398: The Importance of Surveying Your Audience with Email with Allea Grummert

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A blue image of a person sitting at a laptop with the text of Allea Grummert's episode of The Food Blogger Pro Podcast 'surveying your audience."

This episode is sponsored by Clariti.

Welcome to episode 398 of The Food Blogger Pro Podcast! This week on the podcast, Bjork interviews Allea Grummert from Duett all about surveying your audience and email marketing.

Last week on the podcast, Bjork chatted with Amy Northard. To go back and listen to that episode, click here.

Surveying Your Audience

There are many different reasons that email marketing is a valuable tool for food creators. Having an email list can help with SEO, provide a reliable means of communicating your content, and build relationships with your readers.

And that’s what Allea Grummert is talking about with Bjork on the podcast today! Allea is an email marketing strategist and conversion copywriter at Duett, and the Food Blogger Pro Email Marketing Expert!

In this episode, you’ll hear about developing a rock-solid email marketing strategy, surveying your readers, and building brand loyalty.

A photograph of a kitchen with a laptop on the countertop and a quote from The Food Blogger Pro Podcast guest Allea Grummert that says: "Your message is important and it's not doing you [or your readers] any favors if you're not sharing the content that you've worked so hard on, that they will benefit from."

In this episode, you’ll learn:

  • How to overcome the mental barriers of email marketing for your business.
  • Why email marketing is so valuable for a food blog.
  • How to use email to connect with and better understand your audience.
  • How often you should email your subscribers.
  • Why you might want to send a survey to your subscribers, what questions to ask, and how to use the survey data to serve your audience.
  • How to tailor your emails (or blog posts) to better meet the needs of your readers.
  • How to strategically develop your welcome sequence.
  • About two email marketing case studies that illustrate the benefits of email marketing.
  • How to work with Allea on your email marketing.


About This Week’s Sponsor

We’re excited to announce that this week’s episode is sponsored by our sister site, Clariti!

With Clariti, you can easily organize your blog content for maximum growth. Create campaigns to add alt text to your posts, fix broken images, remove any broken links, and more, all within the Clariti app.

Sign up for Clariti today to receive:

  • Access to their limited-time $45 Forever pricing
  • 50% off your first month
  • Optimization ideas for your site content
  • An invitation to join their exclusive Slack community
  • And more!

You can learn more and sign up here.

If you have any comments, questions, or suggestions for interviews, be sure to email them to [email protected].

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Transcript (click to expand):

Bjork Ostrom: This episode is sponsored by Clariti, C-L-A-R-I-T-I. I kid you not, I was going to record this half an hour ago, but I was in Clariti and realized there’s an opportunity for Pinch of Yum that is a project we should move forward with. So I created a video, communicated with the Pinch of Yum team, and said, “Hey, we should move forward on this and really get to work cleaning this up.”

In our case, what I had done is I said, “Hey, show me all of the posts in the past year on Pinch of Yum,” and then I sort of ordered that in reverse order by page use. So I was looking at pages that on Pinch of Yum in the last year got zero page use, and I realized we have a lot of really thin, not valuable content, and it’s important to clean that up. In our case, we’re going to delete a lot of that content, and we should have done that a long time ago, but we just didn’t get around to it. It wasn’t until I was using Clariti that I realized that that was something that we should have done. I was able to see that. It’s a lot of old giveaway posts and things like that.

So we’re going to move forward with that and clean up Pinch of Yum. That’s what Clariti is for, it’s to help you discover that actionable information to create a project around it. And either you can follow the project or you can assign it to somebody within your team and then track the impact that that has by making notes or seeing when you made those changes over time. We bring all the information in from WordPress, Google Search Console, and Google Analytics. You hook it all up and then you can sort order and use Clariti like a Swiss Army knife for your content. So if you’re interested in checking it out, go to clariti.com/food, C-L-A-R-I-T-I.com/food, and that will get you 50% off your first month. Thanks to Clariti for sponsoring this episode.

Alexa Peduzzi: Hey there, Alexa here, and you are listening to the Food Blogger Pro podcast. We’re so excited you’re here today because today’s episode is with one of our Food Blogger Pro experts. Our experts are people who volunteer their time for our community. So they participate in podcast episodes like you’re about to hear today, Q&As, forum discussions, and more, just sharing their expertise. Today’s guest, Allea Grummert, her expertise is email marketing. She’s the owner of Duett, and they are a team of email strategists and copywriters who help online business owners and bloggers engage readers and build brand loyalty. And we work with her here at Food Blogger Pro and at Pinch of Yum, and she’s just an awesome person. So we’re excited to share this episode with you. And today, she’s going to talk about the importance of surveying your audience.

Do you send surveys to your audience? Do you know as much as you can about your audience and therefore know how you can serve them? It’s a really interesting conversation, and I think you’ll get some really great little nuggets that you can apply to your own blog or business through listening to this episode. So without any further ado, Bjork, take it away.

Bjork Ostrom: Allea, welcome back to the podcast.

Allea Grummert: Hey, thanks for having me.

Bjork Ostrom: This is one of those conversations that we could block off an hour to talk, and before we hit record, I could talk to you for an hour just because you are a wealth of knowledge, wealth of information. We’ve been able to work together in the weeds on a lot of projects, Food Blogger Pro, Pinch of Yum, Clariti, you’re helping with all those projects, but also have connected through the years. So it’s fun to be able to officially record a conversation, share with the podcast audience, and share your insights and expertise. For those who aren’t familiar, who maybe haven’t been able to interact with you on the forums or hear a podcast before, explain a little bit about what it is that you do on a daily basis.

