You won’t last a day trying to manage your digital marketing efforts — organic or paid — without the help of the right set of tools to build the all-important sales funnels.
Marketers like to call any bunch of tools used as a marketing stack (and you can call it whatever you want). To succeed with your digital marketing efforts, you essentially need funnels (of all kinds), and you’d need the right set of funnel building tools too.
The funnel is simple and usually looks like this (and there’s no need to complicate this one, no matter what reasons you manage to bring up).
You could choose to go the dumb route for each step of that funnel or you can choose to be smart.
Every step of that funnel will need precision, attention to detail, hard work, and continuous optimization — you are never going to land on the perfect funnel and you are never going to get it right the first time around.
To make your life easier, hire professional agencies (not the dumbass ones that just put up ads or write one blog post for you per month).
Either that or you do it yourself with the help of some really smart tools purpose-built to make your sales funnels or lead funnels work.
Even professional agencies use these tools when they set about working with you. I know because I use some of them too.
Here are some of those awesome digital marketing tools you’d need for your digital marketing efforts:
MailChimp, Campaign Monitor or Drip:
You can ignore email marketing all want but you won’t get anywhere. Social media won’t beat it. Your paid advertising won’t beat it. Email marketing is the real money-maker. Period.
The first — and the most important – part of your funnel is your email service provider that allows you to send broadcasts, RSS-to-email campaigns, regular campaigns, and automation sequences.
If you have a simple business, an e-commerce store, or a brand that relies on pretty looking email templates (not everyone needs these, like I don’t), there’s no better way to start building your list and grow your subscriber base than by using MailChimp.
Nothing comes close to MailChimp for the sheer ease of use, the price (free for 2000 subscribers), and the popularity (meaning which almost everything else you might use works with MailChimp).
Running an eCommerce store? Need to work with lots of visuals? Do you need great customer support? Then look no further than Campaign Monitor (also comes with visual workflows and marketing automation).
If you have anything slightly more complicated that won’t fit into singular lists, you’ll need Drip.
Drip uses tags and advanced workflows to make this marketing automation work, so it’s a worthy option.
I make about 6-7 different offers depending on which page of my website you are on or which blog post you read. I have to use a combination of Sumo and Drip to make that work. Also, it’s hard for me to use lists (like MailChimp) and it’s easier to manage tags (like we do in Drip).
Another worthy mention should go to Convertkit. They are incredibly good and there’s not much difference between Convertkit and Drip (except maybe a slight difference in pricing).
Emails are critical, and I suggest you stop reading and get your email marketing in order. But it’d be nice if you had more smart tools working in different ways to get you the results you seek.
Growthfunnel goes a little beyond what you normally see on websites today. Instead of just relying on pop-ups and letting visitors just take one single action (and get done with it), GrowthFunnel lets you do more.
“With Drift on your website, any conversation can be a conversion. Instead of traditional marketing and sales platforms that rely on forms and follow-ups, Drift connects your business with the best leads in real-time, like a virtual assistant for your website.”
Start using drift if you don’t just want to say “Hi” and then “not appear”, maybe Drift can help?
Convertflow works a wee bit different compared to others on this list.
Using smart-looking conversational pop-ups, you could have people take action, respond to your questions, and make visitors “flow-through” well-defined sequences.
Here’s an example:
The reason why this works beautifully is that there’s much less resistance to clicking on one of those blue buttons. If I clicked on “growing my agency”, I’d go to a page on Convertflow website that specifically addresses my concerns (as an agency).
Convertflow also helps with “On-site retargeting” by personalizing content and offers based on details of returning visitors, subscribers, or customers.
You’ve heard about social proof and you already know that we humans tend to trust, believe, and go with what 100,000 others think, do, or say. Normally, you have limited options such as testimonials and slapping 16 logos on your landing page or website to let the world know just how popular your product or service is.
Proof gives you a smart, non-intrusive, and an easy way to improve your conversions and results with a tiny little pop up that slides up from below your website to let your visitors know how many people are viewing the page you are viewing, little details who just happened to purchase a paid account or signed up for a free trial.
