It’s no secret that marketing automation is the way to go. With the number of marketing automation tools available at your fingertips, it’s almost a sin not to use some of these for your business.
Note: Some marketing automation tools go into the realm of iPaaS (integration Platform as a Service) for enterprise clients such as Celigo, workato, and others. These iPaaS tools are beyond the scope of small business owners, freelancers, solo entrepreneurs, course creators, bloggers, and the like.
We are not getting into these iPaaS tools at all. We are talking about affordable marketing automation tools that help you connect with various SaaS apps that you can use for marketing automation.
The best tools of the trade are all about automating various aspects of your business.
Be it marketing, advertising, customer service, operations, or even the regular drudgery that some of the work we entrepreneurs have to end up doing on a daily basis.
Marketing automation simplifies everything and saves you time and money. If you’re not using marketing automation, then it’s time to get on board!
In this blog post, we’ll discuss what marketing automation is, why it’s so powerful, and which marketing automation tools are the best out there.
Automate.io is one of the popular Zapier alternatives and is a promising marketing automation platform.
It doesn’t have the same long list of integrations as Zapier, but it offers more robust features and helps you automate, marketing, sales, and business processes.
Automate is more affordable, easier to use, and features business automation “bots” (as they are called) to help you grow your business.
– Simple workflows: Create simple one-to-one automation workflows or just sync data between two apps.
– Complex workflows: Create workflows spanning across multiple apps in minutes. Add delay, conditional logic, format data, and do much more.
Armed with Data encryption at rest and transit, data retention controls, and audit logs, Automate ships with more than 200+ (at the time of writing this) connectors to help you connect any of the apps you are probably using (or you those that you might).
Yes, Automate is better than Zapier in many ways and is drag-and-drop level easy.
Integromat comes with its own suite of integrated tools— software designed for use for individuals, small businesses, and even medium-sized businesses. Integromat is pegged as another one of those promising marketing automation tools.
Integromat boasts of 650+ apps and 3000+ free templates for you to help kickstart your simple or robust workflows for marketing or business automation.
Integromat is a well-rounded choice for marketing automation as it offers CRM, Document Management System (DMS), Marketing Automation and much more.
In fact, Integromat has been selected by Gartner in their 2017 Cool Vendors list of vendors that are highly innovative or influential on the market.
Leadsbridge leans slightly over to the “marketing and advertising” side of things. More so than trying to “automate” everything.
Interestingly, Leadsbridge started with the simple premise of making your marketing less tedious and more impactful.
Leadsbridge has more than 380+ different connectors that try to help you iron out kinks in your marketing workflows, paid to advertise, sales funnels, and more.
By helping you connect directly with popular advertising platforms such as Facebook, Google Ads, and LinkedIn, you can make leadsbridge streamline your marketing efforts.
You can’t have a list about marketing automation without mentioning Zapier. It’s been a pioneer of sorts in trying to make marketing automation possible and affordable for everyone.
With more than 3000+ apps and counting, Zapier is constantly growing and adding more ways to automate your business (or even automate tasks to boost your personal productivity) than you can ever keep a handle on.
Further, Zapier’s library of third-party apps includes major players in the marketing automation space like MailChimp, Convertkit, Drip, SalesforceIQ, HubSpot CRM, and Marketo Marketing Cloud.
Besides, the company has recently made headlines for its integration with Slack: now you can automate tasks right from your messaging app.
More often than not, several new SaaS apps and others are constantly working with Zapier to make their apps compatible with Zapier so that end users can make apps work together.
If it wasn’t obvious already, marketing automation tools like Zapier, Automate, LeadsBridge, Integromat, and others have already democratized personal productivity, business automation, and more.
I have a feeling we’ll have more of these no-code app connectors coming in soon.
In conclusion, what tools did I miss? Any more recommendations for me? (except the huge, iPaaS or enterprise-level automation software). Tell me all about any new tools you might find.
We sure have a way to complicate things. Looking at the struggle clients go through, it’s evident that we sometimes must get back to school. What we need is a clear system to sell products (or services) online.
It’s one thing that lead generation is only getting harder and the average CPC (Cost Per Click) platforms like Facebook and Google is only increasing steadily; it’s completely something else when we screw up on the basics of organic marketing, lead generation, or PPC (such as Facebook Ads or Google Ads).
