Pay Per Callers Show - Neil Patel, CEO of Neil Patel Digital

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Learn how Neil Patel grows his wildly successful agency Neil Patel Digital on this episode of the Pay Per Callers Show.

Show Notes
  • Neil Patel runs a digital agency that helped companies grow their search traffic.
  • Some client services include: Paid Advertising, Conversion Rate Optimization, Funnels, Email Marketing -- Everything.
  • Lots of little stuff that moves the needle when you combine it all. Most people don’t do that.
  • Accept that you don’t know everything, you’re not an expert, and you can always get better.
  • Getting new clients but networking with and learning from other marketers.
  • Remove dates from URLs and add sidebar links to pillar content.
  • Look at high performing pages and optimize them for long-tail keyword terms.
  • Lots of inbound leads from marketing efforts over the years.
  • Everything is omni-channel. It’s not one thing that gets you the client, it’s 50.
  • Workday usually starts around 5:00 AM and finishes around 10:00 PM.
  • #1 Tip: Go for a walk to think about your day, what went well, what went wrong, how you can do better and what you will prioritize the next day.
  • Start small! Pick 1 thing to add into your routine and build positive habits slowly.
  • Meaningful change doesn’t happen overnight!
  • Marketing is going to get harder and more competitive.
  • Don’t be intimidated and look at it as a competitive advantage.
  • SMS works very well for scheduling calls with custom reminders and sending personalized follow up messages.
  • It’s all about how quickly you gather their information and follow up with a potential customers.
  • Twilio for SMS and ConvertKit for Email.
  • Figure out what connects with what and you can plug and play with any tool.
  • Once things start working, don’t assume they’re going to keep working!
  • Learn more about Neil's Digital Agency at: www.NeilPatelDigital.com

About Neil Patel
Neil Patel is the co-founder of Neil Patel Digital. The Wall Street Journal calls him a top influencer on the web, Forbes says he is one of the top 10 marketers, and Entrepreneur Magazine says he created one of the 100 most brilliant companies. Neil is a New York Times bestselling author and was recognized as a top 100 entrepreneur under the age of 30 by President Obama and a top 100 entrepreneur under the age of 35 by the United Nations.
Website: https://www.neilpateldigital.com
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/neilkpatel

Episode Transcript

Adam Young:
Welcome to the Pay Per Callers Show. My name is Adam Young, the founder of Ringba, and today I have a very special guest. His name is Neil Patel. If you don't know who he is, you've been living under a rock for the last 10 years. He's a famous digital marketer, he's amazing at what he does, and he currently runs an agency called Neil Patel Digital, where he helps all types of businesses do their online marketing. Thank you so much for joining us today Neil.

Neil Patel:
Yeah, no worries, thanks for having me.

Adam Young:
Absolutely. So I've seen a ton of your videos all over the place, on LinkedIn, I subscribe to them religiously, they're amazing. I've seen your work over the last five years with lots of clients and doing amazing things, but do me a favor, take us back to the beginning. How did you get started in internet marketing? What was that like for you?

Neil Patel:
Sure. I got started back in internet marketing 17 years ago. I was trying to find a job online, I couldn't find one, I created my own job website and I thought you pop up a website, people just come to it. As you know, that's not the case. I saved whatever money I had from picking up trash and cleaning restrooms to pay a marketing firm. I didn't pay them much, but they also didn't provide any results. They promised the world though. Eventually, from being broke and frustrated, I had no choice but to learn online marketing, got decent at it, my site got traffic. And boom, I was off to the races, I was getting a ton of visitors, still making no money, but I was getting visitors. And I was like, "Ah, I don't know how to make money online, but I know how to drive visitors, let me just shift to driving visitors." And I loved it. It was fun. It was like my version of heroin or cocaine. I've never tried drugs, but everyone says they're addicting. And for me, traffic has been addicting. Probably a better analogy would be it's my version of coffee.

Adam Young:
Oh, I completely understand. I remember the first campaign I ever did, which was a one field affiliate campaign in my parent's basement. And that first $1.25 I made, I didn't think it was real, but I was hooked. It is like crack.

Neil Patel:
Yeah, it is.

Adam Young:
So what was that first site that you were building or trying to build?

Neil Patel:
It doesn't exist anymore. It was called Advice Monkey. It was a job board and it failed miserably for many reasons, including the product sucked.

Adam Young:
So what was your first success then? When did you start making money on the internet?

