Tom Kulzer is the founder and CEO at AWeber, the leading email marketing and automation platform for small businesses, where he is actively involved in the company’s strategic direction, growth and evolution. Over the company’s 24-year history, Tom has nurtured AWeber from a small start-up to a robust organization, all without public or venture funding.
NOTE: Complete transcript available at the bottom of the page.
Screw The Commute Podcast Show Notes Episode 661
How To Automate Your Business – https://screwthecommute.com/automatefree/
Internet Marketing Training Center – https://imtcva.org/
Higher Education Webinar – https://screwthecommute.com/webinars
See Tom's Stuff – https://linktr.ee/antionandassociates[04:12] Tom's introduction to Tom Kulzer [11:08] Running company, writing code and being self-taught [15:17] Biggest mistakes in email marketing [23:35] Have permission to send affiliate offers without being spammy [28:23] Canadian & GDPR laws help to formalize the ground rules [34:07] Co-registration is still around [38:46] Sponsor message [40:38] A typical day for Tom [45:40] HTML email and what really drives engagement and reputation
Higher Education Webinar – https://screwthecommute.com/webinars
Screw The Commute – https://screwthecommute.com/
Screw The Commute Podcast App – https://screwthecommute.com/app/
College Ripoff Quiz – https://imtcva.org/quiz
Know a young person for our Youth Episode Series? Send an email to Tom! – firstname.lastname@example.org
Have a Roku box? Find Tom's Public Speaking Channel there! – https://channelstore.roku.com/details/267358/the-public-speaking-channel
How To Automate Your Business – https://screwthecommute.com/automatefree/
Internet Marketing Retreat and Joint Venture Program – https://greatinternetmarketingtraining.com/
KickStartCart – http://www.kickstartcart.com/
Copywriting901 – https://copywriting901.com/
Disabilities Page – https://imtcva.org/disabilities/
Tom's Patreon Page – https://screwthecommute.com/patreon/
AWeber – https://aweber.com
Twitter – https://twitter.com/AWeber
Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/aweber/
LinkedIn Speaker – https://www.linkedin.com/in/tomkulzer/
LinkedIn Company – https://www.linkedin.com/company/aweber/
YouTube – https://www.youtube.com/aweber
Instagram – https://www.instagram.com/aweber/
Pinterest – https://www.pinterest.com/emailmarketing/
The expert guest was booked via The Expert Bookers – https://www.expertbookers.com
Email Tom: Tom@ScrewTheCommute.com
Internet Marketing Training Center – https://imtcva.org/
Rick Melero – https://screwthecommute.com/660/
I discovered a great new headline / subject line / subheading generator that will actually analyze which headlines and subject lines are best for your market. I negotiated a deal with the developer of this revolutionary and inexpensive software. Oh, and it's good on Mac and PC. Go here: http://jvz1.com/c/41743/183906
The WordPress Ecourse. Learn how to Make World Class Websites for $20 or less. https://screwthecommute.com/wordpressecourse/
Join our Private Facebook Group! One week trial for only a buck and then $37 a month, or save a ton with one payment of $297 for a year. Click the image to see all the details and sign up or go to https://www.greatinternetmarketing.com/screwthecommute/
After you sign up, check your email for instructions on getting in the group.
Want The Transcript for this episode?
Episode 661 – Tom Kulzer
[00:00:08] Welcome to Screw the Commute. The entrepreneurial podcast dedicated to getting you out of the car and into the money, with your host, lifelong entrepreneur and multimillionaire, Tom Antion.
[00:00:24] Hey, everybody, it's Tom here with episode 661 of Screw the Commute podcast. And we've had some great luminaries on this show, and Tom Kulzer is certainly one of them. Waiting to hear this guy. He's the founder and CEO of AWeber and he's been in the game almost as long as me. And this is a service I've used for many years as a backup to everybody knows I use Kickstartcart as my shopping cart system. And but his is an autoresponder system and very powerful, very well respected. And I always want to make sure I use the best stuff. And his is one of them. He just told me I've been on there 22 years, so, so glad that that he's keeps improving the thing. And he's had over a million customers help grow their business with autoresponders. And if you ask, you know, anybody who's been around as long as me, what are like the top things ever invented for Internet marketing and digital marketing, almost all of us would say the sequential auto responder. So that's what he's founded. And it's boy, it's been helping people. And another thing I like about him is he built this enormous business. I think they doing 27, $28 million this year without any loans and venture funding, you know, So he started it and did it. And I love that fact. So we'll bring him on the minute. And I hope you didn't miss episode 660.
[00:01:52] That was Rick Melero. And he made a $12 Million mistake focusing on short term cash flow instead of long term passive income. And he's going to give you the details so you don't do that. And he turned it around and and he's got a great big company now. Now I want to thank everybody. We just started a Patreon account to fund my scholarship program for persons with disabilities. Many of you know I have the only licensed, dedicated Internet and digital marketing school in the country, probably the world. And I knew it would be great for persons with disabilities. Not only can they learn from home legitimately, they can be hired from home legitimately. So we are funding that program and we have three people in it now, and two of them are blind. They're shooting better videos than I do. So it's a pilot program to get these people hired or in their own business. And then I'm going to roll it out big to corporations and foundations and help hundreds and maybe thousands of persons with disability. So thanks so much for your support. The patron thing starts as little as three bucks a month. So hopefully out of these 660 episodes, I've helped you a little bit and you can throw in some cash for that. All right. Let's see. Make sure you pick up a copy of our automation e-book. AWeber is featured in it, and it's one just one of the tips in the book has saved me 8 million keystrokes.
