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A couple years ago I found myself in a blog rut. Traffic was steady, our content was good, and we had a solid stream of new members joining Location Rebel Academy.
But there was one thing missing. There was one big problem that I had a very difficult time getting past.
What was it?
I had yet to find a good, repeatable way to get people excited about joining our email list here at Location Rebel.
I didn’t totally understand it.
I had people who were on the list emailing me every week saying that my emails were some of the ones they looked forward to most, and they loved the casual, down to earth style – yet getting them on the list to begin with, was a much bigger challenge.
And frankly, it’s a challenge for all new bloggers.
These days we’re bombarded with offers, opt ins, deals, ads – you name it. The requests for our time and attention have become so overwhelming, that often our response is to simply ignore them all.
So how do you cut through the noise and get people to engage with you and your brand on a more personal basis?
Well, for me, the answer was pretty simple. I started using Sumo marketing tools.
In this Sumo review, I’m going to share with you:
- Exactly how Sumo has been instrumental in helping me build real, one on one relationships with my readers
- What Sumo is and who it’s ideal for
- How I’d personally start using the tools on a new (or established) blog or website
- 10 reasons why I think every blogger should use Sumo
- A very special offer on one of my flagship courses, that I’m likely to never do again
I’m going to be real with you, this isn’t your typical review. You’ll be able to tell I’m a pretty big fan of this service quickly, but rather than just review it, I want you to truly understand why I believe in it – and also have very clear starting points for what to do when you start using it yourself.
What is Sumo?
Before I go into exactly how Sumo has helped me build real relationships, you might be wondering “what the heck is Sumo, anyway?”
Sumo (formerly known as Sumo Me) is a suite of marketing tools for bloggers and online brands. Sumo’s tools help people like you and me generate more traffic, engage their audience, grow their email list, all while providing an easy way to test and track things.
And the best part? They help you automate it all, even if you have no technical experience, insane amounts of traffic, or a corporate Amex to pay for it.
In the two years since I’ve started using Sumo it’s helped me add thousands of people to my email list that wouldn’t have found it otherwise – which has given me the opportunity to build real relationships in the process.
How Sumo Has Helped Me Build Trust and Relationships
In just a minute I’ll introduce you to the specific tools that their service includes, but first I want to address this big monkey in the room: how can a company that makes marketing tools actually help you build legitimate relationships with your readers?
I can hear what you’re thinking: “your way of building relationships with your readers is by marketing more to them?”
Here’s the deal, the absolute number one, single most effective strategy I’ve implemented in all of my businesses over the last few years is to get people to email me.
When you sign up for any of my offers or email lists, the very first email you’ll get will ask you to hit reply and tell me the one biggest thing you’re struggling with. Sometimes I’ll ask you to also tell me about what your perfect day looks like as well.
I’m adamant about this, and make it clear that I really do want to hear from you!
Generally, about 25% of people actually respond.
You know what happens then? They’re shocked when they get a response back from myself or my community manager Liz. We’re able to build that relationship, friendship, and in turn make recommendations and give advice that is given specifically to that person – which builds trust.
But the only way this is truly effective is to start the conversation right after you’ve subscribed! That’s when you’re most interested, engaged, and curious.
So when I installed Sumo and it doubled the number of opt ins I was getting overnight – that in turn doubled the number of people we were able to engage on a more personal basis.
The bigger we get, the harder it is to manage (and sometimes it takes us longer than I’d like to respond) – but we still do it, and it’s the single most effective thing we’ve done to not only create more trust with our audience, but that trust leads to more customers as well.
What Services Does Sumo Provide?
Hopefully, you’re starting to get a sense that I don’t view Sumo as just another marketing company trying to get my hard earned blogger dollars.
But I’m sure you’re wondering by now, what exactly they do and what we get when you join.
So I’m going to tell you!
When you join Sumo you get over a dozen different tools to help you with an array of marketing needs on your site. But here are the ones I’ve found most valuable.
1) Welcome Mat
A welcome mat is a full screen pop up that is used to “welcome” people to the site. When done properly, it is the single most effective tool I’ve had for growing an email list.
