Creating the best software stack for truly small businesses
Building a software stack is the idea of using a lot of different independent web applications or software that are out there and combining them and synchronizing them so that you build one big powerful application.
Usually, the base or the headquarters for your sales and marketing online, if you're doing this properly, is through the use of a CRM. A CRM system and this is the customer relationship management system, This is what you see here in the middle [Middle of Diagram]. This is the main center of all of your advertising and marketing and promotions.
Then you can connect your CRM with several other types of applications such as contacts, users and customers. Classic email marketing which is a one time blast and advanced email marketing and automation, which is a series of emails that you send to be able to communicate with your customers. You can have proposal systems, project management systems, you can incorporate social media. You can incorporate customer support systems such as when people write an email to generate support tickets and you can also link this to live chat. You can link it to your accounting and billing systems so that you automatically synchronize your contacts and customers to create invoices; you can connect this to landing page software which we will speak about briefly in a few minutes. Lead capturing software can also be integrated, which is specifically designed to capture people's names and emails - like when you signed up for this webinar - and many other things.
This is the idea of using pretty much very affordable looking systems and putting them together and building something that is bigger than the sum of its parts.
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Okay, this is a quick overview of the business between old, new, and smart. These are a few examples of different activities related to sales and marketing. Specifically, you could have all of your contacts in a notebook, proposals you might have done in Excel if you're still using a computer. When it comes to Marketing & Sales, you probably may be doing cold calls or regular mail, and maybe for Invoicing you would be using Excel.
In these new systems for contacts you are hopefully using Excel, and not a notebook, and on and on. There are many different ways that you could do things today in a new way using a little bit of technology within a computer. Here what we are proposing is to not even just use technology but to use it in a smarter way. In this case, we are suggesting the use of a CRM system, the database for your contacts. Or also be able to use different templates from software that allows you to create proposals and automatically communicate with your existing or potential clients. This is the idea.
Some automation statistics:
In terms of the level of expertise of different people, 27% say they're new to automation and 31% say they have average knowledge.
Additionally, 63% of companies are successful in using marketing automation, and plan to increase their marketing automation budget; And 80% of marketing automation users saw their number of leads increase.
The point is that automation works and helps you grow your lead base which helps you grow your business.
How would you rate your CRM and marketing automation knowledge?
I'll introduce you to marketing automation and a few concepts and then I'll go through the automation tricks and specific examples of how to optimize your business and as part of that, I'm going to briefly explain smart or advanced automation workflows. It could be complicated for some but the idea is not so complicated.
What is business automation?
Business automation is all about automating any task related to business, and technically it is not just marketing, it could technically be about automating a physical machine, but for business specifically we'll be talking about the digital part of it and for marketing automation, we'll speak about specifically using technology for creating activities that we use to communicate with customers and prospects so that eventually you can make a sale.
The goal is to save the company time and money so that your staff can actually use their time to be more productive doing other things. This, in turn, will save the company money and makes you more efficient.
Core business automation concepts
Okay, I usually have about 15 or 18 different concepts and I narrowed it down to the most important for all of you to learn.
- The CRM like I mentioned before is the customer relationship management system. There are many different types of CRM systems, but I will talk about one here specifically and then I'll mention many others that you can take a look at.
- The workflow is about the different steps that can happen within a marketing campaign or a set of events that you create on a CRM system for marketing automation workflow that helps you create - usually visually- a set of steps that you want to happen. I will show you some examples of how this looks visually.
- I believe everyone knows what a website is, and the next one is the landing page.
- A landing page is usually a one-page website specifically designed to capture people's information, that means lead generation. You guys probably whenever you click on different ads here on the Internet you will go to one page and then you can see that there is no menu and there's usually one button, the call-to-action (CTA) button. This button exists because companies want to get your information and they don't want you to go anywhere else.
- The capture form is usually a short or long online form where you go and type in your name and email. Once you submit your information, an automated response will follow.
- Auto responses usually refer to the automated e-mail that you'll get after taking some action. There are many other auto responses that don't have to just email. Usually, once you sign-up for something online, you'll quickly receive an e-mail confirming your actions. Such as a "Thank you" email.
That was just a quick background of marketing automation concepts.
What is marketing?
Marketing is about tasks and processes that lead to a customer placing an order. That's usually the goal. It is about informing them and helping them be aware that you exist. Modern marketing specifically in today's Internet world is about increasingly connecting companies through technology. This usually starts with an online search or clicking on an Ad. Let's see how this works.