[00:03:17] All right. And this is not an exaggeration. We estimated a little while back, and I want you to spending time with your prospects and customers and developing products and services, not fighting with your computer. In fact, I'm sure Tom's on board with me on this, by the way. All Tom's are good. All right. So you have to buy both of our things. But anyway, it's got the cell phone tips and I mean, his whole thing was developed years ago from to automate things that people just couldn't get to by hand. I love his story. Pick up your copy for free. We sell it for 27 bucks, but you can get your copy at screwthecommute.com/automatefree. While you're at it, pick up a copy of our cell phone app at screwthecommute.com/app for our cell phone app.
[00:04:12] All right. Let's get to the main event. Tom Kulzer is the founder and CEO of AWeber, the leading email marketing and automation platform for small businesses where he is actively involved in the company's strategic direction, growth and evolution over the company's 24 year history. Tom has nurtured AWeber from a small startup to a robust organization, all without public or venture funding. Tom, are you ready to screw? The commute?
[00:04:43] Thanks for having me.
[00:04:44] Oh, man. Here's the problem I have with you, Tom. You purposely decided not to invent this until 1998, and I needed it in 1994. And I take that as a personal affront, man.
[00:04:59] Well, I would have been still in high school at that point, so. Well.
[00:05:02] Hey, right now, they came out of the womb, you know, swiping screens. Now that's high school. You'd have been a genius by then. Yeah. Back in those days, if our broadcast email actually went out and did it correctly, we'd have a big office party, you know? It was this thing was Wild West. We had our arteries, but we had a one message autoresponder, but people had to email a certain crazy thing to get it. So it was it was crazy back then. But but let's get started and take you back how you invented this company or founded this. And I think the name went through some iterations, like an automated web, something assistant, and then it shortened to a web ass or something. Right? So you took.
[00:05:57] You got it in a nutshell. You're giving away my joke there. Yeah. So it was so back in 97, 98 when I was developing the platform. Initially it was kind of long handed. It was automated web assistant, and this was back when everybody had logos. There were like spiderwebs and that sort of thing. And you know, I needed something shorter than that because it was really, you know, that's a really long domain name and not super memorable. So we were trying to shorten it and it kind of got the logical shortening of automated web assistant is Awebass, and that's just not an appropriate name for this kind of company. So it got shortened to AWeb browser and the domain name was available. And the rest is kind of history and and it's remains unique to this day. So.
[00:06:50] Well, you did better than All Nippon Airlines, because in the beginning I did a lot of speaking and in Asia and stuff in the beginning they wanted to put on their airplanes their abbreviation, which was a and a L. How do you like that?
[00:07:07] Could be a possible problem.
[00:07:09] How'd you like to see that on a 747 coming at you. Right. So you did much better than that. So anyway, from what I understand, you were working for a company that was getting so many leads, they just blew him off, right? Is that how it worked?
[00:07:23] Yeah, more or less. So. I was a distributor for a company that was selling wireless modems. So this is back before you could. We all had cell phones in our pockets with high speed Internet. This was a device that you could hook up to your laptop and get slow Internet. But at that time, it was considered fast Internet in that it actually was Internet.
[00:07:44] Well, just just to put people in the right frame of mind, this was a time when it would take us 3 hours to download a one inch size video to play for a minute or so.
[00:07:55] Yeah, that's pretty much. Yeah, this is back in the dial days. So but yeah, so I was I was selling these modems and, you know, I would get leads at computer shows and those sort of things that I was going to and I was in college at the time and just being a busy college student, the follow up process of actually answering people's questions and staying in touch and getting them to the point of a sale, it took time, and more frequently than not, most of the messages that you were sending were more or less the same to to different people depending on the life cycle that they were through. So like a very new lead in the pipeline will get a certain kind of message. And somebody that I had been talking to for a month or two that hadn't made a decision yet, got slightly different information. And I basically I wrote a little Perl script, a little coding script that sent these automated emails, a sequence of emails out over a period of time. And it worked pretty well. And in the process I shared the letters and the program that I was doing this with, with a bunch of other distributors around the country that were also selling the same product just as an ideation like, Hey, what, what worked for you when you follow up? And this is what worked for me and we collaborated on coming up with better Copy to be able to increase our sales.
[00:09:18] And as, as my part of it was I was sharing the code that was sending the emails automatically and I ran a little bit of a platform that was doing that for people, specifically for these messages in this business, one thing led to another and it worked. It worked pretty well, and I ended up leaving that company to focus on school because that's what your parents tell you is important at that age. And in the process of of leaving that, I stopped running the particular email program. And all those people that have been using it before came to me and said, Hey, like I know I was getting that for free before, but it was really valuable, I'd be willing to pay for it. And I was like, you know, it's like I had a solution and I had people willing to pay me money for. Where I was not getting any before, and it very quickly turned into something that I was like, okay, I got I need to figure out how to turn this into a software platform that people can buy online. It wasn't quite as easy to do that back then as it is today with all the tools that are available.
[00:10:24] Yeah, you'd have to, you know, go and hold a gun to a banker's head to get a Yeah.
[00:10:29] Merchant accounts. And it was funny, I actually launched the first version of the website and accepted eCommerce orders without actually having a merchant account on the back end for the first month.
[00:10:39] They mailed this check, right?
[00:10:42] We asked, we asked for people to mail a check, but I accept your credit card. I just didn't have any way of billing it yet because I knew my application was pending. But I hadn't gotten approval back yet and I knew it was going to come through. It just hadn't happened yet.
