Hey, friends. Today we’re gonna be talking about open loops and curiosity in content.
Before we dive into open loops and curiosity in content, I want to give you a little heads up about how we’re going to be formatting this post. Specifically, I’m going to be talking a lot about email, email, open rates, and the future of marketing. And, yes, none of that was mentioned in the title about open loops and curiosity and content, but it all goes hand in hand. And it all ties into the know, like, and trust factor.
Yes, getting attention is important. But if you can’t deliver on the promise, you’re not going to build up that know, like, and trust momentum that you need to build a loyal audience that isn’t just consuming your content, but eventually, actually, you know, consumes your paid products. That is the goal of being in business, right?
So with that said, let’s dive into the idea of open loops.
The first time I heard the open loop concept applied in our entrepreneurial world was when I was complaining. Actually, I was complaining about the pre-launch runway and specifically how it’s taught and Amy Porterfield’s Digital Course Academy. I believe it does a major disservice to most of the people who take that program, people who are diving into the course creator world, people who are transitioning from their one-to-one businesses into a one-to-many business model. And I believe it does a disservice to them because they mostly do not come from a marketing or a content background. And if you’re curious as to why I have an entire podcast episode, it’s episode number 105.
Now, around the time I created that podcast episode, my friend, Britt Bennion, who is a brilliant branding person as well, she’s got a great podcast, it’s called Posed for Success (and you should totally go check out her podcast), but she was in Amy Porterfield’s Momentum Membership, which is like the membership continuation of, of DCA. And she told me that while this conversation was not accessible to most of the DCA students, that it was something that was talked about in Momentum, and that Amy Porterfield said she couldn’t cover more of what a pre-launch runway was, because it would create an open loop.
Now I want to point out, I do not agree with teaching something that you cannot cover. Sure, reference it, give people other resources, point them in different directions, but don’t teach it if you can’t fully cover it, because then people think they’ve been taught the whole concept. So I don’t agree with how she teaches it, and I likely never will. But there is one thing that’s of note here, how you use content to create curiosity about an upcoming course launch, or any launch, you know, whether it’s a webinar launch or a program launch or a challenge launch, basically, how you use content to create that curiosity is an entirely different subject than how to actually create the course. And that’s why that was an open loop in that program.
So before we dive into how we create curiosity, let’s talk a little bit about what open loop means.
Because we are applying this to the online business ownership world. And Merriam-Webster is pretty dang confusing when they try to define this. They say, “an open loop is a control system for an operation or process in which there is no self correcting action as there is in a closed loop.” Now I have multiple issues with that definition. One, they reference a closed loop without defining it, you can’t use part of the word to define the actual word that doesn’t make any sense at all. So I’m going to go ahead and simplify that definition here for us. Let’s say the definition, at least as it relates to this post, is mentioning or referencing a subject without explaining it or directing people to where they can find an explanation.
And that was my problem with that whole pre launch-period. Right? I already explained that. I think when you bring up a subject and you’re not going to cover it, it does your people a disservice. One, it gets them thinking about something else and they lose focus on what you’re actually trying to teach them. But if you don’t say, “Hey, here’s the subject, I can’t cover it all right now, so go check out other resources here, here, or here.” If you don’t cover it in that way, when you reference something, people genuinely think they know everything they need to know about it. Even if you’ve seriously abbreviated topic.
So, since you guys know I love my meta examples. Me doing an entire post about open loops without defining what they are would have actually been an open loop, especially if I left you hanging with questions. And that right there is why open loops are great in audience-facing content and not so great in client facing content.
So what do I mean by that audience-facing content is things you put out on social media, things I put out on this podcast, basically anything that’s free to consume by the general audience at large. But open loops are not great in client-facing content. And that, as I’m going to define it, is anything people are paying you for. If you are doing a workshop, whether it’s 45 minutes or three hours, don’t put open loops in that workshop without saying, “Hey, this would be the next step, go here for that.”
If you’re going to do a group program, don’t have an open loop, if you’re going to do anything people are paying you for and think that they are going to get a full service result from that is not the appropriate place for open loops. But that’s not what we’re talking about right now. In this post, we’re talking about audience-facing content you are using to hook people into your world to gain value from you, and then hopefully, to pay you for further results and further value.
