Episode 72: Getting Started with ActiveCampaign

If marketing automation sounds great but you're wondering where to start...start here!


In this episode, we cover the how, why, and when of getting started with marketing automation. Listen in to learn how to assess whether or not you need marketing automation, and how to get started with a marketing automation platform like ActiveCampaign.
Ready to get to work? Take our FREE Getting Started with ActiveCampaign course to learn the basics and hit the ground running.


Chris Davis: 00:23 Welcome to another episode of the ActiveCampaign podcast. I’m your host, Chris Davis, and in this episode, I want to talk about something that may seem a little bit preliminary, a little bit basic, but most people have either conquered or are currently struggling with, and that topic is how to get started with ActiveCampaign. It’s a loaded question.

It’s a loaded question because there’s two folds. There’s two parts to getting started with ActiveCampaign. One is, do I need marketing automation and how to get started using marketing automation, and then the second fold is since I do know that I need marketing automation, how do I use ActiveCampaign, so hopefully at the end of this podcast, it will be clear exactly how to get started, why to get started and when to get started.

I’ll answer the when question right now. The when is now. The when is right now, especially if you fit this criteria. You should be looking to sign up and get started with ActiveCampaign if any of these things apply to you: one, you signed up and have done absolutely nothing. You’ve got a trial. Maybe the trial is expired so you sign up for another trial. Every time you hear someone mention ActiveCampaign, you’re like, “Oh, I need to do that. I need to get in there.”

You may even have contacts imported, but you haven’t done anything. Now is the time for you to get started. If you haven’t signed up for ActiveCampaign, but you keep hearing about marketing automation, but it’s so lofty, it’s so big and you’re established, maybe you have an email list and maybe you are comfortable right now with having all the checkboxes for marketing online done but you know you could be doing more and you know you could be doing better. The time is now.

Here’s where most people get caught up. When you’re looking to get started with the marketing automation, we’ll deal with that first, it’s often not easily seen the benefits of moving from nothing, or email marketing to full marketing automation. If you want to make this decision-making process easy, I would submit to you one question: how mature is your marketing? If we look at marketing in terms of people, you’ve got baby marketing, you’ve got teenage marketing and you’ve got adult marketing, and guess what? There’s tools for every level of growth in marketing so I would look at the baby marketers like email marketing.

You just have basic needs of sending emails. That’s it. Just like a baby. All I need is milk. Just give me milk and I’m happy. You just want to send emails. That’s email marketing. If your business is structured like that, do you need marketing automation? Probably not. Can you use marketing automation? Absolutely, but let’s talk about the teenager. The teenager is, it needs a little more than milk. It has some desires, is a little bit of independence but really still doesn’t know what it is.

A teenager, you ask them, “Hey, where you want to be?” Shake of the dice what they say, especially nowadays. You have no idea. And now we start to get into what I call the middle ground, which is more like advanced email marketing or I can call it email marketing automation. This is, “Okay, I need my basics of email marketing, but I’m not quite sure on if I need all of that stuff that marketing automation has, primarily because I don’t understand it or again, I’m comfortable with what I have set up.”

There’s tools and platforms for the teenage type. The question there I would ask is, what are you waiting on? This middle ground, there is no gray in marketing. You either go full-fledged marketing automation or stick with email marketing, but this middle ground, what it’s going to do is get you far enough to need and want more. That’s it. Now, of course, I’m speaking in absolutes, but we all know that there are some businesses that specific cases may lend to saying, “Hey, I can use this teenage platform for years. What are you talking about Chris?”

I’m talking about the majority. Then the grown-up, the big ones. That’s marketing automation platforms, and these are platforms that your marketing is mature. What does mature marketing look like? Mature marketing means I’m sending more than emails. I’ve got multiple forms of messaging. Maybe I’m doing in-person meetings and I want to track those and make notes on every meeting. Maybe I’m doing phone calls. Maybe I want to do some direct mailing, all different types of media channels or messaging channels I would like to use and compile all that data.

Also, what we’ll see in marketing automation is a shift from outwardly focused automation to inwardly focused automation. There are businesses, everybody, that adopt marketing automation and it has nothing to do with the customer facing experience. It’s all internal. We call this administrative automation. So again, the question across the board is, how mature is your marketing? How mature are your marketing needs? Do you need to send multiple messaging … I mean, do you need to send messaging through multiple channels? Do need some administrative automation? Do you need to manage data on the contact beyond just a preliminary first name, last name and email?