Neil Patel:
My first success was the ad agency called ACS. And we helped companies just grow their search traffic. I would speak at conferences, blog, and then grow from there. And then the 2008 recession hit, I lost a lot of customers, moved on to software. But recently I've been back at the ad agency game with my agency called Neil Patel digital, and I've been having a blast.

Adam Young:
So what are some of the things that your agency currently does now for your clients?

Neil Patel:
SEO, paid advertising, conversion optimization, funnels, email marketing, the whole gamut. I would say a majority of our customers mainly focus on the SEO and pay-per-click side, whether it's Facebook or Google Adwords. But in general, we do the whole gamut.

Adam Young:
Are there any trends that you're seeing right now when it comes to funnel optimization that are unique?

Neil Patel:
No. But what we're seeing is there's a lot of little stuff that really moves the needle if you combine it all. And most people don't do that. So for example, order bumps have a nice small impact. Two-step checkouts, of course adding upsells and downsells, doing the sequencing where if someone went to the checkout page but didn't buy, you show them something different or you remarket them and you show them a video on Facebook and YouTube through your marketing on what it would be like if they would be a customer. All these little things to fine-tune the funnel is what we're seeing that really makes numbers work.

Adam Young:
And so you kind of implied there for a moment that most marketers are lazy. And so all these little things you're putting together are really driving the needle, but most people won't take the time to do it.

Neil Patel:
Some of it's laziness. They're expecting that you just throw something up and it works. And that's not the reality. Whether it's you or me or any marketer who's been doing this for a while, or even Harrison. There's times when we throw stuff up and it fails miserably. And that's normal. And you have to keep fine-tuning and tweaking and testing. And a lot of people get that concept, but when they fail the first time they're not willing to keep going at it. And then the second part is not everyone knows all of the tactics as they're not trying to continually learn. It's not like I'm coming up with all of these. I'm reading. I'm looking out there. I'm going to conferences. I'm doing as much networking as possible. Because I don't know everything. I believe everyone can teach me something. When I met Harrison, who you work with, he was a little kid. And he wasn't even 18, and he would go to these events with his mom. And when you look at that, just because he's younger and has less experience than me, doesn't mean I can't learn something from him. And that's my philosophy in life. It doesn't matter what it is, I believe I don't know everything, I believe I'm not an expert, and I believe I can always get better.

Adam Young:
That's an amazing mindset. And I think for our industry, which is pay-per-call, one of the biggest things I've been seeing lately is affiliates coming from other spaces, like traditional CPA affiliate space or other types of digital marketing. They attempt to run a few phone calls and that first campaign does not work out for them because they use some tactics that worked on a different style of campaign and they didn't get any results. And so they quit or they claim that pay-per-call doesn't work even though we see hundreds of thousands of phone calls a day flow through our platform. So it absolutely works. But it comes back to what you just said there when it comes to affiliates not trying over and over and over again. And marketing's a perpetual failure. If you can't handle being told no or failing, marketing isn't going to work. So one thing you mentioned there was conferences. Going to them, speaking at them, and learning as much as you can from people. What are some of the ways that conferences have changed your business over the years?

Neil Patel:
It's changed my business. One, it's helped me get clients. But more so, it's helped me network and learn from other marketers. And to me, that's the most valuable thing I got from conferences. If you go to the right ones, yeah, clients are amazing as well. But it's just the knowledge that you gain and seeing all those case studies and people implementing some of these tactics, for me that's great.

Adam Young:
Do you attend a lot of the panels at the conferences, or just spend most of your time in exhibit halls?

Neil Patel:
No, very little in exhibit halls. All more so, sessions and just networking after hours. I love the panels. I hate the rehearsed stuff. It's not that bad, it's just I prefer people talking freestyle and sharing their war stories.

Adam Young:
Cool. So what are your favorite tactics that you guys are using right now at this very moment? What's moving the needle the most for you?

Neil Patel:
Sure. So there's a lot of little stuff, like SEO has been working really well. But to give you more specifics, things like removing dates from URLs, a little tactic like that, in many cases we're getting a 50% lift in search up. Because a lot of people have dates turned on by default through WordPress. Putting in links in the sidebar on our blogs to all the pillar content. We find that within 12 months that usually kicks those posts really high up and they rank better. Doing things like looking at all the pages that rank already well in Google, taking those terms, putting them into tools like Uber suggests, you get a laundry list of long-tail terms. Then going back and adjusting your content to include those terms. Because if you rank for the head term, it's really easy to rank for the long-tail terms within 30 to 60 days.

