basically. It kind of came together where one day, Erin was like, “Man,” [inaudible 00:02:58] and she was like client number 001. She was like, “Man, I don’t like this course platform. That we’re using. I feel like there’s either really ugly, basic, blah and then there’s super expensive, all the bells and whistles I don’t need. I wish there was something in the middle.” Of course, I passingly said, “I could code that in a weekend.” Three years later, here we are. It’s been great.

Mike: Ever since then, so we started out three years ago, kind of as a course platform, as an answer to an alternative to Teachable, Kajabi, Thinkific, and stuff like that. It is that, right? It still is that at its core, but what we’ve learned over the years and pivoted and listened to our audience and how they’re using it, it’s become more of a sales tool, and it’s a relationship marketing platform now is what we’re calling it. Again, we can dig in. I don’t want to bore everyone with the super big details of that, but like you said, it kind of changes the game, very much modifies the game of this whole ad funnel, getting people in the door, and selling to them. It’s a kind of fresh approach to that. A simpler approach, honestly.

Allie: Yeah, absolutely. We had a chance to talk last week, and you made the comment of you’re not just funneling people over and over again. You get them in the door once and then you just like open the entire world of everything you have available. Instead of waiting to get them in another funnel, all the sudden they see, okay, they have this course available, they have this workbook available. The thing that you said that made me sign up the next day was when you started talking about conversion rates, because I’m a marketing nerd. In funnels, usually 3% of people will sign up and actually buy the thing. So if 100 people go through your funnel, 3 people will buy it. But you said that when people come into your sphere, they’re in your Member Vault account, was it 38% of them will eventually become a buyer on some level?

Mike: People that have their stuff set up right are converting at 43-45%.

Allie: That’s insane.

Mike: It is insane.

Allie: If you are running ads, all the sudden your return goes from 3% return on ad spend, whatever the cost is of what you’re selling, to what’d you say, 43%?

Mike: Yeah, yeah.

Allie: That’s nuts.

Mike: Some people are converting at higher than that. They’re even better. Obviously, there’s a lot of variables on it, but it changes the approach to … the whole idea of a funnel is great. It’s a great idea and I feel like it’s been over complicated and over used, and that we’ve turned it into the shotgun approach where you’re like, just dump more people in there, just dump more people in there, right. We were like, “Whoa, hold on.” I think there’s a better way where we can actually make the most out of each person that goes through this, and give each person a unique journey through your content, not just because, let’s face it, you’re selling to humans and not sheep, and not robots. They’re humans and everyone’s different.

Mike: I always tell people the biggest thing I can say, I personally had an experience and I call this my story of the funnel and the bro. I was looking to hire a fitness coach. I was like, “Man, I want somebody, I wish I could find somebody I could work with, give me some cool body weight workout.” Whatever, right? Get my ass in shape. Found some guy and he was super cool, big beard, lives in the Pacific Northwest. I’m like that’s my guy, that’s my guy right there. His branding was awesome. Everything was great. The only thing he had on the site was like, “Sign up for my five day challenge,” and we all know where this is going. I was like, “Alright, fine.” There was no way to work with him. There was no here’s what I offer. It was like enter my funnel, and I was like alright fine. I like you enough I’ll enter your funnel. So I signed up and day one, I get the thing, “Welcome,” blah, blah, blah. Just email with a YouTube video. I watch and was like cool, cool, yeah, did that. Then day two, kind of busy but I’ll save this for later. Day three, I’m like I’ll save it for later, but then I never did anything. Day four, delete. Day five, delete. Right? Day six, day six I’m gone because I’m a fast mover.

Mike: I would have bought from him that day. Here’s the thing. On day six, he send me an automated email of course, being like, “Congratulations on completing the five day thing. Are you ready to take it to the next level?” I’m like, here we go. Step two of the funnel. I’m bored. I’m gone. I’ve already worked with somebody else. I’m gone. This is what we’re seeing in Member Vault, and this is the insane part. Of that 43% or 45% we’re talking about, conversion rates, a vast majority of those, I don’t have the numbers but way over half of them, convert the same day they sign up for your freebie, so why on earth are we waiting to sell to people? It just doesn’t make sense.

Allie: Within that challenge, if he would have offered something to you on the first day, you already would have bought?

Mike: Yeah. To me, there was two big mistakes. Well, three right? We answer all these in Member Vault. The first one is he had no idea what I did or didn’t do. He just dripped five emails out to me, and on the sixth one he’s like, “Congratulations.” To me, that rubs me the wrong way because I’m like, “I didn’t do it. I deleted half of your emails, but you don’t even know that.” Because he maybe has open rates or something like that, would be super clever, but most of us don’t even do that. Well, so you should really track the engagement. If he had a way to track that I even logged in to look at these lessons, to these days, then he could be like, “Hey, I noticed you didn’t finish, but let’s get you back.” That would have inspired me way more than just the generic shotgun. I think people are getting jaded, and I myself am too.

