S01 Episode 3: How to Optimize for Opt-Ins and Conversions with Josh Doody

By Brennan Dunn

As a salary negotiation expert, Josh Doody faces a unique challenge — how to convert a lead within the first hours of them visiting his site.  Josh’s clients often find him within an hour or two of their salary discussions and are looking for help fast, cheap and with big results.  His challenge has been to draw in clients sooner, address their needs right away, and to make sure they know he’s there for them long-term.  He talks with Brennan about the tricks he’s learned for getting leads into his funnel, the best ways to experiment with your site, and what changes he’s had to make over the years.

Josh Doody, founder of FearlessSalaryNegotiation.com, teaches salaried employees how to make more money.  His funnel starts with search engine optimization and excellent content marketing, then uses a variety of other tools, including research, reputation, and automation, to turn leads into conversions.  Since many people find his site as they’re about to enter salary discussions with an employer, Josh works to get leads in earlier, show his value quickly, and convince potential clients to slow down their approach.  Josh adjusts his message and sales approach depending on how quickly leads need his help.  He has also found that drawing traffic to his site is a key variable that he’s able to control.  So how does he do it?

Getting Clicks

Josh identifies himself first and foremost as a writer.  Not only has he written several books about salary negotiation, but he says the long form, free, educational content on his site is his biggest draw for new visitors.  Josh writes what he think will be valuable to his audience and then checks which of these topics are getting traffic and being shared.  He’ll then double down on those pages by enhancing them or writing more along those lines.  From this very basic, manual search engine optimization, Josh has been able to create organic traffic resulting in 55,000 unique visits per month.  “Google is really good at finding what people are searching for,” Josh says, so he focuses less on getting the exact wording right, and more on targeting his audience’s specific informational needs.

Josh also likes to increase clicks by building his authority.  By answering questions on forums like Quora, Josh is not only able to point to his site and increase his click rate, but also, to learn what information his audience is seeking and what responses resonate with them.  Appearing on podcasts is another tactic he’s used to boost his numbers.  Brennan points out that podcast guesting will generate some traffic in the first week or so of the episode going out (especially with the help of social media bumps).  However, there is a long term benefit in the permanent backlink from that podcast’s host site.  Josh agrees, between appearing as a podcast guest and writing articles for other recognizable sites, Google will see the backlinks and realize that your site is “worth paying attention to.”

An advantage to having a large audience (like Josh’s 1500+ unique clicks per day) is being able to run occasional experiments.  Though he sometimes runs two day a/v tests for special offers, Josh generally prefers to run 90 day experiments to learn what visitors will do for downloadable bonuses, which ones get the most traffic etc.  Josh remembers starting these exercises too early in his site’s life and finding it only wasted time; with too small an audience, the changes are too insignificant to achieve measurable results.  He says early on, a consultant’s focus should be pretty much entirely on getting more traffic, seeing what brought in that traffic and using that information to get more traffic.  He adds, that barring some kind of algorithm change or massive platform change, Google Analytics information is also pretty helpful.

Generating Opt-Ins

Josh found his first opportunity to optimize his funnel when he noticed he’d been getting mediocre email opt ins from organic traffic –only about 1%.  He evaluated his site and isolated the problem: he was giving too much away and his lead magnets were too generic.  So Josh looked at which pages were bringing in the most traffic and thought about how to optimize them.  With 20,000 visitors per month on some of these pages, even going from 1% to 2% opt ins would be a meaningful jump so he started there.  He considered content upgrades he might be able to offer on those pages.  On one article, he pulled the email templates that had been embedded in the text and created a linked PDF that customers could only access by opting in.  Josh says this flipped the switch on this page and and his opt ins there are now around 4-5%.  Since the 8000+ word article is still providing useful information on a topic his readers care about, Josh is still getting the traffic he wanted and building trust with his audience.  Josh points out that this idea can be taken further in that the templates can become a product in and of themselves (e.g. he could provide 2 for free, and then charge a flat rate of $19 for the rest).  Josh says that knowing which articles will do well before offering the content upgrade is key.  He limits his focus to 4 or 5 pages that get a lot of traffic and thinks about what the lead magnet should be for each one, then builds it accordingly.  He creates category specific baseline calls to action to help with each lead magnet.

Creating Conversions

Josh’s funnel is based on his statement “I can help you raise your salary,” and the first step is figuring out exactly how he can do that best.  Josh starts by asking opt-ins, “When are you negotiating your salary?”  This helps him profile his visitors, divide them into categories based on urgency, and respond to them appropriately.  In his first response to them, Josh tries to describe the situation he thinks the client is in and what he can do to address their need.  It is not uncommon for people to find Josh’s site moments or just a couple of hours before sending their salary negotiation email or before entering talks –they’ll download his email templates in a last ditch effort to prepare.  For these opt-ins, Josh urges them to take their salary negotiation process a little bit slower and to hear what possibilities his services can facilitate.  The email these clients will see says “don’t send that counter offer yet!”  Since these clients are on an abbreviated timeline, Josh knows they are more suited to the product side of his business than coaching.  However, if a lead is seeking a raise at an existing job, Josh knows his customer’s timeline will be a bit more laid back.  In this case, he can pitch the coaching aspect of his work and phrase his welcome/thank you message differently.  In both cases, he says, his goal is to have his first email be the “fulfillment email,” which says, “Here’s the material you requested, but also, here’s who I am and what I can do for you.”