[00:10:57] So what was the thing back then? Cyber cash, I think it was called one of the early merchants. Yeah, it's been a.
[00:11:04] Long I'm blanking on what it was back.
[00:11:07] I think it was cyber cash. But anyway. All right, so here's here's the thing. Yeah, here's the thing. So you, you write this program and you run the company yourself for a year doing all the the tech work and you know, can't every engineering finance major do that? How'd you learn to write code and do all this stuff?
[00:11:29] Yeah, most of that was self taught at the time. It was funny. I was going to school for mechanical engineering is what I started going for, and then I switched to finance. And nowhere along that path did it ever really occur to me to maybe go for a computer science degree.
[00:11:44] Right, Right. Well, maybe better off.
[00:11:45] Maybe, you know, maybe it worked out in that favor there. But yeah, it was all self taught. It was a lot of hours in the library and it was the thing we did back then. And, you know, in searching around on the on the Internet in various forms and whatnot that existed at the time, StackOverflow wasn't a thing back then, but, you know, the knowledge was out there. You just had to seek it out and find it. And the first version of AWeber was very, very basic. You know, at this point we've got a team of nearly 100 people and several dozen engineers that are working on the platform every day. We've invested hundreds of millions of dollars into the platform at this point. So it's evolved over time. And I think as as a group of entrepreneurs that we all are here, it's really about iterating. Like no matter what you do, the first thing, you always look back on it and be like, Oh, that was really terrible in hindsight because you have the knowledge and know the the value of of looking back in hindsight, of being able to know what you know now. But going back and looking at what you did then and I would certainly do things differently than than based on what I know now. But at the.
[00:12:58] Time, the whole world.
[00:12:59] Is, you know, it worked. Yeah, it.
[00:13:01] Worked. So one one thing I like about it and why I've kept it so long is what is called I don't think we've said this word on this podcast so far is integrations. So, you know, I promote Kickstart Car because that's my thing was the shopping cart system and all that. But it's not as well known as AWeber and AWeber has got integrations with all kinds of other things that I want to do so I can hit a couple of buttons and all of a sudden bam, wham, you're connected to this new thing that I want to deal with. And I'd had to try to get into the API and try to beg people to figure it out. And and it's just as easy to just hit a button and they already know about you. And there are you're probably one of the first places people make deals to integrate with, I imagine.
[00:13:49] Yeah, Yeah. We have hundreds of integrations with different platforms like different a lot of e commerce type providers. Anywhere you're getting new prospects from like there's a variety of website builder tools and CRM platforms and you name it. We have integrations with it. We have I forget what the number is like around 600 or so at the moment, different platforms that we integrate with.
[00:14:15] All right, so come on, when are you going to when are you going to start a shopping cart on? Man?
[00:14:21] We have we have ecommerce enabled in all of our landing pages so people can put landing pages out there on on the Web and web pages up where they can accept credit cards.
[00:14:32] I know, but I'm going to hit you up. I'm going to hit you up off line about this. You know, because if there's anybody I would trust to do it right and with high integrity and high delivery rates because of all the work you put in behind the scenes, I mean, you could probably be ten times richer than you are now if you had just done what most other companies do and just kind of slide by. But you've got a team that is really on the ball.
[00:14:57] Well, a big part of having success over many years is investing, investing in platforms and continually building better than what you did the day before. So it's a constant interaction and you certainly can't rest on on what you did the day before. So because somebody else is out there building and trying to one up you from that perspective.
[00:15:16] They've got a long way to go with you for sure. So. So what are some of the biggest mistakes you see beginners make in an email marketing and make sure you include something about metrics.
[00:15:26] Yeah. The the biggest mistakes, honestly, are some of the simplest things to to fix. When you're when you're asking for people to subscribe on your website, whether it's a newsletter or a monthly newsletter or blog updates or just getting a notification about your new podcast episodes, those those sort of things is they don't senders don't set expectations with people on what they're going to send. Hey, sign up for our newsletter. What's going to be in your newsletter? Why should I care about signing up for your news?
[00:15:58] And then similarly, how often are you going to send that? Because in my head when I sign up, I might think, Oh, you're going to send me a monthly newsletter. But then it turns around and you send me three emails a day. Well, what's going to end up happening with that is your recipients might be tolerant of that for a couple of days, but they're going to very quickly, unless you've got solid gold in every single one of your emails that you're sending out, they're probably going to be disengaged with those emails, meaning they're not going to open them, they're not going to click on them, they're probably going to delete them. They might even mark them a spam. And over time, that's a bad thing. As a sender, when when your recipients are telling your mailbox providers like Google or Hotmail that they don't want your emails, so set expectations upfront of what you're going to send and how often you're going to send it. You know, getting into the the metrics portions of of looking at campaigns and areas that people make mistakes is, you know, think about every email that you send as needing engagement. So when I mean engagement, I mean, somebody opens it, someone clicks, it clicks on a link in there.
[00:17:11] Make sure that your emails have a purpose. Like, what's the point of sending email? What do you as a sender want someone to do with your email? Because as much as engagement means opens and clicks and these are the numbers and metrics that you can see in a platform like AWeber for where you send your newsletters and where you send your campaigns and autoresponder from. But there's also other levels of engagement. So think about the things that you do in your inbox. You might open an email, but do you scroll to the bottom to read the whole email? Do you forward the email to somebody else? Do you reply to the sender and write back to them and send them a response of some type? Do you file that email away and give it a label or put it in a specific folder? These are all levels of engagement that mailbox providers like Gmail and Hotmail and so forth can see someone doing. And these all give those mailbox providers a clue as to whether or not you want those messages and whether or not they should continue to send those messages to subscribers inboxes. So whether that's.
