I’m thrilled to welcome the amazing Nathalie Lussier, owner of AccessAlly, to the show.
We take a deep dive into Nathalie’s bold move to delete Instagram from her life and put her focus on LinkedIn to grow her personal brand and SaaS business.
Listen in to hear how this social media switch impacted her relationship with content creation and learn some important strategies that showcase the power of personal connections on social media and putting the human touch back in your marketing emails.
In this episode of the podcast, we talk about:
- The beginnings of AccessAlly starting at 12 years old
- Using tune-up calls for customer retention
- The Software and a service business model
- The human side of your brand
- Why Nathalie deleted Instagram
- Nathalie’s LinkedIn strategy
- Building untrackable relationships on social media
This Episode Was Made Possible By:
Riverside All-in-One Podcast & Video Platform
Visit Riverside and use the code DREA to get 15% off any Riverside individual plan. We use it to record all our podcast interviews!
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Learn the LinkedIn Strategies that focus on building community, NOT empty attention, at the FREE 5-Day LinkedIn Challenge for Founders, Biz Owners, & Content Creators and give your LinkedIn a makeover, focusing on what really matters: meaningful and profitable connections!
From January 15-19, invest 5-days of rewarding work into setting your business up for a major success shift on LinkedIn. Join us here: https://onlinedrea.com/linkedin
About the Guest:
Nathalie Lussier is an award-winning entrepreneur who has been making websites since she was 12 years old. She graduated with a degree in Software Engineering and a job offer from Wall Street, but she turned down this job to start her own business right out of college.
As the founder of AccessAlly, the powerful digital course and membership WordPress plugin for industry leaders, she believes that access to education can help defy stereotypes and make the world a better place.
Watch the Episode Below:
Andréa Jones (00:00):
So many business owners and entrepreneurs are ready to ditch Instagram and replace it with anything else. So today I have Nathalie Lussier on the podcast to talk about what she switched over to. It's LinkedIn. Y'all know I'm excited about this. Let's get into it.
Before we dive into today's episode, I'm excited to share a little treat Riverside. Our sponsor for today's episode has given everyone 15% off any of their subscriptions. That's one five, 15% off. And we use Riverside to produce this podcast right here. It's an amazingly clean recording studio that is all done virtually. So check it out for yourself by clicking the link in the show notes and using the code Drea, that's Drea DREA at checkout to grab your 15% off. And with that, Nathalie, welcome to the show.
Nathalie Lussier (00:57):
Thank you so much for having me, Andréa. I'm so excited.
Andréa Jones (01:01):
I'm excited to dive in. But for those listening for a little bit of context, I actually heard Nathalie's podcast episode on the Get Paid podcast by Claire Pells, and I listened to the whole thing. It was like near the end you mentioned you lived relatively near to me and I was like, oh my gosh, we're neighbors. So I reached out and then in that episode you talked about your strategy, which is why you're here. But yeah, it feels like such a small world sometimes.
Nathalie Lussier (01:28):
It really does. It's so funny. I think we both moved probably at different times in our lives and then we kind of look up and it's like, oh, we live close by. That's so awesome.
Andréa Jones (01:38):
Yeah, it's so wild. It's so wild. So I want to start a little bit with your beginning because I find software as a service companies completely fascinating. I do not have the skillset to do that, but it's on my dream board one day. So what got you even into building Access Ally?
Nathalie Lussier (01:59):
Yeah, so it started super early. I started making websites when I was just 12 years old and I got the tech bug early and I ended up going into a software engineering degree and I got some internships on Wall Street in Silicon Valley. And then I kind of knew I didn't want to go down the corporate path. So I started my first business and turned down a job offer on Wall Street right out of college. And the first business, I call it my training business, it was not Access Ally, it was all about teaching online courses around nutrition. And I was totally self-taught, so I knew probably this wouldn't be my business forever, but it taught me so much about online business, online marketing, social media, and then also how to run online courses. And I kind of ran into some stumbling blocks and realized there aren't really the tools that we need to do this.
