Learn From The Master- Part 2: How Ramit Sethi Uses Evergreen Funnels To Sell On Autopilot
A visitor arrives at your website to read an article. 3 weeks later you receive a payment notification telling you that they just bought the most highly priced product you sell.
But here’s the magic: You didn’t do anything during those 3 weeks, yet the visitor moved through a perfectly crafted and optimized marketing funnel that did all the hard work for you.
This is exactly what Ramit Sethi is doing to sell him premium courses.
In this article we'll take a look at the evergreen funnel he created to sell his products on autopilot.
Ramit Sethi runs the enormously successful ‘I Will Teach You To Be Rich’. His website attracts over 1 million monthly visitors and has amassed over 800,000 subscribers to his mailing list. His primary source of income is selling online courses. He’s made millions of dollars from these products and his entire business is a well-oiled profit generating machine.
Simply put: He’s a master of conversion strategies.
It’s always worth watching the masters. Whether you’re new to running a business or you’ve been at it for a while, it’s a smart idea to learn what others are doing and add their useful strategies to your own business road map.
In Learn From The Master- Part 1, Hanne took a deep dive into how Ramit collects leads on his website. Since Ramit relies heavily on email marketing, it’s vital that he gathers a high volume of qualified leads who are interested in his topics including starting a business, the psychology of self-improvement, achieving wealth, and more.
But what happens on his website is only half the story. Ramit’s dedication to sleek, scalable marketing continues beyond simply collecting leads. The other half is happening behind the scenes through his mailing list.
The big secret? Automated Evergreen Scarcity.
What is an Evergreen Scarcity Funnel?
If you’ve joined Ramit’s mailing list, then you have seen the wisdom and value he offers in every email. You feel like he gets you. But what you might not be aware of is that after joining his mailing list, you are seamlessly placed into an evergreen funnel.
This means you’ll receive perfectly timed emails that gradually convince you to buy his product which just so happens to be closing soon… all done automatically.
It’s so seamless, I bet you didn’t even notice.
Even as we dig into the cogs that make this well-oiled machine turn, there are times when it’s hard to know exactly how he does it. That’s how good marketing should be! It should be effective, whilst keeping out of the way.
CONS OF EVERGREEN SCARCITY AUTOMATIONS
Creating an Evergreen Scarcity funnel isn’t for everyone. Although the marketing power of Automated Scarcity can work wonders for your business, there are some disadvantages. Before we look into what makes it so powerful, let’s touch on the problems:
Time: Putting together an evergreen funnel can take a while. It requires pre-writing emails, landing pages, pre-access pages, etc. More time will go into preparing a funnel like this than into a regular product launch… but it sure can pay off!
Complexity: There are a lot of moving parts that need to work together. Getting them to play nicely can be quite tricky. Fortunately, in this article we’ll also introduce how Thrive Ultimatum can create a similar Evergreen Funnel to Ramit’s.
The good news is that these Cons are insignificant once you see the benefits of a funnel like this. It may be extra time and complexity up front, but you can reap the rewards many times over!
So let’s get into the good stuff that makes a funnel like Ramit's work.
Two Essential Elements of an Evergreen Sales Funnel
When looking at a funnel like this, it’s easy to get caught up in the cogs of the machine and forget that fundamentally it’s still about providing a valuable product to customers. Ramit’s extraordinary copywriting skills make every email and salespage an interesting read. He always maintains a ‘Value First’ approach in his marketing, and you should too.
Let’s start by looking at the 2 main elements that make Automated Evergreen Scarcity work:
ELEMENT 1: Scarcity
One of the greatest obstacles to buying is the question “Why now?”. Procrastination is a curse that we’ve all suffered from at some stage, but when parting with hard earned money, it’s an even greater obstacle.
Perhaps a potential customer is waiting until they feel ready, but there’s always another reason to delay.
A good marketer will provide solid reasons why their product is worth buying now. One of the most tangible ways to do this is to create a deadline.
Having a hard deadline encourages action. This could be a discount or coupon that expires, but in Ramit’s case he closes his course enrolments. If you didn’t sign up when you had the chance, then that’s it... Who knows when you’ll get another chance!