Mike: The second thing is there was no, during the challenge, there was no incentive to keep me going. So like let’s gamify this. Let’s make this fun. Maybe like, “Hey, you complete all five days within the five days, you’ll get a bonus or you’ll get a call with me,” or something like that. Gamify this in some way to keep me interested. Then of course, the third thing like I was saying, is show me what … I don’t want to go through five days of this to maybe find out what your next step is. I’ve committed. I put in my email address. I’m into you. Show me what you got. You know? That’s crazy, because again I would have bought … if day one, he was like, “Cool, you can jump on and upgrade to this program now, or I have this membership where we release these things,” whatever, just show me what you have. I probably would have done it, because I was engaged then. I was a hot lead then and he let me cool off, and then sent me an email, and it’s too late.

Allie: That’s so important to keep in mind. Challenges are so popular and running a funnel and making people wait for 10 days is so popular, but you’re losing so many people in that process. What we think of as a typical nurture sequence or soap opera sequence, we’re losing people because there are so many options. We’re used to instant gratification, and if we want something, we can go out and Netflix it and all the sudden we have all these choices. The instant gratification thing, and people are waiting way too long.

Mike: We call it the binge and buy mentality, and the funny thing is in our real life experience in sales, we do this all the time. Amazon one-click orders. I went to the Apple store to get my phone fixed and I left with a MacBook Pro. These things happen all the time, and Apple’s actually a great experience. We use that as an example all the time, because you don’t go to Apple and it’s just a window and they’re like, “Okay, let’s start you with an iPhone and then come back in a day. If you like that, we’ll give you an iPad, and then if you like that, we’ll let you try … They don’t do that.

Mike: They just have everything out on a table. So you can come in and buy all the things, you can buy one of the things, you can just play with the things. Whatever you want, they have it all laid out and it gets you into that binge and buy mentality where you’re like, “I’m playing with all these things, they’re so cool.” It’s a little, it feels really transparent too. There’s not like, I don’t have to ask an employee to get something out from behind the counter and all that kind of stuff. It’s just all out there. Apple is actually, per square foot, is the best retail store in the world. They outperform everyone. Even jewelry and gasoline companies, and that’s part of it, is that because of the experience that they’ve laid out with this here’s all of our stuff, come play with it, and buy it. That’s it. Let’s do this for our digital products. Why on earth wouldn’t we?

Allie: Totally. So it sounds like you guys, your wife and you, are co-partners. You’ve really used your own life experiences, and experiences in the online industry, to help build out this software. So I would love to hear about the journey of you two getting started and realizing that this was something that was so necessary in the market and even changing the game culture wise of what internet marketing can look like, that it’s more about the experience, more about the people. What was that process like for you to decide okay, we see this gap, and we’re going to fill it?

Mike: Yeah. So Erin, my wife, co founder, really strategy brains behind all of this. I’m just the code monkey. The process, it was chaos. Honestly, like I said, we only started doing this out of trying to create a simple course platform for one client. That was our only … we didn’t start out like, “let’s flip the funnel game on its head.” We did not come into the scene with that mentality. It was just like let’s create … I love building stuff. I’m a builder. I’m a software engineer. I love building software, so it was a cool opportunity. I was like cool. I’ve always wanted to build like a course platform, that’d be really cool. I just build it custom for one client. Then she loved it so much, and we kept iterating on it, that other people started to see it, who were taking her course, and were like, “I like your platform. It’s so clean and easy to use. What is this?” Oh, I just had it custom built. Well, can I use it too?

Mike: It started to kind of become this thing. Then the first real big shift away from being just a course platform like all the other ones is Erin is a huge ActiveCampaign nerd. She’s an ActiveCampaign nerd. She goes hardcore with ActiveCampaign. So she’s super into the automations and the tagging, lead scoring, all the crazy awesome stuff that ActiveCampaign has to offer. So what we did early on is she’s like, “Wouldn’t it be cool if as people are going through the course, if we can tag them in ActiveCampaign based on what they’ve done or didn’t do? If they ghosted on us. Wouldn’t that be awesome?” I was like, “Yeah, and totally possible.” She’s like, “Are you serious?” So I connected to the active campaign API, did my little code magic thing, and then voila. So now as people are going through the course or not going through the course, we’re tagging them in ActiveCampaign, which then opens up Pandora’s box of possibilities for automation and being connected. Just keeping the systems really connected. So now, we don’t have to do the whole funnel and the bro thing, where we know if somebody’s ghosted on us, or we know somebody didn’t complete their homework, or we know if somebody didn’t do something. So we’re not stuck in these blind automation things. So that was like the first oh, isn’t that cool.

Allie: I can’t even imagine what that conversation would be like, like going form we’re going to build this custom platform for one customer to oh my gosh, this is a thing. We can build this entire platform that … we keep referencing [inaudible 00:14:54] funnels, but what we mean by that is the people that just want to make a dollar off of someone and not care. The example that you used last week is like going into a store and loading up your funnel on their display iPads or something like that.

Mike: Yeah.