And that kind of led to creating Access la, which is a WordPress plugin for creating online courses, memberships, communities. And it's grown a lot obviously since those early days, but it was sort of scratching our own itch because we had issues with our website with our previous provider, and I was just like, you know what? We're just going to code this. My husband's also a developer, so we're just going to code this. We did it in a weekend to just solve our problem. And then over time we obviously added a ton of functionality. We started providing it and selling it and getting feedback and feature requests and all of that good stuff. So that was sort of a roundabout full circle way of me coming back into software because I didn't really start a software business out of college.
Andréa Jones (03:32):
That is so interesting. And it's so funny because several of my clients use Access Ally. I've been in the backend and then one of my clients develops websites specifically course and membership products, specifically using Access Ally. So it's like I feel like I've heard of it, I know of it. I've definitely seen you around and I'm so excited to dive into all of the things marketing for a software as a service company as well because it's a subscription based model, correct?
Nathalie Lussier (04:05):
Andréa Jones (04:06):
So the big question with all of this, well there's two big questions, is customer acquisition and customer retention. So when you first started, how were you getting those first customers and clients to trust your WordPress plugin?
Nathalie Lussier (04:27):
So we pretty much just marketed to my existing email audience and social media audience in the beginning, and we opened it up as a beta. So we knew it wasn't fully fleshed out in a full platform yet. So we had a first handful of people and then they gave us feedback, it got better, and then we started marketing it a little bit more. And I do think that we really ran off my existing audience and my existing connection to my community, and I don't think we would be as successful if I didn't have that already established. So that I think is key for us. We also did a lot of co-marketing with some of the integration platforms that we integrate with. So we did co-marketing with say, ConvertKit, active campaign Convert, keep an Ontraport, and that also helped as well.
Andréa Jones (05:14):
Oh, interesting. Okay, I'm going to come back to that. I'm also curious about retention is I own a membership as well. It's the big thing. It almost feels like a harder hill to climb sometimes than acquisition. So what are some of the things internal marketing that you're doing behind the scenes to make sure you keep all of the people or as many people as you can that sign up?
Nathalie Lussier (05:40):
So there's a couple of things that we do to kind of keep track of how people feel about Access Ally and how they're doing with it. So we obviously do onboarding emails and things like that. We also have what we call tuneup calls. So there's office hours where people can come in, ask questions, get ideas for what to do with the software or what else they could do with their courses and memberships and that kind of stuff. And then we also do a net promoter score. So that basically means it's a little questionnaire essentially that pops up maybe every six months in the plugin, and then we find out how people feel about the plugin. So on a scale of one to 10, how likely are you to recommend this to a friend? And so if people rate us a little bit lower than around seven, we'll reach out to them and we'll try to have a call with them.
So we do a lot to find out what's missing, what could be better. Is it our training? Is it the software features that are missing for you? There's just so many different things that could be happening that it might not necessarily just be the software, it could be something happened in their life and they didn't have a chance to get back into it. And so they feel like they're paying for it but not getting the value. So there's a lot of times that happens also for memberships where someone's like, Hey, something just happened. I'm going to need a break for three months. So we also offer that sometimes we offer sort of a win back, so you can pause your membership or come back later as well.
Andréa Jones (07:01):
Yeah. Oh, that's beautiful. And I love hearing things like that because I think especially when we think about marketing, oftentimes we think so much about getting the clients, but in the model of business that we have more emphasis actually on keeping the clients. There's a ton of internal marketing and touch points and things that we do. And the way that you describe yours, it sounds like a very personalized thing, which there's a lot of tools that aren't that personalized at all. They could care less if you went to another tool, whereas you're taking the time to have one-on-one calls with people and figure out where they are in their lives and create solutions based on their needs. Taking a break. I love it. It's beautiful.
Nathalie Lussier (07:44):
So someone on another podcast, Gillian Perkins was like, Hey, it sounds not just like software as a service, but software and a service. And that's pretty much what it feels like and kind of what we try to provide as well. So it's software, but we try to give that human touch as much as we can too.