Allea Grummert: I’m Allea Grummert. I’m an email marketing strategist and conversion copywriter, that’s my official title. I help bloggers and content creators get their message out to their audience through email marketing. My specialty is working with automated welcome and nurture sequences to really build brand loyalty from the get-go, engage readers, and then optimize conversions for sales and site traffic.

Bjork Ostrom: Yeah, all right, it sounds like you’ve said that before. It’s like you’ve refined that, you know it. And like any good conversion specialists, you know how to deliver your elevator pitch really well. We need to figure that out. We’ve moved twice over the last 10 years, and anytime we move into a new neighborhood, they’re like, “What do you guys do?” and where I was like, “Duh… ”

Allea Grummert: It also depends on who you talk to, right?

Bjork Ostrom: Yeah. Right.

Allea Grummert: When I first started my business, my dad would tell people, he is like, “Well, she’s good at computers.”

Bjork Ostrom: Yeah, computer business.

Allea Grummert: I’m like, “Gosh, dad, that could be anything.”

Bjork Ostrom: “I’m in the computer business,” that’s what I’m going to say from now on. That’s what I do.

Allea Grummert: I work on the internet.

Bjork Ostrom: But also, you realize you are that in your close circles because you become the guy who’s like… My brother-in-law’s like, “Hey, we’re looking at buying a new computer, which one should do we get?” You just become the de facto technology person.

Allea Grummert: I’m sur. The computer I’m using right now I asked you for feedback.

Bjork Ostrom: Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, totally, computer guy, right?

Allea Grummert: You’re the computer guy.

Bjork Ostrom: So email and really intentional copywriting, and one of the things that I find interesting in our industry is those are two things where there’s huge opportunity but not a lot of action. It’s not like some industries. I would imagine the industry of… I don’t know, obviously if you have product, if you’re selling a product, you think a lot about emails and you think a lot about conversions. Maybe in the finance niche they’re thinking differently about email and how they’re using email. But especially in the food space, maybe in lifestyle content as well, I feel like there’s not as much action. There’s conversations, but there’s not as much action around email, and there’s such a big opportunity there. Why do you think that is?

Allea Grummert: Oh, well, I think that email is just a complicated technical thing. I think that keeps a lot of people from sending emails because it’s something they don’t want to learn how to use. They don’t know how their platforms work. There’s that. Yeah, I think that there’s a lot of mental hurdles like, “I don’t want to be a bother to people. I don’t like receiving emails, why would I send them?” That’s definitely stuff that I’ve heard before. And this is my soapbox, if you ask me why I do what I do, it’s because your message is important and it’s not doing you any favors, it’s not doing your readers any favors if you are not sharing the content that you worked so hard on that they will benefit from. That’s how I like to position email. It’s not just out there to just sell stuff, it’s also about building relationships.

Bjork Ostrom: Just this week, we had some friends that came to the office. We did a Valentine’s random lunch with them. Lindsay was working on a recipe, and this is Lindsay’s best friend, and she was like, “I’m just going to have some of this before we go out to lunch.” And then she just kept eating it because she was like, “This is just so good. I love this recipe. It’s just the best.” Lindsay reflected on that and she’s like, “It’s interesting that my best friend, the person that I know the best doesn’t know about this recipe that has existed on Pinch of Yum for six years or whatever it is.” It’s one of Lindsay’s favorite recipes, and somehow it was missed. That was, for her, kind of this analogy or story around the fact that we have all this content, we have a lot of really great things to offer people, and I think because we are so close to it, we’re familiar with it, we go back, we update it, we maybe post it on social media occasionally, we think, “Most people know about this.” But most people don’t know about it. And even if somebody knows your content really well, they know you really well, they’ve followed you on social for a really long time, most of your content they’re not going to be familiar with.

And so, part of what we need to think about as content creators is how to strategically surface our best hits. If we’re a musician, we’re not going to not play a song because we think somebody’s heard it before. But for some reason in the content world we’re like, “We’re not going to mention that or promote that because they’ve probably seen it before and we don’t want to be a bother.” But to your point, you have this incredible thing to offer people, you need to figure out ways to do it. So how do you do it? What does that process look like, and what are the options when you start to think about email and strategically surfacing or promoting new content?

Allea Grummert: Oh, man. Yeah, I mean, I like to think about it as like you’re a magazine editor in a way. You get to pull from the archives. You get to organize and deliver content in a way that makes sense for your reader. Especially with new content, you have a couple different routes. You’ve got your RSS Feeds, which it’s a really simple syndication, that’s what that stands for. But yeah, you’re connecting it to your blog feed so that your subscribers know about new content automatically. So if you set it up with ConvertKit and you can say, “I want this to go out 30 minutes after a blog post is live or once a week with a collection of new or republished blog posts.” So that’s one way to do it.

But then if you were to send out a weekly email, this is where you really get to play into the magazine editor thing, you’re like, “Oh, I get to pair content together.” Or maybe not magazine editor, but a chef planning a menu. We’ve got clients who, say, you have a new recipe, you can also pair with it something that says, “Pairs well with.” You get to usher in side dishes or pairs well with this kind of wine, or here’s a dessert for it. Like you said, you’re the expert on your own content. And just because somebody’s been following along with you for years doesn’t mean they ever thought of putting those two together, let alone actually knowing about all the recipes you’ve just sent out.

