Podcast – From Killer Emails to App-Building with Mike Newton

By April 18, 2013Startup

Killer Emails to App-Building with Mike Newton

Podcast – Shooting Photos and Making Coctails

Voice recordingThis podcast is a live taping of our San Diego – based startup group that’s been going for a few months with an impressive handful of entrepreneurs. A half-dozen of us sat around a wooden table while Mike Newton explained some of the things he’s learned over the last year, from writing an absolutely KILLER email for yours truly (the results were seriously impressive, and I’ll include the email below) to building a few apps; all this from the perspective of a sagacious marketing/sales person, and someone who doesn’t write any code at all.

See Mike’s photography work and blog here: www.hackingphotography.com

Mike Newton has been a savvy entrepreneur and friend for several years now. His background is varied, and includes


Mike Newton - HackingPhotography.com

Mike Newton – HackingPhotography.com


  • Huge sales experience, from success within the corporate workplace to a small start-up with big reach, here in San Diego.
  • Unstoppable networking acumen, always a connector
  • Part-time photographer, very into lighting and ‘the shot’ as well as candids
  • Mentor in marketing/sales to quite a few of us in the start-up group

I’ll list most of the links mentioned in this podcast including the amazing email Mike wrote for me at the end of this post.

In this podcast you’ll learn:

  • What thought process you wouldn’t expect, went into writing a KILLER pitch email
  • Why it’s so important to fail early and often
  • The most important book you have to read before getting into app building
  • Why a busy or cluttered space is most attractive and why to run if your idea is “totally new”
  • The good, bad, and ugly of outsourcing
  • Real prices and timelines for app building
  • How to choose a developer using online contractor sources like Elance or oDesk
  • Online contractors – how to determine if their portfolios are real or fabricated
  • Releasing an app with NO promotion – and thousands of downloads
  • Hacking negative reviews – how to make them your biggest fans
  • Hire slowly and fire quickly – What happens when you disobey this rule?
  • The new way of developing apps – NO code writing required
  • How to produce time-sensitive apps that sell, involving pop culture / events with no code writing
  • Buying freedom (passive income) and how much $ you really need to make
  • How to write an awesome eBook and market it
  • Diversification of income
  • How to protect your downloadable PDF from piracy and why you might not want to
  • Why and how to give away your best content
  • How Amazon can give your book away for free and you STILL get paid

Here are some of the links Mike mentions in the podcast:

Pat Flynn (Smart Passive Income): smartpassiveincome.com
Carter Thomas (Bluecloud Solutions): bluecloudsolutions.com
Photographing Food: photographingfood.com/
T hink Traffic: thinktraffic.com/

Right-click here to download an MP3 of the podcast.

The Killer Email Mike helped me write

Here’s the original email that I sent out, looking for some help. I really tried to make it great.

Hi Mike,

I could use a little help. I’ve compiled a list of the more than 2,000 bands playing at SXSW in three weeks.
This email is the first of a three-step process. 1. Send the email, 2. Click and go to my custom landing page (I am in the process of building this page) and 3. They sign up.
This email is crucial to getting interest. My #1 goal from this email is to achieve a CLICK on any of the three links (they all go to the same place:zankme.com/sxsw).
Could you please tell me what you think from a marketing efficacy standpoint? I’d really appreciate it.
The copy of the email is below the double lines.
The perspective of the recipient should be:
“I am a musician. I am going to be performing at SXSW, the biggest music conference in the world. I wonder if this would help me while I’m there?”
My response:



sxsw: Stand Out With Music Download Cards You Make From Home====================================================================================
Hi, this is for BAND_NAMEAre you looking for a unique, inexpensive way to promote BAND_NAME at sxsw this year? Music download cards are the perfect way. Zankme lets you make music download cards in minutes from home, all self-service, with very low cost and no ordering or waiting by the mailbox.Zankme download cards:

  • Are lighter and more eco-friendly than a bag of CDs
  • Work with your existing artwork
  • Let you know exactly who got your music, when and where
  • Are cost effective to distribute thousands

Watch our short video to see how it can work for BAND_NAME here.We’ll be at sxsw meeting our fans and making new ones. If you want to say hello, email us. We’d love to meet you.