If those questions, if you’re listening to this and you’re like, “Man, it would be nice to be able to do all of that,” you are qualified, you self-qualified yourself right now for marketing automation because what is the goal of marketing automation everyone? For my avid podcast listeners, you know I did this series on scaling personalization so you already know the answer, but the whole purpose of marketing automation is to scale personalization, and the scaling of personalization means that I can talk to 1000 qualified people as if each one is an individual.

They feel that, and they respond to that type of marketing in ways that say, “Yes, I will sign up. Yes, I will tell somebody about this business. Yes, I’m so glad I renewed with your company.” So marketing automation allows you to go beyond the basics of email marketing, beyond just sending emails and collecting email addresses. It goes beyond that. Maybe there’s a case where you really need to collect name, first name, last name, phone number. Maybe you need to collect gender. Maybe there’s some other information.

Where does all of that data exist? What you’ll find is, in these platforms that are more premature, the little babies and teenagers, they have a really hard time storing that information efficiently, and that lends us to the other piece that really sets marketing automation platforms apart from the rest is the presence of a CRM. If a platform does not have a CRM, don’t you dare let them call themselves a marketing automation platform.

The CRM is a cornerstone to marketing automation and here’s why everybody. I’m going to say this. It’s going to challenge what you have been told and what you have been taught. The purpose of your marketing automation platform is not to send emails. It’s not to send messaging. Yes, I said it. The purpose of your marketing automation platform is not to send emails and/or messaging. Do you know what the purpose of your marketing automation platform is?

The primary purpose of your marketing automation platform is to collect data. If you’re not using a platform that allows you to collect and assess data easily, it’s time for you to go shopping. And this is one of the reasons why I love our platform because it does just that. It allows the collection and assessment of data collected very easy, whether it’s through our CRM that is very visual or it’s just custom fields, unlimited custom fields, on the contact record where other platforms are limiting the amount of custom fields you have, and once you’ve collected that data, then the next step becomes important. What’s that? Sending the data.

So the primary purpose of a marketing automation platform is to collect data, and then right after that, the next purpose is to send data. This is how you personalize the customer journey. I can’t call you by your first name if I’ve never collected it. I can’t segment you properly if I don’t know what you’re interested in. That, my friends, is the purpose of marketing automation. When you do that the right way, you see that the complexity of marketing drops dramatically. No longer are you confused with, “Who should I send this to,” or “Oh my gosh, they got two emails. Why are people unsubscribing? This is just not working.”

I would be remiss to say that a lot of this requires just some upfront planning. That’s really my transition into getting started with ActiveCampaign. Up into this point we’ve identified, do I even need marketing automation, how do I know, how can I tell? Well, how mature is your marketing? Do you just send outbound communication in your marketing and that’s it? Is that all you need? Do you need internal administrative automation? Do you need to collect more data on the contact record? Yes to any of those questions, yes you need marketing automation.

Since ActiveCampaign is a purely marketing automation platform, the next question is, how do I get started with ActiveCampaign? Well, I would like to tell you that one of the things that sets us apart from all of the other companies is the ability to talk to a human being about your specific needs and your specific place in business. The first step that I would say right now, especially if you’re one of those people that have that account and you know you should be using it, you’ve got your contacts in it, you just need a little help, there is no reason why you shouldn’t sign up for a one-on-one right now: activecampaign.com/training.

You can sign up for a one-on-one. We have a Success team dedicated for that exact reason, so that’s your first touch point. The second touch point may be a little self-serving, but I am confident that you will find immediate value from this, and that’s Office Hours. At this moment, we’re doing Office Hours every Friday at 1 PM central and the replays, if you can’t make it, you can always email your questions ahead of time, education@activecampaign.com. I answer the questions and the replays are hosted in the education center, activecampaign.com/learn.

I know I’m dropping a lot of links here but don’t worry, they’re all in the show notes. You’ll be able to just click and go right to them. So these are two personalized touch points. If you’re somebody who’s listening to this and maybe this is outside of the hours or you’ve got a one-on-one scheduled for tomorrow or the next day, but you need something right now, well guess what? We have a Getting Started with ActiveCampaign in Six Minutes video. This video is going to walk you through a quick overview of how you can get started quickly in ActiveCampaign.

This resource is available in the learn center as well, activecampaign.com/learn. But don’t worry, I’m going to place a link below this podcast of what we are calling our manuals. This is a new content type. It’s a manual, and it’s a Getting Started with ActiveCampaign manual that has all of these resources combined for you. In fact, on that manual, we created a Getting Started checklist. This checklist walks you through the first seven days of your trial, or your account, wherever you’re at, and it just ensures that you have everything that you need to get started, everything in place because how do you know that you’ve got started unless you can look at something and say, “Okay, I’ve done that. I’ve done this. I’ve done that. Okay, I have gotten started with ActiveCampaign”?