You will either go to Google and type in a search query, or you will go to your Facebook and you might see an AD. Those are the most common ways. If you're on Google, you'll see ads at the top, and usually, if you click on them you'll be taken to a landing page and if you're looking at the organic results you're usually just taken to a regular website. This is all pretty basic.
Then if you're on Facebook and click on an AD, you can be taken to different places: A website or landing page, but nowhere you should pay attention - which is really great, it is not specifically about automation, but it is linked to it. This is called a Facebook Lead AD and is relatively a new Facebook advertisement type. Where people, when they're on Facebook and then click on the AD, they're not taken to a website or landing page. Instead, there's like a pop-up that will automatically pre-populate the user's name and email address so that people do not have to type it in. Then, once people submit their information, you'll get their Facebook information so that you can contact them as a potential client.
One of the things we can do is to automatically link these new leads that come from Facebook directly into your CRM so they can automatically get saved in your contacts database. This is done using a system called Zapier, which I'll mention in a few minutes.
How the marketing automation funnel works
It's where you want to get people interested first and then attract them in one way or another. The idea is to then nurture them and be able to create a relationship with them. In this case, we are assuming through communication digitally most likely by email and there is also a way to communicate with people through Facebook and other clever ways.
The idea of automation is to have this process happen automatically as opposed to you having a natural staff member or yourself doing it manually by sending emails every so often.
Have you ever run an online advertising campaign with Facebook or Google?"
The Traditional Marketing Process
This is the old-school way that you attract a customer with some type of advertising. Then you are somehow able to contact that customer. If you make a sale, then this is great and then you are able to have that person as a new customer which is great for you. If you do not, you must then get the contact's information somehow so you can follow up manually by mail or email. If you do not have the contact's information then that's usually the end of it. There will not be much that you can do except for more advertising to hopefully bring them back. That is the regular way.
The Most Basic Marketing Automation Workflow
This is how it works, you try to attract someone to the website and that person then sees something valuable in your website whether it is an offer or e-book or something like that which is enticing to them. Then people decide to sign up and give you their information so that they can receive an automatic email and then you can follow up with them. Or they do not enroll, and usually, you can't control what happens next.
Yet, there is something today called remarketing that allows people to start seeing your ads again if they visited your website. But, we do not have time, unfortunately, to talk about the subject. So the idea is that people if people give you their name and email, then you can set up a workflow where you can constantly be in touch with them to basically try to continue to convince them to come back and learn more about you and buy from you.
The idea here is to build a customer relationship and trust by delivering valuable information through email. You do not want to be sending people what is your last and most up-to-date promotion. People do not care necessarily about your best offer. They might care about how you can help them. So, if you are providing valuable information when you are sending those automated emails, people will most likely continue to open them. If you do not, then marketing animation doesn't really work.
Of course, that is also a whole topic that we can talk about in an entire day. The point is that in today's online marketing world you want to be the thought leader in the industry and show people that you are an expert in the field. When people know that you are an expert they will trust you. And when people trust you online they will become your clients.
What are the benefits of automating your processes?
1. The benefit is that it saves you time and naturally that saves you money.
2. Another benefit is that it strengthens the company's relationship with customers and prospects.
Why? This is directly related to branding. When people constantly hear about you, then they will continue to believe that you are a company that is bigger than the competition because you are constantly out there. And usually, only big-league companies are able to do advertising because they have bigger teams. But that's not necessarily true anymore because you can be a super tiny company, one or three people team, yet and still project the perception that you are much bigger. This adds value and builds the trust relationship when you are delivering value to your users.
3. It also keeps the company top of mind.
4. If done right, helps businesses realize a stronger ROI versus a manual process. That is the last benefit that we have here.
Which aspect of your business would you be more interested in optimizing through automation?
12 different ways to save time and money with sales and marketing automation
This is something that I came up with myself on how to we business in our company and how we help other clients specifically through cool tricks to save time and money. Starting with the first one.
1. The ability to save your Gmail contacts into your CRM system
This means that every time you are chatting or emailing someone through Gmail, you have the ability to save those contacts directly into your CRM system, which is the database that you are using as the central headquarters of your marketing and sales. I will explain how I use this, anytime I am contacting someone new in my Gmail, I save it as a contact on my Gmail account. Then once a day my CRM system goes and takes all of that information and puts it into my CRM so that later I can go into the CRM system and take notes about that specific contact and create myself reminders to follow up with them with sales and then there is a lot more than you can do once you have that contact on your CRM.