Could Ramit sell his course straight from his website? Of course he could... but he chooses not to. Since this guy knows how to optimize his conversions, it’s safe to say that the reason he only sells through his mailing list is simple: It drives sales.
There are multiple ways to use Scarcity in marketing, but an Evergreen Funnel like this requires the subscriber to be identified with their email address. It’s not just that Ramit wants to use email… it’s that he has to.
By giving customers an option to buy and making it clear the opportunity is limited, Ramit incentivizes action.
ELEMENT 2: Automation
It’s not too difficult to create ‘once-off’ scarcity. You could simply add a countdown timer on a product page, and then manually hide that product once the timer ends. But we’re going further than that. It’s the automation of scarcity that gives an evergreen funnel it’s power.
Automation is scalable. The more ‘hands-off’ your marketing can be, the more it can survive during high volume.
Ramit’s evergreen funnel is completely ‘hands-off’. If 100,000 leads signed up on his website right now, there is nothing about this funnel that he would need to change or modify. The well-oiled machine will simply continue to do what it does best: generate sales.
While smart marketing technology fuels this evergreen funnel, it never feels robotic. The way Ramit has set it up makes every step feel personable and human.
Now that you know the basics, let’s look at how Ramit Sethi has built a powerful conversion machine using both Scarcity and Automation to sell his premium course on starting a business, ‘Zero To Launch’.
THE SIX COGS IN THE EVERGREEN MACHINE
We've distilled the Evergreen Machine into 6 cogs:
COG ONE: THE OPT IN
I Will Teach You To Be Rich is slick. At a first look, the homepage is very clean with only one Call To Action: to start a Quiz. This is only one of the many opt-in forms you’ll find throughout his site.
As with everything Ramit does, his decision to have a Quiz on the front page will be driven by plenty of market research. If you take the quiz, it will end with a custom Opt-In form asking for your email address to send the results… and join his mailing list too.
Although Ramit's homepage makes his site look clean, behind the ‘Blog’ link, there are roughly 750 original blog posts all providing gateways for people to enter the site. Of course, these blog posts feature many different opt-in forms that invite visitors to join his mailing list.
Depending which opt-in form you use, Ramit’s Email Marketing System will tag or segment you by interest (something you can also setup with Thrive Leads). This may influence what funnel you enter, and which products you’ll hear about in the emails you receive. If you entered his website through a form that relates to starting your own business, then it’s likely you’ll enter the Zero To Launch evergreen funnel.
Since lead generation is already covered in detail in part 1: How Ramit Sethi Collects Leads, we’ll move along.
Don't worry if you currently only have one opt-in offer and one product. While Ramit has 15 products, many funnels and advanced lead segmentation, you don't need all this to get started with your first Evergreen funnel! You can begin with one basic Evergreen Funnel for your best product. As you add more, you can implement different funnels based on subscriber interests.
COG TWO: THE ‘NOT FOR SALE’ PAGE
Listed under ‘Products’ on his website, Ramit has a short spiel about each of the courses he has built. Altogether it’s 15 courses and his famed New York Bestselling Book. The first 9 of his courses are available for enrolment immediately. These are the lower priced courses.
The last 6 courses listed on this page (including Zero to Launch) say ‘Enrollment Closed - Join The Waitlist’. But don’t be fooled! If my Evergreen theory is correct, you won’t ever see these courses say ‘Open’!
In fact, once you’ve joined Ramit’s mailing list he makes specific mention that he only ever offers this course to his exclusive subscribers. Why? Because it’s a highly priced product and he knows he’ll need to build a relationship with you first.
Ramit's Zero To Launch will cost you $2000 USD. When was the last time you spent $2000 without getting to know the company you’re buying from and details about the product? Ramit is fully aware of the marketing challenge he has set himself.
So if the course never opens from this product page, what’s the purpose of listing these closed products at all?
Well, firstly it validates his business! That’s an impressive list of 15 online courses. But secondly… it’s yet another place to generate targeted leads.
Visitors and potential customers wanting to learn about this course are directed to click that button and join the waitlist.