Bjork Ostrom: Yeah, I like to think of it almost as, you talk about a magazine, but it’s like the email can almost be the cover and it’s on whatever frequency, weekly or monthly when you’re sending something out, maybe in some instances it’s a daily thing, but it’s like, “Here’s the cover of what I’m sending you.” And you can open it up and explore other areas. It might be Instagram. We’ll include links to Instagram occasionally or it might be a post. At what point do you switch from having it be cover of the magazine, click to get more information on social or on the blog to I’m just going to give you everything here because I just want to give you this within the email?

Allea Grummert: I think that depends on the audience. It depends on the kind of user experience that they want and that you want them to have. I tend to go with the magazine cover idea because if they’re clicking through to your recipe, the best way for them to save it and come back to it is either saving it to Pinterest or bookmarking it versus maybe having it in their inbox. For me it’s like, “Hey, I’m delivering news to you with a variety of content that you can click through and enjoy.” So we’re just reminding them that that content exists or telling them that it exists. But if the best experience they’re going to have is being on the blog post and actually seeing the photos and having the instructions and they have the option to print the recipe, that’s how I think of it.

But I also know there are bloggers who send out the entire post. So you can also play around with that. You can ask your audience, “Do you prefer it this way or this way?” And just because you send the whole recipe in an email doesn’t mean you can’t have a quick link at the top that says, “Or just click here if you want the pictures and everything else that comes with it, or if you want to bookmark it.” Or you can do both. And then just run with that process for a little while and see how people are engaging.

Bjork Ostrom: One of the things that I think is great about email, and we’ve experienced this with Pinch of Yum recently, is once you have a product to sell, that’s where I feel like it really shines. Food Blogger Pro has always been that, because we’ve always had the membership, and so we can sell that, so email’s always been a real no-brainer. With Pinch of Yum, one of the things I always thought about was, if you do the math on the numbers, it’s okay, if we’re just advertising or if we’re just monetizing via ads, then you have this many people… simple numbers, let’s say it’s 100,000 on the list, and then you have, let’s say, 30,000 open and then say from there you have 3,000 people who click, and that might equate to $60. I think that’s one of the issues with a mindset that people come in with is, “I make my money through traffic, so I’m just going to do search. That’s what I’m going to prioritize.”

But what I’ve found is not only is it beneficial to keep your list active so someday when you do have something to offer, whether it be a product, maybe it’s sponsored content in some way that you work with a brand and you send out an email or just you have somewhere that you want people to go or feedback in some way, you’re able to do that really well. And to keep that channel active and engaged and interactive with you is beneficial even if you don’t want know what it is right now. But there’s also, and you talked about this a little bit before, there’s also the non-KPI type benefit of doing it, which is just being connected with your audience in a way that you can’t with publishing something to your blog because commenting has changed, it’s much different than it was seven, eight years ago, even five years ago.

Social media, it still exists, but maybe not in the same way. It doesn’t feel as maybe quite as intimate or you’re getting to know somebody as well. But there’s something about email and the interaction with email that you’re able to get with people. Can you talk a little bit about that and how creators and publishers can think about using email to connect with their audience?

Allea Grummert: Yeah, so it’s interesting because I’ll have clients come to me and I’ll say, “Tell me about your list. How do you feel about it?” and they’re like, “I have no idea who my audience is.” And so, that also explains why they’re not emailing their list or why they’re nervous that they’re burdening people, because they’re like, “I don’t actually know who’s out there.” It’s like they’re just talking to a wall or they feel out of touch. But they do, they’re like, “I want to know my list, and I want to know that I’m sending them valuable content.”

And so what we’ll do with them is we’ll actually research their audience, which is probably the least sexy thing to say right behind email, everybody’s like, “Email’s dead,” or whatever, and it’s not. It’s this really sweet way to dialogue with your subscribers. What research does is it allows you to learn about them, and not just a snapshot right now, but asking them, “What were you looking for when you came to the site? What is driving you crazy about meal planning?” And trying to figure out some of these open-ended questions and how your content can help solve those problems.

Like I said, I work in welcome and nurture sequences, so those automated emails that subscribers get when they first join your list. Think about if you actually knew what people were looking for and you knew how you could help them, imagine putting that in a welcome sequence and people would be like, “Oh, great. I found the right place. Yeah, this is exactly where I need to be.” And then you feel more confident sending your content out because it’s aligned with that. Everything that you’ll do is there to help solve these problems for your readers and knowing where they’re coming from, and give them permission, “It’s okay that you’re stressed out, you have children under the age of five. I’m here to help you create 30-minute meals in a crock-pot before you even go to work.” And be able to use that language really helps establish and reestablish over and over again your role in their lives.

Bjork Ostrom: Yeah, I think one of the things that can happen in this world is people can get really wrapped up in best practices around tactical things like strategy type things, and the strategy stuff being like, “Here’s how you need to structure an image that goes on a Pinterest for maximum re-pins” or “Here’s the best way to structure a post for search engine optimization.” All of those things are really good things and a lot of them work, but I imagine them all as if it’s a factory line and they’re all little steps along the way that enhance the widget. But the widget is really the content that you’re producing and how it resonates with your audience.