If you only have your contacts on Gmail or whatever other email spots that you use are not really efficiently having a process or a way to write notes for those contacts. It is super important that you are able to synchronize them quickly and automatically. A CRM system that does not easily link to Gmail or Office 365 is not really a good CRM system. You do not want to be copy and pasting information from your email into the CRM or any of that. The whole idea is to do this automatically.
In this case, we will talk specifically about Agile CRM, which you'll see at the bottom of the slide. It is an amazing CRM system that starts at 0 dollars per month for 10 users and then $10 per user per month if prepaid for a year. This is an amazing system that we will talk about. It cuts costs down by a lot. The next very similar software is called InfusionSoft and many of you have heard of it, InfusionSoft.com, that starts at about $300 or $400 per month (For 2500 contacts). This specific CRM, Agile CRM, is $10 per user per month and has almost the same features as InfusionSoft. There are many CRM systems. Many of them are even cheaper than Agile CRM, but they do not compare in features to more of the medium-end software such as InfusionSoft and other ones such as HubSpot.
2. Connect with your email contacts directly on LinkedIn
Again, I am pretty sure not everyone here is on going to be on Gmail so I apologize for that, but if you are using Gmail there is an application or extension for chrome called Rapportive. Once you install it on your browser, it allows you to automatically see a preview of whomever your contacts from Gmail are that you are writing with are.
Basically, it looks up their email and hooks to LinkedIn and once it gets its information from LinkedIn it is able to know what is that person's title, where they work, what is their twitter, and much more. In this case, this is a friend of mine here in San Diego from Elevator Agency. I can see that when I am chatting and emailing Frank on the right side there is a column that appears and I can learn more about him. This is if he has already my contact.
If you have not made contact already, let's say I chat with a random person who I have not heard of before. I'm not really sure who they are, so instead of having to spend the time to go to LinkedIn and look them up, if the email is already in LinkedIn, I will automatically see it here. If I am not connected to that person on LinkedIn there will be a button that says connect with this person on LinkedIn which is great. Once you press that button, you will automatically send an invitation to that person so you do not have to go to LinkedIn. That will save you time.
This is specifically for sales related because we do want to know who we are talking to.
3. Saving new online store customers into your CRM
About 10 years ago at one of the companies that I was working, we had many online customers but we did not have a single big fancy software to have everything in one database. We had in one database our email marketing and in another database, we had all of the online customers from the online store. In the other database all of our accounting, so all of our invoices.
We basically had customers copied in three different places and usually every Monday morning I would have to go to the online store, I would download a list from Excel with all of the latest customers and then I would have to manually import them into the accounting systems. I would also need to import them into the email marketing systems. Back in the day, we used to use Aweber and GetResponse for E-mail marketing, these days we're mostly using MailChimp.
Today, there is a software called Zapier. This, in my opinion, the future of marketing automation and business automation. This tool is amazing and you can go online to signup, and it's $0 dollars a month, and it lets you basically connect over 750 software with each other.
Let me explain to you what this replaces. Back in the day if you wanted to connect your online store with an accounting system like QuickBooks you would usually have to hire a programmer and spend a lot of money and spend a lot of time figuring out how you would connect one application A with application B and do a lot of testing to make sure that it works.
Today, this company (Zapier) figured out a way to connect pretty much any web-based software in this case, software that only lives in the cloud or the Internet. You cannot work with any software that is specifically just installed on the server or a local computer. This is amazing because withing probably 10 or 15 minutes I can automatically say that every time there is a new online customer on my online store it automatically saves this person into my email marketing system and also into my CRM so that I can later follow-up with them.
This system starts at about $20/month once you start paying for it. But it starts at $0 dollars and you can all go right now online to Zapier.com and there's a limited number of things to do with a free account, but it is more than enough to get started. I have used it for free for like 6 months. It is great.
4. Save your new clients into your accounting system
This is what I just mentioned and it's related to the last one. Every time you have in this case a new customer in your CRM, you don't want to have to copy and paste their name and email and address and ZIP Code and phone number and everything into your accounting system. Instead, you want to create some type of trigger that every time a new contract which is usually a lead or a prospective client become a paying customer and they are now a customer and no longer a lead, you want to quickly have that new customer become a new customer in the accounting system. So that you can later open the accounting system and the only thing you have to create now is a new invoice without having to retype any of the customer's information.