Andréa Jones (08:00):
I love that software and a service. That's cute. I love it. Back to the external marketing piece, because I do think that comes first obviously, and from what I observe about the way that you approach it, you are still very much the face of the company and it sounds like it's been like that since the early days. What kind of made that decision for you?
Nathalie Lussier (08:25):
Yeah, so it's so interesting. I think it comes back to that human piece where people need a solution to their problems. So they need a membership solution or a core solution or something, but at the same time, they still buy from people. And I think if we remove ourselves completely from the business and we kind of become this corporate entity, and I think people don't want to do business with us as much, and we do get this feedback all the time, not just for me, but other people on our team and they say, Scott was amazing, Naomi me answered my question so beautifully. And we have this feedback of the humanity of our company. And I think that is something I never want to lose. I think it's actually one of our strengths. And yeah, I also think about this a lot where I see companies where you don't know who started the company. You dunno who works there, who does anything there, and it kind of feels like this. Can you really trust them if you don't dunno who's behind it. So that for me is something that matters to me and definitely part of our marketing as well because it's strategic, but it's also feels natural that way too.
Andréa Jones (09:30):
And I believe the future of marketing is going to be more humanity in how companies brands show up. And also, I know for a lot of people it can be very challenging. So how do you manage the challenging aspects of you being the face of the company and you backlash anything like that?
Nathalie Lussier (09:50):
Sometimes it can be tricky. So in 2017, 2018, I did something called an email experiment where I sent these daily emails. They were basically to our access ally general list. Not our customers necessarily, but just all the people on our email list. And they were sort of spicy, fiery emails of just what was on my mind about pretty much anything like climate, politics, you name it, just all the stuff that I had been sort of suppressing. And people would email me back and say, oh my gosh, I'm so glad you're stepping up for this. You're standing out and talking about this. And I've done that a couple of times, but I also kind of pull back sometimes too because I need time to not always be fiery and feeling all those emotions, but also to just do the work behind the scenes as well. So
Andréa Jones (10:42):
Yeah, I think that's the hardest part is opening yourself up that people feel like they have the right to also give you feedback along the way. And we've seen this especially in the past couple of years with a lot of the political tension, the social economic tension, even most recently, things like wars and the atrocities happening around the world. It can be very hard to navigate that. So today, how do you decide what to share and what not to share?
Nathalie Lussier (11:16):
Yeah, so it's always this kind of fluid in motion thing. I don't have a hard and fast rule. I think when I really feel called to talk about it or I feel like I have a perspective that might add to the conversation, and I feel like we all feel like we have a perspective that would add to the conversation, especially on social, it's always so easy to just hit post on something, but I really try to think about it, how would this land for people? Is it going to escalate things? Is it going to make them feel like there's someone else that understands what they're going through or what kind of emotions is it going to? So I think about this a lot have this saying of I don't send marketing emails, I send emotions and feelings, and I think I try to really process what I'm about to send through that lens because I don't want people to feel even more like, oh no, there's the world's on fire, all of that. So I feel like that goes into my decision making process. And sometimes I feel like I don't have any answers, I don't have anything to add, so I refrain from joining those types of conversations. So yeah, it's not perfect. It's a work in progress. But yeah, sometimes I feel like strongly about something and I feel like I have to say it.
Andréa Jones (12:27):
Yeah, I want to highlight to everyone listening that it's not perfect. It almost never is. And I think that's the biggest challenge with being the face of the company, being in marketing, is that there's this assumption and this leadership role that you know everything and that you can do no wrong. And so when wrong does happen, we misstep, we say the wrong thing, we do the wrong thing, people get upset. And so as leaders, all of you listening to the podcast, you're leaders. This is one of the challenges that we have to navigate. I love it. Okay, so we're going to take a quick break. When we come back, I want to dive into this deleting Instagram scenario when we get back,
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Okay, and we're back. So I know that you deleted Instagram. Tell me what sparked this drastic move.