So as an example, I want to read you guys a post, or I should say, a post response I made in a Facebook group. So a little backstory here. I’m in a marketing Facebook group. And there’s a lot of people who aren’t marketers in general, but they’re trying to market things like their group programs and their courses. And as such, they have a lot of questions about how to do that appropriately.
And there’s a woman who’s got a brilliant program in this group, and she’s been facing some email open rate issues. And she posted something along the lines of “she’s consistently only getting 13 to 15% open rates on her emails, even though she’s adding value, even though she has been consistently nurturing her email list.” And for the purposes of this post, I’m going to assume by consistently nurturing her list, she means she’s been doing that for at least three months. And I’m going to assume that she thinks that she’s adding value in doing so.
Now, I want to read you guys my response to her because she was stressing about her open rates hovering in that 13 to 15% range, because it’s generally considered industry standard that you want a 20% open rate at least, meaning when you send an email out to your entire list, one in five people are opening it and reading it and consuming that content. Now, if you’re not well-versed in some of these exact numbers and standards, you might be thinking one in five is horrid. But keep in mind, social media is so much less than that. The average Instagram post is getting like 1%, 3%, maybe 4% of your actual followers seeing that post. 20% is pretty dang good when it comes to email.
So here’s my response to this person, I said, “In the last week, my open rates were 28%, then 17%, then 37%. It’s normal to have some variation. But if you’re consistently below 15%, there are three things going on. One, you need a list purge. Two, your subject lines need work. Three, your emails are not adding the kind of value that you think you are.”
Alright, now I actually continued on the post, and we’ll continue reading it out in just a moment. But I want to give a little bit of heads up here, I have been very focused on growing my email engagement for probably the last four months or so let’s say. And one of the reasons for that is I know about some of the upcoming iOS updates. And if you are not familiar with that, I’m going to briefly cover it. iOS 14 updates really kind of changed how privacy is taken care of online, especially as it relates to ads, Facebook ads, Google ads, Pinterest ads, and things like that.
But the iOS 15 updates are coming this fall. And Apple has said that they are going to make it more difficult for people to see whether emails are being opened. Meaning, if I send you as an Apple Mail user an email, I may or may not know whether you actually opened it based on how your privacy settings are set up. And they are going to be built into the iOS 15 update.
So surprise, surprise, a lot of people are worried about this. I’m not as worried. But if email open rates are no longer going to be as reliable of a metric. I’ve been looking at other metrics that I can look at: click rates, reply rates, and things like that. So I’ve been focused on building that kind of muscle in my business as a result.
So I’m going to continue reading my response to this post now: “For the first, that was the list purge. I know it’s hard, you fought hard to get them on your list, my list is decidedly smaller than yours. Because I am constantly pruning. Over time I’ve changed things, and my audience has also likely changed their lives. It’s just not a good fit anymore. Pruning more than half my list a year ago felt very difficult at the time, but it was the right choice.”
So I’m going to take a little digression here again. Yes, I legitimately did prune over half of my list about a year ago. And then in December or January or so I pruned another 25%. So my list is much smaller than it’s been in the past. But over the last year and a half, I also have made quite a bit of shifts in my business. I’ve moved from doing only brand strategy to building funnels for my clients to going full fledged into content strategy and building visibility plans that actually turn lookers into buyers. And as a result, people on my list from a year and a half ago, may or may not be interested in my services today. So that pruning is a responsible part of being a business owner.
Alright, continuing on with my post response: “For the second, and that was that your email subject lines need work, probably more variation. There are a lot of sources on this — message me if you want some ideas.
For the last, and that was that your emails aren’t adding the kind of value you think they are.” I talk a lot about this free value content isn’t what most people think it is. Now, if you’re a loyal listener of the show, you have heard a lot about what I think about free value content. I talk a lot about how free value content will put you in the friendzone. Because people think that they can get everything they need from you for free, rather than buying your actual products. So I have multiple episodes about content mistakes, and what kind of content to focus on in this podcast, because nailing your know like, and trust factors depend on the right content being in front of the right audience at the right time. Download my ContentRX, one of the easiest ways to kind of check out which content mistakes you might be making and which contents you want to focus on.
So that said, let’s talk about that free value, that it’s not what you think it is.
