Pool care expert Matt Giovanisci struggled to make email marketing add up—and faced threats to revenues for his successful blog and YouTube channel. ActiveCampaign changed the picture in an instant.
When your swimming pool goes cloudy and immersing yourself in it means you can’t see where you’re going, you know you have a problem. But unfortunately, things can get very similar with email marketing. Just ask Matt Giovanisci. Matt founded Swim University to help people take better care of their pools and hot tubs—and spent years trying to find the right role for email in his strategy.
“I’d gone through these cycles of saying, ‘I’m really serious about email marketing’ to saying, ‘I hate it and I just don’t understand it,’ then back to ‘I’m really excited,’ and back to ‘I hate it,’” recalls Matt. “I was using ConvertKit and Mailchimp and found myself trying to save and resend emails manually. I had no way to automate the process effectively and couldn’t create the always-on, evergreen email newsletter that I wanted.”
A missed opportunity in email automation
Matt instinctively knew email automation would be valuable for growing his business. After all, he could predict exactly what type of information pool and hot tub owners would appreciate at different times of the year—and which of Swim University’s products and online courses would interest them.
“May is the start of the season for swimming pools,” he explains. “It’s the time when people are opening them up and finding them green and cloudy. That’s the moment when we want to be sending out 2 or 3 emails a week with tips on how to fix things. And subtle mentions of our pool care courses, of course.”
Those courses, and the revenue they bring in, are a lot more critical to Matt now than when he founded the business in 2006. His first goal was to establish a media company around his pool maintenance expertise—and he succeeded. Swim University is a website and blog filled with engaging and authoritative guides to every hot tub or pool-related topic you could imagine. It’s also a thriving YouTube channel with over 150,000 subscribers and Matt’s unique stand-up-style approach to pool wisdom. However, the changing currents of the media landscape meant monetizing Swim University’s audience became a growing challenge.
Clearing away the murk to find new revenue streams
“We were making money through another affiliate marketing program. When they started to cut the commission it paid to affiliates, I could see the writing on the wall,” recalls Matt. “In 2020, I lost 50% of my revenue from affiliate marketing. I knew I needed to refocus the business on selling our own products via the integration with Shopify, but I was still finding it tricky to use email the way I wanted to. I could never track whether somebody was buying something as a result of our emails. I could never get any useful conversion data.”
Matt urgently needed an email marketing solution that would provide the tracking and conversion data he was missing. “I’m kicking myself because it took about 15 years, but I knew I needed to use the tools the pros are using for email: ActiveCampaign,” says Matt.
“I’m a visual learner, and the visual nature of ActiveCampaign meant I understood things better straight away. I can click into an automation, see which emails are being sent, what time elapses between them, and what goal they’re all driving to. I can literally click on a subscriber and see their journey through the automation.”
With his view of the email experience suddenly clearing, all sorts of possibilities started to come into focus for Matt. “Joining ActiveCampaign meant I could finally get serious about sending evergreen emails, building out automations, and crafting the customer journey,” he says. “I’m starting to see the value of personalization. Now I can know somebody isn’t just a pool owner, but they have this specific kind of filter system that I can send them helpful information about. With predictive sending, we can set up a completely different schedule for subscribers who sign up from Australia because their summer is our winter, so they’re doing things at different times.”
As Matt quickly discovered, automation could do far more than just send out the right email at the right time. “It blew my mind that I could have an automation just to do the task of updating a custom field with the last time that somebody opened an email or clicked on a link,” he says. “That really helps with managing our email list.”
Building a new business model through email automation
The most valuable role that automation can plan for Swim University is converting website visitors into email subscribers, then helping turn those subscribers into buyers. When the cuts in affiliate marketing revenue threatened to drain the business of income, ActiveCampaign automations have kept the revenue pool topped up.
“When somebody signs up for our email newsletter, we send them a one-time offer for our products,” says Matt. “We use Deadline Funnel for that, which we integrated with ActiveCampaign. That means we can give them a different offer, with different deadlines, based on where they’ve come from and where they’re likely to be in their journey. For example, if they’ve come from organic search, we know they’re actively interested so we give them a 15-minute deadline. However, if they’re responding to an ad on Facebook, we’ve interrupted them in a different mindset, so we give them 7 days to think about the offer.”
Innovations like these have helped transform the profitability of the traffic Swim University generates—and alter Matt’s options for the company’s business model.
“The traffic to our pool articles dropped by around 10% last year, but the number of subscribers we generated from that traffic went from 1,000 to 15,000 thanks to automations,” he says. “We’ve seen a 66% increase in revenue. One of my concerns is that Google stops ranking businesses like mine organically because of their trend toward answering questions directly in search results pages. The difference with ActiveCampaign is that, even if my SEO traffic disappeared overnight, I could still run a thriving business through email.”
If you want to learn more about the platform Matt Giovanisci uses to grow his email lists and generate revenue, try ActiveCampaign for free starting today.