Nathalie Lussier (14:29):
Yes. Okay. So I have to say I was using Instagram mostly for business, but a little bit on the personal side too. And I realized I was starting to look at things from the Instagram lens. So if I was out in my day-to-day, I would be like, okay, this would be a great place to take a picture or I need to put on a certain outfit or whatnot and take some shots. Or I would even, because I'm a huge gardener, and we moved to a farm and I was like, oh, my garden doesn't look as beautiful as those Instagram gardens. I should just start reorganizing my garden and planning it to be Instagrammable essentially. And I realized, what am I doing this for? And I realized it was just this kind of perfect aesthetic I was trying to aspire to, and it was causing a lot of stress for me. And also I realized it wasn't a good way to spend my time. And so I figured if I keep my account, I'm going to keep looking at it and I'm going to keep wanting to do it, and if I just delete it, then I'm free. So that was sort of my thought process there.
Andréa Jones (15:38):
That's so interesting. I think more and more people are going to do this in the future, especially too, the next generation, my younger sister, my younger brother, they're not on social media. They think it's really weird. They're like, why don't you just go live your life? And so I do see people going that way, generally speaking. And also I think it's interesting from a business perspective, because we may be using the tools differently, and I know you are as well. So you deleted Instagram, but you chose something else. LinkedIn. Why LinkedIn?
Nathalie Lussier (16:18):
Yeah, so I mean, this is almost philosophical, but not really. But I was like, okay, we've spent a lot of money on ads on Facebook and Instagram, and I feel like I've done enough for Zuckerberg, so I don't really want to do more in that direction. And so I realized what are the options? So there's TikTok, there's LinkedIn, there's YouTube, I'm sure there's others I'm forgetting. But those were the options I could consider. And I figured people who are looking for software, they might more likely be on LinkedIn than they might be in other places. And also, I had done a lot of YouTube videos previously, so I knew what I was up against on YouTube because there's a lot of competition for the types of content that I was trying to create around online courses, memberships and things like that. And written content is just way easier for me to produce than doing a whole video. So I realized, okay, LinkedIn, we're going to give it a try. And it's interesting because when I went all in on LinkedIn, I realized there's definitely a community there too. There are people who are also all in on LinkedIn and they're really growing there and doing cool things. And that also helped me see the potential of it too.
Andréa Jones (17:30):
Okay. So I love this decision because one, I want to highlight something is that you chose your preference of communication. And I think sometimes as business owners, we go for what people generally recommend, but you can do video, but video takes you so much longer and you're more likely to produce written content if it doesn't take as long and it could be just as effective. So I love that decision. And then I also love the values-based decision as well. I hear this a lot when I coach people through choosing a platform, and I go, well, what about TikTok? And they're like, absolutely not. Here's the reasons why I'm good for you. There's other options. And so I do think focusing in on both your preference and your values is super important when it comes to choosing a platform. Because if I told you, Nathalie, you got to be on LinkedIn, and then you go there and you're like, I hate it here, it doesn't matter what I say, you're never going to use it.
Nathalie Lussier (18:29):
Andréa Jones (18:30):
So you're on LinkedIn and you're on LinkedIn as your personal self. Yes. How do you navigate the platform? How frequently are you posting? What's your strategy?
Nathalie Lussier (18:42):
Yeah, so at first I was just posting a little bit more because I wasn't posting for many, many years. I wasn't really active. I just had an account when people got on LinkedIn, which was probably, I dunno, 10, 15 years ago, a really long time ago. It was more like the resume back then. And there's been a lot, lot of new features you can do. The actual, I think it's creator mode where you can post more and people can see your stuff a little bit more. So when I turned that on, I realized, oh, I could be posting a lot more often and people would interact more. So I ended up creating almost like a daily strategy. And some of it's short snippets, some of it is links to the podcast or to a video that we made or things like that. But the best things that we post tend to be personal stories or things that I've learned along the way and kind of sharing some of those things.
And also just kind of transparent shares of what it's like running a seven figure business and do we actually bring home seven figures? And the answer is no. And all of those types of things where I think people see the glossy top line numbers, but they don't see the reality under the hood. So I like to share that kind of content as well. And then so we kind of schedule out content about a week or two in advance, and I try to be as active as I can in comments and responding and have our little crew that developed organically of other people who post regularly and share each other's stuff as well.