In our case we use a system where we tag a new customer with the word "customer". This is a tag and I will show you what it looks like inside the CRM later. Anytime I tag anyone with this word customer, Zapier, will automatically save that specific contact into my QuickBooks online. In this case, it's QuickBooks online because it would not work with QuickBooks regular version. It would have to be web-based. That is number 4.
5. Automatically create follow-up tasks and reminders
This is important. But why? We are talking about marketing automation and one of the things that we need to do is to keep in touch with the people that reach out to us for information. What ends up happening is that usually we go and talk to them when people call us or send us an E-mail. The naturally, unless you are very organized you will probably forget to follow up with them unless you create yourself a reminder.
In this case also through Zapier and Agile CRM, I set up a workflow so that any time there is a new contact on my CRM system that is tagged with the tag "lead", Zapier will go out there and create a specific task for me to follow up with this contact 7 days from the moment that the contact was created. I chose this to be 7 days after but it could be 3 days after or a month after.
The amazing thing is that I never need to manually create myself reminders. Once all these different tasks are created for all the different contacts that I have, every day when I go to my CRM system, I go to the section that says "Tasks" and then I know who I need to follow up with today; and all of that was created automatically.
6. Send individual automatic emails to your leads
You can create complete automation workflows, which means a series of many emails being sent to your clients one at a time. One of the 1st day, one 3 days later and another like 7 days later. That is okay and that is great for marketing purposes. But there is also a few plug-ins for Gmail that allow you to actually send an email that will not send automatically, but instead, it might be sent in 3 hours, or in two days.
This is great because you don't necessarily want to send some emails right away and you don't want to forget to send them so you want to have them and then forget about them and tell your computer or email system to send them later.
In this case, it is built-in functionality of Agile CRM and it lets you write the email and then you can schedule it to be sent later. If you don't have Agile CRM, but you do have Gmail, Gmail has an extension called Boomerang, and Boomerang also lets you send emails at later date. That's another way to take time to not have to go back and remember and that's what this is all about.
7. Track if your contacts receive, open and click your emails
There are some apps that let you know if your emails are being read, opened and clicked on. This is key. This is funny for me because I track every single email that I sent to anyone and then when I do a follow-up with them and I ask them if they received my email, sometimes they say "Yes I got it" and sometimes they don't. But if I don't actually send them an email but I call them and say "Did you get the email?" and they tell me "No", well I can pretty much know that they are lying right away because I can go to the CRM and check if they opened it or if they clicked it. If they say they did not get it, but they did, then I know they are lying to me.
It is really great being able to track people's emails, every single email. It is good for business and it lets you avoid having to guess what happened. Did they get my email? did they open it? did they see it? And then I can know how many times they have opened it and specifics hours of the day when they opened.
Again, this is built-in to Agile CRM but HubSpot has a specific plug-in for chrome. I don't know what it is called right now because they change their name but HubSpot.com is the name of the company. It used to be $10 per month, but right now I think it might be $60 per month. It is a bit more pricey now, but there are definitely a few tools out there.
I'm sort of running out of time so I will go through this quickly.
8. Automatically get scheduled meetings in your calendar
If you later wanted to reach out to me and you say "Hi, I want to have a meeting with you" well, that is great. We can do this, but instead of me having my assistant reach out to me or me reach out to you, I will tell you to click at the bottom of the email signature where there is a link that will take you to my calendar. This is life and connected directly to my Google calendar, and it will let you choose how long you want the meet for when you want it to be, and if you want to connect in person or by phone or on Skype.
This saves me a lot of time because then you get to choose when you have some time and you get to check your calendar before booking. This is an also a built-in feature from Agile CRM. Otherwise, there is an app called Calendly that also lets you do this without being connected to a CRM system.
9. Save time sending proposals to your prospects
I spent a lot of times writing proposals. Every time I had a new proposal I would go to PowerPoint and open up one of my templates, save it as another name and they would send it over as a PDF because this is the professional way to send it. I would not send it as a PowerPoint. Or If I did an agreement in Word, I wouldn't send it as a Word document, as a professional I would send it as a PDF.