As such, I thought it’s important to revisit basics (a refresher for you veterans out there) and develop a simple, 3-step system work for your Facebook Ads (or Google Ads) campaigns.
But, before we get anywhere near systems or tricks, here’s the thing: Facebook or Google — as ad platforms — are not magic wands. It’d be stupid to think that you’d launch campaigns and make money from those campaigns without putting any work into them.
Think about the last time you purchased something online: it wasn’t until you visited a website, considered your buying decision, read online reviews, asked people around, and then only bought when you were ready to buy (and you just don’t know when they’ll buy).
It takes time for someone to make a purchase. Your job is to nurture your potential customer (who often signs up as a lead) until they buy. After that, it’s on you to segment your customers so that you can cross-sell or upsell.
That’s how you get to things like Lifetime Value (LTV) and Facebook lets you calculate this too.
Step 1: Make an Offer With an Ad
No one cares about “your” business. The fact that you just became the beneficiary of $45 billion dollar funding or that you are two passionate co-founders who decided to make a dent in the universe.
Your customers only want to know what’s in it for them. When you create ads with Facebook or with Google, think long and hard about the offer you are making
Is the offer compelling enough for your potential customers?
Are you giving something of value for free? — like a free membership, a free trial, a free giveaway, a free something?
Let your ads make this offer. Keep it simple while you are at it.
But wait. How will you know if this offer is the best that you could come up with? You won’t know. That’s why you create ads in pairs and then test the offers you are making.
Step 2: Use Landing Pages to Generate Leads
Your ads have limited real estate. There’s only so much that you can communicate with an ad. That’s why you need landing pages that you can build with Unbounce or LeadPages to continue the story you started with the ad.
On the landing page, you’ll continue to convince your visitor to consider signing up as a lead for the offer you are making.
If and when your offer is appealing enough (supported by copy and the design of your landing page), your visitors sign up for the offer you just made.
The signing up part happens on the landing page (and not on your website) because landing pages are more focused pages minus any distractions.
With the right Call to action, you can give the last nudge to have people sign up.
Soon after your visitors sign up as leads, they get an email. That leads us to..
Step 3: Use Email Marketing To Nurture Leads
As leads up sign up on landing pages, you’ll use email to send a welcome email or an email that actually delivers something you promised.
Email service providers such as Drip and Mailchimpprovide you with everything you need to integrate email marketing with your landing pages.
As you keep sending out these email sequences, you can segment your email subscribers based on their behaviour — like subscribers who became customers, customers who bought this and not that, customers who bought less than $100, etc.
Based on tags, groups, or segments, you can change the messaging or the content of emails based on who you are sending it to.
Note: actual sales of your products or services mostly happen thanks to these email sequences or broadcasts you send out.
Facebook Ads or Google Ads don’t deliver as much in actual sales as much as emails can.
Leadpages is a landing page builder and Drip is an email marketing automation tool. Together, they form the backend of your sales funnels — and that’s something you’d absolutely need to generate leads, nurture leads, and make sales happen.
But wait. Why pick Leadpages + Drip as the winning combination here? Why not others?
You can. There’s certainly no stopping you from using other tools for either of the use cases. But there are distinct advantages when you buy into an ecosystem — a set of tools owned and managed by the same company.
There are several lead generation tools, landing page software, and tools to help you build sales funnels.
Usually, you work with marketing tools (also called Marketing Stack) to help you maintain a certain workflow to get your digital marketing done and to get you the results you seek.
Thanks to the rise of a sheer number of tools available in the market, confusion, and paralysis of choice is what you are often hit with first even before you begin to depend on a marketing stack.
What should be the email marketing solution you choose? Which landing page builder will you come to depend on? How will you integrate all those apps that you’ll finally choose (if you do) so that they work together?
It’s so confusing that most businesses give up together. A few others will end up picking up one or many tools and then just go with the flow. None of those approaches are good for your business.
Here’s why Leadpages and Drip make for an excellent combination to build your landing pages, deploy email marketing automation, and get to sales in a smooth and predictable way:
Learn & Deploy winning funnels
With the combined resource base of both Drip and Leadpages, you have instant access to information (backed by years of expertise) that you can use to help start with your sales funnels, landing pages, ads, and email marketing automation sequences in the right way.