[00:18:19] Well going to say this is a good thing because most people weren't familiar with the term engagement until social media came.
[00:18:26] But they never realized that it applies to email, too.
[00:18:30] Absolutely. It's a big part of the the reputation algorithms and how mailbox providers decide to put the emails in your inbox or in the spam folder, like they're doing all of that based on billions of data points of people opening and clicking and doing things with the emails that they get. And as a sender, when you send a Gmail, you might think, Oh, well, you know, they see the activity from my email address, but they're also seeing how each and every one of your Gmail subscribers interacts with your emails. And when you're looking at your overall metrics, if you have let's say you have a 40% open rate, that's a really good open rate as a sender. If you have a 10% open rate, basically what that's telling the mailbox provider is 90% of the people that are receiving your email are not interested enough in opening that email and clicking on it and replying to it and forwarding it to others. So over time, the lower that your open rates go, the more likely Google and other providers are to put your future emails in the spam folder. Now there's certainly Gmail specifically is is very good at determining how I interact with an email versus how you might interact with an email that comes into your inbox.
[00:19:48] So there is personalized levels of filtering, but in aggregate, this is how they pick out spam campaigns and other malicious stuff is people's lack of engagement tells them that even though there's maybe some small, tiny amount of engagement, the overwhelming majority of people did not request that information and are not engaging with it and don't want it. So they'll put most of it in the spam folder or all of it in the spam folder. And you want to make sure as an email sender that you're managing the engagement on your mailing list of your subscribers and over time pruning the people off that haven't opened an email from. You in 12 months. You know, I work with a lot of centers where it's like, Hey, if you ever cleaned up your mailing list, it's like, Well, yeah, I remove people that unsubscribe. It's like, okay, but what about all the people that have effectively unsubscribe but never actually click that button where you're where they just delete your email the second it shows up in their mailbox. Have you have you ever cleaned those up? Well, no, they might by at some point. And it's like, yeah, but they haven't read a single email that you've sent them in years.
[00:20:53] Yeah, that's what, that's what all the salespeople say it takes ten years to before somebody makes their first purchase.
[00:21:00] Yeah, no, not at all.
[00:21:03] I, I'm guilty of everything you're talking about. I mean, I saw sent hundreds and hundreds of millions of emails since 1994, and you've got to keep you know, you've got to keep up with it. Now, I've had the best luck using EA courses as my opt in and for a couple of reasons, because they won't, I remind them that they won't get each part of the course unless they use a better email address than the crappy, you know, throwaway address. And then. Absolutely. And then they're going to probably, if they're interested in that topic, open the first several and somehow interact with them. So that's the that's the best.
[00:21:39] Luck I've had making making sure that you tell people up front that the thing that you're going to send them, whatever your bonus is for subscribing, they're going to get it via email. Make sure that you get a good email from them. Another great tip that that I often see missed by people is on that. Thank you. Page So basically when somebody types in their name and email to get on your mailing list, there's usually a page that comes up afterwards that says, Hey, go check your email and click the confirmation link or something like that. And it's very often a dead end on most people's websites. It's really prime real estate that people forget about. You should of course, encourage people to go and click the confirmation link on their email, but give them somewhere else to go on your website. Once they've done that and even better than that, put something for sale on that. Thank you.
[00:22:30] That's exactly what I was thinking.
[00:22:32] That's more than Yeah, exactly. More than likely, if someone has enough trust in what you're doing and enough value for them to pull out their email address and give you their email address, they probably pretty close to being able to pull out their credit card and give you some money for something of value that you're selling on your site. No.
[00:22:50] No. I always make sure, though, whatever I promise them, I give it to them first because I don't want them saying, Oh man, he lied to me right off as soon as they hit that page. So I always make sure they get the freebie first. And then I say something like, Hey, and if you're really interested in this, check out this. And then boom, they start reading a sales letter.
[00:23:10] Absolutely. Absolutely. But it's just it's real estate on your website that a lot of people just completely forget about. And they treat it as like this transaction thing. And there's really so much more value that can be there. We've implemented on many, many customers over the years and often they see ten, 20, 30% revenue increases just from putting it on that single page because the conversion rate is so much higher there than it is on any other page of their site.
[00:23:36] Yeah, we call it confirmation page selling and then we get one little jump from that is thank you page selling when they purchase something, you know the easiest person to sell is the one that has their wallet out of reach, you know So yeah. So it's a perfect place to put affiliate links. And I know you have some thoughts on the types of affiliate marketers, you know, where it's a big part of our business, but it's not the only part because if you just slam people with, you know, affiliate offer after affiliate offer that you're not even you probably didn't even use yourself then That's that's kind of spammy.
[00:24:11] Yeah, well, at the end of the day, you know, spam is, is, is. It's whether or not somebody has permission to send send messages. And these days most people describe spam as whether or not it's something they want. They might have previously wanted it, but they no longer want it. So now it's spam in their eyes, even though they might have given you permission before. And that's part of why I was talking about pruning lists of people that are no longer engaged with with what you're sending, you know, as a as a company, you know, AWeber We don't have any problem with affiliate marketers. I think the issue where affiliate links and so forth becomes a problem is like just what you described, where somebody is just sending a constant onslaught of affiliate offers, oftentimes completely unrelated to what somebody might have originally asked for information about. And that that always goes sideways. They're often really high volume. Again, going back to that first conversation that we had about setting expectations, But I think I'm going to get a monthly or weekly email from you and I start getting multiple emails a day. I'm going to complain about that and you're going to have problems with that. And that's where that's where those things turn into problems. And that's that's not exclusive to affiliate marketers. We see lots of other businesses do that and it's just a common thing that we see and slight little bit, of course, correction there and people get much, much better results.