You may have already seen mine, in fact. Right now it looks like this:
What’s cool about this is you can customize everything about it, including which pages it’s displayed on, how long before it’s triggered, and exactly what it looks like. If you do it right, you can tailor the offer and message to exactly where the reader is in their journey on your site, so that whatever they’re shown is an enhancement to their experience, rather than a nuisance.
2) Scroll Box
These days “pop up” is a dirty word for a lot of people. When done too liberally, they can make the user experience horrible on a site (we’ve all been to one of those).
And while you can create just about any kind of pop up you want in Sumo (and customize it to minimize annoyingness), Scroll Box is by far my favorite.
Because it’s not annoying!
I have mine setup to scroll up from the bottom right of the screen when a user gets 70% of the way through a post. This way it doesn’t block any of the content and is unobtrusive. But it also allows me to provide an offer to enhance the exact same content the user is reading. So if they want other similar or more in depth content, rather than hunting for it – it’s easily displayed.
Here’s the one I have on my bucket list post:
3) Smart Bar
A Smart Bar is simply a configurable bar that you can setup to appear on across the top (or bottom) of your site to display a message.
You can use it with the goal of trying to capture emails, but personally, I’ve found it to be more useful simply for directing someone to an offer or a page they might not see otherwise.
I use one on Breaking Eighty to introduce people to my community for private golf club members called, The Eighty Club.
Here’s a shot of it in action:
4) Click Trigger
These days you may have noticed the traditional opt in box on a side bar, or at the bottom of a blog post doesn’t convert the way it once did (or at least it doesn’t for me). For all the reasons mentioned above, people have just been kind of trained to ignore these.
A Click Trigger is another way to get people to engage with your site and help you grow your list.
Rather than an opt in box, it’s simply text that you can format however you want – and when clicked, that’s when they’re presented with the offer to sign up.
That extra step helps people from just glossing over your incentive. I haven’t experimented as much with these until recently, but early results are that it works pretty well.
Here’s an example of one I did on last week’s sabbatical post that is currently converting at 30%!
5) Heat Map and Content Analytics
Finally, I think this is the most overlooked of all of their tools and something you can get a ton of value from.
With the heat map tool, you’re able to get a heat map of your site, and see exactly where people are clicking. For instance, I use it on my home page to see which blog posts people click on the most – then I switch out the ones that aren’t performing.
You can do this in tandem with their scroll test – where it will show you exactly what percentage of the way through any given post readers are getting.
So for instance, if I did one on my Location Rebel Academy sales page and saw that 90% of people were getting through my introduction, but only 40% of people were actually getting through the offer itself – that allows me to see exactly where they’re dropping off so I can go and edit that section and try to capture their attention better.
One Time Only Offer
So, I’m going to be totally honest with you – a good friend of mine recently started working with Sumo on their partnership program – and they’ve put together a pretty incredible incentive package for people like me to promote it.
This got me thinking, and has led me to do something I never would have done otherwise (and won’t ever do again).
Before I tell you exactly what it is, let me preface this:
I’ve been a paying customer of Sumo for the last few years. I use it across all of my sites, and if you can’t tell, I’m a huge fan.
I was actually planning to write this review at some point, without the affiliate incentive, just because it’s had such a positive impact on my business.
If you aren’t interested or don’t have the money to invest in Sumo – no problem! They have a limited free account that lets you get your feet wet and use some of their most popular features – you’re just limited on customization and have their branding on the site. So go do that.
BUT if Sumo seems appealing to you, and you’re looking to truly enhance your site and grow your marketing initiatives (while putting your brand first, and not being sleazy) then I’d highly encourage you to sign up for Sumo.
Now here’s the crazy part.
Until the end of November, the first 20 people who join any paid plan on Sumo through this link, will get free lifetime access to my new flagship course Hobby Hacking.
Hobby Hacking is a complete step by step course where I walk you through every detail of how to build a brand that both enhances your enjoyment of a hobby, and has the potential to turn into a sustainable, long term lifestyle business.
We beta launched it in August with our Anniversary sale, and it will be re-released at the first of the year with a full retail price of $497.