What this really does is give the visitor an opportunity to subscribe to his mailing list, and tag them as interested in the product. This trigger will start an automation that puts them on track to receive targeted marketing and begin the evergreen funnel.
If you click the Waitlist link, you’ll see what is known as a ‘Pre-Access Page’. Ramit’s version is generic enough that it can be used as an ‘Expired’ page as well.
If you are using Thrive Ultimatum to create an Evergreen Funnel similar to Ramit’s, you’ll want to enable a ‘Lock Down Campaign’. This means a visitor who is not at the correct stage in your Evergreen Funnel cannot see your sales page, but will instead be redirected to a ‘pre-access page’. We recommend you create a dedicated opt-in form for this purpose just as Ramit has, inviting people to join your waitlist and enter your funnel.
COG THREE: THE EMAIL NURTURE SEQUENCE
To quote SocialMediaToday:
“It is a basic marketing principle that it takes seven "touches" before someone will internalize and/or act upon your call to action.”
(Though this 2011 Report By Google suggests it could be as high as 11!)
A touchpoint is any moment that someone comes in contact with your brand. That could include seeing an advert, visiting your website, receiving an email from you… any kind of interaction. This marketing theory suggests it takes 7 of these touchpoints before someone feels comfortable enough with your brand to make a purchase.
Whether you believe that theory or not, the key takeaway is that potential customers are constantly evaluating you, your brand and your products. It’s unlikely that they are willing to buy on first contact. According to the same Google Report mentioned above, 70% of Americans look at product reviews before making a purchase.
Potential customers are looking to see if they can trust you and your product before they buy.
This concern increases with the price of a product. With Zero to Launch costing $2000 USD, visitors aren’t going to be swayed easily! This isn’t a product people buy on impulse. It needs to be an educated decision.
What Ramit does so well is that he nurtures the relationship first, before selling anything. Upon sign up, Ramit’s Email Marketing System begins by automatically delivering a series of 6 emails over 8 days (not including the first confirmation email).
This is known as a Nurture Sequence.
There are multiple reasons behind creating a sequence like this:
- To provide additional touchpoints: If the first email you get after signing up is a sales email, you’d probably hit the unsubscribe button straight away. Instead, Ramit gives you time to get to know him and his brand.
- To Build KLT- Know/ Like/ Trust: Ramit’s emails are funny. He talks about the value of starting your own business and he’s happy to have a laugh about life and entertain you at the same time. Without selling you anything, you really start to like and trust him.
- To Set Your Expectations: Ramit also has to prepare you for his marketing. When it’s time to really push a product, you can expect 2 emails per day. By sending 7 emails over the first 8 days you’re on his list, you come to expect him regularly in your inbox.
- To Prepare Your Mind: Any potential customer will be far more receptive to your marketing if they are already in tune with your message. In these first 6 emails, Ramit does not mention his products. There is no offer to buy. But he does get you thinking about starting your own business (which happens to be the topic of Zero To Launch) and how your life could change.
With the groundwork set, Ramit has his subscribers primed. They are hooked, curious and already wanting to start a business.
Remember the ‘7 touches’? Isn’t it curious that if you include his confirmation email, Ramit sends exactly 7 emails during this sequence?
If you intend to sell a highly priced product, then you need to be ready for some sustained marketing. If that’s the case, you must use an Email Marketing Service that allows you to trigger a sequence of automated emails upon joining your list.
Fortunately, this is a feature offered by almost every Email Marketing Service available today. But for further recommendations you can read this article by Shane over at Active Growth comparing different Email Marketing Systems.
COG FOUR: THE PRODUCT TIE-IN
Here is where the magic really happens:
After 7 nurture emails have arrived in your inbox, there are 2 more to come. These are slightly different. For the first time, Ramit is referring to a specific product. In this case, it’s Zero To Launch. Although it’s not available to you yet, these two emails are there to connect the message from the previous 7 emails to this specific product.
It’s also worth noting that the first 7 emails were somewhat generic. Yes, they were about starting an online business but none of them mentioned any of Ramit’s products. Depending on how you tag or segment someone inside an Email Marketing System, the product ‘Tie-In’ emails you send could introduce a different product.
