I asked our Certified Consultants:
“What business growth tip, strategy, or technique would you recommend to our community of users?”
… and we got some great responses. I tried to organize them from getting started to more advanced and specific tips.
The crux of marketing automation
The tip that i have for you today is the same advice i give to clients and prospects who tell me they want to start using marketing automation. They want to leverage technology and be able to do more with less; nothing wrong with those ambitions and i encourage them to explore further.
But, I remind them that marketing automation is not a “set it and forget it” method. It’s not a light switch that you turn on or off or justification for avoiding speaking with your audience. Here is the crux of the matter… you are doing well with your marketing automation when you see more opportunities to converse with your audience. Your MA is working well when you experience more engagement and more interaction between you and your audience.
Marketing automation is supposed to be an enhancer of relationships not a prohibitor.
Know your goals to know your strategy
In my mind, saving time and money is key. That’s why doing it right from the beginning is our goal. Often times clients come to us with their ideas, content, and automations, but it’s nearly impossible to work through. Most of these clients lack specific goals for their business and this directly impacts their strategy in the long run. Your business model will influence your strategy, which in turn influences your implementation.
We always follow 3 steps in this respective order: Organize, Optimize & Customize. Before you start to develop your blueprint, organize all your information (version 1 content, tags to keep track of, etc. on paper). Now that your blueprint is organized you can implement. Once your automations have been up and running for a few months, you can optimize and customize all existing automations and content.
A process for planning your automation
I would offer up my most valuable tip/technique when it comes to creating an automated system in your business. I do this everyday with my clients and it is so simple most people overlook.
The first step is to turn off your computer and head to the whiteboard. Using a couple post-its and your whiteboard markers start with the end in mind. Put the main goal (like make a purchase or schedule appointment) on a post-it that you can move around the whiteboard easily. Next write down 2-3 minor goals (watches video, opt-in, view webinar) along the way. Use these post-its and the all powerful whiteboard marker to sketch out your funnel. Be sure to plan a path for those who take no action! Include every step you can think of. Once you think you have it all done ask a friend to come review it for you. Rinse and repeat if necessary.
Now that you have this system done on the whiteboard put it in a tool like Lucidchart. This Lucidchart will be the master sheet for all the team to refer to during the build phase. List the needed links, tools, and tags on this sheet. Now you can go build the pages, emails and automation. You have now earned the right to open up Active Campaign and bring your masterpiece to life, and you will get it right the first time with less tears.
Map out your marketing by phase
When building automations: Less is more. Large, lengthy automations are a challenge to maintain. Not impossible, but challenging over time. For this reason, build your automations by marketing phase rather than all phases in one automation. Here’s how:
Map out your marketing strategy before you build your automations in your ActiveCampaign account. Use a notebook, whiteboard, online mind mapping tool, or whatever works best for you. Then identify the beginning, middle, and end of the strategy. Example: A common “beginning” is requesting your lead magnet and the initial follow ups (delivering the lead magnet and follow ups with your call to action). A common “middle” is the longer term nurture for those who have not yet converted. A common “end” is the conversion (purchase or whatever you have been trying to get your contacts to do) followed by an upsell, testimonial request, and referral request.
Now build 3-5 automations to represent these phases rather than one giant (eventually messy) Automation. Remember to STOP and START contacts in each automation as needed.
Systematizing your marketing
To systemize your marketing, you need to define at least 5 goals for each point of contact with your prospect/client.
For example, if you write a blog post, you need to define which 5 goals you want to meet by sending the email.
These goals could be:
- Increase expert position
- Social proof
- Promotion to prospects
- Promotion to existing clients
Prepare every point of contact by defining these goals. For each blog post, phone call, each webpage on your site, each social media post.
I created a Matrix which you can fill in for your business. Please feel free to add points of contacts and goals.
Then checkmark the goals which are used for the various point of contact.
It will take some time to complete the matrix, but I guarantee you that this will make your marketing stand out. Once you have this matrix as your guide, you can check every marketing element if the goals are met in the message.
ActiveCampaign is one of the most used tools to help you deliver great marketing. For each email or automation, you need to define your goals.
Reward your website visitors with something of value
Most customers visiting your website for the first time are looking to evaluate two things, how well you know your industry and whether or not to trust you with their hard earned money. Help them overcome both and reward them for visit your website by giving away a checklist, brochure, tips or other valuable information in exchange for an email address.
