[Case Study] How Strengtheory Engineered a “Smart” Email Sequence That Learns and Adapts to Readers’ Interests


This post is part of a series called Funnel Hack Friday, where we dive deep into the marketing funnels and tactics of successful online businesses, by talking to the marketing minds behind them. In today’s post, we talk with Lyndsey from Strengtheory, a blog for intelligent strength trainers with some intelligent, hands-off email funnels.

Question: In your own words, what is Strengtheory?

Strengtheory gives readers practical, evidence-based information and resources to help them get strong, jacked, and sexy. We help lifters understand both the science behind getting strong and how to properly apply it in a real world setting.

As such, we are ruthlessly dedicated to keeping up-to-date with the latest and best research and teaching readers how to integrate it with the best in-the-trenches practices. As our tagline says, we are “the online home for thinking lifters.”

Let’s take a look at 2 cool automation strategies doing the heavy lifting for Strengtheory.

Automation Strategy #1: Use Trigger Links to segment email subscribers by interest and stage of the funnel

smart email campaign image

Question: You like to put subscribers into different “buckets,” depending on their interests, and send them tailored content–all automatically. How does that work?

The very first sequence of emails our new contacts get is meant to segment them out.

We connect them with some of our favorite articles from Strengtheory.com, make sure to give some really useful, free information, and try to get a feel for what subjects they are interested in.

At the end of this month, we’re launching a digital seminar series, and these automation rules are meant to help match contacts with our lectures on several different topics, including the squat, bench, and deadlift movements.

So, for example, if someone clicks on a link to a squat article, I tag them as “interested in squat.”

From there, I will enter them into very specific email funnels that give them more information about squatting, a topic they’ve already expressed interest in.

This will hopefully culminate in the contact converting and purchasing the squat seminar.

smart email funnel image

With this – and our whole basic marketing strategy – we are trying to make sure we’re matching readers with the subjects and products they’ll be interested in, instead of just applying a one-size-fits-all strategy.

Key Takeaway:

If you have a blog with decent traffic, you probably don’t attract just one type of reader. Chances are, you have 2 or 3 different “avatars” of readers in your audience. Maybe some people are beginners and some are more advanced. Or maybe you have people who are interested in the same content, but with different end goals.

Whatever the makeup of your audience, if you send too many irrelevant emails, you’ll quickly lose the email addresses that you work so hard to capture.

Experiment with putting contacts into different buckets, based on their experience level or topics of interest. To learn more about how to start tagging folks like Strengtheory in less than 5 minutes and without writing any code, check out our introduction to Trigger Links.

Double your leads with your own “smart” email funnel in Drip (for $1) >>

Automation Strategy #2: Use Lead Scoring to make sure readers are “warmed up” before they see a pitch

Question: In one of your campaigns, you only mention your ebook after contacts have already gone through another campaign.

Many bloggers pitch products off the bat. What’s your strategy behind waiting?

We definitely want to make sure our prospects are warmed up and familiar with our style before we hit them with the sales pitch. Strengtheory is a high-brow website, which is rare in the fitness industry.

We give recommendations and information based on science, not on flash or gimmicks. It’s important – both to us and our readers – that our marketing reflects that brand.

The Lead Score of Strengtheory subscribers, measuring their engagement with Strengtheorys emails and website.
Lead Scoring shows the engagement of individual contacts, based on email opens, clicks, and even website visits.

Interestingly enough, I’ve experimented with more sales-heavy tactics, and didn’t see much of a difference between average profit per new subscriber.

When I built my first email funnel for Strengtheory, we had pitches for our main product – The Art and Science of Lifting ebooks – almost immediately after someone subscribed, regardless of their level of engagement with the emails or website. We didn’t feel it was true to the brand, so we began tweaking…

Now, I make sure contacts reach a certain lead score – meaning they’ve engaged with emails and articles a fair amount – before they ever get a pitch.


Key Takeaway:

If you currently pitch a product right away in your email sequence, test switching it up. You can run an A/B test for 30 days that puts 50% of subscribers into your current sequence, and 50% into a sequence that’s front-loaded with content.

You might find that sales stay the same, but subscribers stick around longer and you boost your brand. Or, you might find that the value-focused approach yields better results than going for the quick win.

Choosing An Email Platform For Your Blog: How Did You Settle On Drip?

Question: If Strengtheory was on a different email software prior to Drip, what was your experience with the software?

Drip was my fourth email service in 2015 (Aweber, ConvertKit, and InfusionSoft all came before).

I’m very difficult to please and just felt I wasn’t ever going to find something that fulfilled everything I wanted out of an email service.

At the same time, I felt nauseated when considering I might end up paying more per month for an email service than rent for my apartment.

Aweber was simply not advanced enough, and was way too expensive for how little it offered. ConvertKit seems to have developed tons in the last few months since I’ve been gone, but at the time, it didn’t offer the advanced automation tools I wanted. InfusionSoft was just terrible all around.

On the surface, it seemed to offer good automation, but it was clunky and the developers seemed to be way behind the trends. Additionally, nothing was mobile-responsive, and there’s no way to view basic email stats (such as open or click rates) for campaign emails. It was abysmally bad.

Question: What’s your experience been like with Drip so far?

Drip has been fantastic. I seriously have zero complaints, and that’s HUGE for me.

My emails look beautiful and are mobile-responsive, and I’ve been able to implement every type of automation I’d been wanting to experiment with.

Another cool thing is how much data I can view from within my Drip account. I no longer have to use Google Analytics for everything, which has probably saved my sanity on more than one occasion.

Drip offered the most features at the best price. Additionally, I’m a big believer in ultra-personalized email and the wonders of conditional content.

I feel it’s the future of email marketing, and Drip was the only company I found that seemed to be building with that future in mind.

smart email funnel image
Image: Strengtheory

Next Steps: Future Growth For The Strengtheory Blog

Question: How do you see Strengtheory growing, moving forward?

We definitely want to expand our reach, keep growing our subscriber list and attracting readers and fans.

In terms of products, our plan moving forward is to develop seminars, books, programs, etc., that address specific issues people may be having or specific topics they’d be interested in.

We’ve only been doing this for about a year now, so everything up to this point has been pretty broad. We’d like to have more specific products moving forward.

Question: How does marketing automation fit into your plans?

I also am planning on experimenting more with conditional content in emails.

[wpv_alert title=”” style=”info” icon=”false” close=”false”]Note: For an introduction to conditional content, check out Liquid Templates.[/wpv_alert]

I’m planning on continuing to use a general sequence to gauge interest in certain topics, tracking which topics individuals are interested in based on trigger links to articles, then developing and subscribing contacts to very specific funnels that promote a specific product.

Double your leads with your own “smart” email funnel in Drip (for $1) >>