Adam Young:
Those are really great suggestions. I like the date one. Because I think most people overlook that. And when you post an article and it's from 22 weeks ago, Google deprioritizes it, it's no longer interesting to users.

Neil Patel:
Exactly.

Adam Young:
So when it comes to finding clients for your agency, what are some of the ways that you guys are going about recruiting new clients?

Neil Patel:
We just get a ton of inbound leads.

Adam Young:
So you're just already famous, it just works? People know who you are?

Neil Patel:
Not everyone knows who I am, and by no means am I famous. It's just more so we get a ton of leads. Like thousands and thousands and thousands a month.

Adam Young:
Is that a result of your marketing activities over time, or are you guys running inbound campaigns to actually generate those?

Neil Patel:
Yeah. It's purely through marketing over the years and building up the brand.

Adam Young:
Very cool. And I think what has a lot to do with that is the fact that most of your marketing, or most of what I see about you anyways, and this is the first time we've talked, so this is what I've actually seen, is you give away a lot of content, you give away a lot of ideas to people. You're very open about sharing and growing communities and helping people out. Do you think that's one of the main reasons for your success with recruiting new clients?

Neil Patel:
I think so, it's helpful. I believe every little bit helps, from writing blog posts to speaking at events to helping people, responding to every single comment, doing YouTube videos and LinkedIn and Facebook videos. I think it's a mixture of everything and marketing has turned into an omnichannel approach. It's not one thing that gets you the clients, it's a bit of everything.

Adam Young:
And how many hours a day do you work on this type of stuff?

Neil Patel:
It's the majority of my day.

Adam Young:
And are you doing it 9:00 to 5:00? Or are you going harder?

Neil Patel:
I'd start my workday around 5:00, I'll finish it around 10:00.

Adam Young:
So 5:00 AM to 10:00 PM?

Neil Patel:
Yeah. I take breaks in between. I'll eat a sandwich while doing work or a meeting. But--

Adam Young:
Eating a sandwich while you're doing work isn't really a break, Neil. I just want to point that out. That's like a working lunch. That's a straight hustle mentality.

Neil Patel:
It was hilarious. So this morning, I had a interview with someone in the UK at 7:00 AM Pacific time. So I was eating cereal while talking to them. And I'd take a bite, I'd put the mute button, take a bite, because it was done over Skype non-video. And then after I was done chewing and it was my turn to talk, I would unmute and start talking. And I would just keep doing that back and forth.

Adam Young:
So I think it's very interesting that you work this many hours and you just are straight hustlin even when you're eating. But yet, you were hesitant to bash on some affiliates for being lazy. And so I just want to point that out to our viewers, that Neil over there is being very conservative about how hard he works. But 5:00 AM to 10:00 PM is a serious day, especially if you're doing it five days a week. But I have a feeling that he's not doing it five days a week, that he's more on the seven day a week grind. And so I think that--

Neil Patel:
I am, but also my weekdays aren't as bad. So in the morning, for example, like today at 6:00 something, I was working out and doing a 15-minute workout. I use YouTube. So I ended up-- there's this guy named Joe The Body Coach. And I work out with him every single morning because he has these 15-minute h workouts. It's just high intensity, interval training. I work out for 15 minutes and I'm off to the races. So--

Adam Young:
And you do this from home? Is this like a YouTube video?

Neil Patel:
Uh-huh. And he has tons of them, he uploads one a week.

Adam Young:
That's amazing. And so that's another thing I've noticed with highly successful internet marketers. Is they're not just focusing on their internet hustle, but almost 100% of the ones I know are also working on their personal wellness, which includes exercising, eating right, doing those type of things.

Neil Patel:
Yeah. I eat very healthy. No fried food. I try to avoid things like red meat. I don't eat seafood, although I probably should because it's healthy. But I won't eat the cheese, the mayonnaise, candy, sugary foods, or any of that.

Adam Young:
Was your routine always like this? Or did you just wake up one day and decide I need to be healthy?

Neil Patel:
No, it's been like this for a very long time. I don't even remember when I started. It's been a very, very long time. Over 10 years.

Adam Young:
Wow. And so I think that's awesome that you get up, work out every day, and maintain focus on your personal health. I think that's the only way to not go crazy if you're going to put in those type of hours. Your body will start to degrade if you don't exercise, if you don't eat right. And so I think that's a really cool thing.