With Drip’s Blog and the Leadpages Blog, you get fresh insights delivered. Webinars, online courses, and resource lists will all help you master the nitty-gritty involved with lead generation, marketing automation, conversions, advertising, and landing pages.
As this content is constantly updated (and with regular weekly or monthly inputs on an ongoing basis), you don’t have to depend on your whims or someone’s advice on what works.
Learn from the best and deploy your campaigns with the best chances of winning, right from the word go.
Get them & tag them
With Leadpages, you’d need an hour to whip up landing pages for your campaigns (including the variants for each page). But you’d not just create a single landing page with two variants and call it a day, would you?
Depending on your business, you’ll have multiple offers to make. You’d want to create segmented lists of leads depending on what they signed up for. For customers, you’d need a separate list again (sometimes, you’ll need multiple lists just for customers based on location, average purchase price, lifetime value of the customer, and more).
With MailChimp (which is a company I adore and respect), you’d have to create multiple lists (You can still segment and group customers with MailChimp, but that’s beyond me).
Leadpages and Drip, however, allow you to make multiple offers, tag your leads likewise (particularly useful for multiple content upgrades, multiple offers, and other forms of segmentation).
All the while, with Drip, it’s one huge list except that each subscriber is tagged depending on what they signed up for. So, when you send an email campaign, you can send specific emails to:
Leads who signed up for a free trial of an online course (but did not sign up for the paid course).
Leads who downloaded a particular content upgrade (showing interest in that particular topic)
Customers who purchased less than $100 worth of products or services.
Leads who asked for an online coupon but did not make a purchase yet.
Leads who bought one product, but did not buy another product that goes well with the first product (like accessories or related products).
Leads who requested a demo, but didn’t purchase a subscription for your SaaS product.
See how many possibilities exist with the Leadpages and Drip combo?
LeadPages Plays Well With Drip
You need landing pages built with Leadpages to generate leads.
You’ll then need Drip’s advanced email automation features to tag your visitors and then send highly-customized, relevant, and pertinent content based on those tags.
You’d then put yourself in a position to use two different software tools that automatically play nice with each other obviating the expected trouble you normally face when you want to get two different software tools to play well with each other (even with Zapier).
For basic lead magnet delivery, you don’t even need the advanced features of Drip since Leadpages has a lead magnet delivery mechanism in place.
You’d want to know how many leads are generated each day, week, or month. Leadpages gives you that. You’d want to know at what rate your subscribers grow on a periodic basis, and Drip tells you that with its own analytics.
But at what rate are your leads converting into sales? With all that smart email marketing automation you do, how are your efforts leading to actual revenue (and hence profits)?
Leadpages and Drip, In combination, give you the complete picture and then some more.
The in-built A/B testing ability, checkout features, and direct integration with Drip along with Drip’s intelligent subscriber-tracking features lead scoring, and Drip’s ability to track conversions, you get the full package.
You’d have answers to questions like:
How many leads are generated each month by landing pages on Leadpages?
Among two variants (say A and B) for each landing page, which of the variants is working better?
How many subscribers have you gained for each workflow you created?
What has been the historic behavior of each subscriber (even before they actually signed up as a lead)?
Have the subscribers who signed up been active? Have they been taking action (as defined by you) while they stay on your list at all?
For the leads generated in the last 3 months, how many of those leads converted into sales right? And then, how many more of those leads converted eventually (pipeline) thanks to your email marketing campaigns?
Excellent, easy, & Dependable customer service
Given then both Leadpages and Drip are owned by the same company, you have easy access to customer support (if and when you need them) for both the tools.
Instead of firing multiple emails to either of the companies when you need help, you just shoot a single email to have them address your concerns.
As usual, check out the combined resources of Leadpages and Drip and learn more about lead generation, landing pages, sales funnels, and email marketing automation.
Earlier, I established that Facebook Messenger is a powerful platform that you shouldn’t overlook and that you can benefit from the sheer reach and engagement of such a platform.