Here’s how it looks like:
Which of these conversion-centric tools to help build muscle for your funnels do you use and why?
Do you take 48 hours or more for a blog post? Do you go back and forth gazillion time with your web developer just to get your website running the way it should? Do you repeat the same “Do this, do that, change this, change that” routine with your graphic designers to create visuals, graphics, and branding assets?
You are doing no good that way. Your perfectionistic streak is hurting efficiency and speed. Your insistence on colors and shapes is costing money and time.
Then, there are a thousand other things that are critical for your digital marketing success but you can’t afford to spend three years on at the same time.
You have to make some decisions quick. Here are a few tips:
This is 2017, and if you are still chasing shared hosting just because you’d like to cut some corners and save on bills, you are hurting yourself. For one, your journey with those shared hosting platforms would feel like a dream date until shit happens.
Most shared hosting providers come with hosting that’s unbearably slow. Plus, their servers are overloaded (because it’s cheap, Charlie), which makes your site even slower.
You shouldn’t have to think, blink an eye, or take a smoke break to think about this.
Pick any of the following, indulge in a few clicks, and you are up and running on rock-solid web-hosting in no time. After that, never worry about hacking, malware attacks, the fact that you didn’t backup your site, and page loading speeds.
If you still insist, at least go for NameCheap’s hosting (only because they have fantastic support).
If you have to create a new website today, what would you do?
After years, I’ve come to a few simple options:
Use webflow and create an HTML/CSS. Great support, blazing-fast websites, and an incredibly sleek (and functional) web page builder. Webflow also has a CMS, should you want to do blogging and such (which you should).
Use WordPress. Really, don’t even second guess it. You could spend years just trying to catch up on the WordPress Sucks and Alternatives to WordPress posts, but that won’t help your business.
If both of the above doesn’t work. Try DIY website builders. Not all of them are as good as they are made out to be, though.
Every platform has limitations. Take it or leave it.
Then, easy doesn’t mean it’s the best: For instance, Wix owns everything you create and you can’t move out of that box, for instance (the fact that Wix is popular worries me).
Weebly, however, let’s you export your Weebly website (along with the images and content) out to WordPress maybe? Take 30 mins. Take your pick.
Complete your website in a week maximum. Anything more than that is a sin.
Logo & branding
You don’t need a fancy Branding Consultant for your small business. You just have to spend a weekend over coffee, ponder over what you want your brand to represent (and how you are going to present it), and fire up tools like Logojoy to get your logo in minutes.
Plus, you also get a brand kit, your logo rendered in various colors (including the black and white versions), custom social media graphics created with your new logo, and you can always go back and edit your own logo for free.
You can also use TailorBrands and get your logo along with other graphics, corporate identity kits, brand books, and more.
Within an hour, you should have everything you need for branding. Period.
Digital Marketing Assets
You can’t spend forever on a blog post, a social media update, an infographic, or what have you.
You can’t afford to go slow on that. Plus, you aren’t lining up for the Pulitzer Prize, are you?
Since digital marketing requires you to crank out content with efficiency, impact, and speed, you can’t always be going back and forth with graphic designers. Neither do you have the privilege of learning Photoshop.
For content, either write yourself or hire me and I’ll write until your server crashes
For graphics, use Canva, Crello, or Stencil — any of those tools could give you graphic design superpowers, at speed.
When it comes to landing pages, use Unbounce and you also get A/B testing with it. You can also use Thrive, Leadpages, Instapage, and others.
You need commitment to digital marketing. Don’t expect to get 6 posts up on your blog and then hope for the world to come beating at your door.
This applies to paid marketing channels such as Facebook ads and Google Adwords also. Just because you throw money at Google or Facebook doesn’t mean you’ll do it right.
What are some of those things that you are guilty of spending precious time over?
Chances are that you have a few Google Adwords campaigns up and running as you read this. Or maybe you never tried it at all because Paid advertising requires you to invest upfront for relevant traffic.