Allie: The fact that some people in internet marketing do not care who is signing up. They don’t care if they’re using it, they just frankly want their money and don’t care what kind of experience they have. You guys are so completely opposite from that, that it’s 100% about the experience and the people and gamifying it and to be honest, you and I started thinking about designing courses, I almost didn’t because I was thinking, “Well, what are the rates? 8% of people actually finish the course, and then they’re just left with this remorse, course remorse feeling of I just spent $1000 and I didn’t even do anything with this.” But the fact that you gamify it and give them incentives and encouraging them, cheer lead them throughout the process, that keeps them engaged. It’s just a totally different model than the “bro” style of thanks for your money, here’s your course access, see you later.

Mike: Right, exactly. Most of us don’t want to do that. It breaks my heart when I talk to entrepreneurs that are putting so much time and energy into trying to design the perfect, clever funnel and retargeting and then … They have these maps. You see them, it looks like A Beautiful Mind where people have these big, drawn out things. I’m like, why don’t you just let them come into one of your, we call it the binge and buy, like into your marketplace? Have an area that’s all you, that has all your content there laid out and people can interact with it, and everybody wins. That’s what I was going to say. The second big thing that happened, first was the engagement tracking and that’s one of our big pillars here at Member Vault, is being able to see what people are doing. It’s helpful because you can be really targeted in how you speak to them, but it’s helpful for you too to see if you are running a five day challenge, and 8% of people complete, well, okay, where did the fall off? You’re able to see where people fell off instead of being blind. But the second good thing that came up was we put in the idea of wouldn’t it be cool if somebody’s in at a course and they’re able to see the other products that you have? Just that’d be kind of easy to do, right?

Mike: So we did that and that’s when we realized our conversion rates and people clicking in and viewing that, we call them hot leads, the hot leads that are going in and checking out, your window shoppers, was insane. I thought it was going to be like maybe 5% of people will see the available products down there and ponder through them, but it’s 80%. 80% of people that will log in for your freebie or whatever they signed up for, will click into your other things down there that’s available. Way higher than I thought it was going to be, and it changed the game, again, for us and that was like okay, we’re really going to go kind of heavy with this concept now of the binge and buy. Getting people in the door and then showing them everything that you have to offer, that Apple Store experience. That was the other kind of big pivot that Member Vault took. Pivot away from just the course platform and into more of this oh wow, we’re actually building something a little more robust here and it is a relationship marketing platform.yeah, it’s a course platform and a membership platform and all this stuff, but it starts to become a sales tool. Not one that is just a wham, bam, done, but something that you can keep reusing. It’s alive, and some people get in there and they will buy stuff right away.

Mike: Some people are going to get in there and they’re going to peek and they’re going to look and they’re going to hm, maybe, I don’t know. We see this activity all the time of repeat window shoppers. So there are people that will look at your paid product like seven days in a row. They’ll log in seven days in a row and click into your paid thing. We can see that on Member Vault, looking at this thing. Okay, this person clearly wants to buy this. They’re super interested. Why on earth would they keep checking it out? That person doesn’t email you and say, “Hey, I might be interested.” A traditional funnel isn’t going to catch that. They’re just going to fall out of the funnel, and then there’s almost no nurture sequence to get them to reengage that. You’re able to do this now in Member Vault, which is really cool. I’m sorry, I digress. I got excited.

Allie: No, I love it. I’m totally geeking out with you. So from an advertising perspective, talk to me a little bit about pixeling those products. If someone is interested in a product, are there ways to get back in front of them on other platforms, like serving an ad towards them?

Mike: Yeah, yeah, absolutely. So this is something that we’re going deeper into right now. We allow you to kind of embed whatever you want into any section that you want. So you can, and we have documentation on how to do this to, so you can pixel at any point inside your Member Vault. You can pixel people that are just in your Member Vault in general. You can pixel people that are window shopping, so alright, this person’s window shopping on this but they haven’t bought yet. Of course, we’re tagging all this as well. So you have your ActiveCampaign convert kit, [inaudible 00:20:31], Mail Chimp, Mailer Lite, I forget. There’s a number of them that we support. As people are doing this, they’re getting tagged in the tool. There’s two ways that you can really leverage that as a marketer.

Mike: Say somebody’s looking at your paid product but doesn’t buy. They get tagged in your email service. Now, you can have an automation set up to say, “Okay, wait a day, then follow up with them to see,” you know, have an automated followup or something like that, or, “Hey, give them access to this bonus thing,” and just kind of reengage that. So there’s a lot of things that you can do, but you’ve got to have the information first. So that’s really what we’re providing, and then people like yourself and people that are systems people and they geek out to the numbers, and they’re smart, they want to work smarter, not harder, can really leverage this information and say, “Great.” Facebook, pixeling, and retargeting has been a big surge in Member Vault as well. We’ve seen a lot of people come in excited that they can do that as well. We’re doing it for ourselves, too. So this is something that we’re doing.

Mike: Member Vault we have a free tier, and then we have two paid tiers too. The people that are on the paid tiers get access to our master classes, but the free users have all the documentation and training, but the paid users will actually get access to more classes. We’re actually seeing who’s looking at those classes, which means that they’re free users. So not only do we get to see that and reengage with them, but we’re pixeling that as well. So when, we haven’t even turned on Facebook ads yet, but when we do, that’s what we’re going to do, is we’re going to be looking at the people that are window shopping on upgrading. We have over 900 accounts. Vast majority of them are still free, so great, let’s convert those. So it’s not about let’s dump five million more people through this thing. It’s about great, we have 900 people, let’s really dig deep with them.