If you’re doing the wrong kind of free value, you’re definitely not adding curiosity when it is needed most and when is that? It’s when you’re adding people to your audience, and therefore your email list. Yes, I am calling it out right here. Adding more Instagram followers or podcast subscriptions, that is not necessarily adding people to your audience because those platforms can disappear in an instant. And I am not one of those doom and gloom people that says, “Oh, you’re going to get de-platformed if you say something mildly controversial.” I say mildly controversial things all the time and I am doing just fine, you guys. But you have no control over those platforms.
Really, the only thing you do have control over right now is the kind of list you are building. And this has been a thread going on in my head for a while. I’ve been really kind of noodling on it since May, when I listened to an episode of 7-Figure Small. It’s a podcast, it’s a brilliant podcast, you should totally go check it out. And that’s really where I got this first brain thread. It was listening to that podcast. It was an episode with Joe Pulizzi. He was the owner of Content, Inc. But the podcast itself is hosted by Brian Clark and Jared Morris.
And they were having a really good conversation about content in general. And it kind of moved into the territory of email. And I think it was Jared on there that said, “As a business owner, you cannot put your future in the hands of these large platforms that only care about driving shareholder value, and don’t care about you as a small time creator.” I love that quote. Because especially relevant right now Instagram’s just announced that they are no longer a photo sharing app. They’re a video app. And a lot of people are up in arms about this, right? They’re doing what’s best for them and they’re short shareholders. Facebook does not care about you, the content creator, because there are 1000 more content creators lining up behind you. They’re doing what’s best for them, not what’s best for you. And any business that has their own interests at heart and not your own is not going to help you gain better reach unless it also helps their business.
And then on this episode of stuff that you’re small, they talked about how it always goes back to email, and Ryan Clerk specifically said, “Man, is email resilient. It is your asset.” So I’m gonna say it right now here, email, may be the past. It’s that thing that’s been around forever back when we all had our, you know, Hotmail and Yahoo email addresses, right? But it’s also our future. Email might be the past, but it’s also our future.
And that, as it turns out, is why applying curiosity and open loops to email subject lines isn’t just a good example for this post, but a must-do marketing activity. Case in point, if you were to Google any list of email, subject line ideas, curiosity or FOMO-inducing subjects are always at the top of those lists. FOMO, of course, you’re just being like the negative side of curiosity. So if curiosity is how you get people to open your emails, it only makes sense that it’s how you get people to read the rest of your content.
Ask yourself right now, just take a quick section here and pause. If you are reading this post, and it’s not the most recent one available, like you’re reading it a month or three months down the road after it aired? Why did you choose it? The answer, the title made you curious. This is why I like thought -provoking content. Thought-provoking content attracts thinkers. And thinkers are the kinds of people who are going to do best with my paid products. And again, I love helping people. If you are a listener of this podcast, and you have no intention of ever paying me, I’m not kicking you off, please gain all the value you can from what I say in these episodes.
In the same vein, if you want results, and you’re not yet receiving those results, it probably means you think you know all you need to know about certain subjects, but you haven’t been applying it in a way that actually benefits your business. And that is why I have paid programs.
That is why I have things that talk about email hooks. That’s part of my social posts, formulas, which you can find in Content Lab. That is why I have things like content systems. So you can consistently show up with thought-provoking content that makes your audience think differently about their problem, and therefore puts you as part of the solution. All of that stems from building open loops into your audience-facing content and increasing the amount of curiosity you use.
Those curiosity-inducing headlines that you see that always end up on those lists, they work for a reason. And that’s because people want to know answers to questions. And that is what we are doing in Content Lab. That is what we are all about. We are creating a 90- or 180-day content plan for you that is built on actual visibility strategy, i.e, what kind of visibility is going to put clients in seats in your business, not just build you an audience of vanity metrics on Instagram or your podcast follower list.
I love my entire audience. I love helping my entire audience. But what I really, really love is seeing people use the things I teach and talk about to make money. And that is why I’m having such a fun time in the paid options that I’m offering right now because I am seeing my clients deliver consistent results.
If you are interested in using more curiosity in your content, come check out my free training. I affectionately call it visibility without the tears. It is all about how to compound your content. Take the ideas you have turned them into many, many more ideas and finally, get off the content creation hamster wheel because you are applying strategy to your content.