Even worse, you tried to do some paid advertising with Google Adwords but gave up after you realized that your budget ends up getting spent faster than the time it takes for you to create a Google Adwords Ad.
While it’s incredibly easy to setup a Google Adwords campaign, it’d be just as hard to deploy campaigns when you have to do it the right way. Most shady PPC agencies don’t bother with it.
Businesses don’t know any better (no matter what they think they do).
It’s been more than a decade since Google Adwords has been around and it’s remarkably stupid if you don’t take the time to setup your Google Adwords campaigns the right way. Here are a few things you should absolutely do to help squeeze more out of your Google Adwords Ads.
Setup Your Google Campaigns Right
I know you’ve read this before, but since absolutely no one seems to have paid any attention, this bears repetition: set up your Google Adwords Campaigns right.
Don’t start with Google Adwords’ default settings (unless it makes sense, as it happens in some cases). For instance, don’t set the default for “ad rotation” as “let Google show the best performing ads”. You need to rotate ads Indefinitely and start with 2 ads (and not three) so that you can test two ads at a time.
Group your ad groups and keywords tight.
Run one campaign for one geographic location (unless those countries are close to each other or if the target audiences share similar characteristics — like the United States and Canada, for instance).
Before launching campaigns, there are certain housekeeping tasks that you’d need to do. You can’t skip this.
Make sure you have specified your audience sources and that you are building your audiences on Google Adwords. You might want to specify your landing page URL as one audience source. You’d have your website URLs as another standard audience source. When you specify URLs and tell Google AdWords to track your audiences, you’d also be already for Google Remarketing campaigns when you want to go at it.
Since you are dealing with Google Adwords, you’d need to track your conversions. To do that, you’d have to install the Google Adwords Conversion Tag the right way.
Watch this video below and learn how to do just that:
It’s remarkable just how many businesses don’t use extensions at all. It befuddles me to even think of the lost opportunity with extensions. Google Adwords provides with the following extensions that you can use at campaign level or at adgroup level.
Sitelink extensions (link along with descriptions to various pages of your website such as your blog, gallery, reviews, testimonials, product pages, etc).
Callout extensions ( little calls to action like “Grab your offer now”)
Structured Snippet Extensions ( possible for few cases like Featured hotels, courses, degree programs, brands available, or your service catalog etc).
App extensions (Have an app?)
Review Extensions (links with your Google+ or Google Business Manager)
Using extensions ensures that you are adding more relevant information to your Google adwords campaigns or ads. Automatically, you also enjoy more real estate on the search engine page than a normal ad would.
See examples here:
Get the match right
Setup your keywords with “broad match” and you’ll run out of your modest budget even before your campaign starts (rhetorical).
In some cases (low volume keywords or for generating traffic — and not conversions), broad match keywords do make sense. For all other cases, use Phrase match (add “” quotes around your keywords) and exact match (Put [square brackets] around your keywords).
No Funnels? No Campaigns
If you are planning to create an ad to send traffic to a website or an ecommerce store, you are doing it wrong.
Don’t. Ever. Launch. A. Campaign without a funnel in place.
I’ve written about funnels before, so do check out the links below:
I work out of a shared office and so there are usually other entrepreneurs around me. For several years, I’ve actively avoided making any sort of small talk or active networking in shared office spaces because I meet many wantrepreneurs than entrepreneurs. The kind of people I meet – I am sorry to say – can only suck your life out of you. I have written about these specific types of wantrepreneurs on LinkedIn earlier.
On a random Saturday, I was on a course-taking mode doing nothing but taking all sorts of courses all day long. Facebook Blueprint, Convertkit’s Launch Your Own Business Masterclass, and many others.
One guy casually walked up to the spot where I usually sit and popped this question: “What do you do?”
Me: I run a digital marketing agency.
Him: Businesses don’t need a digital marketing agency, do they? We can do it everything ourselves.
Me: Yes, of course, you can.
Him: You have lots of competition too, don’t you?
Me: In a way, generally speaking, yes. But I don’t mind competition.