Then, after 2 emails that tie the message of the first 7 emails to the product... Ramit’s ‘Zero To Launch’ course suddenly becomes available to you.
...right when you want it most.
COG FIVE: THE EVERGREEN LAUNCH.
What happens next is some heavy marketing. Ramit is a master of copywriting and you’re about to get 8 emails over 5 days. And as he says in the first one, he’s unapologetic about it.
Here’s the exact wording at the end of the first email in the launch sequence:
“P.S. Yes, I’ll be emailing you more over the next few days, and I’m unapologetic about it. Zero To Launch is a serious investment. A lot of us “dabble” and dream about trying an online business, but when presented with the opportunity, we shy away.
I want to give you every confidence that this program can help you whether you’re young, old, single, a parent, a man, a woman, in Europe or the USA…. it doesn’t matter. I’ve tested this material worldwide across ages, genders, and experience levels. But I want to prove it to you”
- Ramit Sethi, I Will Teach You To Be Rich
Now let's look at the subject lines of each email in his launch sequence. They read like subheadings on a sales page and in a way, that’s exactly what they are. If you want to read the content of these emails, just head over to I Will Teach You To Be Rich and sign up to Ramit's mailing list. Sure enough, you’ll see this funnel working in realtime.
Each email packs a punch with a different copywriting technique and there’s always a Call to Action to click a link that takes you to the Sales Page.
He really pushes hard for you to click that link! And if you do? You’ll arrive at an excellent sales page featuring a countdown timer… just to hit home that scarcity!
Let’s look at these 8 Launch Sequence emails:
- “It's Time: Start your online business with Zero to Launch” - This announces the course is open with a Call to Action right there in the subject line. The email introduces what exactly the course is and how it works.
- “Is this right for you? Let's see” - Here Ramit relates the content of the program to the reader’s situation. Remember how the nurture sequence primed subscribers to want to start a business? Now he’s offering a solution.
- “If You’re Scared, Read This” - Ramit addresses any doubts that readers may have about the value of the program, whilst also encouraging them to rise above their concerns and invest in themselves.
- “Sneak Peek: Live Salespage Teardown from Zero To Launch” - Here he allows readers to see some of the material in the course and get an idea of what it will be like. A great trick to alleviating any concerns.
- “How to afford Zero To Launch” - Remember it’s a $2000 investment, so Ramit explains the payment plan option and why this course is worth that price tag. His biggest promise is that if you follow the program, you'll make more than the investment back in profits.
- “The ‘Amazon Reviews’ of Zero To Launch” - This is where you’ll see loads of social proof, testimonials, examples and reviews. He's offers lots of transparency in this email.
- “The Zero To Launch Hard Sell” - It takes so much confidence to write that subject line that this email just begs to be opened! Again, he’s unapologetic about selling to you and it’s his faith in his product that helps.
- “Zero To Launch Closes at Midnight - Did you decide?” - This is the final scarcity push. By putting this right in the subject line, subscribers know that it’s now or (potentially) never.
There is such urgency and confidence in these emails. They are brilliantly written and it’s a very powerful pitch.
This is the marketing trifecta: excellent copywriting, a scarcity deadline, and automated delivery. @ramit
Sure enough, during this sequence the course sign up page is made available… only to you.
If you open an incognito window and visit the Zero To Launch product page, it will still be the pre-access page that says ‘Zero to Launch is closed’. All of this marketing is happening through email. Your only gateway to that landing page is through the links provided in the emails, and the scarcity technology behind the scenes will make those links useless outside of the Evergreen time-frame.
And although you probably think it costs thousands of dollars to develop a Ramit-level evergreen system for your own online business, guess again! Thrive Ultimatum's evergreen lockdown feature does the same thing.
How to create a similar Evergreen Funnel with Thrive Ultimatum:
Bonus Scarcity Video Course!
Do you want to create a funnel like this, but are unsure about how the technology works? Let us show you how to set it up for yourself! We have a free online video course in Thrive University on How to Build an Evergreen Sales Funnel. We'll show you how all of the technology works with your Email Marketing Service so you can wildly boost your conversions!