Allie: Yeah. It’s that saying that people love to buy, but they hate being sold to. So you’re just able to pick up on all these signals that they’re giving to you. I am interested, I want to buy this thing, but you’re letting them feel like they’re in control of the situation and they’re making the decision. So they feel totally empowered by purchasing your thing instead of like ugh, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been awake nursing my baby in the middle of the night and I’ve gotten funneled by somebody and I end up like going back to bed with a $247 purchase under my belt. I’m like, “I didn’t even want that an hour ago and then I was browsing Facebook.” But it doesn’t feel good is the point. That course remorse or the funnel remorse, the marketers who are good at what they’re doing, they know all the psychological triggers and they get you. Then, which is great for their bottom dollar, but then you’re left with this feeling of did I really buy that little paper book that I got in the mail for $47? That was not a valuable purchase.

Mike: That’s a shame, too, because to me that’s a lost lead. Because yeah, they made a quick buck, but then that’s it. There’s no relationship building there. It’s just, again, wham, bam and then done. I feel bad for those businesses because once that funnel runs out of steam, they’re just back to the drawing board again, and they’re like alright, got to come up with a new trick. That’s so sad. I don’t want to run business like that. I don’t ever want to run business like that. I think there’s a lot of people like that, that don’t want to do that, but they feel like that’s the only thing that they … I must need more funnels. Well, maybe you need less. Maybe you just need to rethink how you’re approaching this.

Allie: Totally. So what have been some of the biggest challenges that you’ve experienced in growing your business, and growing all the way to 900 members? That’s a big deal.

Mike: How long is this podcast?

Allie: [inaudible 00:24:34] three hours.

Mike: We’ll go with, I think the first and the biggest thing, that has been the biggest challenge is we talk about how amazing these milestones were and light bulb moments, and isn’t this cool, and gee whiz, oh cool now we can track engagement, we can gamify, and we can binge and buy, and all these things. It’s amazing. However, we went through a formal beta. We had some people in there. We did all the right things, and we rolled it out to the world, but we didn’t know how to tell people what we did. It was the most humbling first year of business ever. We went from 10 users to like 40 in our first year. That’s rough. We were still obviously hustling our other business. This was just a side thing, but we were terrible at telling people what it did. Me being a developer, I would through a bunch of jargon on them, and we integrated with Amazon S3 and tag, and all this stuff, and I throw out APIs and web hooks, and people are like okay, cool, thanks bro. Then they leave and I’d never hear from them again, because I blew up their brain. They didn’t understand why on earth they would use that over Teachable or Thinkific or anything else.

Mike: We had to go back to the drawing board I don’t know how many times. I shouldn’t say the drawing board, because you’re never starting out from scratch, but pivoting that message. Okay, alright, what stuck, what didn’t stick, what’s working, what’s not working. So that’s the funny thing is I always thought that running a software company, the hardest part would be the tech. It would be the coding and the servers and all that kind of stuff. Ends out, that’s the easiest part. The hardest part is getting your messaging down, getting visible, getting people to care. Then getting over that incredible hurdle of public opinion, and nobody wants to use you until you’re proven, but how on earth are you going to get proven if nobody uses you?

Mike: So those first couple wins and getting some influencers to use, talking people into it. We were giving it away for free to people. We’ll set it up for you. Even that was almost impossible, because they’re like, “Why? Yeah, sounds good, but I’ve never heard of you guys.” Those were the really, really big struggles. Again, it’s great because now we’re starting to get used by more and more people. Some bigger names too, where people see it and they’re like, “Oh, I took this course the other day. It was on Member Vault. It was really great.” It still blows me away to this day. I’m like, “Wow, you’ve seen our software? That’s crazy.” But there’s over a quarter million users collectively in Member Vault now, and that’s exponentially increasing. So yes, we’re getting the exposure now, but man it was in the beginning it was like trickles.

Allie: So zero to 40 the first year. So this is year three that you’re in?

Mike: Yeah, kind of. Again, we did kind of a soft launch and stuff like that, so really it was zero to 40, and then 40 to 900.

Allie: Without ads or anything?

Mike: That’s without ads. It’s completely organic. That’s just doing stuff like this, engaging with people. We had, again we had a couple influencers use us. We have an affiliate program too. We pay out 45% recurring, which oddly that’s not the incentive for people. It’s like when they’re into the product and now they want to sell it for you, but yeah. All these things are just organic stuff. We’re really excited because we’re getting our systems down. It’s a complicated system to try to onboard somebody into a tool and get them to use it. That was our second big challenge, and I don’t want to go into that, but the big thing was like getting people to sign up is great, but then if they don’t do anything with their account, it’s kind of a pointless endeavor. That’s our thing. That’s the lock that we’re picking now, is how do we get people to start using our accounts and not confuse them. Once we kind of get that down, then we do want to open up the gates to the ads and start getting people [inaudible 00:28:52].