With more than 1 billion plus users and counting — and given that almost everyone is on the messenger platform — your Facebook messenger chatbot invariably becomes a valuable tool for you to consider for a wide variety of use cases — starting from customer support all the way to help you make sales.
Think of Facebook Messenger chatbots as livechat tools on steroids (with reach thrown in for good measure).
Here are different Facebook messenger use cases that you should seriously consider for your business without ever spending another dime on any sort of usual business resources (like extra staff or special tools):
Distribute your content
If Facebook Messenger is engaging, then it only makes sense to ensure that you are sending out content you produce to your chatbot subscribers (preferably segmented and permission-based).
Your Facebook Messenger bot can be particularly useful to help you request permission to send content, and then actually send content (complete with videos, images, and links to your content) to have your subscribers click through and read what you share.
Can you make a Facebook Messenger Chatbot make people visit restaurants, visit museums, and attend events?
Apparently, you can.
Jam, a Paris-based company, uses a 100% automated Facebook Messenger chatbot using Chatfuel (which uses Artificial Intelligence). Jam helps people search for and partake in unique experiences depending on their individual likes and requirements. All this is done without human intervention.
More than 75% of their total user base has at least one interaction per week with their full-automated chatbot.
More than 63% of people are using messenger now more than ever before.
It goes without saying that your Facebook messenger chatbot is a hot recruit for customer support. Facebook messenger chatbots lend themselves as absolutely perfect companions to streamline and automate (or at least semi-automated) your customer support process.
Instead of having to recruit special agents, outsourced staff, or actually hire full-time support staff by the dozens, a single Facebook messenger chatbot can handle many of the initial enquiries all by itself (if you feed it with enough information, that is).
Shopify is a behemoth — and possibly the only eCommerce solution — you should bother considering if you ever wanted to start an ecommerce business.
As such, Drip is the ultimate solution for your email marketing automation. The good news is that Drip and Shopify work as well as Mr & Mrs. Smith or the Men In Black.
Everything Shopify has built has made it a juggernaut as a standalone eCommerce platform making it incredibly simple to sell your products or services online. While Shopify also has a few in-built features such as enabling you to send out shopping cart abandonment emails and the like, that’s not really where Shopify shines.
Drip comes in to fill in that spot and it allows you to build powerful workflows to help you build and manage your email lists; turn subscribers into customers; get complete data on customers who purchase from you; help you nurture your leads and customers better; segment your audiences the right way, and so much more.
Drip is powerful and it gets even more powerful when you make Drip and Shopify work together. Here’s what the Drip + Shopify Combination can do for your eCommerce business:
Smooth GDPR Compliance
GDPR stands for The Genera; Data Protection Regulation — a law that’s put in place for the citizens of the European Union (EU) which defines personal data as “any information relating to an identified or identifiable natural person”.
The names, email addresses, and the IP addresses you collect as a marketer or a business? You’d need explicit consent from citizens of EU to collect and handle their data.
Here’s what GDPR means — in a nutshell, according to Drip — for you as a marketer or as a business:
“The EU’s Global Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) imposes fines of 10 Million Euro and up for non-compliance, and applies to any Drip customer with even a single EU citizen subscriber. For those who don’t intentionally do business with the EU and want to avoid becoming GDPR-compliant, it is now possible to filter subscribers whose time zones map to Europe.
Note, however, that there are many ways the filter would fail to identify an EU citizen, e.g., they’re traveling outside the EU, their time zone isn’t available in their browser, they’re subscribed via third-party integration or API that doesn’t provide time zone data, etc. That said, it represents our best ability to reduce GDPR audit risk on behalf of our customers.”
As on date, Drip allows you to stay GDPR compliant by using checkboxes to opt-in forms, create copy to ask for explicit consent from your subscribers or customers as to whether or not they want to receive email, enable double opt-in, and so much more.
While Drip already had a way to help you send out automated, fully-customizable, and targeted shopping cart abandonment email campaigns, you could only pull (and use) the shopping cart abandonment URL while using with Shopify.
Earlier, you could use a single attribute (the shopping cart abandonment URL) within your email campaigns and redirect your potential customers to that unique URL that already has data about that specific customers’ shopping activity.
