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How my 271 Twitter followers drove over 10,000 Substack Subscribers in 60 days
spoiler alert, they didn't :(
👋🏼 Hey friends, as Channels of Growth passes 10,000+ Subscribers I wanted to take a moment to make sure that I offered the chance to unsubscribe from the newsletter (link at bottom). Open rates & engagement is super important to me, so please only stay if you love the content.
If you happen to REALLY love the content, you can gain access to 100% of the posts by becoming a paid subscriber (if you aren’t already). :)
In little less than 2 months this Substack just crossed a really huge milestone, over 10,000 total Subscribers (free + paid)!
Despite the fact I seem capable of shamelessly self promoting, I honestly have a little bit of a hard time talking about my own wins which is probably why the title of this post is masked in humor. I wrote another article when Channels of Growth first passed 1,000 subscribers but let’s be honest - 1,000 subs isn’t really that impressive.
In my own personal opinion the “influencer” game only really starts at 100k subs (depending on platform), but 10k in 2 months is definitely a step in the right direction.
And it also gives the chance to highlight my absolute favorite channel of growth.
I’m sorry to disappoint, but it is not my 271 Twitter followers that drives the growth of this Substack. As you might have guessed, it was my Account Based Marketing email campaign.
In other words, I sent you all a few cold email. 💙
In this “yay I hit 10k” highlight, I want to answer some of the most burning questions I have gotten from you all. Things like “sir, I love your posts but how did you get email address?” and maybe even questions you’re thinking but not asking, like “what exactly is the open rate of your Substack if all you did is cold email everyone?”
For the record, the last email I sent out had a 59% open rate & over 16,000 total views.
People usually have a couple of interesting reactions to cold email, normally a combination of disgust combined with a disbelief that it doesn’t actually work.
I want to make an argument for tasteful cold email.
Right now, in this moment of time, cold email is the absolute highest ROI channel of growth that exists in the world. You want to talk about growth hacking? We currently have access to literally everyones email address, and the channel has not yet become saturated.
Think about that. Cold email right now is Facebook in 2010, except you can instantly connect with everyone in the world instead of having to build followers.
There’s a right way to do it. If you just start spamming people you’re not going to just annoy your audience, but you’ll be hit with abuse reports that will prevent you from emailing anybody.
But do it right, and you can create an audience of highly targeted individuals who are super interested in what it is you have to talk about.
First things first..
Koby, how did you get my email address?
If you’ve read this far it means that you got my initial cold sequence of MailChimp emails (I did NOT use Substack to cold email people), didn’t tell me to fuck off, didn’t unsubscribe, and are actually reading and engaging with my articles.
It’s honestly kind of crazy. I’m more of a distribution guy content creation isn’t my core skillset, so truly, thanks for reading the posts I put out into the world.
In exchange, I want to try and be absolutely truthful about the work that I do… Like how exactly I got your email address.
Short answer? I use Apollo.
Apollo is the driving force behind this Substack, I would literally only have my mom as a Subscriber without it. I want you to think about how crazy this is.
Set aside the “evilness” of cold email for 7 seconds.
Since the dawn of your grandpa’s AOL address, email marketing has been a gold mine for marketing professionals. Untold billions of dollars have been spent trying to generate email addresses. How many times have you been asked at a brick & mortar store “would you like to enter your email?”
People have been paying BANK to generate email lists of their audience, literally anywhere from $1-$10 per email.
Then along came “big data” providers and sketchy merchants willing to sell you black hat or scraped email lists for anywhere from $.10-$1. Places like Rocket Reach or Zoom Info.
The honest truth was the quality of these providers is shit. Open rates maybe 10-20%, email addresses being spammed to death, I tried them, they don’t really work.
The real secret to Apollo isn’t the fact that they will give you emails for $0.01, it’s that the technology behind making sure the email is the correct email has finally been polished.
Let’s say you’re writing a Substack for people in the Growth industry. I’m able to just get the email addresses for my whole industry for next to nothing, and they give me the actual correct emails with over 50% open rates.
It’s honestly so great I don’t even bother running the emails through Zero Bounce.
Why pay $1 per email with a Facebook ads + ebook strategy when Apollo lets me send a message for almost nothing?
Evil marketers rejoice.
Except, I don’t really want to be evil. Spamming people doesn’t lead to real sales. It doesn’t lead to engagement. All it does is cause a few thousand people to kinda hate you until the ESPs ban your butt.
So how do you message your audience without spamming them?
Send truly great content, to people who will love it
Here’s the real secret to leveraging an ABM style cold email campaign into a healthy newsletter filled with subscribers that engage with your content.
Create truly great content, and only send it to people who want it.
To start with, I have an EXTREMELY specific audience. 90% of my audience is people who work in Growth, 8% is people who work in marketing, and 2% are investors who I think might be interested in Growth.
Can I tell you a quick story about my actual job @ Rupa Health?
I create these live classes for doctors. I bring in industry experts who talk for hours about insanely technical medical topics where I only understand every other word.
And the doctors LOVE it.
This Substack is written specifically for people who have my own kind of crazy. People who run (or want to) ad campaigns that spend millions per month and nerd out about CTR performances, or are fascinated by the fact a cold email campaign can have a 50% open rate.
It is written for the special struggles specific to the Growth industry by someone in the Growth industry who is actively decently great at Growth.
So that’s literally what I did, create content carefully crafted for Growth people, and I sent it to Growth people.
Here’s the thing though, if you don’t love my content, I stopped emailing you. I didn’t just create a list filled with growth people and try to start sending them content I thought they might care about. I made sure that they were engaged.
Email #1: “Hi I’m Koby, this is my Substack blah blah blah”
Email #2: “Hi this is a sample post, hope you enjoy!”
Email #3: “Hi this is ANOTHER sample post, hope you enjoy!”
If you didn’t start engaging with me by that 3rd email, you’ll never hear from me again. In my opinion that’s the biggest part of turning a cold email campaign into a healthy newsletter, only message people who read your content.
Also IMO, this isn’t spamming people. It’s a cold pitch inviting your audience to partake in relevant content, no different than a Facebook ad, that stops if you’re your audience isn’t interested.
I hope this post was an interesting insightful into how effective cold email is right now, because it’s literally one of the most powerful and highest ROI channels that exist in 2022. Personally I missed the boat of organic Facebook traffic in 2010 and I’m on my own mission to make sure that never happens again.
Also if you loved this post I hope you’ll consider becoming a paid subscriber (if you aren’t already) 😊 it’s not ALL cold email, I also write a ton about everything from Understanding Product Led Growth ⛽ to What does a "Head of Growth" actually do? 🤷🏻♀️.
But no matter what, thanks for giving me some dopamine by reading my posts. At the end of the day my core driver is wether or not i’m putting things out into the world that other people in my industry find truly interesting and/or useful. 🙏🏻