[Podcast] Pushing Send Episode 39 – John Vuong


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John Vuong

How one local SEO agency owner thinks about email and how he developed his perspective on email strategy. This is John Vuong’s story about Pushing Send.

John Vuong is a seasoned sales professional and Internet marketer with an exceptional track record helping companies grow their clientele and profits. With over 15 years of experience working with CEOs, business owners, and marketing leaders, he now runs the Canadian boutique SEO agency, Local SEO Search Inc.

Key Points From This Episode:

  • John learned how to engage with his audience from his personal work experience and engaging with thousands of business owners over the course of many years. 
  • He feels like his job as a marketer is to educate and inform and then when the client is ready, they’ll reach out if it is a good fit. 
  • John believes you should give as much as you can, stay authentic and not be pushy.
  • Figuring out upfront if you are going to be a good fit for your client is important. This includes understanding the business by asking the right questions and listening. 
  • You need to understand what your customers are actually using to communicate with your ideal tribe.
  • John stays away from drip email campaigns and uses a vetting process as he proceeds in his relationship with potential clients.
  • He believes that people should take a step back, talk to your 10, most loyal, ideal, the best type of clients, and really uncover how they love being communicated with why they chose you. Then, try to attract more of those types of clients. 
  • John wants to be there for his client when they are ready and wants them to feel like they are in total control of the process. 


“The more you’re out there being consistent, more informative and more genuine, and you’re actually adding value. People all see that you want to help. The more you give the more you’re going to receive in return.” –  @JohnVuongCan

“I know I can help the best. Everyone else, I want to help educate and push them along so that they can further their business to better benefit on whatever software, skill or relationship that they’re looking for.” –  @JohnVuongCan

“You have to understand what your customers actually are using to then communicate with your ideal tribe because not everyone is going to be using that platform.” –  @JohnVuongCan

“There’s always something new and flashy and people read up on something that will save them so much more time, get way better click-through rates or better prospects, but ultimately it’s the quality of leads and the conversion rate if it’s working for you, why change it?” –  @JohnVuongCan


Links Mentioned in Today’s Episode:

Episode Transcript

John Vuong :
Email is not as personalized. There’s a different level of connection I would say when someone emails versus someone picking up the phone and talking to them and as a business owner, do you want to deal with someone that just emails all day long or direct messages or app chats or whatever, or do you want someone to actually call you and actually ask you questions and want to help you? And you can get so much more uncovered on a five minute phone call than a chain of 10 emails going back and forth for five hours

Bryan Kelly:
From rasa.io, the tool for sending smarter and better email newsletters. This is Pushing Send, a show featuring people who send emails their subscribers actually want to read I’m Bryan Kelly and on today’s show how one local SEO agency owner thinks about email here’s John Vuong sharing how he developed his perspective on email strategy. We’re trying to cover a range of perspectives on email marketing for this podcast. And your perspective is interesting because I believe it’s important to understand your audience and how to best engage with them. So where did you learn this from?

John Vuong :
Yeah, I’ve learned this from my personal work experience, actually. So before I started this agency, eight years ago, I worked in advertising sales for 10 years. And that’s where I learned a lot about not just engaging and asking questions to business owners, but learning about what really triggered them to decide to want to work with you or not. And this is, I feel from work experience from learning, making a lot of mistakes and having a lot of learnings I did was really from engaging with thousands of business owners over the course of 10 years, where I was able to meet with business owners on a daily basis. Be ultra curious as to why they were in business. What triggered them? What were they wanting out of the relationship that I was offering in terms of the product and service and what made them decide to choose us over the competitors? And this is how I kind of frame my logical sense of how I market to customers or prospects today. And it allowed me to get a better mindset and clarity on what’s the sequence look like, make it more, as much as a soft sell as possible so that they are in control. They vet, they oversee and when they’re ready, they’re going to reach out to you. It seems like it’s work because most of my clients are more longterm, lifetime value type of clients that are my ideal type of avatar versus pushing ads or pushing content at people that they don’t feel reflects or what they want at that specific time. So I really educated and informed

Bryan Kelly:
A lot of marketers struggle with that. Not asking too much from their audience, right?

John Vuong :
I’ve learned that over the last eight years running this agency. SEO is not a product or service that people want to be. So too, it’s more educating them, informing them and when they’re ready, they’re going to come and seek out or find the best fit for their business. And when people are out there looking and seeking out a solution, they’re gonna hopefully run into their top of mind and you’re trying to sway them, but you’ve already built your own credibility. You’ve already kept your content and messaging consistent across all asset pieces from your website to all their diversity websites, as well as social media channels or any publications that you were mentioning. So the more messaging that you’re out there being consistent with the messaging and more informative and more genuine, and you’re actually adding value. People all see that like you actually want to help. So the more you give the more you’re going to receive in return and not expecting it and that’s what I love about email marketing and SEO, because you’re giving as much as you can being raw and authentic, and you’re not being very pushy. You’re not throwing things at people. And you’re trying to sell my mode of sales is completely different than when I was an advertising sales rep. But I, I learned it from advertising sales and because I wasn’t really pushy early days either, right? Just learning what works and what doesn’t

Bryan Kelly:
Local SEO and email marketing are clearly two very different areas of expertise. But what are some of the ways you are using email? Can you walk me through what you have set up?