Andréa Jones (20:10):
Okay. I'm going to get no for a second. You mentioned the word, we schedule it out. Who's on your team?
Nathalie Lussier (20:18):
So we have quite a few people on the team, but on the marketing side it's myself, Lacey Boggs, who we recently hired, and we also have a marketing intern. And this marketing intern, they kind of switch over every four months. So sometimes you can see types of images in our posts might switch a little bit, and that's because different people might be designing the graphics. But yeah, so that's on the team right now for the marketing side.
Andréa Jones (20:46):
I love Lacey, she's brilliant. So Lacey, is this, what's her title?
Nathalie Lussier (20:52):
So she's actually chief creative officer of words
Andréa Jones (20:59):
That actually fits her very much. And if y'all are curious to want to hear more about Lacey, I'm going to link to her episode in the show notes. How do you work together, especially as a personal brand? I get this question so much, so she's the wordsmith basically, but it's still your thoughts. So how do you collaborate on that?
Nathalie Lussier (21:20):
Yeah, so a lot of it comes from content that I've written from years ago. We have so much of it that we don't always have to reinvent the wheel. So some of my popular quotes and things we kind of just grab from existing content and she's awesome at repurposing and finding the gems. And sometimes our interns will also do that aspect of it. But yeah, we'll come up with what are we promoting, what are the types of themes we have going forward for the next few weeks or months, and how can we promote that? And then sometimes I just write the post and we just schedule it and it's simple as that. But other times, yeah, it's a bigger campaign or promotional thing that we're doing and she'll really help to figure that out, the cadence and how often and all of that as well.
Andréa Jones (22:05):
Okay. Oh, that's so beautiful. So for those of you listening as personal brands, you can definitely get help of this. You don't have to do everything. In fact, I think it's almost impossible these days to do everything. Okay. So you also mentioned going in and nurturing and building your network. Do you know how much time you spend on that any given day or week?
Nathalie Lussier (22:27):
I was trying to think about exactly how much time. I would say probably 20 minutes a day is average. There's definitely been days where it's like, whoa, a post blew up and I spent more time responding to people or nurturing that relationship like you said, or things go into dms and then there's a little bit more back and forth and that kind of thing. But yeah, I think that's probably about average I would say.
Andréa Jones (22:52):
Okay. And how do you know all of this is being successful? I think that's one of the big questions for a lot of brands is we spend so much time in marketing, content creation and engaging our community. How do we know that it's working?
Nathalie Lussier (23:07):
So I think there's this concept that I first heard from Tara McMullin on her podcast of value capture, where it's basically you really care about this one thing which is kind of complicated to track. So relationships or something like that. And then you kind of narrow it down into something that's trackable, like comments or engagement or shares or something like that. And you kind of lose the essence of what you were looking for in the first place. So obviously we look at numbers, we look at engagement, we look at how many new followers or connections I'm making on LinkedIn, we look at how many people, the post, that kind of stuff, but at the end of the day, important how it feels with the relationships that I'm building. So there's people, for example, on LinkedIn that I've reconnected with or connected with for the first time, and we've been going back and forth for a year of just sharing each other's stuff, commenting, that kind of thing.
And then they'll send me a DM and say, Hey, I just referred a client to Access Ally, or Hey, I think I'm going to sign up for Access Ally. And it's like, whoa, I didn't realize that could happen. Which obviously that's the point of social media for your business, that's what you're trying to aim for. But to see it happen in sort of an organic way that felt really good. And I don't think that's super trackable. That's kind of the downside of doing things this way, but I think that is the ultimate goal. And I try to remember that even when I look at, okay, how many new subscribers, how many new link clicks back to our website, that kind of stuff. It's nice, but it's not necessarily the ultimate tracking thing that we can do to get the best results that we want.