Allie: Which I think one of the biggest hurdles that people have mentally, if they’re already on something like Thinkific or Kajabi or Teachable, is ugh, I did all this uploading and now I have to switch. I don’t want to switch. So that’s something that you offer for your pro members, correct?

Mike: Yeah. Actually, it’s annual. Our base, so it’s free … let’s just talk about it. The free tier is completely free with all of, no timer, it’s not a trial, it’s just free to use. Create your account and you’re good to go. We’re not limiting features. We used to, and now we’re not doing that. You can use payment integration, integrate with your mail service, do all the things. You have unlimited products. The only thing that we’re limiting you on the free account is users. So you can have up to 50 users. That gives you enough time to like get in there, start using it, start seeing it working, make some money, and be like cool, great. What you’ll realize is that the more people you have in your Member Vault, the more foot traffic you have through there, the bigger impact you’re going to get, the more engagement, more sales. So then you’re great, let me add more people into here. Let me use this as my central hub for all my contact, where I’m constantly testing ideas out, putting my new products, my lead magnets, and putting all that stuff in there.

Mike: So then base is obviously all the features and up to 1000 users. Like I said, access to some of our master classes and stuff like that, so you get a little more support. Then pro is $99 a month and that’s unlimited users. So we have some people that have like over 100,000 in their Member Vaults, so it’s nice that they’re on just the set plan. They’re good forever. Then yeah, so for our annual users, so people that sign up for our annual, which is $399 and $999 respectively, you get two months free. We’ll also handle the migration of your content over. The reason we do it for annual users, not monthly is because you’re making a commitment. If you sign up for an annual of something, you’re like okay, cool, I’m going to be with you guys for a while. So we’ll go ahead and we’ll actually migrate you over from your other platform.

Allie: That’s awesome. So what are the biggest differences you’ve seen between someone that’s like a power user with 100,000 people in their Member Vault versus somebody that’s just getting started? Do they have … are there certain types of engagement that they’re making with their users? Basically if someone is looking to grow their business, what would they need to know to reach that “power user” level?

Mike: Yeah. So the big thing, it’s all growing your list. This is what’s cool. It’s about growing your list, and what Member Vault, what we’re really learning is that Member Vault works best when it’s kind of like an extension of your email list. So we always want Member Vault to have all the people that are on your list. Member Vault and your email list are very tightly connected. They talk back and forth, so anyone who joins your Member Vault is added to your email list, and on your email list we want them to be added to your Member Vault. It ends up being an extension of your email list. It’s your content area. It’s your private cloud. However you want to call it. The point is that you always want to keep enticing people back to come in there.

Mike: One of the things that we … we’re not Apple. None of us are Apple, so we have to have some kind of freebie to entice them to come into our store. That’s the game, right, and we all know that. We put out great lead magnets and there’s so much great content out there that people are creating, and again they’ll use those lead magnets, sign up for this free PDF or this thing, or I have a free mini course, or whatever it is, get your free assessment. Any kind of free lead magnet, you just want to put that all inside of member vault. As you kind of create this content, as you put stuff out there, you always want to just keep repurposing it, putting it inside of your Member Vault, and then email your list to say, “Hey, guys, guess what? This new thing, just did this great podcast with Allie. If you want to check it out, just click here and it’s in your Member Vault account.” So you’re inviting people back into that, into your area. That is how you really start to like kind of grow and engage.

Mike: Again, amazing thing happening. Almost nobody will actually log into your Member Vault, just look at what they came there to look at, and nothing else. It almost never happens. It’s bizarre. I think it’s just human nature. We want to click around and look, and the more people do that, the more engagement that you’re building up in your Member Vault, the more opportunity you have to sell, and the more information that you’re getting too. That’s just it. Even people that aren’t converting well on Member Vault, and there are some people. Maybe their offers just aren’t that good, or maybe they’ve got to tweak something. We can’t fix that, we’re just a tool. But what we can do is show you the numbers. Great. 100 people looked at this and nobody bought it. Alright, so that’s something. Then you can have all of your free content in Member Vault and you can say have it open ended.

Mike: A lot of people have a resource area, so here’s all my freebies. So they log in there, and people can pick and choose what they want to look at. Well, we track all that. So now you can look at it. The more times you get people going through there, you can look at, “Okay, well what’s my most popular freebie? What are people really into? Wow, everyone’s looking at this training, but nobody’s looking at this training. That’s information. Great, so use that. I think that’s the real key here, is working smarter. Then again, the more engaged you have people, the more they become testimonials and they become fans, and they recommend you to other people. You’ve probably seen it 100 times. That’s how this thing scales up and becomes really, really big and you start sky rocketing your email list, too.