John Vuong :
Different funnels, right? There’s a lot of people that are just seeking information out there really early stage, like informational gathering stage. They’re not very serious and ready to buy at this time. So you want to drip them with content and knowledge. You maybe want to push them towards a webinar. So there’s a lot of, I guess, plugging them in throughout the entire process to then harvest a ready to buy engaged type of client. Because I have a persona of an ideal avatar and not everyone’s a good fit. And I probably say no to 95% of the people who reach out to us because I know who I want to really work with. And we do working with them. The other people, there’s a lot of vendors that will be great fits for them. And for me, I want them to have a better experience by knowing who to use, what to ask and who to partner with for their early stage or later stage cycle of their business. So not everyone needs SEO at their business right away. They might not even need if their product based company leveraged different platforms. So understanding the business, understanding what they want, listening and asking the right questions will uncover a lot more. And that’s what we’ve kind of discovered in local SEO search. And in our email sequencing, it’s all about people who are interested. They fill out the form. We’re different because we’re more of a boutique agency where we want to vet to ensure they’re the right fit. If they’re not, they’re going to be educated to figure out who is going to be the best fit for them. And that’s okay because end of the day, we just want to guide them in the right direction. And hopefully they become successful in their own, right. And not everyone’s going to be an ideal customer and that’s okay too. So I have very clear intentions on helping the people. I know I can help the best. everyone else. I want to help educate and push them along so that they can further their business to better benefit on whatever software, skill or relationship that they’re looking for. Because if you give and help more people, they’re going to hopefully see that you’re actually a good person.

Bryan Kelly:
When we come back, John explains what he’d do. If he no longer had email as a marketing channel. Plus he tells me what he’s learned about his target audience of small local business owners. I’m Bryan Kelly, and you’re listening to Pushing Send from rasa.io.

You deserve to get more from your email list, more sales, more leads, and more engagement, but publishing a consistent newsletter that gets you more it’s time consuming. So at rasa.io, we’ve simplified the process. We’ll automatically personalize emails for each of your subscribers based on their interests. And when your subscribers get more of what they want you get more of what you want. Everybody’s happy. You want to see how it works? Visit www.rasa.io and click how it works.

Bryan Kelly:
Welcome back to Pushing Send. I’m Bryan Kelly. John Vuong thinks about email a little differently than most. And he walks me through what this looks like for his agency. Here’s John, if you didn’t have email and it no longer existed, would that be damaging to your business?

John Vuong :
So with email, it’s a touch point of a communication mode, right? To clients and your prospects. And because my clients, we have a personal relationship with them. They give me their mobile phones and I call them throughout the year throughout the renewal process and I want to uncover and get to know them on a personal level for them to trust us to help them. So with email on our existing client base, I feel I can always call them. I can always meet them in person or, or zoom meeting, right? Text message. With email, for inbound leads or prospecting. I feel if that’s the mode of communication that most people are now using to get in touch with businesses, you know, if that goes away, then people are going to pivot away to more of a direct messaging or social media or whatever channel they feel comfortable using if email doesn’t exist. Because before the internet, it was all about fax machines, telephone numbers, snail mail, and maybe direct instant messaging right today. There’s more DMS on social. There’s more commenting on forums. Maybe there’s if you think about like digital there’s different ways, different plugins, different apps that can allow for communication, but you have to understand what your customers actually are using to then communicate with your ideal tribe, because not everyone is going to be using that platform. Email has become more of a telephone number, right? Where it’s the mode of choice in terms of communication for a lot of people, but people are bombarded with so much junk email that they would rather pick up the phone. Like I’m an old school kind of business owner. And I love personal relationships and most business owners rather deal with me because they love the fact that I still pick up the phone and I actually care about them.

Bryan Kelly:
In fact, I’m always encouraging my team to do that because when they say so-and-so didn’t get back to me, I’ll always ask, did you pick up the phone and call them? And they’re like, no. And I say, okay, just try that. And then see if you get a response or not from that person.

John Vuong :
And that’s the generation we’re living in today. Right? Most people feel that it’s the only mode of communication, but again, depends on the target audience member that you’re trying to speak to. Right. I deal with business owners. So they get the importance of a telephone call, right? They understand it’s more urgent and it probably, if someone’s actually calling it actually matters because they have my number, right? It’s more direct and you get a response immediately. By email, it might get lost. It might get put into spam folder. It might not get received there, right? Like sent out. It might get blocked by all the filters. There’s so many things that can be prevented today because people are trying to restrict the amount of emails they receive on a daily basis. So understand that, understand how it is used for your business, for your personal life, your business life, and make use of what works for you and your customers.

Bryan Kelly:
So I saw on your website, an offer for an SEO audit report, is that a helpful lead generator? And if so, what happens when I sign up or request that?