That’s what it’s for, so when you download this, you’ll see that it’s split up in eight steps. In each step, you can do it per day or you can do all the steps in one day, but they’re combined with two actions. Each step has a watch action and a do, so you learn something and then you do. You can print this out. If you keep it on your computer, everything is hyperlinks so you could just click the links right within the checklist and be on your way with getting started.

In other resources on this manual are help docs, podcasts, guides, everything that you need to know to get started. If you’re with another provider and you’re like, “Look, Chris, I get it. I hear all of that. But guess what? None of it matters unless I can migrate from X platform to ActiveCampaign,” well guess what? If you haven’t guessed it, we’ve got a service for that. We have a migration team here that you can talk to, and you can explain to them exactly what you’re doing. In fact, they will ask for access to your current platform so they can get a better understanding of everything that’s in place and what will we do? We’ll migrate your account for you.

Yes, you heard me. It doesn’t matter what tool you’re using, if you can take the time and explain to us what you’re doing, give them access to your current account, we can build out not … When I say build out, I’m not talking about porting, saying, “Hey, I’ve got this series that’s sending five emails. Can you build it out?” We will assess how to optimize it. So our migration team is not just simply, “Okay, you’re doing this over here. Let me show you how to do this in ActiveCampaign.” Absolutely not.

It’s all focused on understanding your goal and what you’re doing and then optimizing that with ActiveCampaign so you can hit the ground running because here’s the thing, we’ve all heard of the old adage, “It’s not how you start. It’s how you finish,” and quite honestly, I found the opposite to be true. When it comes to marketing automation, specifically, with getting started with ActiveCampaign, it’s really how you start because if you don’t start off right, if you start off with all of these lists and your contacts aren’t segmented, your app is not organized, guess what? The end is going to be failure, and failure in this sense is not necessarily business failure, which could be the case, but failure in effectively utilizing this platform to its full potential.

So it’s all in how you start, just like a relay. When they fire off that gun, if it’s the hundred yard … Let me say the two hundred to hundred yard dash, because it’s different if it’s a relay, that first sprint is crucial because very rarely are you going to be able to catch up. So getting started with ActiveCampaign is the most important thing to get right. Everything else you can make up for.

One of the things I’d like to tell you to do when you’ve got your one-on-one scheduled, ask them about the basic automations you should have in place because there are some fundamental automations and some tags and everything that you need, that every account should have, that your success team member will be able to walk you through. This is how to get started with marketing automation in ActiveCampaign, and I want to tell those of you who may think that there is just so much going on, there’s so much I can do, there’s so many people out right now talking about what they’ve done in showing all of these fancy things.

I submit to you, just start with one or two things. If marketing automation is a mountain of nuggets, it’s a mountain of things that can be done, but guess what? All you need is one or two of those nuggets, execute on them effectively, and you’ll be just fine, my friends. Don’t over complicate it. We are here to help. Use us as your guide, your aid to get started so that your business will grow. I promise you, I guarantee it, put my stamp of approval on it, and I hope to see you all consume these resources, attend Office Hours and get your one-on-one schedule. Deal? Good.

If you’re not subscribed to the ActiveCampaign podcast, now is the time. This is my personal invitation to you. Yes, you who are listening for the first time, or maybe you’ve been listening to quite a few episodes already and you’re not subscribed. Listen, there is no reason to wait. If you haven’t caught a theme, if you haven’t understood the theme of this podcast, is to inform you to take action. The action that I want you to take is go to iTunes, Stitcher Radio, Google Play, Sound Cloud, wherever you desire to consume podcast, just make sure that you are subscribed to the ActiveCampaign podcast, and if you haven’t left a review or a five-star rating, please do so. Please do so.

I read each and every one of those personally, and want to thank all of you that have taken the time to do that, on all platforms, every single platform. It is greatly appreciated, and you are the focal, every single one of you with businesses who want to grow the right way, you are the focus of this podcast so tell a friend. Tell a friend, tell a business partner, tell an associate about this podcast, how it’s impacting you so we can impact more.

Last but not least all of these podcasts can be found at activecampaign.com/podcast. Bookmark that, save it. You’ll have access forever to all of these podcasts. This is the ActiveCampaign podcast, the small business podcast to help you scale and propel your business with automation. I’ll see you on the next episode.