Andréa Jones (24:45):
Yes, it reminds me of, I think I talk about this a lot on my podcast, but it reminds me of building friendships anyways. You can't really have a spreadsheet of here's how many times we texted, how many times we hung out in person. Just sometimes it'll work, sometimes it doesn't. Sometimes you click, sometimes you don't. But if you're committed to making relationships and friendships, you kind of continue down that journey. And social media feels very much the same in that it's very relationship driven and sometimes people will send referrals, maybe won't turn into anything, but that's kind of part of it. And yeah, I love Tara McMullin's stuff. I'm a super fan. She's been on the podcast twice. I need her to have her come back to talk about her. I'm just so fascinated. But she's totally right in that it's like we try to boil down these relationships into tangible metrics like comments and likes, but it's a quality of those that really is what matters. Okay. So as we head into the new year, is there anything new that you're trying marketing wise?
Nathalie Lussier (25:55):
Yes. So you mentioned Substack. So that's something that's really on my horizon and it's weird. I feel like I want to say all the cool kids are doing it, but I feel like there is something to it because it reminds me a lot of the old school blogging days and I think that's what I miss. So I've been blogging a little bit more on La Lucy. Some of it's just stuff that I would send to our newsletter and instead to just post it on the site and see what happens. But there's no way for people to find your website unless you're trying to come up in Google search results or something. But a lot of times it's so competitive for keywords and if you're posting something that's a little bit more personal, there's not really a reason to optimize for search. And so yeah, I'm really excited about Substack personally, and again, it's kind of figuring out that balance between the personal brand and access Ally, because I would want it to lead back to Access Ally, but also not be just an ad for Access Ally. So that's something I'm going to be experimenting with as well.
Andréa Jones (26:55):
Yes, if you do that, please let me know. I'm so curious because Steps Stack to me, you're right, it feels like blogging, but it also feels there's such a social component to it. I know it's marketed as this email tool, but it's social media to me and so I'm so fascinated by it. It's like long form, it
Nathalie Lussier (27:15):
Feels like it's a new yes, long form. Social is exactly how I was thinking about it too. And I was like, would it replace LinkedIn or would it just be complimenting it or what would that look like? So yeah, there's a lot of cool stuff to explore there for sure.
Andréa Jones (27:29):
Yes. Oh, I'm in full on research mode right now and then y'all will hear it here on the podcast when I go all in because it's so fascinating to me. Alright, Nathalie, thank you so much for this conversation. I know you have a free gift for our listeners, this free 30 day list billing challenge is like you're known for it, right? So tell us about it.
Nathalie Lussier (27:51):
Yes, so it's basically what kickstarted the six figure business that then turned into Access Ally and all of that. So I kind of realized in my very first training business how to start building an email list, how to get people to sign up and all of the things you can do to get people engaged in an email list or potentially in the future a Substack. But that was sort of where I got started and I realized I want to set myself an ambitious goal for doubling my email list. And I decided to just announce it publicly on social media and I was like, okay, let's do it. And if you want to do it with me, I'm going to share everything I'm going to do along the way and come and sign up. It was very meta. You had to opt in to see, see the challenge and do it with me.
But it ended up being a huge success and I kind of went back and retooled it based on what actually worked, what people were telling me in terms of their results. And it became basically a short video a day for 30 days mini course, and I wanted to keep it free so it's totally free. Anyone can sign up at any time. It starts the day you sign up and it's super doable. It's not overwhelming or anything, and you can choose which activities to do and which ones not to do. And yeah, I really feel like it's such a great way if you want to build an audience and build an email list that will kind of help your business actually grow long-term,
Andréa Jones (29:08):
All of that for free. My goodness, y'all better go get this. I'll put the link in the show notes, but it's also 30 day list building challenge.com, so fairly easy to remember. But you can find any of the links that we mentioned today. You can connect with Nathalie in the show notes onlinedrea.com/ 2 8 7. Nathalie, thank you so much for being on the show.
Nathalie Lussier (29:31):
Thank you so much for having me, Andréa. This has been so fun.
Andréa Jones (29:33):
Yes, I loved it. And thank you dear listener. Thanks for keeping us in the top 100 marketing podcasts. Make sure you head out over to Apple Podcasts, Spotify, leave your five star reviews, stay, subscribe, stay listening. It helps us stay up there. I'll be back soon with a new episode. That's all for today. Bye for now.