Why make this offer now?
Because with what I teach in Hobby Hacking, Sumo’s tools fit perfectly. I recommend it in the course, I encourage everyone in the course to sign up – so now I tried to create the most no-brainer, win/win scenario I possibly could.
I’m also hoping to get a few final beta members in before we re-release it over the coming weeks.
There’s no pressure or hard pitch here.
If Sumo isn’t interesting and you’d rather focus on building freelance income? Great, feel free to skip the rest of this post and come back next week! Or find a topic that is archives.interesting in our
If you like the idea of Sumo but simply don’t want to make the investment in your business or site right now? All good! Go sign up for their free plan.
BUT, if you’ve always wanted to build a business around doing something you love, you want us to help hold your hand through every step of the process – and you want what I believe to be the best marketing asset possible for your site?
Then sign up here, forward the receipt to team (@) locationrebel.com, and we’ll hook you up with your very own Hobby Hacking account.
Sound good? Good.
Not Interested in Hobby Hacking?
As I was finishing up this offer, I realized something. Many of the people who Sumo will be most valuable for, may already have a lifestyle business – and don’t necessarily want the soup to nuts training Hobby Hacking provides.
So if instead of Hobby Hacking access you’d like one of the following of our programs instead, I’m happy to make that happen 🙂
- Rebel Launches: My step by step strategy for creating 5 figure launches through the power of building real relationships. This is my exact process I go through every time I do a product launch for a new or existing product.
- How to Pitch Influencers: We received so many terrible pitches and emails here at Location Rebel that I finally decided enough was, and we created an entire course devoted to how to send emails to influencers that get opened, read, and actually lead to building friendships and getting more of what you want.
Just let me know which one you’d like when you forward me your receipt.
Ok, now that the offer is on the table, let’s look at exactly what I would start with once you’re setup with Sumo.
How I’d Start With Sumo
This next part is for people who already have a blog or website, and want to start implementing this stuff now. If you’re just starting a brand new site, you have enough other things to focus on for the first couple months – but if you’re already up and going – here’s what I’d do.
1) Do a Content Heatmap
First thing’s first, find your 3 most popular posts and run a heatmap and scroll test on them, as well as your homepage.
This will allow you to see where people are clicking the most (telling you where they’re most engaged), and also the scroll test I mentioned above – so you can see exactly where people are dropping off.
Once you’ve done that….
2) Create a Scroll Box
Create a custom Scroll Box for each of those three posts. Doing exactly this:
- Make your offer/call to action directly related to the content on the page
- Using the info from the scroll test, see what percentage of the way through the page most users are dropping off.
- Have the Scroll Box trigger at that exact spot. Doing this can potentially capture their attention at a time when they may be thinking of clicking away.
- Clone the Scroll Box and test a different headline. Sumo makes it incredibly easy to track and see which one performs better.
3) Add a Welcome Mat
You want to be careful with these. They have the potential to be really powerful and convert well, but if you don’t give it appropriate consideration, they can become more of an annoyance than anything.
A couple things to keep in mind:
- Take the time to choose the right photo. The most important factor in a Welcome Mat is the right image. It’s full screen, so choose something visually interesting and on brand.
- Headline is even more important. This is your best shot to capture someone’s attention from the jump. Really think about what they average reader of your site wants, and use a headline that offers exactly that.
- Test. I’d start out testing the same copy with different images. Once you know which image converts best, move to headline, sub-headline, and button text.
For instance, I thought this would be really effective:
But this variation performed 52% better!
4) Set Aside a Weekly Time to Review and Iterate
This is the step where Sumo can go from a “nice little boost in opt ins” to a powerhouse automated system.
Set aside 1-2 hours at a specific time every week to review the performance of all your Sumo tests. Find what’s working, then create new iterations, and don’t be afraid to try new ideas.
My biggest regret with the site over the last year is not being more pro-active about regularly switching things up. I found something that worked and rested on that for too long when in just the last couple months even small tweaks have improved my conversion rate.
For instance, I setup a scroll box a few months ago, and then ignored it. Last week I went in and added a new variant on the copy.