[00:25:35] Yeah, and it's amazing to me at this stage of the game after me being in the game 28 straight years, that I still get people calling me saying, Hey, Tom, I got this this book from an association. I'm going to have my assistant type in all the email addresses and, and, and then I'll, I'll send make them opt out to it and they can opt out. That's cool, right? No that's not.
[00:26:03] I'll, I explain that to him.
[00:26:05] Yeah. No that would be sending spam. And regardless of what the association says, those people did not give you permission to send emails there. The association might say, Oh yeah, we sell this list and it's fine for you to email it. But those people didn't say that. And while you might, you might be able to send an email to them and it might get to their inbox, you're trashing your email reputation in the process. So the mail filters, they have a they have a memory for these things. And this is why it's important to to build up your sender reputation. So when I talk about your reputation, think of it as kind of your your report card. It's the same as like you or I like our personal reputation. It's are you honest and trustworthy or you're going to do what you say you're going to do. It's the same sort of thing in in the email world. Do you send emails that people want? Do people click on them? Do they open them? Do they reply to them? Do they engage with them like a normal human would? Those are things that you build with as as a sender, and you do that with the email address that you're sending from.
[00:27:16] So your domain name like anyway, worst case, when we send out emails, we're building a reputation of Aweber.com. When I send emails out from myself personally, I'm building my reputation on Tomkulzer.com. So those things all go into building a good reputation that will, over time continue to allow you to get mail to the inbox. Whereas if you turn around and you send this email to this association that you got and everybody marks it as spam, well, you've now trashed your your ability to deliver emails to the inbox because Google remembers, Oh, these guys sent the email to a whole bunch of people that marked it as spam last time. Oh, I just got another email from them. And before anybody does anything with it, we're just going to automatically put it over there in the spam folder and it takes a long time to kind of build your way back out of that kind of reputation whole. Like if I lied to you, it's going to take a while for you to eventually, hopefully, maybe.
[00:28:17] Trust me. Yeah, maybe never.
[00:28:19] It's the same. It's the same way in in the spam filtering world.
[00:28:23] All right. So I want to get your opinion on something a while back. I don't know how many years it was. Canada made a big brouhaha about we're going to find you $10 million if you if you send us emails that we don't want all this stuff. And like I said, I've been around since the beginning. I kind of felt like a couple of million email marketers in the United States stand up, turn to the north and give the finger to Canada, because I don't remember anything ever coming of that. And the same thing with the European thing, the GDPR. What is the GDPR thing? So what's your opinion on all that stuff?
[00:29:03] I think they're speaking as as an email marketer and somebody that's been a part of the email ecosystem for. You know, nearly 25 years now. I think they're good laws. I think they enforce best practices and they definitely have been many, many businesses that have been held to account via those laws. There's the canned Spam Act in the US. There's Castle Castle in the Canada. And then there's GDPR, which is a slightly different type of rule over in Europe. There's also other, like Germany has some anti-spam rules as well. There's a variety and mixture of kind of things that kind of focus on spam and emails. And then there's others that look at just kind of overall personal privacy online. And I think there I think it's good to have formalized criteria for what is acceptable and what's not acceptable. And it doesn't mean that you're necessarily going to get sued right away by by a government organization if you screw up once. But it's certainly it's it kind of sets the ground rules of what is acceptable to do and what isn't acceptable to do. And I think there are good laws that are good for consumers and good for businesses that follow them.
[00:30:19] Well, I appreciate that opinion. But my problem is, is when you make a law that nobody enforces, could never enforce with some of the slow moving slugs in government, and then people just, you know, flaunt it and make fun of it, because it's never it never makes any effect. And so the lawmakers did all this work, supposed work, and never sent an email on their life. And so that's that's the problem I have with stuff because I haven't you know, I've been in, like I said, 28 years. I never saw one legitimate marker marketer make any changes at all. And I know all of them. So so that's my problem with that stuff. Yeah, it's good to catch the really bad guys, but I'm not sure they're even doing that. What what was funny was, see, I have a TV show in development in Hollywood called Scam Brigade. Goes after scammers and rip offs and stuff. And and I was doing some research on the infomercial industry and they came out with all these laws against infomercials that they couldn't enforce. And then they come out with laws for the Internet and they couldn't even do the relatively small infomercial industry. But now they want to take on the whole Internet. It's just to me, it's it's a joke. If you just do legitimate stuff.
[00:31:38] I can say for a fact that I know of businesses that have been affected by it. I talk to people every single day that look at those regulations and make changes to their campaigns to make sure that they're compliant with them.
[00:31:50] Would we say it's probably pretty big businesses?
[00:31:54] It no, it ranges. It ranges the spectrum. So I would I would definitely disagree with you that that no one makes changes and that it doesn't affect folks I talk about these things.
[00:32:06] Well yeah, because that's your that's your whole thing. It's just part.