Me: What do you do?
Him: I am creating an app – an aggregator of sorts.
Me: Awesome. Good for you.
The talk was trash. There wasn’t any takeout at the end of it all. I hated every bit of that conversation. One point stood out: his vehement denial that a “business doesn’t need a digital marketing agency”.
Businesses need digital marketing agencies. Here’s why:
You know shit
So this guy, in the middle of the conversation, said everything I was hoping he wouldn’t.
We hire writers to write for our blog. We only pay $1 per blog post. It’s another thing that I’d have to sit down and edit or rewrite everything myself.
I have an in-house team of digital marketers. We run ads on Google and Facebook. We only do advertising for brand recall.
A/B testing? Bah, my business doesn’t need that. We have unlimited funding (Who is the jackass who is funding you asshole?)
The trouble with digital marketing is that absolutely everyone can claim to be an expert at it – knowing whatever they know and clinging on to it like God has spoken.
Sadly, you bring the same knowledge to your business. You throw money. You hire monkeys. You do shit all the time thinking you are doing the right thing.
How many wrongs will you do until you get a right?
You are an entrepreneur, not a marketer
You are in business and it’s your business to manage your business. Unless you are a digital marketing freelancer, SEO professional, founder/co-founder of a digital marketing agency, you wouldn’t deal with marketing on a daily basis. For instance, I am a digital marketing professional and I also have the responsibility to do all the marketing needed for my own agency. So, I have a dual role here.
For tax consultants, lawyers, salon owners, real estate consultants, and all other business owners out there, marketing is not what they are good at.
Some of you try to do it by yourself (and that’s your call) but that’s not what you are good at.
If you attempt DIY, you’ll fail
Even if you happen to “know a lot about digital marketing” it doesn’t imply that you should do it yourself simply because you just can’t.
If you did, you’d not have the patience to do it the right way – the kind of stuff you’d need to do on a consistent basis to ensure that you get the results you seek.
You don’t have to write like Stephen King but you’ll be just as good as him when it comes to the volume of writing (for blog posts, other content) you’d have to do. You won’t have the time to spend on social media. For many folks, the marketing technology stack – and to deal with it – is enough to make you give up.
Your time is better spent elsewhere
Digital marketing is a full-time thing. You’d have produce so much content that it never ends, technically. You’d then have to spend time (and do the work) for social media, setting up email marketing and marketing automation, build landing pages, manage ad campaigns, worry about conversion optimization, and more.
Do you have the time to do that? If you do, who the heck is going to run your business?
You are your biggest bottleneck
Good digital marketing depends on data. Decisions are made based on trials, experimentation, and a considerable amount of failure.
If it were left to you and I, we’d be making decisions based on emotions. Or based on what mom told us. Or perhaps you have a friend who knows someone who knows someone else who dabbles with digital marketing, and this friend told you something crappy.
In any way you look at it, you are truly a problem for your own good. You are a bottleneck when it comes to your business and digital marketing specifically.
Your opinions and mine, they don’t count.
What counts is how digital marketing helps your business grow. Do yourself a favor and let professionals and digital marketing agencies do what they are supposed to do.
The advocate the need to get rid of all the crap you hoarded in your life.
I followed their advice (what I really did is content for another post)
I’ve forced myself to become a minimalist. It feels good.
But wait, the fetchprofits blog isn’t about minimalism right? It’s about digital marketing, for god’s sake. Why are we discussing minimalism here?
The answer is easy: because you hoard up ideas and thoughts when it comes to digital marketing (just like you end up buying a house you don’t need, a car you’ll buy, and buying yourself a 55-inch smart television set because you choose to).
Following the ideas and thoughts, you’ll also end up doing a little too much with your digital marketing.
You spend hours and days perfecting things you shouldn’t have to.
You fuss over words and sentences when writing for your blog (or when others write for you)
You stick to your stupid opinions, whims, and fancies when designing landing pages for your campaigns.
