This week’s interview is with Mike Filsaime. He’s another one of these viral guys. Except he’s different. Most viral business models don’t generate much revenue. And while Mike’s company is relatively small ($5M), he has very low acquisition costs due to the (mostly free) viral customer acquisition, so it’s very profitable. For anyone interested in viral marketing being used with lead generation or information product marketing, you should check out this interview.
Full Interview Audio and Transcript
Hobbies and Interests: Vacationing: Vegas, Seeing the World, Going on Cruises, Loves Going with Like-minded Entrepreneurs, Playing Racquetball, Fitness, and Learning.
Favourite Sports Teams: New York Mets and New York Jets.
- Good to Great by Jim Collins
- The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference by Malcolm Gladwell
- The Search: How Google and Its Rivals Rewrote the Rules of Business and Transformed Our Culture by John Battelle
Favourite Entrepreneurs: Rupert Murdock, Warren Buffet, Steve Jobs, and Richard Branson.
Company Website: http://www.mikefilsaime.com
Adrian Bye: I’m here with Mike Filsaime, who runs a highly profitable $5 million info-marketing business with a relatively small team. Mike, tell us what it is you do.
Mike Filsaime: In 2002, I was running the nation’s second largest Hyundai dealership and working with the ninth largest Toyota dealership. We were going through a massive growth phase, so I was working on training and putting together a manual. While I was doing online research, I was getting hit with promotional materials. One, which I usually deleted, was for The Secrets to Online Profits.
One day I decided to look at it and give it a shot. In October 2002, I started a web site. In March 2003, I stopped trying to sell things. Instead, I gave away free products that I have the rights to and in exchange asked for names and e-mail addresses. At that time for every person I had on my opt-in list, I made a dollar per month. For example, if I grew my opt-in list to 3,000 people, I would make $3,000 that month. When it got to 9,000, I made $9,000 a month. The metric right now is about $0.70 per subscriber.
Adrian Bye: How do you drive traffic to something like that?
Mike Filsaime: Originally, my thought was to just give away stuff for free and build a list. Then I implemented two things. First, I make an offer immediately when somebody gives their name and e-mail address. Second, I employ viral marketing where the visitor to the site can be used to bring more visitors to the site.
My affiliate marketing approach is every single person that comes through the system becomes an instant affiliate. All you have to do is give me your name and your e-mail address, and I instantly give you a URL where you can earn 50 percent commission just by giving away the free version of our software, newsletter, etc. Then we give that person 17 different ways to advertise the URL. This one person starts to post on a blog or give backlinks to our site. As a result, this one person gets a few more people to come right into this funnel again.
Adrian Bye: Can you talk about list sizes and how many separate lists you’re managing?
Mike Filsaime: I manage two different lists that come from over 35 different sites. Our biggest is PayDotCom.com, and it brings in about 750 leads per day. We have two or three sites such as InstantBuzz.com that bring in about 150 leads per day. We have probably 10 to 15 sites that bring in anywhere from 35 to 55 leads per day. We’re building a list in excess of 300,000 to 350,000 double opt-in leads every single year.
As soon as somebody comes into our marketing funnel from any site, they’re immediately made an offer. We have a myriad of different products. We run a coaching program with 18 months of coaching content. We have two home-study courses; the Butterfly Marketing course is $1,500, and the 7 Figure Code course is $797. We have e-books, and we have a coaching program at JobCrusher.com.
Adrian Bye: Have you spent much time buying media?
Mike Filsaime: I spend about $500 every single month on advertising with two Google Ads for two of my sites.
Adrian Bye: Are you aggressive at tracking your stats on the viral sign-ups?
Mike Filsaime: I get a daily report for each of my sites. The key metric I test is how many opt-ins are coming in every single day and what is the conversion immediately on that prospect.
Adrian Bye: You wouldn’t work with any site unless it’s viral marketing, right?
Mike Filsaime: If I can’t set the site up, launch it, and then never have to go back to the site ever again, I’m pretty much not interested in getting involved. I believe in automation where the site takes care of itself.
Adrian Bye: If you’re leaving your sites alone for this long, don’t they get stale?
Mike Filsaime: It’s related to the Butterfly Marketing we discuss in the home-study course, which can be found at ButterflyMarketing.com. It has to do with the butterfly effect where small things put tiny changes in motion that have a dramatic affect over time. The whole premise around the home-study course is to lead in with a free offer.
I have sites that I know were getting me 75 opt-ins two years ago, and then the next year they were getting me 60 opt-ins, and now they’re down to about 35 opt-ins per day. There are different things that I can do. I can put an auto responder on my other sites to advertise the site. I can do a re-launch. I can send an e-mail to my list that brings attention to the site.
Overall, I try to identify the big rocks in my business. I’m not going to focus my time and my energy on a site that has one sale per day when there’s a big rock in front me that I really want to pick up and get into my bucket. I try to focus on the biggest areas for improvement.
Adrian Bye: You have these viral sites acting as lead generation, making front-end sales for you, and paying affiliate commission. Are the more expensive sales driven through a call center?
Mike Filsaime: We decided we could truly leverage our call center by going to people that don’t understand that 10 times the amount of profit is available on the backend. We’re approaching and asking these people about their backend. Then I say to them, “give me all your leads and I’m going to process them for you.”
We’ve set up technology that allows us to give people a snippet of code that they put on their thank you pages that advertises our products and offers. They get paid on these $37 sales, and as soon as those sales are made, they go into our call center. From there, we contact the people, and we pay 20 percent profit on anything that goes through our call center. On average, a $47 sale can easily be worth $150 to $200 for them.
We have had so much success with some people that they’re simply creating new products, giving away 75 percent commission, and just creating a front-end offer because they’re happy to turn their leads over and make money on the backend with us. That’s where we’re focused right now.
Adrian Bye: Are you able to find enough people that can actually drive volume? How do you find those guys?
Mike Filsaime: When I’m asked to get on board for product or affiliate promotions, my involvement requires an exclusive ad for my products on the person’s thank you page. Then I pay them for any sales that get made for my products all the way through to my call center.
For every $97 or $47 sale that they’re getting, I’m going to make some sales for them on the back. It’s a win-win situation. They have me promote them, and I’m going to make them money by up selling their customers because they don’t have a backend strategy.
We also have a review site called MarketingProductReview.com. We have a PDF newsletter that goes out every single week to over 400,000 active biz op Internet marketing subscribers. When my JV partners ask me to promote for them, I’ll feature them at MarketingProductReview.com. In return, they put my ad on their thank you page. We’ve had great results.
Adrian Bye: How many thank you pages do you have?
Mike Filsaime: Right now we have 61 affiliates and what we call the Hyper Java Project at HyperJava.com. It’s a technology that manages these ads. We take a survey of the product price and the target customer, and then we design an offer for that customer. We then provide the snippet of codes to put on the thank you page. We can control and change the ad content and track conversion through the code.
Adrian Bye: Anything else then that you want to talk about here?
Mike Filsaime: We’ve developed enough content over the years to help other people monetize their sites and really grow our call center. I spent two years traveling around the world, speaking at seminars, teaching Internet marketing, and bringing people into our coaching program. I no longer travel but instead grow the office. We closed our coaching program, and I’ve used the content from my coaching program to create another product. Right now, we’re just under 30 people in our company. The last 18 months was a rapid growth phase for us, especially with hiring employees and branching out in multiple projects.