And then if you start with a really awesome widget, by the time it goes through that factory line of all of those best practices, it’s going to be this super widget by the time that it comes out. But if what you start with is a dud, then it’s going to come out as a little bit better of a dud on the other end of the factory line. I think understanding your audience, who you’re creating content for, making something that really resonates with them is where we have to start. What’s hard about that is it feels like it’s both an art and a science. How much of it, in your opinion, can be science and process? And if so, what are those processes that you can implement in order to help you understand how to start with a better widget before putting it through the best practices factory line?

Allea Grummert: You mentioned those tactical things, we’re talking… I mean, these are the reasons why people don’t send emails: what color should my button be? How long should the email be? Can I have an emoji? Is an exclamation point going to ruin everything to my business now and for the next 10 years? There’s so much pressure put on those things. Well, think about what you’re doing. There’s a methodology called jobs to be done. The job to be done is helping to make your reader’s life easier. Yes, you’re going to make money in the process. Yes, you want revenue. Yes, there will be products that you can create and sponsors you can have. But if you keep the main idea the main idea of making let people’s lives easier, the elements that are, I guess, more tactical that I think make the biggest impact is consistency, actually sending out the emails. That would be the biggest one.

In order to do that super easily, just create a simple template format that you turn and send.

Bjork Ostrom: Drop into it, yeah.

Allea Grummert: Most people are like, “I don’t have time to write an email.” I’m like, “Well, you don’t have to rebuild the email every time.” No one cares that it’s a blurb, a photo, a button. They don’t care. They want the content. And you can add in a personal blurb. I should say probably they might care, but for you to be able to get the content out versus not at all, I’d rather have you just duplicate, edit, and send with new content.

I would say my recommendation is to send more than one email a month. I know a lot of people to save up all of this content for this mega email, which sounds stressful to me, all of this content being saved up for one email. But also, you’re putting so much expectation on that subscriber to open that one email when what you could do is send out bite-size information throughout the month, stay top of mind, give them more reminders that you exist and drip out this valuable content one by one. Now, I’m not saying just go create emails for the sake of creating emails, but instead of saving it all up, it’s like, “Hey, I created a new roundup.” It’s okay that that’s the only thing in your email that you send out.

Bjork Ostrom: Yeah, it doesn’t need to be a mega email. How about on the side of understanding your audience, what are the things that publishers and creators can do to build a process into their system to understand their audience? I think if you were to look at five years from now, what are the things that somebody can do so they could… If there was a chart and you could traffic or track it that it would be like there were lower on the chart and then five years from now it’s just incremental progress, they’re higher on the chart, and the chart is, “How well do you understand your audience?” what needs to happen in order for somebody month to month, year to year, to level up and be like, “Five years from now, three years from now I know to a tee who I’m talking to, what they want, what they need,” how do you do that?

Allea Grummert: Well, I’d mentioned sending out a survey. I mean, even just sending out one to figure out… and we can go into some questions you can include there. I send an annual survey out to my list to learn about them just on a year-by-year basis. You never know, like, I did a webinar with ConvertKit a few months ago, so my audience grew and changed because of that. And they found me through there and not through food blogging, so their needs are probably going to be a little bit different. So just listening in that. It’s like I have a welcome page on my site, so if somebody opts in for a freebie, it redirects to a video. And there’s a button to go to the blog, there’s a button about my services. I joke that the video’s mostly to tell people how to say my name correctly. It’s spelled So funny. But you can include that-

Bjork Ostrom: A-L-L-E-A, Allea.

Allea Grummert: Yeah, so I’m like, “It’s Ally, not Aaliyah.” But that’s a good place where if people are that engaged, that they just opted in for something, you can ask them a question. Ask like, “What were you looking for?” or “What were you hoping to change by stumbling across my site?” or “What do you hope this freebie will do for you?”

Bjork Ostrom: So to get real specific on… Oh, sorry, go ahead, finish that thought.

Allea Grummert: Oh, I was going to say just like, “What did you hope that this freebie would help you do?”

Bjork Ostrom: To get a better idea of why are you downloading it.

Allea Grummert: Mm-hmm.

Bjork Ostrom: To get real specific on the survey side, are you using a certain software for that, one that you prefer to use, and then you’re just including a link within the email that you’re sending out? In your case, it’s once a year you’re sending that out and you’re saying, “Hey, thanks so much for being a part of this. I want to understand you better. Could you click here to take the survey? I will give you a free Reese’s if you do.” Do people actually do it-

Allea Grummert: More than once?

Bjork Ostrom: Do you need an incentive?

Allea Grummert: An incentive is super helpful, yeah. I did a little research before hopping on here. I’ve got clients who’ve had over 1,300 responses. I have some with 100. It varies by audience, but I think some sort of incentive, even if it’s a gift card or you raffle off three different gift cards. I use a site called Foureyes, F-O-U-R-E-Y-E-S. It’s totally free, you can have as many questions as you want. I think I was with Typeform for about half a week before I found out about it, and I was like, “I’m coming.” Typeform is great, I think, for other things like maybe embedding, but just for a standalone survey, it’s great, you can export everything out. But that’s what I use for the survey. You can Google how to raffle off an incentive, raffle off based on numbers. So say we had 200 people sign up, we’ll just drop that in the raffle machine and it’ll tell us, “These two numbers have won.”

Bjork Ostrom: Yeah, so that makes sense. I don’t know if we still do this for Pinch of Yum, maybe you’d know because our email list better than I do, used to as part of the welcome sequence also do that. So if you have 10 people sign up, all 10 of those people at some point will get a link to fill out surveys. So you kind of have an ongoing process around collecting that information. Do you have thoughts on doing it once a year versus ongoing?