You shouldn’t have to hoard up stuff into your digital marketing workflow. It’s time you go minimalistic with your digital marketing.
Allow me to simplify it for you:
For organic marketing,
You’ll need to write and publish high-quality posts on your blog regularly. Throw in a dash of personality (just be yourself) and link to other bloggers and research while you are at it.
Share what you publish on social media. In addition to that, connect with others (small talk, say hello, say wow) while you are there.
Give something away for free (or for less) and grow your email list. Why? Because you can nurture your list of subscribers who’ll eventually buy from you.
Repurpose your blog posts (in other formats like video, slide decks, and infographics) for a few other platforms where your potential customers hang out at.
For paid advertising
Choose an appropriate platform for paid advertising (Is Facebook advertising right for you or is it Google advertising?
Think of an offer you can make. Build your campaign around that offer.
Always create ads in pairs (for testing them out). Likewise, create landing pages (again in pairs) to match those ads.
Collect leads — make sure you integrate your landing pages with your email service provider (like Mailchimp, Campaign Monitor, and Drip)
Nurture leads (10:1 ratio — which means that for every 10 emails you send out, only one or two emails have soft pitches or direct sales content).
Sell and track your sales.
Admittedly, it’s not as easy to implement all of the above as it is to read. The point I am making, however, is that there’s nothing more you need than this.
Here’s how exactly you should approach digital marketing with a minimalistic mindset:
Content Creation: Focus on quality & efficiency
Quality is subjective; efficiency is not.
Normally, many bloggers and businesses do believe in producing quality content. They forget efficiency though. Fussing over grammatical mistakes, worrying whether or not you should use specific words or sentences, spending 7 days on editing a single blog post, and banging your head on the wall to determine a publishing frequency — these habits slow you down.
Develop a process for content publishing, social media, and for sending out emails. Automate what you can and stop worrying incessantly about the quality.
You’ll get better with time.
Take emotions out. Put data in
I like red. Use red.
I want video on top. Content at the bottom. No copy. Button should say “I am a button”.
Too many businesses spend too much time (and waste it) over stupid things like button colors and landing page layout.
Those are important things only if your continued A/B testing results push you to that conclusion.
Worry about buttons when your data tells you to.
Care about graphics when your previously used graphics don’t seem to deliver.
Take emotions out of copy, design, and implementation of your digital marketing workflows.
Use data to make decisions.
Don’t over complicate Stuff
I want to use Wix with Sumo.
I want to use Unbounce to build a website with 76 pages full of content.
Build my website on Wix. Then, make it load fast.
Platforms have limitations. Everything has limitations.
If you find yourself choosing one platform over another, prepare to sacrifice something for something else.
Wix, for instance, doesn’t work with Sumo. It just won’t.
Unbounce is a tool to build fantastic landing pages; not for building websites.
If you use fully-hosted platforms like Wix, how fast your websites or e-commerce stores load is not really in your control (and Wix websites aren’t that fast).
But then, there are fully-hosted e-commerce platforms like Shopify for instance that load fast and come with tons of features.
Choose your platforms with care, and realize that you are limited by those platforms. It helps if you don’t shoot for the moon.
Campaigns: Keep them simple
Learn to make good offers. Test offers out. Keep making new offers.
No one perfected the art of making offers or pricing yet. It’s always been part art and part science. Some individuals and businesses do it well. Others struggle.
When you launch paid campaigns, don’t overthink your offers. Don’t make your campaigns more complicated than they ought to be.
Basic campaigns look like this:
How many complications do you want to add to this workflow?
Stick to Lead nurturing basics
I tried everything on the market, and I already the homework for you. Don’t waste time reading reviews.
For almost every business, pick Mailchimp (it has everything you need)
If your business has anything to do with visuals (e-commerce stores, for instance), you should consider Campaign Monitor.
The problem with most of us is that we conveniently believe that we are always doing the best we can with respect to everything.
We barely even scratch the surface of what we can really do. When it comes to digital marketing, we have a tendency to stick to what “seems” to work rather than what we should be doing to make things happen for our business.