Good luck with you music and sxsw.

That was the original email. Here’s what Mike sent back, and at the end, a screen-shot of the campaign statistics.

I want to touch base before SXSW (less promotional, more personal- higher open rate)====================================================================================
I’d like to meet up with you at SXSW, but was hoping to connect before it gets going. (personal- you are a real person and will actually be in attendance- first priority is meeting up in person and talking now is an afterthought- removes pressure).  I started a site called ZankMe recently so musicians could create music download cards to sell their music to fans, from their own printer, and it’s free to sign up.  This 1:30 video shows exactly how to get more fans and make more money at SXSW this year: http://zankme.com/sxsw.
We’ll be at SXSW meeting our fans and making new ones. If you want to say hello, email or call us. We’d love to meet you.Good luck with you music and SXSW.
Zank Bennett
Founder/Musician (I think its a big deal to get an email from the founder- musician gives further relevant credibility)
858.429.9265 (Google number with pre-recorded “ZankMe” promo voicemail including website, how it works, and action step).

I was shocked to see that BIG opening paragraph. Could that possibly work? Doesn’t it have to be much more bite-sized to be effective? Don’t people scan for bullet points with HUGE benefits and either love it or toss it? The only way to find out was to send it. I made one change and did just that.

The only change I made was in the salutation. I needed a way to address bands and managers, since my list included both. After much debate, I settled on:

To BAND_OR_MANAGEMENT_NAME band or management,

So, for example, a band names White Horse would have seen:

To White Horse band or management,

That was it! Did it work? The results below speak for themselves. If these numbers don’t look like much to you, check out some industry-standards.
Even a 5% click-through rate is astounding. Mike got me over 13%!!

Killer email click-through rates


If you enjoyed what you heard, please leave a comment. Thanks!

Join the discussion 7 Comments

  • mister j says:

    Dude, this is amazing and really eye opening! The personal touch that Mike added to your campaign has to be the key factor in the click rate, right?

    • Zank says:

      Mister J,
      Thanks for your feedback. Yeah, taking it from my technically-minded approach to something “conversational” was a huge adjustment, but, in the end, I feel the big leap that brought the huge percentages.

  • Mike Newton says:

    Guy guys, thanks again for having me. I really didn’t know if I could fill 30 minutes but easily went to the 60 minute mark!

    In regards to the email success – I’ve been doing this for so long that something finally clicked. I was finally able to step into the head of my list and clients and think about what they would want to read. They get hit over the head all day everyday with emails from companies that go

    “Hi ___. I work with (company name you don’t care about yet) we do ___, ___, and ____ (again, its about them, not the reader). We have been listed as (insert award/qualification or size of company we don’t care about because they still haven’t referenced anything about the reader or appealed personally to them).

    I wanted (again, look at all the “I’s” in this message”) to get a call set up blah blah blah.”


    I finally realized that the reader gets a million messages like this a day. None are personal, none are voiced like you normally have a conversation with a friend. When you write an email, start off with something relevant about the reader. Make the message about them, not you or your company. Ask to connect offline – you would be amazed how rare this is and it makes you a real person.

    The most important part – keep in touch. Set a reminder in your calendar to follow up with this person if you don’t here back. Many people won’t respond back the first time. Create a few follow up messages with added value, tips, or info outside what you do. The more value you add to someone without asking for something back, the more likely they are to start valuing communicating with you.

    Now go connect with some people!

    • Zank says:

      Great followup, Mike. Thanks for the template. It’s great to see the version of correspondence that so many of us ‘think’ works, and have you show how it absolutely won’t.

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  • Bo Weber says:


    You approached my bandmate and I while selling our album on the street during SXSW.
    We are constantly looking for new ways to reach people, and for our emails to radio stations, colleges, and press to stand out and be read. The topic is great because we can also learn from it, and change our approach.

    I initially came to back to your site, to inspect how you got your SXSW photos on the web.
    We’re looking to do something similar, or even somehow overlay the images from our Facebook.
    If you have any tips for us, that the web apparently isnt able to help us with, we would be very grateful.

    Talk to you soon,

    Bo Weber
    The Silver Heart Club

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