Allea Grummert: I don’t think it hurts to do it ongoing. Maybe the ongoing survey, especially if it’s in a welcome sequence and they don’t know you very well, maybe it’s a little bit shorter. And it’s just the three questions to get to the point. I actually think we set that up for Clariti. And so, in Clariti, especially as we were growing that list, we had a survey in there. In Pinch of Yum what we have are the three different segments. We ask them, “Where are you at in your home cook journey? Are you new? Have you been doing this a while, or are you a total pro?” And then depending on if they click that they’re new, they get five extra emails, hint, hint, you get five extra emails, that show you how to cut up garlic or here are some really sweet easy back pocket recipes.

So it’s definitely another way to learn about your list. But we’ve also learned that through the research. There were lots of people who were new and we want them to get the best experience on the Pinch of Yum website and from our emails as possible. So if they’re new and they don’t know how to use a knife to cut up garlic, are they just going to give up? We don’t want them to give up either. So we’re providing that kind of value to them of like, “Hey, it’s okay you’re new. Everybody starts out new. Here’s how to cut up a sweet potato without losing a finger.”

Bjork Ostrom: Yeah, totally. Mission-critical information. Let’s say you get this information, if you have a food site, let’s say you get 100 people and three of those people are like, “I only want to eat tomatoes.” And you’re like, “Oh, interesting, is there a trend here? Maybe I should do only tomato recipes.” Point being, when you’re processing through it, can you talk to me about your mindset and how to make decisions based on the information that people are providing? That’s where it feels like it kind of becomes an art. It’s taking information in, it’s thinking about it a little bit, it’s letting that impact how you create content. An example that I’ve used on the podcast before is one of the questions that we asked in a survey for the Pinch of Yum audience was, “Where do you shop?”

And that was really helpful for us because we saw that 50% of people shop at a Super Target, and so we know that we’re not going to default to having these really obscure things that you’d have to get from some grocery store that’s hard to access. That was helpful, and what that does is then it allows Lindsay, and she talks about this, to create in a way where she’s using that as a frame of reference around ingredients. But how do you make decisions once you get this information? Is it simply just reading it and then thinking about it and then letting that impact your content?

Allea Grummert: Such a great question. Let me start by saying, so I heard Darren Rowse of ProBlogger, I think is his name, he’s out of Australia. He’s one of the OG pro bloggers. He talked about at a session, at FinCon actually, a personal finance conference, about how if you cater everything you do to what your audience wants, you’re going to lose sight of what you’re doing, right?

Bjork Ostrom: Yeah.

Allea Grummert: You’re just going to be out here making content for the man or the reader, whoever. And in that, you’re trying to chase keeping everyone happy, maybe you’re trying to chase SEO for certain revenue on topics that you really don’t care about, in a way you kind of lose your soul or you lose-

Bjork Ostrom: Yeah, totally. Right. Right.

Allea Grummert: You lose your passion for what you are doing. But if you do everything you’re passionate about and nobody cares about it, then you’re not going to get the results and recognition.

Bjork Ostrom: Yes, exactly. Right. Right. Right.

Allea Grummert: It made me think of a seesaw. So if it’s too much of this and not enough of this or the other way around, you’re teetering. You want that sweet spot in the middle where the seesaw is level.

So if a few people want tomatoes, you can have a section of your insights from it, make notes of those things. But what I would do is I’d focus more on what are people asking for that I do have that I can make sure that I have. Either I make sure that they know that I have it or I can create more things like that, the stuff that they love. Focus more on your strengths and the stuff that you do care about. If you’re like, “Oh, heck yeah, I’ve been waiting to make tomato recipes,” go do it. Make those three people super happy. See if it catches onto SEO. I guess I’m not saying you have to bend over backwards for every request, because the reality is, too, there are thousands, hundreds of thousands of food blogs, they can also find a tomato recipe somewhere else, it does not have to be you.

Bjork Ostrom: Yep. I think the point about sometimes it’s not even informing new content that you’ll create or changing strategy, it’s just informing things you need to do better, where it would get to copywriting and then intentional email sequences. And coming back around to the Pinch of Yum one, doing a survey, that’s a really obvious example, doing a survey, one of the questions being, “How would you describe yourself as a home cook?” one of the responses being, “Complete beginner or beginner.” Oh wow, 50% of the audience would consider themselves to be a beginner. We don’t really ever talk about how to approach food if you’re a beginner, and then what we do is create another sequence for those people. So I can start to see now how that plays into how you’re crafting, how you’re communicating about your content. Sometimes it’s not even creating new content, it’s not necessarily a huge pivot, it’s just seeing, “Oh, this is a blind spot. We need to do a better job of this.” Because I think in one way, I think this is a huge part of it, I kind of think in this way, and it exists in this way, but oh, a lot of people think in another way or live their life in another way. I have the opportunity then to speak to these people and help them in a really specific situation, so I didn’t even think of that.

Allea Grummert: Yeah, I remember talking with Jenna on the Pinch of Yum team after the survey. We had the report to give back to her, and she was delightfully surprised, but very surprised that a lot of people just like using regular what you could find at Target kind of ingredients. So she’s like, “Oh, so we’ve been making it more complicated than it needs to be?” That was the question, and so that did inform what Lindsay and the team creates for recipes.