[00:32:09] Of my business. But those those are like these are businesses that make changes based on based on regulations and so forth. And it doesn't mean that small or big, obviously bigger businesses have more exposure to problems and are more likely to be held to account for for not for flaunting those laws. But I've seen businesses of all sizes be impacted based on enforcement actions from various government entities around flaunting those rules. So yeah, they are definitely things that are important to pay attention to and abide by. And you know, at the end of the day, if you're for the for the vast majority of them, if you have permission, if you're getting permission to send emails before you send them, you're probably not going to have issues.
[00:32:56] Exactly. And if you if you don't have, you know, subject lines that are fake, I mean, fraudulent clickbait and everything. So so that's why I'm saying legitimate people, I just can't see them putting an enormous effort into these. Some some of the laws are kind of ridiculous because, like I said, they they don't have the people to enforce them. It's kind of like the organic industry in the United States. The last I heard is there's 13 organic inspectors for the whole United States. You're trying to tell me that all the farmers are not kind of fudging a little bit. And I love farmers and I love, you know, the hard work that they do. But, you know, the gas prices are going up, the fuel prices, you know, somebody's going to fudge it a little bit. And so when you can't enforce something, people tend to flaunt it. But so what? Agree to disagree on that one.
[00:33:50] But but that's and that's part of what makes the world a great place to be.
[00:33:55] Well, yeah, but see, we can learn. Luckily, we can agree to disagree on something without being nasty. Like the like the world is kind of today. Let's see. I got a whole bunch of questions. Oh, I'm not even sure this was around When? You came around. Are you familiar with the term co registration and do you think it'll ever make a comeback if you do know what it is?
[00:34:17] I am. And it's I wouldn't say that it's gone away necessarily. It's just.
[00:34:22] Compared to what it was in the.
[00:34:24] Early days. Yeah. Yeah. Like, you know, at the end of the day, it's really about.
[00:34:30] What Explain to them what, what that is.
[00:34:32] Yeah. So co registration is, is often you see it in different forms but it would often be like if somebody signed up for your newsletter on your thank you page, you might have a number of other newsletters that you've partnered with to recommend people to subscribe as well. And that's kind of really what at the at its core registration was. And you still see that today in a lot of different platforms. That's something that's pretty common. It's usually more of much more of a like paid sponsorship type places. Yeah, the days than necessarily like back in the day, back in the nineties and early 2000, it was more of a paper lead type type setups. And like any other business, you know, or a component of business, there's people that do it very legitimately and there's no problems with and there's people that don't do it legitimately and are doing scammy sketchy things and where it doesn't work. So I think that it's still very much out there. We I was actually just having this conversation with some of our product managers last week, actually.
[00:35:40] So do you know of any real great legit co reg places?
[00:35:44] I know like Substack has a recommendation referral system built right into their platform that does essentially CO registration. I know there's what is it spark loop and there's a number of other platforms that kind of build capabilities to do what is essentially co reg these days. Most places don't call it CO registration, they call it by a variety of of other names. But like what it really is, I'm trying to think of what Substack has it.
[00:36:16] Yeah. When I first started.
[00:36:17] This they just call it recommendations honestly.
[00:36:21] Yeah. This I built up to about 150,000 subscribers very quickly in the early days, and that's what really kicked kicked me off and they were pretty targeted. There wasn't a bunch of spammy stuff but kind of faded away.
[00:36:34] Yeah, they actually I just I just googled it here while we're talking. They call it just recommendations and that's, that's all. Co reg really ever. Yeah exactly. Some, some are paid for recommendations and others are not paid for recommendations and that's really the, the behind the scenes aspect of, of kind of what makes the world go round in marketing oftentimes. So and that's also where like appropriate disclaimers of like hey, these are these are paid listings, you're paid recommendations versus these are my personal recommendations that I, I make recommendations for people to subscribe to these regardless of whether or not I get paid. So.
[00:37:09] Got it. Got it. So did you really have sliding boards in your lobby?
[00:37:16] We had not just one sliding board, but we had two. Yeah. So we used to have races on them. So we're we're fully remote these days, kind of now past COVID.
[00:37:26] Did you change.
[00:37:27] Did you change your office space? Did you downsize?
[00:37:31] We still made we still have that office where we have a variety of technical requirements in order to be able to relocate from that office permanently. But yeah, we're in the process of kind of transitioning out of there. But as far as our team is concerned, we're fully remote these days. We have team members in over 15 different states.
[00:37:53] So where is the sliding board from overseas?
[00:37:57] Our sliding boards are still at our office in shop.
[00:38:01] So I want.
[00:38:02] First just.
[00:38:02] Outside to go up for sale.
[00:38:04] Yeah, sure.
[00:38:08] And let me tell you about my movie idea. So I had a movie idea that I would be like a super rich guy on the internet and kind of a Batman type. And I thought, I throw this big, big contest for spammers and virus writers and people like that and like millions of dollars of prizes. And then I get them all in one place and kill them all. That's my that's my movie. I'm like.
[00:38:36] That's an interesting movie.
[00:38:38] I think people would love that. People would just love to see all that stuff disappear from the face of the earth.
[00:38:45] That would be nice, certainly.
[00:38:47] All right. So we got to take a responsive break. When we come back, we'll ask Tom what's a typical day look like for him and what's what's the future of email? I mean, I'm a big email proponent. In fact, all the social media to me is an necessary evil to get people off of their onto AWeber. So because you control it. All right. So folks, about time about 20. Five years ago, I kind of put the Internet guru world on its head and that people at my level were charging 50 or 100 grand up front to help people. And I said, and I knew a lot of these people, they were rip offs. If you gave them 50 grand up front, you'd never see them again. So I said, Yeah, that's too risky for people. So I'm going to charge like ten times less as an entry fee, and then I'm going to tie my success to your success. So for me to get my 50 grand, you had to net 200 grand. Well, 1700 plus students later, the program's still going strong. It's the longest, most unique, most successful Internet and digital mentor program ever. And I triple dog dare anybody to put their program up against mine because I'm a crazy fanatic too.