Add a email opt-in form to the front of your website and explain what giveaway they are getting, adding some imagery here really helps this pop.
Connect this to a list and automation set to instantly deliver your download right away and be sure to include some follow up emails on delay to keep you top of mind with your visitors.
Follow up on inbounds quickly!
I like to keep things really simple. Building complicated automations comes with time as you get more and more familiar with the capabilities of ActiveCampaign and what it can do for your business, but it doesn’t have to hard to ensure you get great results. In fact, there’s one VERY simple thing you can do with ActiveCampaign to ensure your probability of closing a new lead increases by a whopping 21X. Want to know what it is? Follow up within 5 minutes for any inbound enquiry you get!
I know it almost sounds too simple, but this one change in the way you follow up with your prospects could have a massive impact on your business. So make sure you set up a simple task or internal email to get people on the phone with your prospects as soon as possible with any automations you have that deal with lead response!
Reach out to your inactive leads
My tip for ActiveCampaign users is to never leave any prospect behind.
ActiveCampaign’s automation features are so robust that whether you’re tracking site activity or email clicks, you can get the answers you need as to why a prospect may not have taken the action you wanted them to. As much as I love marketing automation, I love a human experience more. Some of my best results (for myself and my clients) have come from reaching out personally (via phone, Facebook message, video) while the other autoresponders by “experts” are sending impersonal and linear email sequences.
Don’t leave anything up to guessing. Create a diversified and strategic automation that “extends the olive branch” when a prospect is unresponsive. Odds are, they just need a different approach. If a 30 second voice message is the difference between a forgotten prospect and a customer for life, it’s worth the extra effort.
Don’t forget your landing pages
If you’re putting countless hours into constructing the perfect copy, the perfect emails, and the perfect workflows, then it only makes sense to put just as must effort into your landing pages. Are you still sending people to a generic page on your site, or a page where they can easily get distracted from taking the desired action? When I evaluate a marketing campaign that involves any level of automation, one of the first things I look at are the destination pages. In other words, where are people being sent? Which pages are linked to? When automations are not converting as many users as they should be, I find that landing pages are often the culprits.
It is vital to create a custom landing page for each of your core offers. A typical page should contain just one call-to-action and be built with conversion-focused design principles in mind. For instance, strip out everything that is non-essential, use a contrasting color for your main call-to-action buttons, and utilize social proof. These are just a few quick tips, and there are many more where those come from. Here’s the bottom line: Make sure you’re not undervaluing the important role landing pages play in your automation campaigns. This is where the conversion magic happens most of the time. After all, the right landing page can provide your users with an experience that helps them take the desired action and move further down your funnel. Thankfully, there are dozens of landing page builders on the market that let you launch and test custom pages in no time at all, with very little design or programming knowledge needed. And many of them (such as Unbounce or Instapage), plug right back into the ActiveCampaign ecosystem with a direct integration.
Automating the onboarding process
Sometimes a process can be mostly automated with ActiveCampaign. Let’s look at an example of onboarding donors for a nonprofit organization that installs flags in donors’ yards for the July 4th holiday:
Someone makes a donation online, and the donor is added (via Zapier) to your ActiveCampaign list of donors. The donor promptly gets a welcome/thank you email. Shortly before the holiday, if the donor is not listed as a past participant, they are notified that someone will be out to install a flag pole mount in their yard soon, an alerting email goes out to the team member that installs the mounts, that team member specifies a date for the installation, and the donor is notified. The list of flags needed for the holiday is updated, and the team member doing the ordering is notified. The team members who distribute and install flags are notified. (Team members can export filtered contact lists as needed, of course.)
Shortly after the holiday, another message goes to the donor, thanking them and advising them that the flag will be picked up soon. Before the holiday rolls around next year, the donor is sent a message and asked to renew their donation. If the donor does not open or respond to the email within a week, the team member handling donors is alerted so they can decide whether to follow up or drop the donor from the system.
See the sample automation here which you can import into your ActiveCampaign account.
Using Goal actions to simplify scoring your leads
Our tip is to use Goals to score contacts and identify their level of interest. The great part about using Goals to identify your best leads is that you can minimize the number of automations you need.
To use goals as a way to lead score contacts, we assume that if the lead perfoms a series of actions on our site, it is time to contact them.
By defining the actions user can