But yeah, I love what you said, we were able to create a curated list of content. As the content creator, as Pinch of Yum, what do we know would be super easy and low bar, quick wins for new people? Now, the reason why we even asked about their skill level is because I remember the questionnaire that I asked the Pinch of Yum team, like, “What is important to you?” And they’re like, “We want people to feel comfortable in the kitchen.” And so for me I guess I inferred, “Well, guess comfort is based on how well you know your way around a kitchen and what tools you have.”

And so it was like you want to help new people, not that your content all over your site is, like, “We’re all here for new cooks.” But yeah, five ingredient recipes, we can put a handful of those and make a roundup email. I think even in the last email, it’s one of my favorites, we link to a Spotify playlist. Yeah, pour yourself something sparkly like a Spindrift or whatever, and dance. Have fun cooking. It doesn’t have to be this big, scary thing. And so, that was also part of the brand values of Pinch of Yum came out in that.

Bjork Ostrom: Yeah, that’s great. Love that. How about questions to include? So you’re doing a survey, obviously some of it would be custom to the niche you’re in or the focus that you want to have, but are there any just standard template questions that you’d say, “Make sure to ask these.”?

Allea Grummert: I mean, we ended up asking probably 15 or so for each of our clients, but if I was to narrow it down to five different things, you want to know what their motivation was, like, what were they looking for and why? Maybe they’re like, “I didn’t want to go buy another birthday cake for $30 when I thought I could make it myself.” Great. And so they came and they found your birthday cake recipe. Or pain points would be another one, like, “Why does preparing for birthdays make… Or I guess, like, ”What makes you anxious about planning food for birthday parties?“ So say you have a baking blog or something. And then you can think through, ”Do I have content that’ll help them solve that?“ And maybe it’s a five ingredient cake that you can make in 30 minutes, and they’re going to be like, ”Oh my gosh, you’re the best. That’s all I needed.”

Another one would be asking about alternatives, like, “What else have you tried?” So if we expand it beyond the baking blog, but, “What else have you tried to eat healthy or lose weight or save time with making meals?” So maybe the answer is, “I eat out a lot” or “I bought one of those really expensive diet plans that send you the food” or “I’ve tried HelloFresh. I’ve tried all these things.” So then you can say, “Oh, I see what you’re trying to do here. Here’s how I can help you get a similar result but just in a different way.” The job to be done, the job is “eating healthy”. “Well, you don’t have to shop at this certain store or get these things shipped to your house in order to eat healthy. Some of it’s your mindset.” You can reroute the conversation in how you talk to your readers.

Bjork Ostrom: That piece of how you talk to your readers I think is an important one that I’ve learned about copywriters is, and let me know if this feels accurate, a lot of what it is surveying a group of people, seeing what the trends are and how they talk, and then mirroring that back to them.

Allea Grummert: 100%.

Bjork Ostrom: So you say, “What do you struggle with?” And 50% of the audience or 75% of the audience says, “I feel like I just don’t have enough time because my husband and I work full-time jobs and we have two kids.” So then you take that and maybe there’s somebody else who says, “Yeah, my wife and I both work super intense jobs, and we don’t have time to cook.” And there’s a repeating pattern to this, so you take that and you say, “Do you want to cook at home but you don’t have enough time?” It’s just essentially-

Allea Grummert: That’s all it is.

Bjork Ostrom: … taking what people say their problem is, framing that up with some intentional wording, and then proposing you be the solution for it. Does that feel like an accurate representation?

Allea Grummert: Absolutely. Part of it, and I heard Dana, what is her… I can’t remember her blog name. Mastoff, I think. She talks about a permission sandwich in a way, that you’re giving permission to people to say, “Hey, you’re not the only one. You’re not out there struggling… ” One of the questions I always ask my clients when they come to me is, “Why did you start your blog?” “Because I had young kids and I couldn’t keep my brain on straight and feed them healthy, so I started doing this.” I’m like, “Chances are that’s what your audience is struggling with too.” So even stating that in your welcome sequence, and we can talk more about that, as like, “Hey, if this is where you are, I was there too.” So tying in your story of why. And obviously you’ve done something with that, you’ve created these wonderful resources, and they’re going to be like, “Oh, thank goodness Melissa had that experience and that I’m not the only one, and she creates this awesome content for me to make life easier.”

Bjork Ostrom: Point being you survey an audience and you see, “Oh, this is an issue,” if you have a solution for it, especially if it’s something you’ve been through you, the way that you can talk about it is, “I was here and experienced this in a similar way. Here’s what I did to get through that, and here’s how I can help you do the same thing.”

Allea Grummert: Exactly. That’s exactly. Well, I was going to say that leads into one of the other questions for the survey is your differentiating factor. Why are they following along with you? What do you do differently? And this is so affirming because the things that you are already doing you might not realize are so impactful for your audience. So then it’s one of those things of like, “Oh, so I just need to make sure people know about that early on. Her tips and tricks on this, on how to make cookies beautiful or how to keep your kitchen clean while you are also cooking along the way.” That’s just super fun because then you’re like, “Oh, I’m just this plethora of knowledge, but I didn’t realize it.” But that makes things more achievable for your readers. That stuff sticks with them more than what you realize.