[00:39:54] Accidentally threw a big webinar on Thanksgiving because I didn't notice it was Thanksgiving. That's really bad. So you have an immersion weekend at this big estate in Virginia Beach. We have our own TV studio. We shoot your marketing videos for you. Everything is one on one, so you're not lumped in with everybody else. They're more advanced or less advanced than you. You get a scholarship to my school, which you can either use yourself for extra training or gift to someone which would keep them out of being indoctrinated in these crazy four year colleges nowadays. So check it out at greatInternetmarketingtraining.com. No pressure here. I'm easy to get a hold of and discuss your future online.
[00:40:40] All right, let's get back to the main event. Tom Kulzer is here and he is really a great guy who founded AWeber, one of the most highly respected email entities on the face of the earth. And that's not an exaggeration. That's the way I felt. That's why I've been paying the guy 22 years worth. And and so, Tom, what's the typical day like for you? Do you have a morning routine? Do you get you meditate? Do you work out? What do you eat? What's what's the story with a guy like you?
[00:41:09] Yeah, I'm I've, I started rowing a couple of years back, actually around pandemic time. I started rowing. I got a water rower that I use pretty religiously almost every day.
[00:41:23] A rowing machine or you.
[00:41:24] Actually like a rowing machine indoors. And then in the summers we spend summer on a lake and I usually get out around sunrise to go rowing every morning. And it's just kind of my like.
[00:41:36] The job to wear a mask when you're rowing.
[00:41:38] Now you're out there all by yourself. Fortunately, the it's interesting, like I'm not a big meditator in the traditional sense of meditation, but I find that kind of meditation Zen like focus in in exercise and in doing something where you have to be present in what you're doing, whether it's rowing or wakeboarding or snowboarding.
[00:42:03] What's what's the board called that has that one motorized wheel? Because I saw you on it holding a model DeLorean.
[00:42:11] Oh, yeah. One wheel.
[00:42:13] Wheeler. Yeah.
[00:42:14] So those things are dangerous, aren't they?
[00:42:18] Yeah. I'm only wiped. I'm trying to think I've wiped out twice.
[00:42:21] Well, aren't the brakes just going on suddenly on those and people are flying off at 30 miles an hour?
[00:42:27] No, not that I've ever experienced.
[00:42:29] I've seen the news.
[00:42:31] Let's put it that way. Yeah. I try to make sure I'm wearing my helmet when I'm doing sort of things, but yeah, I was competitive cyclist for many years. Oh, and yeah, so I just, I find that kind of like meditative state in, in doing exercise and kind of pushing your body and it has a nice byproduct of I'm getting that meditation zone and I'm also getting a nice workout, which kind of gets the heart going and gets you pumped up and gets the brain working through the day. So yeah, so from from there, you know, I work remote these days, get the kids off to school, and then I jump into work and it's a variety. I'm kind of as the CEO and founder, you know, I'm kind of all over the place.
[00:43:18] You're still hands on, though.
[00:43:19] That's in many ways, yeah. No, I'm still pretty hands on. I spend probably the majority of my time in the product space around what it is that we're building for our customers, whether it's talking to customers, whether it's talking to our team of engineers and product managers around what's next and what we're currently building and so forth, and how that's helping and how how it might not be quite working the way that we thought it would work and how we need to to kind of iterate. It's a constant iteration. Like I said.
[00:43:47] I'll tell you, I can't keep up you always coming up with new features and things like that. So I know that's not easy because that's entrepreneurs say, Oh, we'd like to have it do that. And then the the coders say, that's 50,000 lines of code, just that one button, you know, So, so it's easy for us to come up with things, but I got. One more bone to pick with you. How come you hate YouTube so much?
[00:44:14] How come I hate YouTube? Youtube?
[00:44:17] How come that I can't use your link checker on a YouTube share link?
[00:44:24] Oh, the link checker. Does it throw errors on it? Does it throw errors on all youtube links?
[00:44:29] All share links, but not the ones up in the address bar.
[00:44:35] Are the shares. Okay. Yeah, the share links. They do some funny redirection on the back end. The link checker is validating what the what basically YouTube's server response code is and if it gives a response that is indicative of an error, it will. It will.
[00:44:54] Just So I should use the one up in the address bar instead of the.
[00:44:58] Yeah, I would encourage that. Yeah. The shared link is probably doing some redirection. I'll have to look at that. I don't know that one specifically, but I know just share links in general. Do a bunch of link redirection behind the scenes.
[00:45:08] Got it.
[00:45:08] That's what I might be throwing an error. So yeah, but no, we do some really cool stuff with like embedded YouTube videos where we'll like put the play button right on top of it. Inside the emails, we actually have a new thing called auto newsletter that allows you as as a YouTube publisher to basically create an automated email that will go out any time you post a new video on YouTube. And then it'll also include like your past, however many videos you want to in the email. We have some pretty big channels.
[00:45:40] So can everybody read it? See, because I, I, you know, I trained this stuff for years and years. I ragged against even HTML email for years and years. See, my first mentor was Corey Rudel. I don't know if you remember him, but.
[00:45:54] Yeah, I do.