Now, however, you can also use the new “line-items” attribute within your emails so that you can hyper-target your email messages by not just using the URL but the exact products or items your potential customers must have added to their carts.
When you connect Drip and your Shopify Store, there’s all the data that you need that’s already passing through between the two apps.
But prepare to be blown away by what else is now possible with Shopify and Drip.
You can now get the complete story on a customer as you “toggle” properties on the “activity” section of your drip account as data is passed from Shopify to Drip.
You can now see more details about orders which can in turn let you personalize and customize your email campaigns even more.
Manage Facebook Lead Ads + Facebook Custom Audiences Smarter
Let’s admit it: you and I don’t want to deal with an endless litany of CSV lists to upload to the Facebook Custom Audiences section. We also don’t want to be running Facebook lead ads and then continuously download lead data to upload it to an email service provider.
Both of those tasks are repetitive, mundane, and these tasks take your focus off of your business.
When you are running an eCommerce business with Shopify, this is the last thing you want to do.
There’s a better way to manage your Facebook Custom Audiences and Facebook Lead Ads with Drip.
Your website should normally be the first destination to help you start generating leads. It so happens that the importance of your website — as far as generating leads is concerned — is almost always overlooked.
Most business websites aren’t even designed from a marketing standpoint, let alone generate leads.
Whether you get 10 visitors a month or 100,000+ visitors a month, every website should be in a position to generate leads (and how you do this varies, depending on your business).
Ecommerce stores can build a whole pipeline of potential customers. You can further segment potential leads or subscribers into separate segments such as those who only subscribed but never purchased; those who downloaded (or requested coupons) but never purchased; those who purchased up to $100; loyal customers, and more.
Small businesses can also develop lists of subscribers who can later turn into potential customers (depending on what you sell).
It’s surprising that with all the email marketing stats proving something while businesses seem to be focusing on everything else that doesn’t matter.
I challenge you right now: Check out any random website right now and the chances are that that website isn’t doing much to generate leads at all.
Even if they are trying, they aren’t trying hard enough.
The best way to do it is to run at least some basic email campaigns. Every email marketing software worth its salt provides you with everything you need to run these basic email automation sequences, so what’s your excuse?
What are the basic email marketing campaigns you could run?
Here you go:
RSS-to email campaigns are “digests” of your previously published blog posts that are published one week earlier.
So, let’s say you published 3 blog posts in the first week of April 2018, all those three blog posts are sent out to your entire list of email subscribers on a particular day, the following week (On Monday of the second week of April 2018).
Here’s how that email digest (usually called as RSS-to-email campaign) looks like.
We use Drip to create an RSS-to-email Workflow that uses a template and sends out this email each week to all our email subscribers.
RSS-to-email campaigns are a great way to do multiple things with one shot: you get to nurture your leads (without selling anything); there’s brand recall and memory retention every time your email goes out (once a week mostly), and
The RSS-to-email campaigns only work when you have a regular blog publishing schedule (and that’s good for you). This is the only way this strategy works.
If you aren’t doing this, I don’t know what else you do?
Lead Generation + Nurturing sequences
If you have a website, you should be generating leads.
Make offers. Generate leads. Test things out. Repeat.
If you have a “buy now” button on your website, you are a prime candidate for a shopping cart abandonment email sequence.
In 2016, Listrak found that the average shopping cart abandonment rate for e-commerce websites is at a whopping, wait for it, 78%. That’s like 78 people abandoned their shopping carts out of every 100 people who initiated checkout.
Various other studies found shopping cart abandonment rates to anywhere between 50 to 80%.
Dig your head into any study out there or check out any of those shopping cart abandonment stats and you’ll only come to this conclusion: eCommerce sites are bleeding money.
By the eCommerce doesn’t always mean full-fledged online stores built with Shopify. If you are selling anything online (services or products), you are a part of the eCommerce bandwagon.
If that’s true, then you are leaving money on the table when you don’t have a shopping cart abandonment email sequence working for you.
If you use Shopify, there’s an in-built mechanism to trigger emails for every person who abandons your shopping cart. Otherwise, major email marketing platforms such as Mailchimp and Drip also allow you to automate this process and trigger emails to nudge your “drifting and indecisive potential buyers” to come back and make a purchase.