Neil Patel:
Yeah. The biggest tip I have for people is some people meditate, I'm not into meditation. But I'll do simple things. Like each day I'll go on for a walk, for like 15, 20, 30 minutes, sometimes 45 minutes, maybe even longer. And just debrief and think about my day, how I could have done things better. I also look at each day and being like, "What did I do wrong? What did I do better? What do I need to accomplish the next day?" And think of it like a to-do list, but something small enough so you can get it done throughout a day, versus something that's going to take a month.

Adam Young:
Now, are you tracking your progress in that regard?

Neil Patel:
No. It's all mental notes. I don't write it down or anything like that. But I'm-- because I've been doing it so long, I'm very good at if I have to do something in a day, the majority of the time, 95, 98% of the time, I actually get it done that day.

Adam Young:
And so you're basically waking up every morning and self-prioritizing the most important thing for your business and yourself that day and then focusing on it.

Neil Patel:
Correct. So I write myself emails and then I star them in Gmail. And each day, I go through the star folder and I make sure everything is done.

Adam Young:
That's very cool. That's very cool. And so, I wish I could get a lot more people to actually subscribe to that type of mindset. Because it's an amazing trend that I see again in all my successful friends. They're focused on their daily goal, they have long term goals, they have timelines on those goals, they're working on their mental health, their physical health, all those things at once. And then, not a single one of my successful friends is working a 9:00 to 5:00, they're available 24 hours a day and hustling. And so it's amazing to see that. And my question for you is, do you have any suggestions on how people can immediately optimize their lives for business that way? Is there something they can do if they maybe haven't really had this type of mindset before, to get started?

Neil Patel:
Do little things. So it's going to be too hard to go from A to Z. Just pick one little thing to add into your routine every single week. And start small. Working out doesn't have to be long and hard. You don't have to go to the gym and drive 15, 20 minutes each way. Using YouTube and checking out all the videos there, whether you want to do cardio exercises or weight training, or just leveraging body weight. There's videos on everything. And I recommend just adding one thing in your routine, whether it's walking or working out or whether it's to-do lists or task lists. Just start off small and then gradually increase over time. Because if you try to change it over a night, it's going to be hard for you to keep up with it. You need to actually get used to it and make it part of your life.

Adam Young:
And I love that advice. And mostly for this reason. So as you can see, I'm wearing yoga pants.

Neil Patel:
I love it.

Adam Young:
And I am in my living room right now, there's a yoga mat right there, and I do all of my yoga on DoYogaWithMe.com or Gaia from home. I don't go to a studio, I don't want to deal with the commute time. Even though I'm in a city, I could just walk there--

Neil Patel:
What city are you in?

Adam Young:
I'm in San Diego.

Neil Patel:
Oh, that's really easy. There's probably like 50 down the street.

Adam Young:
Yes, there are. But my friend, I am also not on the 5:00 AM hustle. I'm not a morning person, but from the time I wake up, essentially to the time I go to sleep, I'm available for clients all over the world, or I'm working with my people who are all over the world and in different time zones. So man, if I can pick up an extra 15 minutes on that commute to go to a studio and have the flexibility, it's just better doing it from home.

Neil Patel:
I should have hit you up last week. I was in San Diego.

Adam Young:
Oh, man. See--

Neil Patel:
I'm like-- we have a office downtown. I was there for a holiday party.

Adam Young:
Okay, cool. Well, next time you're in town, let me know. I'm literally right downtown. And we'll hang out or grab a beer or something.

Neil Patel:
Yeah, cool.

Adam Young:
All right. So back to your clients though. And back to internet marketing. We'll hop off the watching YouTube videos for self-wellness here, we digressed. I think that I'm very excited about 2019. A lot of people have complained, at least in the pay-per-call space, that new Google rules are going to cause issues and it's not going to work anymore and everything's changing and so they're very concerned. But in my experience, change brings around a ton of opportunity and Google isn't going anywhere. So how do you feel about 2019? What do you think are going to be some great changes that are going to happen?

Neil Patel:
Yeah. So in 2019, marketing's going to get harder, whether it's pay-per-click or SEO or any tactic you use out there. It's more competitive. Companies are now raising the majority of their money instead of for infrastructure and employees, they now raise money purely for scale, marketing, and sales. So in 2019, when you start seeing things change, yeah, it's going to be harder for you. But don't look at that as, "Oh, my business is gone." Look at that as an opportunity. Because if you can adjust and figure out how to make it work, you'll have less competitors. And there's always someone who figures out how to make it work. So you don't have to be the first, you just have to look at other people and then adapt from there.