While the basics of digital marketing are easy enough to grasp, it’s incredibly hard to make it all work together to get you the results you seek.
Merely blogging away on a schedule isn’t enough if you aren’t promoting your posts just as well (if not more).
A passing presence on social media won’t cut it for you anymore.
Sending out a few random newsletters or even basic automation won’t be enough to nurture and engage your subscribers enough to get them to buy from you (and then buy from you again and again).
The bar is constantly being raised as you read this. The hard work you put into developing content as a part of your digital marketing efforts now competes with some of the world’s best companies committed to make a difference and to use digital marketing as a way to grow their businesses.
If all that you think you are doing isn’t enough, what are you supposed to do? How do you compete in this, “I do better than you can ever hope to” world? Here are a few tips:
Stop getting intimidated
All that you are doing with inbound marketing is to use information to draw readers in. Then, you’d want your readers to like you and trust you enough for them to buy from you whenever “they” are ready for it.
You don’t have to produce content that’s better — or more powerful and engaging — than that of Tim Ferris or Seth Godwin. You’d only have to do enough to make a difference for “your audience”. Something you wrote about teaches them something. Or something that you tweeted about gives them “food for thought”.
Everyone started somewhere, and we really have no Shakespeare’s winning the game of content today. Successful folks, you see today are ordinary people, from all over the world.
Consistency is the name of the game
We place too much emphasis on “quality” — so much that we do it at the cost of consistency. I’ve often read how some popular bloggers insist on working just one blog post per week in the name of high-quality blogging.
Some others like blog intermittently, like Chris Lema does.
It might work for them, but it won’t work for you.
Now, Chris Brogan rarely even communicates on social media (chances are that he won’t reply to you) all the while he swears by the efficiency of social media as a medium built for modern day networking. But Chris can afford not to talk.
If Gary Vaynerchuck doesn’t reply soon enough (or not at all) to any of his potential customers, it’s alright. Gary built enough clout and goodwill to make his customers wait.
You can’t. You are not Gary Vaynerchuck and you aren’t Anthony Robbins.
For you and I, it’s quality plus consistency that works.
Compete with the best
Dan Norris, writes about how to benchmark yourself against your competition in his book The 7 Day Startup.
Anytime you feel yourself wondering if what you are doing is good enough, compare it to the best:
Don’t ask your friends to pick between three logos. Instead, compare them all to Apple.
If it’s nowhere near as good, try again.
If you write a blog post, compare it to one on KISSmetrics.com. If it’s not as good, rewrite it.
If you launch a website, compare it to bench.com or simple.com. If it’s nowhere near as good, then you can do better.
It’s often asking a lot for a small business to reach the levels of an established leader. You will be compared to leaders, and if you don’t measure up, then people will notice. By comparing yourself to the best, you set higher expectations for yourself, and you will be better for it.
It’s compelling to be mediocre; it’s hard to deliver the best you can. If we are doing something, we might as well be the best at it.
Do everything You Thought You Couldn’t
Does it feel intimidating to reach out to Copyblogger, Kissmetrics, Mashable, Marketing Profs, Moz, Forbes, and Fortune to get your guest blog post published?
To be honest, though, I don’t think the bar is as high as we think it is. In fact, with the exception of Moz and a few others, most other blogs have lost their sheen. The content produced nowadays isn’t any better than any of us can produce.
It’s just these editors maintain the high-handedness. If we can ignore their unnecessary attitude, I am sure we can start publishing in those publications too.
Copy from others Who’ve made it before you
There are some remarkable people in this world. Sticking against the odds, working off their asses, some individuals have done what some companies still struggle with. Here are about 11 bloggers who can give any company a run for their money — all thanks to their sheer commitment to blogging, for instance.
You don’t always have to follow Rand Fishkin, you can learn a lot from regular bloggers, social media superstars, and email marketing pros — that’d cover the basics of what you need to do with digital marketing.
How are you putting your digital marketing game face on? What are you trying to do to get heard, to make an impact, and to help your customers?