Sign up with the button below to get the screencast of Hanne building an evergreen scarcity funnel like this!
COG SIX: HOW IT ENDS
With evergreen funnels, there are two clear outcomes that your marketing automation needs to prepare for:
OUTCOME 1: CUSTOMER PURCHASE
Have you ever bought a product and then continued to receive emails or marketing trying to get you to buy the thing you just bought? Isn’t it just… so… annoying!?
If you choose to buy Ramit’s Courses, you won’t see any of that. Upon purchase, the checkout system that Ramit uses passes a tag or contact update through to his Email Marketing System recording the purchase.
As soon as a purchase of the product is recorded, that contact will be removed from the sequence of marketing emails and placed into an On-Boarding Sequence.
An On-Boarding Sequence is similar to a Nurture Sequence but it’s there to help a customer make the most of their purchase. These emails would thank them for buying, welcome them to the program, and give them valuable instructions or tips in the coming days or weeks after they’ve received the product.
To make this work, you need to use a checkout system that can pass a tag or instruction to your Email Marketing System upon purchase. Use that to trigger an exit from the marketing sequence. Fortunately, most online checkouts should have this feature. If not, then an easy Zapier integration should do the trick.
With Thrive Ultimatum you can also set a ‘Conversion Page’. If you redirect a visitor to this page upon purchase, Thrive Ultimatum will close the campaign and hide any ribbons, widgets, or countdown timers from that visitor.
OUTCOME 2: NO PURCHASE
If you don’t purchase Zero To Launch, Ramit Sethi will begin to email you less frequently and the content won’t be as specifically geared to that product any more.
You’ve been blasted with 8 emails in 5 days encouraging you to buy and now it’s time for Ramit to cool off and show that he still values you on his list, whether you bought or not.
What’s likely happening here is that you’ve completed the 3 week Evergreen Funnel Automation and now you have been moved to a ‘Broadcast list’. From there, you would receive regular emails with updates just like every other subscriber on his list.
Ramit returns to delivering enormous value to your inbox on a regular basis and if you felt assaulted by the barrage of marketing emails you’ll quickly forget them. His emails are back to what they were in the nurture sequence: funny, relaxed, and interesting.
It may be worth having a ‘cool down’ sequence as well, something to win back the subscribers trust if they don’t buy. You can even ask for feedback about why they didn’t.
Once on your regular broadcast list, you can market other products or services... but what if that subscriber started receiving another product push right after the evergreen ends?
By putting them in a ‘Cool Down’ sequence for a week or two before moving them to regular broadcasts, you can rest assured knowing they won’t read any heavy marketing emails for a reasonable amount of time.
So, Where Should You Start?
Evergreen Scarcity Funnels like Ramit’s are powerful, complex beasts. Even Ramit suggests that you shouldn't make one until you have confidently launched your products and seen that they are working first.
That’s not to say you can’t put it on the road map as something you’d like to incorporate in the future. But, if you'd like to build an Evergreen Scarcity Funnel, here are a few steps to consider right now:
Choose a good Email Marketing System:
Although it's an enormous hassle, switching from one email provider to another isn’t impossible! If you plan to use an Evergreen Funnel like this in the future, then make sure you are building your business with an Email Service that allows:
Automated Email Delivery: The ability to trigger a new sequence on an email link click.
Tags or Segmentation: The ability to add, tag or segment subscribers after purchase at your checkout.
Get Familiar with Thrive Ultimatum:
The type of Scarcity we’ve explored here is an Evergreen Lockdown Campaign. You can read more about how you can do this and more with Thrive Ultimatum here. Start exploring scarcity discount offers, fixed date campaigns and adding countdown timers to ribbons and widgets across your website.
Are You Ready to Build an Evergreen Funnel?
Are you ready to build your own Evergreen Machine? Leave a comment to let us know what you think of this marketing strategy, or if you have any questions about how it all works!
P.S. Don't forget to sign up for the Free Video Course: How To Build an Evergreen Funnel.