Adam Young:
And I think that's one of the beautiful things of online marketing. Is you really don't have to reinvent the wheel. You just have to go on the internet and look. Because a successful marketing campaign is public, especially with the new Facebook tool. I recommend this over and over again. The best ad spy tool on the planet is Facebook now. You go to a page, click "info and ads," and now you literally have a list of every single successful ad on Facebook for every single business running them.

Neil Patel:
Yep. I agree. But people again don't want to do that. It works though, really well.

Adam Young:
I can tell from the smile on your face that that is not a lie. So again, for those of you who aren't familiar with spying on other people's Facebook ads, you just go to any Facebook page, on the left-hand side, it says, "info and ads." Click it, you get a full list of every single sponsored ad that that company is currently running on Facebook. And then if you like that page, you'll start to see the ads, and then you can just start googling their competitors, looking at all their competitors' ads. And sooner or later what you're going to find is a trend of advertising and tactics that work. Copy those, put your own flair on it. Now you have a successful marketing campaign and you no longer need to hire Neil or any of our other friends to do it. I'm just kidding. You should definitely hire someone like Neil for his expertise. But realistically speaking, the data is out there for online marketing. And if you're willing to put in the work to find it, every campaign you could ever imagine is sitting right there. So when it comes to your drip funnels and your follow-up campaigns, what is really working for you guys right now? Are you doing any SMS?

Neil Patel:
SMS works very well for us. We'll do scheduled calls and we even SMS people a day before, an hour before and 15 minutes before their scheduled call. We'll also do SMSs where we'll send a simple little message being like, "Adam?" And you'll be like, "Who's this?" And we'll be like, "Oh, this is so-and-so from Neil Patel's team. I noticed you watched the webinar. I just want to see if you have any questions, yada yada yada." And then we try to get people to convert.

Adam Young:
Wow. I really like that tactic. Very intrusive.

Neil Patel:
Yeah. It works!

Adam Young:
Of course. So and then do you use a combination of the SMS and email? What type of frequency of touch point are you seeing working across all channels?

Neil Patel:
Message people through multiple channels, and a handful of times, each one, until you get responses. Try different templates, campaigns, whatever it may be called. And then from there, whatever's working for you, do more of that. But the biggest thing that we've learned is more so-- versus what you're writing or how you're communicating-- it's how quickly are you communicating when you get that phone number or email? We've found that if it's within the first five minutes, the conversions are through the roof.

Adam Young:
Okay. So as soon as you're collecting your lead, you're hitting that person literally within real time.

Neil Patel:
Ideally yes. And not just in email. We try picking up the phone call and calling someone within five minutes of it coming in.

Adam Young:
Wow. That's amazing. And these are some lessons that apply to all different types of clients? Or is this a vertical-specific process?

Neil Patel:
No. It works in almost every industry.

Adam Young:
Very cool. And when it comes to your service providers for SMS and email, do you have any favorites that you enjoy working with?

Neil Patel:
We mainly use Twilio for SMS, and email we use Convergent.

Adam Young:
Okay. So you've developed some of your own tools to do these follow-ups. You're not using anything stock?

Neil Patel:
Well, a lot of them plug in. So with Twilio, through API connections, it'll connect with things like EverWebinar or WebinarJam or it'll convert with whatever software providers you're using like ScheduleOnce or whatever it may be. So what we do is we just figure out what connects with what and then through APIs, we just plug and play.

Adam Young:
Very cool, very cool. And before we finish here, do you have any other last tips for marketers that are new or maybe scaling their campaigns? Maybe a lesson that you learned the hard way?

Neil Patel:
Yeah. So once things start working, don't assume that they're going to keep working. And the biggest thing, the hardest lesson that I've seen most entrepreneurs and marketers make, is they go out there, they see a campaign, it's working, they scale up, they're like, "I'm rich, I'm in the money." It doesn't work like that. After a while, you're just going to be fatigued. You need to continually change up your campaigns. And the good ones change it up weekly, some of them even change it up daily. It's just that much more effective.

Adam Young:
And if our viewers want to work with Neil Patel Digital or hire Neil Patel Digital, how do they get in contact with you guys?

Neil Patel:
NeilPatelDigital.com

Adam Young:
Awesome. Well, thank you so much for joining us on the show today. I really appreciate you taking the time.

Neil Patel:
No, thanks for having me.


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