[00:45:55] Tragic car accident. But he was like making $5 million a year from his from his apartment. So he was he was kind of the 30 year old grandfather of Internet marketing. And he did a study one time that said that, you know, probably as much as 60% of HTML emails were not looking on the recipient's end as it looked when you send it. So I ragged against HTML for until maybe the past five years. I started using an HTML email. So I use what I call dull edge technology. I never used the newest stuff because it's the most glitches, the most customer service hassles. So these things you're inventing, how long will it take for them to get really ingrained where everybody can see them properly?
[00:46:45] Well, the the YouTube stuff we have, we send millions of emails every day with the stuff embedded in them and people are seeing them just the way that we send them. Okay. I would say like early on, HTML email rendering in various email clients was was a little was more segmented than it is these days.
[00:47:09] Even some corporations weren't allowing HTML email.
[00:47:13] Sure. Yeah. Those days are pretty much.
[00:47:15] Yeah, they're.
[00:47:16] Gone overall, so that's pretty rare. The vast majority of senders are sending HTML.
[00:47:23] Yeah, I do too, now. Yeah, but. But up until about five.
[00:47:26] Years at best. Yeah, certainly. Just a general best practice these days.
[00:47:30] I still it still used mostly text and I don't put a lot of graphics in at all because the trend for me and most of my marketer buddies has been shorter emails leading to a web page. So. So you don't have as much chance. I mean, the less words you have in there. A lot of people don't understand spam checkers. You know, like we use spam assassin because some innocent thing to us could look like spam to some somebody that sees a billion emails an hour, you know, so so we keep the text to a minimum and get them over to a web page.
[00:48:06] I would generally I would generally say that evaluating whether or not your message is going to go to the spam folder based on a tool like spam them in 2022 is not relevant to how your emails are going to be filtered. For the most part, words and text that you have in your actual messages is not what's going to get you filtered to the spam folder. The things that are going to get you filtered to the spam folder is your engagement of whether or not people are opening and clicking and actively engaging.
[00:48:34] So you're saying it's not a factor at all anymore? The words that you use?
[00:48:38] I won't say it's not a zero factor, but it's a very, very, very tiny, small factor. And unless you're unless you're sending emails with content that are in segments that are heavily spammed, it's unlikely to to be relevant.
[00:48:52] Well, that's what I was thinking, like weight loss and real estate. A lot of those terms have just been changed.
[00:48:58] I would I would not I would not worry about it. If you have an appropriate sender reputation, you know, using words like weight loss and real estate and those things, foreclosure or for sale are not likely to get you filtered to the spam folder. The things that are are going to be your email reputation. And those are, again, why following best practices is a good thing. And doing the various slightly technical things that are required to to establish a better reputation in the eyes of the mailbox, Gmail and Hotmail and so forth, it allows them to better pick out your emails from the crowd and know that when you send an email, it's actually coming from you and not coming from someone that is pretending to be you. And that's where the things like SPF and Kim and Dmarc and so forth are are relevant out there now.
[00:49:54] Do you have training on on a website I never really looked for? Yeah. Deeper stuff that people should know.
[00:50:01] Absolutely. And we even have tools depending on who you use to to register your domains and do your your domain updates through. We have tools that directly in going back to those integrations, we have tools that are directly integrated and can set a lot of those things up for you with just a couple of clicks.
[00:50:18] Without having a lot of tech.
[00:50:20] Knowledge, right? Yeah, without having to be real techie. So you click a couple of buttons and poof, it's all magically done for you. Yeah.
[00:50:26] Yeah. Because there's loads behind the scenes that I never understood. Somebody like you would understand them, but the typical marketer is probably never going to totally understand what's going on behind the scenes. So having somebody like you integrate with something that figures it out is is a big plus.
[00:50:46] Absolutely. And that's part of the value of of what you're getting when you pay for a platform like AWeber. It's you know, you're getting the technical expertise that we have and you're getting access to the experts that do this all day, every day.
[00:50:59] Yeah, yeah. I'm learning just by talking to you because like I said, I've said hundreds of millions of emails, but but this is something that's your business. You do this every day, all day with, you know, engineers and everybody else watching this like a hawk where I got 50 million things on my plate. So it's an old coal miner. Friend of mine said the schoolhouse door is always open. So absolutely. You got to and especially in our business, where things are changing by the hour most of the time. So so thanks so much for coming on, man. Very informative. And how should they get ahold of you? How should they sign up if they want to get an AWeber account?
[00:51:40] Yeah, absolutely. You can you can Google me. I'm easy to find on Twitter and. And all those sort of things. Just Google Tom Kulzer.
[00:51:52] If you wanted to check out Aweber more, we have free accounts. We have a freemium offering up to 500 subscribers. So if you don't have a form on your site to start building your subscriber list, you absolutely should get one. Go on. It's absolutely free to start and you can check that out at Aweber.com.
[00:52:17] Well, you can go there too, but you'll get you'll get a little surprise. We actually own that one. Oh, this.
[00:52:23] Good Idea.
[00:52:24] Well, thanks so much, man. Very informative. And like I said, folks, you don't hear me endorse things that often. So this is something. For 22 years I've been a big believer in AWeber, very high reputation, the best that I know of. And I have been there since the beginning. So. So make sure you take advantage of everything that they have to offer. So thanks so much for coming on, Tom.
[00:52:48] Hey, thanks for having me on, Tom. And it's great having you as a customer for so many years.
[00:52:53] My pleasure, man. All right, everybody, we'll catch you on the next episode. See you later.