The Design Space founder Melissa Love ran her solo web design business for five years but found herself struggling to juggle her business with looking after her young family. In high demand with a waiting list of clients, she desperately wished she could free up more of her time to create recurring revenue whilst also serving small businesses who desperately needed access to great design but without the big price tag.

In addition, her clients often shared stories of working with other web designers who took a long time to complete projects, or struggling to edit their website once it had been built for them. Melissa had a lightbulb moment that would solve both her issues with time and give her clients a way to finally become the boss of their own website.

What if she created beautiful website templates at an affordable price that her clients could easily set up and maintain?

In 2015, Melissa launched her online store, The Design Space, and thousands of small business owners started purchasing her templates to take control of their websites. Amidst her success, Melissa noticed a new demand beginning to surface. Clients were enjoying customizing the templates but were keen to gain more knowledge about WordPress and get hands-on help with building their own websites.

“Everyone told me, ‘I love these and I love how they look.’ But I noticed they would sometimes feel that their site was lacking the polished look and feel that a professional designer would bring. So I thought, ‘What we really need here is to teach people the principles of design and how to customize their site and how to secure it and keep it up to date.’”

From selling website templates to an online course

Melissa decided to create an online course teaching business owners how to build a website, based on all her client questions over the years. She attended a marketing retreat to learn more about what she could do to prepare for the launch of her course. One night, sitting around a table with other attendees, the conversation shifted to building email lists.

Melissa knew very little about email marketing. Her email list had around two hundred subscribers, and as the conversation continued, she realized that she needed to grow her email list and connect with her audience before launching her course. When she asked the other attendees the best way to accomplish this goal, somebody suggested she try ActiveCampaign.

Melissa’s first step toward growing her email list was to create a lead magnet. She reached out to her network and asked them to share the lead magnet with their audiences. Her list grew to 1,000 subscribers in 3 months. Encouraged by the growth, Melissa used the ActiveCampaign Facebook Custom Audiences integration to upload her list into Facebook to generate a lookalike audience. This strategy increased her list to 5,000 subscribers within another 15 months. She created a second lead magnet, which doubled her list in a few more months.

Along the way, Melissa created a free Facebook group for interested leads to join. As her list grew, she realized she wasn’t tracking who was joining the Facebook group. Using the ActiveCampaign Zapier integration and the Group Funnels app, Melissa began tagging leads in ActiveCampaign who saw a Facebook ad and joined the Facebook group.

The need to keep a personal touch with community growth

As Melissa’s subscriber list quickly grew, she realized her community had broader questions about how to market their websites and businesses. She transformed her original website building course into a subscription membership centered around marketing advice. 

With this new membership program, Melissa needed to find a way to maintain a personal touch with her customers.

She uses ActiveCampaign’s automations to incorporate many high touch moments into the customer journey, including a link for subscribers to direct message her on Facebook or call her cell phone. 

Melissa also uses ActiveCampaign’s automations to know when to touch base with customers at the right time in their journey. 

When a new member joins, Melissa is notified to send them a personal video message using the Bonjoro app integration, and her community manager is notified to send them a welcome gift. If a member hasn’t logged into the course recently, an automated email from Melissa is sent to check in with the customer.

Looking ahead

“ActiveCampaign has enabled me to keep my personal touch with each client as The Design Space has scaled over the years. And I love that I can provide each customer with the experience and support that helps them scale their own businesses.”

“The more we tighten our lists and the more we hone those audiences,” continued Melissa, “the better our ads perform. Customers come into our world in a number of ways and there’s something for everyone. All of them need templates at some point, and all of them need help with marketing. We use ActiveCampaign to discover where they are on their journey and guide them to the right resource to help them.”

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