Food and email have an unlikely shared benefit: connection with others.
Maurizio Leo grew up in Albuquerque, New Mexico, surrounded by food and family.
“My family’s from Italy and we have an Italian restaurant here. The stereotype of making pasta with my grandma in the kitchen is true for me,” he tells me.
As a software engineer, Maurizio spent his days writing code but began craving something hands-on.
“I just kind of serendipitously found sourdough bread. Bread baking is analytical and precise. And when I discovered the science behind sourdough and fermentation, it really appealed to my engineering side. So I created The Perfect Loaf.”
Maurizio began writing and sharing recipes in 2013. Now, he has nearly 100 unique recipes, detailed sourdough and baking guides, and a baking community membership. He’s also a Resident Bread Baker at Food52 and has over a quarter of a million Instagram followers.
Shortly after starting his blog, Maurizio began growing an email list with Mailchimp. Besides collecting email addresses and sharing new recipes monthly, he didn’t do much with his newsletter.
“I never utilized it in any way because I didn't have a direction or know how to use the newsletter.”
But then Maurizio began to notice something. Aside from extra blog traffic, email presented another benefit: a relationship with his audience.
“I started to realize how much value there was in keeping this direct contact with the people that were interested in my recipes and guides. It was a way for people to email me directly and say, ‘I'm having trouble with this,’ or ‘why don't you have a recipe on this?’ It gave me a way to see into what they were looking for.”
So Maurizio sought to learn more about email marketing through a class on the topic. “They used ConvertKit in the class, and I realized the power of segmenting my audience and sending automated emails and sequences.”
He wanted to put his newfound knowledge to use, but there was just one problem. “MailChimp had some of that stuff, but it was so convoluted that I couldn't quite figure out how to make it work for my situation.”
In 2021, Maurizio moved his list to ConvertKit. Where Mailchimp felt too broad, ConvertKit made sense for him. “It’s really geared towards creators and people in my situation,” he says.
To make the switch, Maurizio used ConvertKit’s concierge migration. “I literally filled out the form, gave them access, and then sat back. In a week, everything was converted over and ready to go.”
Since then, Maurizio has implemented visual automations to send emails to his more than 81,000 subscribers. “It’s been extremely significant in terms of pageviews, and even revenue for the website. And I just feel like I’m more in touch with my audience.”
Here’s how he uses ConvertKit to stay in touch with his audience and achieve a 61% open rate.
Have an immediate welcome
“Sourdough baking can seem kind of daunting and troubling at first,” Maurizio shares. That’s why his first order of business after migrating to Convertkit was to set up a welcome series for new subscribers.
“I wanted to set up a sequence of automated emails for people coming into my website. I set up maybe 10 to 15 emails for people to give them the most important info upfront and give them as much help as they needed in the beginning.”
“The emails help onboard people and get them past the hard part so that they can start enjoying the process and see the value that I have in my website.”
Segment your audience
Maurizio currently has five entry points to his newsletter, including a website popup form and a footer on his website. Each of these forms automatically place a subscriber in his welcome sequence.
He’s also taken advantage of ConvertKit’s landing page templates. “I use a ConvertKit landing page for Instagram because it's designed super nice and it's easy for mobile. Followers can click right through it and subscribe there.”
These forms are just the beginning of Maurizio’s segmentation plans, too.
“One of the things that I'm working on is asking people when they sign up, ’are you interested in these things?’ Or, ‘how many years have you been baking?’ Then I can take that information and even more finely grained target them. For example, if they're a beginner, then I might give them a certain set of recipes, or if they're an experienced baker, I give them another set. That's the direction that I'm going to be going later this year.”
Create an evergreen newsletter
After The Perfect Loaf’s welcome series, subscribers move to an evergreen newsletter.
“I funnel them into an evergreen sequence that keeps them going for the next three to four months. I keep adding to that sequence as I come up with ideas or new posts, I just kind of tack them on at the end. And it keeps people engaged.”
Evergreen newsletters are a great way to give people a consistent experience without feeling the pressure to constantly create new content. Since you’re hand crafting the order that every new subscriber interacts with your emails, you can make something really engaging.
“Open rates are super high because I'm really in touch with the audience because I'm a baker myself, so I know what they're looking for. So I tailor that evergreen sequence to kind of where I think people will be at that point in the flow of things.”
Prepare for future products
Maurizio has something very exciting on the horizon in 2022—a cookbook. The Perfect Loaf: The Craft and Science of Sourdough Breads, Sweets, and More will be released on November 8th, 2022.
In the meantime, Maurizio is tagging subscribers who preorder the book. “I'm publishing a cookbook later this year, so I have a landing page for that. I don't have a specific sequence or funnel for that, but I tag those people. And later on down the line, I'll target those people with something specific.”
Invest in your audience
“Creating a newsletter is probably one of the best business decisions that I made,” Maurizio reflects.
Increased traffic and sales aren’t the sole draw to email, either. For Maurizio, email is all about connection.
“Even though I have a rather large social following that's great in its own way, an email connection to your audience is way more valuable. I can provide the help that I want to my audience through my email much better than I can through something like Instagram or Twitter. It's a different ballgame.”
Sometimes, that connection even finds its way offline.
“I've taken a few baking classes at the professional level, and there have been times when I've been at the class and have to introduce myself, and people will say, ‘Oh, you run that website! I go there for my recipes’ or ‘I've emailed you, and you replied, and I was shocked that you actually took the time to do that.”
In sourdough and business, time and patience create magical things.