John Vuong :
Yeah. So for us, we stay away from drip email sequences.To be honest, we’re more about inbound and we don’t try to solicit, right. Someone’s already come to our website and they want a report. So what we do is try to vet that person by personalizing. We’re actually going to call you or send you an email with some questions to kind of vet to see if they’re a good fit or not. Then from there, they’ll have a better idea as to if we are a good fit or not. And if we’re going to do a full audit, then you are probably in one of our pool of people that are interested in our services, but also have hit a lot of our criteria as an ideal customer. So there’s a vetting process. Email drip campaigns are more about like educational, like here’s SEO industry information. You can subscribe or not kind of thing. We don’t really go heavy on like, here’s a case study. Here’s more. And I know sequencing, I know email, like you have 14 days sequences or a couple of months. It just, for me, I feel when I see it, I get bombarded and it might work for a lower ticket tier item. My type of client spends between $1000 to $10,000 a month on a one-year contract. So with that in mind, it depends on the type of industry and business that you’re in. I’m more service level boutique SEO agency and business owners want personalized relationships. They don’t want to get flooded with emails or hard sales. It all depends, right?

Bryan Kelly:
Yeah. There’s definitely not a one size fits all approach where you should do what everybody else is doing. It’s really about understanding who you’re serving and how you can best provide that to them. That’s so much better than trying to force some best practice on your prospects.

John Vuong :
This is the challenge for marketers in general. I feel there’s always something new and flashy and people read up on something that will save them so much more time, get way better click-through rates or better prospects, but ultimately it’s the quality of leads and the conversion rate, if it’s working for you, why change it? Yes. You can try and see if it works for you at like a little subset of your database, right? Or a newsletter scrubbed, whatever funnel that you want to put it in. You can try different things, but don’t invest in fully commit to your entire database of leads because you don’t know if it’s right for your type of audience member. So I always say, take a step back, talk to your 10, most loyal, ideal, best type of clients, and really uncover how they love being communicated with why they chose you. What triggered them to choose you? Where do they hang out? What are their interests? Like, get to know them on a business level, personal level, every level possible so that you can come up with a solution to add value that doesn’t really scare them off because you want to attract more of those types of clients. And when you figure that out, you’re going to have a really rocking business. It takes time to uncover that and figure it out, because at the beginning, everyone’s struggling to just get revenue. You get clients and they’ll do bend over backwards to do anything for customers, but are they your real ideal customers? The ones that are long-term relationship type clients that trust you as experts and don’t dictate how you run your business.

Bryan Kelly:
Totally agree. So I also observed on your site, there’s a blog opt-in to subscribe for updates. What happens when I sign up for that particular thing?

John Vuong :
Yeah. So for us, that’s a different list. It’s more of a, a newsletter of SEO aggregate of industry information on a weekly basis. So we kind of just scrub what’s the best content on a weekly basis and send it out just to inform people who joined the newsletter. And of course, if we have new publications on the blog or newsworthy information, they will also get updated. But at least people who are interested, they can opt in.

Bryan Kelly:
Once somebody signs up for that specific list, are you doing anything to move them towards getting an SEO audit? What does that look like?

John Vuong :
Yeah, what we try to do is we don’t over do it. I know a lot of people who do a lot of email marketing and sequencing, they focus on call to action, trying to get them closer to the sale, especially for products. We’re more of a boutique SEO agency. So we focus on relationship building. We want them to be in control and when they’re ready, they’re going to want to do the audit. So I would say once every quarter, or once every six months, we would have a call to action to say, thank you for being a subscriber. You’ve been a valued subscriber for many months. Are you ready to move your business to the next level? We are still offering a free website audit, click here to subscribe, you know, just as a warm lead in, but we don’t do this on a regular basis. It’s more of a subtle thing. And for us, it’s more, when they’re ready, we don’t try to push it. We want to be there when they’re ready, but also understand that business owners, this is a commitment for them. And we’re looking for the right type of client at the right time when they’re ready. If we’re pushing them too much, they’re more likely to want to not want to do business with you. I want to be cognizant that they are in control of the entire journey and process, but when they decide, we now want to build a relationship that helps them elevate and grow alongside them because they committed, right? So we’re not pushing them to commit early. It’s more, when they’re ready,

Bryan Kelly:
John knows exactly what his customers need and he’s taken the time to find out how he can best serve them through all the different communications that he could reach out to them through. And he knows where email’s place is in that entire strategy. So hopefully this was inspiring for you coming up on our next episode, we’ll hear from Tara McMullan, a trusted small business strategist. Tara has mastered email marketing as a key part of her own business growth. And she teaches others how to build the best systems and processes as well. You won’t want to miss what Tara shares during our talk. So if you’re listening to Pushing Send for the first time, be sure to subscribe at Apple podcasts or wherever you’re listening. So you don’t miss an episode. And if you’ve enjoyed what you’ve heard, I’d encourage you to check out a few of our other episodes while you’re here. Lastly, leaving a review will help us share these stories with others, just like yourself. Thanks in advance for doing that. I’m Bryan Kelly, and you’ve been listening to Pushing Send from rasa.io


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