Today I decided to spend some time recreating my templates in this system called Proposify. It a web-based proposal system that lets me create proposals and agreements for my potential clients and send them easily. I usually spend five or 10 minutes at the most creating a proposal if I already have a template.
I just basically customize several lines and then I am able to send it. People are able to sign the agreement online so that they don't have to print anything and no one has to sign anything on paper. I will get an email every time you open the proposal email when you click to see the agreement and if you sign it I will also get an email. Basically, I track you everywhere.
I am also able to see exactly which slides you saw on my agreement and how much time you spend on each slide. It is pretty amazing.
I don't remember how much this costs per month but I think it is about $25 per month.
10. Save website leads into the CRM system
This is about trying to connect it all together. In this case, it is the most common type of automation. Most websites have a place where you can sign up for someone's newsletter or you can sign up to get more information. Even on the contact page of any website, you should have the ability, and if you have the right tools you can actually have all of the people that contact you from the contact page be created and synced to your CRM system. This is what we do as well.
If you go to our website, Bloominari.com/contact and you fill out the contact form, that is a form that we built using JotForm. It starts at $0 dollars per month. That tool when you fill out the form I will get an email notifying me who filled it out. This information will also get sent from the Jotform database to Zapier - we copy the information - and then directly into my CRM, in this case, Agile CRM.
If anyone wants to contact me right now, probably within a few seconds I would have all of your information saved on my CRM and I wouldn't have to type anything because you already typed it. I would not have to copy and paste anything from a notification email that I would get if I was just to receive this notification that you wrote to me - which I also get.
11. Adding clients to your email newsletter list
The same idea, every time you have new potential leads - in this case in your Gmail account or in your online web form or your CRM - you want to be able to send those people directly into your MailChimp or Constant Contact accounts without having to copy and paste anything manually.
12. Automatically schedule and reschedule posts on social media
This could be one of the obvious ones for a lot of people. You can automate social media marketing by re-creating your posts and scheduling them to be posted.
There is also a tool called DVLR that lets you create one post and then you can tell it "I want you to post this every month". As opposed to you having to schedule it 20 times, you can have one post and say this post "I want you to schedule it, and not just post it once, but 20 times every month".
Do you feel you could optimize your day-to-day business work by implementing at least 1 of the previous 12 tips?
Smart and advanced marketing automation campaigns
Here I will just give you an overview of what is called advanced or smart automation as opposed to what is called linear automation.
Briefly: You could have linear E-mail marketing automation, which means that let's say you want to send five emails, one on day one, one on day 5, one on day 10, one on day 30, etc.
All of these E-mails would be sent to everyone who sign-up to your list, regardless if people clicked or opened any of the previous e-mails you sent them... and that's not very smart. Because if people are not opening your first few emails, you don't want to keep sending them stuff. They're probably not interested.
This next slide shows you a "Smart" and advanced automation workflow.
In this scenario, your automated marketing automation flow shows that you'll send people different e-mails based on how they interact with your campaign.
For example, if people purchased then you send them an "Up Sell e-mail", but if they haven't purchased, you might want to send them a "Welcome or follow-up E-mail" maybe even an E-mail with a special promotion. There are many different ways to do it.
Here's how this smart automation tool looks like on Agile CRM. It is super easy to drag-and-drop each of the workflow steps, and then you simply have to connect the dots. It is pretty simple.
CRM & Marketing Automation Tools
CRM tools with full marketing automation: There is Agile CRM, which I spoke about today, for about $10/user/month. There is also InfusionSoft which is about $200-$300 per month and HubSpot $200-$800/month for medium businesses.
If you are a bigger company or organization and you can afford higher enterprise tools, there are many others. Such as Marketo, Salesforce, etc.
Web Apps (Saas) and Automation Software: There are Zapier and IFTTT.
I definitely encourage all of you to go to AgileCRM.com, check them out and sign up for free and see if you like it.
Read my Agile CRM sales & marketing automation software review here
Get access to the complete video recording of the webinar that will show you how you to optimize your business using a customer relationship management system (CRM), along with the use of sales and marketing automation technology. Our San Diego marketing agency's founder, Jaime Nacach, walks you through our unique infographic on the "Best Software Stack For Small Businesses", which explains how to take advantage of today's multitude of web-based apps and connect them with each other to create a superpower sales and marketing business tool.
To watch the recording of the live webinar that was presented on August 10th, 2017, please visit SCORE's website, who hosted this webinar. Free registration is required to access the video recording.