Multiple Markets

Even though Josh has mastered giving customers what they want when they need it, he is always refining his tactics to better reach potential clients who are on the shorter timeline.  Josh mentions Joshua Earl who presents two kinds of markets: “the stocked pond” and “the passing parade.”  The stocked pond client checks you out, wants to know what you have to offer, is someone you build a relationship with over time, and eventually they’ll buy.  For the passing parade customer, there’s a smaller window of time during which your product is relevant to them.

For people starting out, this is exactly why knowing where your clients are coming from and who they are is a big deal.  Just as you speak differently with clients who you know have an immediate need vs people who don’t currently have a project for you, so too, you should speak differently depending on a visitor’s urgency.  Just knowing how a client enters your funnel can tell you a lot about which market they belong to.  For example, Brennan mentions that “Starting A Freelance Business” is a frequently clicked DYF article.  Just knowing that is what the customer is interested in, gives Brennan an idea of the customer’s experience level, specific need, and urgency.  He also gets clues of their timeline, financial flexibility, and goals.  He can tell for example, the reader probably has a day job right now.  Josh says the earlier you know that information, the better you’ll be able to service your client’s need.  

For Josh’s stocked pond customers he steers them towards the coaching side of his funnel.  Josh says this isn’t a hard sell, it’s just a matter of letting people know it exists and telling them more about it when they’re ready to hear it.  In the past year, Josh has narrowed his focus further to address salary negotiation for software developers who want more job offers and a higher rate.  He helps leads see themselves as clients by using pre-scripts, emails, and casual mentions, to say “my coaching clients get results using this technique.”  Sometimes his customers come back a year after they first find him and say “hey, I regret not working with you before but I’m switching jobs again and I’d like to work with you now.”  These leads require a softer sell because a software developer who has a job offer from Facebook knows Josh’s fee will seem trivial against their potential salary.  Josh says keeping himself front and center is essential so he sends weekly emails to his audience.  Once or twice a month he’ll focus on topics relevant to coaching and will include a link to the coaching page asking if readers are “expecting a job offer within the next four weeks?”  Just by making people aware that he offers coaching, means they sometimes book within an hour of getting a job offer.  Clients select themselves and all Josh has to do is follow up.

Brennan and Josh agree that this is one of many examples showing that higher price point doesn’t necessarily mean a harder sell.  Josh’s customers could buy one of his books for much cheaper and gain all of the knowledge they need, but when he mentions this, clients usually say, “I just want to be told what to do.”  Josh’s clients tend to be looking for things that are inclusive, already done for them, and that provide quick answers. 

Refining the Funnel

Fearless Salary Negotiation is doing fine with an evergreen funnel and a lot of happy customers, but Josh is always looking to the future.  This year he plans to re-target his funnel to reach higher-value leads with segmentation.  He sees other opportunities also.  Josh’s automation allows him to follow up with customers who have clicked through but not purchased and he knows there’s potential for him to sell more books and courses with just a few adjustments.  He also offers career coaching if clients are having difficulty getting job offers in the first place.  While this service isn’t promoted as heavily, Josh looks forward to developing it more in the future.

Currently, Josh’s funnel starts with excellent, optimized content that ensures customers have already benefited from him before they even see the sales page.  The page is available after an email opt in, and it invites leads to apply to schedule a free 15 min call.  Josh’s optimized funnel means sales are easy to make and he has control.  Although he can’t demand 10 new clients and have them appear, Josh CAN send out a flash discount to his email list and “make money happen,” to quote Amy Hoy.  Josh’s hustle is about convincing people to enter his list rather than convincing people to hire him.  He focuses on guest posting, guesting on podcasts etc. and building his audience while his funnel takes care of the rest.  Doubling visitors may not automatically double revenue, but it is an essential component.  Josh says the question is what to do with the traffic, and how to optimize for client needs.  He says it is easy to become obsessed with the stats as you look at value per customer, value per subscriber, and value per coaching client vs. product client.   He recommends taking a variety of approaches like looking for interesting ways to get a $5 per visitor value, finding higher-value leads with segmentation, and evaluating the effectiveness of each stage of the funnel.  Not wanting to become obsessed is one reason Josh doesn’t look at the numbers until an experiment has run for 30-90 days.  He revises by looking at each section of the funnel and working on it for a while.  He works his way down, optimizing to the fullest, and then starts at the top to edit again.  He sees what modifications work and gets to learn about his audience’s motivations.

Josh knows to let the numbers speak.  Where there is successful content, there is opportunity for lead generation.  From there, it is his job to determine how to strategically offer the content upgrades that become his opt-ins.  How Josh communicates with opt-ins is dependent on their specific needs and can be the difference between a conversion and a missed sale.  Josh’s constant research allows for excellent optimization and his meticulous process editing has made him a true authority on funnel management.  Josh has become a master of his niche, and by following his example, you can master yours.






Amy Hoy — https://stackingthebricks.com/be-your-own-angel-how-to-make-money-happen/