Know what happened?
The new variant is performing 446% better! I went from a conversion rate of under 1% to over 3% – and that’s just with one variation. With a little more tweaking I think we can get it up to 4 or 5. That’s a lot of potential new customers and relationships left on the table.
10 Reasons Why I Think Every Blogger Should Use Sumo
Ok finally, you should have a pretty good idea of why I like Sumo so much, but just to hammer my points home, I wanted to include the 10 biggest reasons why I’m such a fan of the service.
1) Turns your blog into a game
How many times have you played a video game where you’re trying to level up, collect experience points, experiment and try new things etc.
I treat my marketing using Sumo as a real life video game. Except when I get something right? It translates to better relationships and more money.
It keeps me motivated, and frankly, it makes marketing on my site fun.
2) Don’t need to hire an expensive designer
I’m not sure if you’ve ever looked into hiring a designer to create custom opt ins for you – but here’s the thing, they aren’t cheap. And often it can cost even more to code them for you.
Sumo makes all of this incredibly easy. After 20 minutes in the system, you’ll be creating and testing like a pro.
3) You don’t need any technical expertise
No, of course, you don’t – I certainly don’t.
Sumo gives you a one line piece of code, you drop it in your WordPress page and voila! You’re good to go.
4) It has the testing features built in
This is such an underrated component of Sumo, yet it’s arguably the most important one.
Historically split testing could be difficult if you didn’t have an expensive service to do it for you. With Sumo not only do you get all of the marketing tools, but the testing aspect of it is built right into the interface. You can easily clone any design, make your change, and then decide exactly how much of your traffic should go to each version.
You let it run, and it will show you which one is performing better and by how much. If you embrace this? You will see your site grow many times over.
5) Sumo is an example of a company doing things right
One of the things I like most about these guys is that even as the company has grown they haven’t lost their personality.
They don’t take themselves too seriously, they have fun with their marketing (and make it incredibly useful). Everyone I’ve had the pleasure of meeting is someone I’d actually be excited about hanging out with again.
6) It’s Free
While yes, I recommend picking up a paid version so that you can customize things and make it all about your brand, the bottom line is, they have one of the best free versions of any paid service I use.
So if you’re skeptical about whether it works, don’t have the budget, or frankly, don’t think your site is big enough to justify spending the money? Grab a free account!
7) Customize your marketing on each page
A few years ago we saw most sites just having blanket opt in boxes across their site. That doesn’t work very well anymore.
In order to capture someone’s attention, you want to show them materials that directly relate to the content they’re reading about.
With Sumo you can customize every Scroll Box, Welcome Mat, Click Trigger etc to whatever page you’re showing it on. That’s powerful.
8) Easiest way to implement content upgrades
Let’s take step #7 one step further. If you’re reading about my bucket list, how valuable would it be if I had a book all about creating a killer bucket list?
It’d be useful right?
Well, with Sumo you can make a specific bucket list related offer just one that page, and they also have a feature to automatically deliver the free book, immediately after they opt in.
The content upgrade features are built in. Don’t know what a content upgrade is? Check this.
9) It integrates with whatever you’re using
I have yet to find a service that normal people use that Sumo doesn’t integrate with. For me it works with ConvertKit, WordPress, and even the platform this is on, Rainmaker.
10) I’ve learned first hand one simple thing: It Works.
Finally, the best reason for recommending Sumo? Simple.
Two days after making my first Welcome Mat go live, I sent my friend Vanessa an email that simply said:
“Yo, Installed the Welcome Mat the other day, and it’s been performing even better than expected. See attached.”
Here’s the attached graph of my list growth:
Since then opt ins have been higher across the board, and often when I implement something new, I’ll often see things double over night.
The tools Sumo provides are incredibly powerful, fun to use, and the things I’ve talked about here simply scratch the surface of what’s possible.
So if you’re not interested? Then chances are, you didn’t make it this far in this post (or at least I hope you didn’t!), but if you are go check it out here. And remember to forward your receipt to [email protected] to get lifetime access to your choice of Hobby Hacking, Rebel Launches, or How to Pitch Influencers!