Allie: That’s where the relationship marketing piece really comes in, too. When you’re able to give people what they want without even asking for it, then they’re starting to feel like wow, she really gets me, she’s reading my mind. All the sudden, especially with the quiz questions that are built in and [inaudible 00:35:20] questions, you can start gathering that data from your people and creating products that they want, but they don’t even know they want yet just based on the questions that they’re asking. You’re just able to take it to that next level. When I teach funnels, I teach them in four steps. I teach create, market, sell, and delight. Delight is the piece where most people fall off, and when you’re watching the signals people are sending you, there’s so many opportunities to take it offline, send them a gift, or send them something that’s really going to solidify your name in their mind as the expert in the field or whatever it is that you’re doing. It really makes your business stand out in an industry that can feel really noisy and overwhelming with all of the content.

Mike: Yeah, yeah, absolutely. What gets me so excited, literally just yesterday we released an update to Member Vault that shows people in one view who their hot leads are. So it shows them, so people earn engagement points. The more engaged somebody is, the more their score goes up. This is just the way for us to geek out to some more numbers, but it does, it gives a numeric value to your users that are in there so you can say, “Who’s super engaged and who’s not?” And you’re able to see it in a split second. Most people don’t have this information, and this is what’s so exciting.

Mike: So we released an update yesterday that shows, in one window and whatever time frame you choose, who are my hot leads. These are the people that are looking at your paid offers but not pulling the trigger. So it shows when they looked at it and then it shows their EP, their engagement points. So you’re able to just scroll through there and see oh wow, alright, Allie has been on fire. In the past three days, she’s been looking at all this stuff, so I can just click into your name and I can see everything that you’ve looked at. Like you said, we have like quiz questions we call them, but they’re just open ended questions. We sprinkle them throughout the free content, and people answer them. Then all the answers to everything that you’ve answered is there in that screen too. So now you don’t just become subscriber number 1245, you become Allie, who’s interested in X, Y, and Z and is looking at this, and might be interested in this.

Mike: Like you said, now that opens the door for me to reach out and be like, “Hey, Allie. I saw you were really interested in this. I know you’re having issues with converting free people to paid.” It just kind of how can I help? You can approach this, the how can I help, or like you said you can send a free gift, or however you want to engage with them, whatever’s appropriate for your audience. But at least you know who to reach out for. I feel like the biggest tragedy of what we’re doing here in the online space is we all feel, and we’ve been guilt of this too, is we all feel like we need a lot more leads. Like oh my God, I’m only converting at 5%, I need to get like 5000 more people through here, and this is where ads come in and stuff like that. It’s great, and there’s nothing wrong with ads, there’s nothing even wrong with short funnels to get people into your system. But we all think that we have a lack of leads, and what’s happening is silently you have all these hot leads and you’re just not nurturing them, because you don’t see them.

Mike: So Member Vault, one of our big goals is allowing you to see your hot leads really easily. Your only job, and the great part about this Allie, and I’ll stop, I get excited. But the great part about this is your only job is to give stuff away for free. That’s it. Just get people in your Member Vault by giving them stuff. How easy is that? You get to be Santa Claus, and you just get to be content Santa Claus, get everybody into your account, and the rest works itself out, and you get to see it. Then of course you can take it to the personal, but at least instead of saying great, I have 100 people on my list, maybe I can reach out to them, instead you’re like, “Here’s the 10 people who are super engaged and interested, let me reach out to them,” and it makes a big difference.

Allie: Yeah, absolutely. This might not be feasible for someone with 100,000 people on their list, but if you’re someone who’s just starting out and you have a list of hot leads, that’s a great opportunity, too, to go on Instagram and start connecting with them naturally, commenting on their stuff, liking their posts. Even Facebook, seeking them out, liking their page. That’s really high touch sales, but if you’re someone that wants to sell a high ticket coaching program or a group program, making that one to one connection is always going to help people want to buy from you, too. That’s something, you wouldn’t know that without a tool like this. You can look at cool, in ActiveCampaign who is opening your emails, but you can’t see how many times they looked at your freebie or how many, taking it to the next level of what can the conversation be when I start talking to them, to open up the doors to maybe give them an opportunity to join a high level program or something like that.

Mike: Yeah.

Allie: That’s harder to sell from an automated funnel, no matter what.

Mike: It totally is, it totally is, yeah. If you are scaling, if you are at that level, we have a Member Vault user who’s been with us for a while and is really been kind of tweaking her systems and stuff like that. So she teaches people how to sell on Etsy, and so she’s got all kinds of different the free thing, and she’s got the low cost, the master class, the one on one, and the hire me to critique your Etsy shop. The whole funnel, the whole content ladder, whatever you want to call it. She’s leveraging Member Vault like crazy, and she’s got … I think she’s almost at 100,000 people too. She cannot respond to emails anymore. You don’t personally have the time to do that, it’s not scalable. But we’ve set up these systems in ActiveCampaign that are able to automate and target people way better.

Mike: So even, I feel like automations get like a bad name, because we’re all used to seeing like … I get emails all the time like, “Hey, girlfriend,” and I’m like hm. You have no idea who I am. We can be a little more target in how we approach these automated things. It’s okay. I understand when I get an automated email, but like when like … Think Geek, I don’t know if you’ve ever gone to that site, but they sell like little nerdy toys and gimmicks and stuff for your desk and stuff like that. I’m on their email list. I haven’t unsubscribed because they target me so well. They know I’m a Lord of the Rings nerd, not a Star Trek nerd, right? Which makes a big difference, because if they were just sending me Star Trek stuff I’d probably unsubscribe. But they send me Hobbit stuff, and I’m like whoa, what’s this? So this is the stuff I’m talking about where there’s not a duded at Think Geek being like, “Oh, Mike’s really into this, let me send him this.” But they have automated systems. They’re really smart about tracking. So even if you are at scale and you have 100,000 people or you want to be 100,000 people, it’s still smart. It’s even more important to have this information.