Bjork Ostrom: Yeah, totally. So you had talked about a welcome sequence, something that I think people are maybe familiar with, depending on how long they’ve been in the space. So can you talk about what that is, and then how quickly should you get into micro welcome sequences within your list? So there’s the general welcome sequence, but then in the case of Pinch of Yum, there’s also this sub welcome sequence around being a new cook. I think we also maybe have a random email sign up around capsule wardrobe closet because Lindsay did some content around that. But how should a creator think about stepping into email? What should be priority number one if they just have a blank slate? And then how do you evolve things over time to add additional welcome sequences? Do you get to a point where you have 30 welcome sequences that are running all over the place? What is that? Yes. What’s the sequence of sequences? That’s what I want to know. What sequence should a content creator go through to create their sequences?

Allea Grummert: I consider the welcome sequence like the hub. I would like to think that no matter how someone joins your list, whether they come in through a Thanksgiving planner or a 4th of July checklist or whatever, they all funnel into this welcome sequence. A welcome sequence could be one email, it could be five. It depends on how much content you want to convey, how much information you have to share. But think of it as this is your branding home base. This is where you explain, “This is who I am. This is who you are. This is what you’re struggling with. Here’s how I want to help you. Follow along if you want more of this.” If you can explain all of that, what that does is it makes sure that right away when somebody joins your list, they’re like, “Oh, that is me. Nice to meet you. I’m in the right place. This is what I want. And so I’m okay getting more emails.”

What that does, and you’re like, “What if that’s polarizing? What if I just want them on my list? I just want to send them emails,” it’s okay that it’s polarizing because you have a specific desire to help this type of person, and if somebody joins your list who’s like, I don’t know, not a stay-at-home mom trying to make meals easier, but they’re like a high-flying jet-setter in a plane somewhere, you don’t really want them on your list, and it’s okay that they unsubscribe. So part of it is make it so clear what you do that the right people want to stick around, and the people who aren’t a good fit just happily unsubscribe. There are no hard feelings, right?

Bjork Ostrom: Yeah. It feels like that in general is an important shift that happens with email that’s a little bit different from social where it feels like there’s a little bit of a vanity metric around how many followers do you have. But one of the things that’s been really interesting with a Twitter is now that they’ve released the view count within Twitter, you’re able to see how often a tweet is viewed. A lot of times what you’ll see is these people with a smaller following count are producing this great content that’s seen at scale, whereas, a celebrity is posting a random picture of themselves, and even though they have 10 million followers that might not be seen as much. And so you have the vanity metrics of social in terms of followers, but the real impact is how many people are actually seeing and engaging with a piece of content and finding it valuable.

With email, one of the things that’s interesting is, like you said, you want to actively be maintaining your list so people who aren’t a good fit don’t stay on, whether that be through them unsubscribing or this idea of email list maintenance. Can you talk about what that is and why that’s important to just remove a cold subscriber and what that process looks like?

Allea Grummert: Yeah, so I mean, having a warm list with the right people on it is going to give you higher engagement. Open rates are neither here nor there, they’re hard to track, but click rates or people replying to your emails. So having people on your list who are not opening or not clicking or not engaging, A, you’re just paying for them to be on your platform, which is just an expense that you don’t need. But it’s also tanking your stats because it’s not entirely true, not everybody on your list that’s getting this email is super excited to get it. So it’s like, “Well, why are we paying for them?” And also, it makes it look like our engagement’s far less than what our true fans really represent.

Bjork Ostrom: When you say open rates, neither here nor there, what do you mean by that?

Allea Grummert: I mean, even before Apple did their big update over a year ago, the idea of Gmail communicating with ConvertKit whether an email was actually opened or not, it’s not sturdy data.

Bjork Ostrom: Accurate, yeah.

Allea Grummert: That’s not the word for it. I called it sturdy data, you said accurate, that’s so smart, that’s the word for it. But yeah, I think open rates are good from a big perspective, if you have a 10% open rate and you clear off your list and you get it up to 20, that shows that you cleared off probably a lot of people that didn’t need to be there. But I wouldn’t go like, “Oh, it’s at 12%, not 14,” or whatever. Those things are so minuscule and indifferent.

And then with having a lot of dud subscribers, cold subscribers on your list, what that also means is that it’s telling Gmail like, “Oh, well, 12,000 people got this email and didn’t open it.” And it’s like, “Oh, are you sending spam?” so it might start filtering you out. That’s why you want to have a clean list. But also this idea of the welcome sequence, these emails that establish who you are, as they get emails from you in the future, they’re going to be more engaged. They’re more likely to reply back. I mean, I would suggest asking a question in your welcome sequence, get them to reply back right away, prove that you’re a real person, you’re not just a media entity. But think about what that does for future sponsorships or, like you mentioned earlier, if you actually want to launch a product. What it’s doing is it’s keeping you and your niche and how you help them so stinking clear that when you launch a product that’s in that name, they’re like, “Well, she is the expert on meal planning, so I bet this is going to be awesome.”

Bjork Ostrom: One of the things that you had talked about too was one of the things that can happen is it’s like fuel to your fire as a creator when you see back from people, “Hey, super excited about this.” Even if it’s just these small little interactions, I think that’s a tangible and significant benefit that comes from some of these interactions, is just the motivation to do that. You actually talked about there’s two different… And I’d be interested to hear you talk about these two different case studies that you have as we kind of close things out, but one of them being this creator who got a bunch of replies back and just how meaningful that was to her. Can you talk about each one of those case studies?