Allie: I love that. So let’s talk about your personal life a little bit.

Mike: Oh God.

Allie: Watch out. So I’m curious because I’m a mom and that’s played a big role in why I started business. Did your … you guys have two babies, little ones?

Mike: Yeah.

Allie: Did you have them before or after the business was started?

Mike: Oh man, all during, Allie. The stories I could tell. Yes, so we kind of have a two year old and a two month old.

Allie: Wow.

Mike: You rewind, we’ve been doing Member Vault kind of loosely at first, but more seriously later, it’s three years, so yeah it spanned the birth of both of the kids.

Allie: I started doing the math and I was like wait a second, this is-

Mike: Oh yeah. And here’s one for you, one year of that, last year of that, the middle year, kind of one of our busiest years, we were doing a full time RV thing, so we were living in an RV during it too.

Allie: That’s awesome.

Mike: Yeah, yeah. So we were living in an RV with a toddler and running and building this business.

Allie: That’s amazing.

Mike: It was pretty epic.

Allie: Yeah.

Mike: What was the question?

Allie: I’m so distracted now by the fact that you lived in a RV with a toddler.

Mike: Yeah that happened.

Allie: So you traveled the US while you were programming and working on your business, and keeping baby [inaudible 00:43:39]?

Mike: Yeah. We basically were snowbirds. We live seasonally, so we have family down in Texas and we have family up here in Washington. So we kind of explored the west coast, and kind of wintered down in Texas, so we spent Christmas on the beach with palm trees and that was cool. Then got to skip the rainy season here in Washington and then got to come back up. Yeah. I mean let me diffuse any glorious images of oh, waking up in a different place every morning while running your business, that’s impossible because you still need to work. It is interesting doing the full time RV thing, you see other people that are on vacation, but you’re just living. You’ve still got to go to work. It was Erin and I basically playing hot potato with Conner, and getting work in. Being really targeted about how we worked was super important.

Allie: Yeah. I love that the two of you work together and take turns with who’s taking care of the little ones, like hot potato like you said. Somebody, it seems like you do a really good job of sharing responsibilities. I’m on a mission to ask men the same questions that I ask women, because I feel like women are always like, “How do you balance life and kids?” Men have the same thing going on, too. I love how you two work together. I’m curious has your business added to your personal happiness level, with like what you’ve been able to accomplish, traveling and being there at all times? Before we started the podcast, you ran and got coffee and crossed paths with the toddler, so just the fact you do that on a daily basis, I think it’s awesome. But I’m curious how you feel about it versus going into a business, like a 9 to 5 job.

Mike: I feel so bad for anybody, men and women, who have to go into an office and see their kids part time. Our two year old, Conner, he is like the coolest guy in the world and I love that I get to like see him every day, you know? Yes, we have a nanny here in the morning so he can do his thing, and we take turns baby wearing. I have puke on my shirt right here, you know? This is life, right? I do. I love that we get to take turns with that too. And I think that’s becoming more and more common, these ideas of … I hate reading these books, all the children’s books, and the dad has a suitcase and he’s heading out the door to work, kids going to stay with mom all day. I’m like that’s not how it is. It doesn’t have to be like that. But yes, as far as having the business and the family and everything, it is wonderful.

Mike: It’s really stressful at times, I won’t lie. Of course, especially when business is having a rough day. We had a day the other day where, it was just a lot of negative customer service stuff and not a lot of sales, and that just happens. As you scale, you’re going to get more problems, and then some days you get floods of sales and no issues. You have to balance it out, but it was just one of those rough days. It was so nice to, in the afternoon, after the toddler takes his nap and we get to do all that, we just were like alright, it was a beautiful day here in Washington, and we drove like 15 minutes down the road to a lake, and got to just hang out at the lake. The crazy part is, to just get away, and it was amazing. I felt so fortunate. I love that we have this business and it’s running right now while we’re here at this lake. Neither of us have to go to work. This is so cool. I felt super fortunate.

Mike: The crazy part is we got back from going to the lake, and we had made two sales, while we were at the lake, during that crappy day. So it was like okay, this is really cool. Being able to, it’s a mountain of work. It’s a ridiculous amount of work and it’s really hard to draw lines, like okay I’m going to stop working now and be with my family. I think that’s the hardest part is drawing that line. I can work right now because I have my phone, but should I? That’s the hardest part I think.

Allie: Yeah, that was my next question too is how do the two of you shut it off? I have serious aspirations of owning a business with my husband at some point, but I worry about that we would be out on a dinner date and be like, “So, this many conversions, blah blah blah.” Like how do you shut it off, or do you?