Allea Grummert: Yeah. I’ll tell you about Maria. She runs shelovesbiscotti.com. I believe she’s a retired school teacher, lives in Canada, and just got this passion for bringing back Italian food that she grew up with. Part of the story is that Italian grandmas are not writing down a pinch of this, a pinch of that, it’s just like, “Well, you just know.” And she’s like, “Well, let me write that down.” When we published her welcome and nurture sequence, and we told her list about it and said, “Hey, I want to share more about my story and how I got started, and so I’m excited to send this to you.” We published it, and she told me hundreds of people replied.

Bjork Ostrom: Cool. That’s a lot.

Allea Grummert: And they’re talking about their experience with Italy and their family and their grandma, and I’m getting goosebumps thinking about it, how affirming to the work that you’re doing, which otherwise feels like a vacuum. You’re like, “I hope people like this,” and they’re like, “We love it.” We got to include a picture of her mom as a young girl before she immigrated to Canada and a picture of her mom and grandma cooking at Christmas and these special meals. So we were really able to pull in her story and people are like, “Oh my gosh, that’s not much different than my family experience,” and really relating to her.

And then the other case study is Jason from Recipe Teacher, sweet guy out of Chicago. His list, we don’t know how, but he has attracted a lot of senior citizens. He’s not marketing to them, but it’s so sweet because they just adore him. I think because his content is really short and to the point and clear, he tests his recipes like crazy with different cuts of meat and different cooking styles, and he does the work, but he’s had someone reply to him saying, “I am… ” What is he? “I’m like 90 years old, and my neighbors, they have young kids, they’ll invite me over once a month or once a week or something like that, and I finally got to make them dinner. I made this dish, and it just made me feel like a rockstar.”

Bjork Ostrom: Yeah, that’s awesome.

Allea Grummert: How stinking cool. It’s maybe not what you’re thinking about when you’re testing the recipe 12 times, but-

Bjork Ostrom: But that’s the outcome.

Allea Grummert: So affirming. That’s it.

Bjork Ostrom: We know that from the world that we live in too. All that it takes is one or two of those at the right time or just any time to provide you motivation to say, “You know what? This is worth it.” Because if you are in that vacuum, and if you’re in that vacuum for too long and you don’t hear a response or you don’t hear from somebody, it can be like, “Why am I doing this?” And then you get something like that and you’re like, “Oh yeah, that’s why I’m doing it.” In a world of metrics and numbers and sturdy data, sometimes what it really takes is story to keep us going and to keep us motivated and to see impact in a way that we can’t through just numbers and data, so I love that.

Obviously, you’ve talked about a few sites you’ve worked with and work with a lot of other creators and publishers and businesses, but if people want to work with you, Allea, what does that look like? I know you have a URL that we can link to specific for the audience here, but would love for you to just chat about your services and what you do for a little bit.

Allea Grummert: Yeah, so I have two signature services, one is an audit. So if you’ve been at this for a little while and you’re like, “Everything feels disorganized, am I even on the right email platform?” I love having those conversations. I’ll help provide suggestions for recommended sequences to really help you meet your goals as a business owner but also delivering on what you say you want to promise to your subscribers. And then I also have what’s called the Duett Debut. This is my done-for-you service that includes audience research, a custom strategy. We do the copywriting for you. We’ll set up all the automations for you no matter what platform you’re in. I freaking love it. It’s such a fun project to work on. So I get to be part of your why. I get to help you establish what that is. We have clients that at the end are like, “I feel so much better emailing my list. I’m not worried about whether I’m a burden. I know I’m delivering the right thing.”

Of course, but we’re also setting out automated emails, so there’s that traffic going back to your site. We’re telling people about certain affiliates or products that you have. But the whole thing’s super custom. So if you want to have a conversation with me about what you have in mind, my site is D-U-E-T-T.co, duett.co. You can book a call with me there. Otherwise, I do have the duett.co/foodbloggerpro page set up with a freebie called Your First Welcome Sequence. If you want to DIY it or take a stab at it, I’d be happy to share that with you.

Bjork Ostrom: That’s awesome, Allea, thanks so much that for what you do for this community, Food Blogger Pro community, the creators, for us, for others. It’s a great service, and you’re such a great person to work with, so thanks for coming on and thanks for all you do.

Allea Grummert: Absolutely. Thank you so much.

Leslie Jeon: Hey, Leslie here from the Food Blogger Pro team. We really hope that you enjoyed this episode of the podcast. Before we sign off, I wanted to quickly mention something really cool that all Food Blogger Pro members have access to, and that’s our tools and resources page. So if you’re logged into Food Blogger Pro, you can access this by going to the menu bar at the top and clicking on Tools, and you’ll be taken to a page that has all of our different tools and downloadable resources that can help you stay organized and moving forward on your blogging goals.

So just to give you a quick sneak peek at some of the downloadable resources we have, we have an SEO checklist for you, a social media checklist, a brand email template. So if you want to pitch yourself to brands for sponsored content, we have an email template that you can just use and customize for you and your blog, it’s so awesome. We also have a blog post checklist that you can use when writing your posts, an email marketing workbook, an image size checklist, and more. There are just so many fantastic resources that you can download to your computer and just reference whenever you need them, and you always have access to these as a Food Blogger Pro member. So if you’re not a member yet and you want to join to get access to all of these right now, you can do so by going to foodbloggerpro.com/join, and you’ll be able to learn more about our membership and join the community. That’s all we’ve got for you today though. Thanks again for tuning in. We hope you enjoyed this episode. And until next time, make it a great week.

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