Mike: You can never. This is the thing. If you’re passionate about what you do, and let’s face it, if you’re an entrepreneur and you plan to be successful at all, you better be passionate about it because without that, there’s you’re insane. Just go get a 9 to 5 where you can clock out at the end of the day if you don’t care. So let’s face it, we all care. So when you’re in it with your spouse, too, we have very different … we don’t do the same things at Member Vault. There are times where it’s like, “Oh wow, how was your day? What did you do? Oh great, I did this and talked to these people,” so they’re different experiences, so it is cool to be able to kind of like regroup and talk about that and share successes. But yeah, we do need to be careful to not make it go into everything. I feel like the phones are the biggest issues, and I’m more guilty than Erin is. I’m bad because I deal a lot with customer service too, and I’m responsible for the whole tech. I’m always worried that the server is going to go down or there’s going to be some tech issue at Amazon. So I’m always like kind of sneaking little glimpses at my phone. Just try to be mindful of that and be like, okay, I’m going to leave the phone there and spend some time.

Allie: Yeah.

Mike: We have no work in bed kind of thing. The bedroom’s not a place for work. Stuff like that. We’ve really designed our life too where neither of us work in the afternoon, so like morning is our hustle time, and then in the afternoon is family time. That’s just, we really try to honor that. Yes, sometimes during the family walk we’ll talk about the cool conversion that we’ve had or the new feature that we released or something like that. I don’t think that’s a negative thing. If it takes over your whole life and relationship, yeah, then you’re married to your coworker and not your partner. That’s bad. But yeah, I think we just we live, we share so much of our lives. We’re just one of those couples that we’re just always together. It almost feels like oh, how can you work with your spouse and live with them too? I’m like yeah, but there’s so much happening with the kids and the family and us, and the business. I feel like we need more than 24 hours a day to share it all.

Allie: Totally. I love that. Well I’m going to keep dreaming about working with my husband. It sounds awesome.

Mike: Go for it. You never know. Again, it wasn’t all… we’ve actually worked together for a long time. We used to have a web design business where Erin was a designer and I was a developer. That was a long, we’re going back almost 10 years, [inaudible 00:51:14] studios. That was our first business that was a huge flop. We’re like oh, we want to do great websites cheap for people who can’t afford it. We didn’t know what we were doing.

Allie: Yeah.

Mike: But we were horrible coworkers, because she was like, “Let’s do all these things.” I was a grumpy developer and was like, “No, we’re not doing that, that’s stupid, nobody cares.” We butted heads a lot. We’re both really passionate and fired up, which can be a bad thing if you’re at opposing views. When we set up Member Vault, we were really like okay, we’re both going to be involved in everything of course, but I get the final say over tech things and architecture and things like that. You get the final say over marketing and branding and stuff like that. If you like that green better than that green, alright, that’s you. I can have an opinion, but that’s it. I know that’s your area, and that’s helped a lot.

Allie: Right. The dream team, you both have your roles and-

Mike: Yeah, exactly.

Allie: Make those perfect.

Mike: When you start working with your husband, have defined roles.

Allie: Yeah, right. Well we want to run a real estate investment company together, so I would be like the designer/decorator and he’s like [crosstalk 00:52:34].

Mike: There you go. Yeah, yeah.

Allie: Eventually. I’ve got to find the houses first, so we’ve got to keep [crosstalk 00:52:40].

Mike: That’s right, good.

Allie: Yeah. Well thank you so much for coming on today. It was awesome talking to you. I’m going to go log in right now and upload all my stuff because [crosstalk 00:52:51]. I know people loved it.

Mike: I appreciate you having me on, Allie. I’m really excited. This is such a cool thing that you’re doing here. I love that you’re receptive to this new idea and kind of excited by it. I think a lot of people are kind of threatened or like no, no change, we fear change.

Allie: I’m in it.

Mike: You’re in it, yeah. Let’s get on board. Let’s do this. Again, for everyone listening, you can start for free. We’re really, really transparent about how we’re running this. We want everyone to be successful. You don’t have to pay us a dime until you start making money.

Allie: I love it. Let’s link drop. Where can they find you?

Mike: Easy. MemberVault.co.

Allie: Perfect.

Mike: MemberVault.co, you can scroll down. You’ll probably put a link here as well. Yeah, just grab your free account and start playing. That’s it.

Allie: Perfect. Well, thanks again for your time and have a great rest-

Mike: Thank you Allie.

Allie: So there you guys have it. Member Vault is such an amazing software, and I would love for you to check it out for two reasons. Number one, Mike and Erin Kelly are fantastic humans, and number two, because I feel like this model is the way of the future for online marketing and online businesses. It’s such a natural way for people to interact with you, see all of your content in one place, and I would love for you to start experimenting with this model for yourself too.

Allie: Thanks for listening to the Prosperity Lab Podcast. Check out the show notes for this episode, and all past episodes, at ProsperityLab.com. If you enjoy this show, please share it with your biz besties, leave us a review, and subscribe to make sure you stay in the loop for any updates. Keep believing in yourself, chasing your dreams, and designing your version of prosperity. I’ll talk to you again soon.

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