Thursday, June 30, 2016

Want a Bigger Marketing Budget? Optimize Your LTV to CAC Ratio

Almost every head of marketing, whether they are a CMO, VP, or Director of Marketing is thirsty for a larger marketing budget. With more money to spend, marketing can (theoretically) drive more growth.

But all too often marketing budgets are set without much rhyme or reason – there tends to be a huge correlation to how many sales were made in the previous month or quarter, or worse yet they are set as a percentage of the company’s revenue. This is particularly common in product driven SaaS organizations. But for growth-oriented companies, these means of setting marketing budgets are simply not serving your growth agenda appropriately.

How much do SaaS Companies invest sales and marketing?

Take the chart below as an example. Based on a sampling of 300+ SaaS companies with greater than $2.5mm in revenue, the median sales and marketing spending as a percentage of revenue is 32%.

sales-marketing-spend-growth-rate-chartImage Source

Does this mean all SaaS companies should simply set their sales and marketing budgets at 32% of their revenue? Absolutely not. There are a number of companies spending as much as 43% of their revenues on sales and marketing, with these companies achieving growth rates of 80%+.

While some of these companies may be spending so aggressively because they are heavily funded and are looking to capture market share, the companies that are the true darlings of the SaaS space are those that have such a strong ratio between the Lifetime Value (LTV) of their customers and their Customer Acquisition Cost (CAC) that they’ve built a compelling case to pour more dollars into their customer acquisition engines. They’ve built Ferraris and have a valid reason to believe that additional sales and marketing spending will keep their growth rates accelerating.

In your quest to obtain access to more financial resources, it’s the marketing leader’s job to educate the rest of the organization. And simply put, the idea of a “marketing budget” is outdated if growth is truly what you are after.

The Formulas Your SaaS Company Needs

Instead, you have two levers at your disposal – both of which can be optimized, and both of which are not typically considered areas of your business that marketing alone should own. The Lifetime Value (LTV) of your customer is impacted by many factors, including but not limited to:

  • Sales selling to buyer personas that have the best chance of being successful with your product
  • Product organizations delivering truly valuable features that make the product “sticky”
  • Customer success teams working with your clients to make them successful after purchase
  • Marketing developing pricing and packaging that pushes longer term contracts over month-to-month agreements.

The formulas:

Lifetime Value (LTV) = Average Customer Lifetime X Average Revenue Per Account

Average Customer Lifetime = 1/churn rate (expressed in months or years)
Ex: 1 / 5% monthly churn = 20 month average customer lifetime

Average Revenue Per Account (in a given period) = Total revenue /total customers added

So for example, if last month you made $200,000 in revenue from 25 customers, your calculation would be $200,000/25 = $8,000.

And if customers stay with you for an average of 20 months, you multiply 20 x $8,000 and reach the lifetime value of $160,000. So the cost to acquire a customer (CAC) should be no more than $53k. ARPA = $200,000/25 = $8,000

In this example 20 months X $8,000 = $160,000 LTV

Just as there are many ways to extend your customers’ LTV, there are also a number of different strategies that you can employ to lower your Customer Acquisition Cost (CAC). Marketing can focus on more cost effective lead generation strategies like organic search, conversion optimization, and developing customer advocates. Sales teams can learn to more efficiently move prospects through the customer acquisition funnel and can do away with expensive events and client dinners in lieu of more cost effective inside sales techniques.

To calculate the cost it takes to acquire a customer, you simply divide the total sales & marketing spend by the number of customers added in a given period. So if you spent $100,000 in a year and acquired 10 customers during that time frame, your CAC would be $10,000.

As a general rule of thumb, a SaaS business with a LTV:CAC ratio of 3:1 is considered healthy – meaning you get $3 in customer revenue for every $1 you spend to acquire them. If you have this ratio or better, you have a customer acquisition engine that is performing well. It is important to mention that this is simply a benchmark – not a magic bullet. This ratio had held up well and provided a valid target at a number of companies I’ve worked with, but every company’s unique situation in terms of funding, growth rate, burn rate, and business goals should be considered. Never put all of your eggs in one basket by looking at any SaaS metric in isolation.

3:1 Ratio is Your Benchmark for a Higher Marketing Budget

With a ratio of better than 3:1, you have a strong argument for investing more money in customer acquisition programs if maxing out your growth potential is your objective. You can make a simple argument to the CEO by saying, “we know that for every $1 we spend to acquire a customer, we get $3 back in revenue.”

So it’s the job of the marketing leader to relentlessly look for ways, across the organization, to lower customer acquisition costs and extended the lifetime value of the customer. If you’re able to do so, you’re making a compelling case for marketing to be given access to whatever financial resources are available, whether you’re a funded or bootstrapped company.

In fact, a strong LTV:CAC ratio is one of the most important metrics you can show if you are trying to raise funding. In my opinion, perhaps the most valid reason a SaaS company should raise funding is if they have a very healthy LTV:CAC ratio and their growth is only limited by access to capital.

Gone are the days of marketing leaders waiting until after a big sales month to nervously ask for an increase in marketing budget. And gone are the days of the marketing leader advocating for marketing spending to represent a larger percentage of the company’s revenues. Relentless focus on increasing customer lifetime value and decreasing customer acquisition costs will blow the top off or your marketing budget (as it should!) indefinitely.

About the Author: Geoff Roberts is the Vice President of Marketing at Bizness Apps. Bizness apps is an app building platform used by small marketing and design agencies to build mobile apps for small business clients.

from The Kissmetrics Marketing Blog

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Facebook redesigns its “Like” button

Those Facebook buttons that you just can’t live without because you’re always using them to engage with your friends and family, and the site’s content, have gotten a noticeable makeover. The new design signals a shift to more space-conscious design by the company, as well as a tendency to combine old design into something entirely new.

In a post on the company’s developer blog, Facebook reveals the reasons behind its decision to revamp how its social-sharing look.

For starters, the biggest design change affects perhaps the social network’s most prominent button: the Like button. Liking is so ingrained in the Facebook experience that one can’t imagine the site without it. This is perhaps why the most significant changes were made to this button.

The company performed copious qualitative and quantitative research to determine if their initial hypothesis was correct: They believed that more users would understand the straightforward thumbs up icon on the Like button, as opposed to the old design that featured the company’s lowercase “f” logo in the button.

When their testing told them that their hypothesis had some substance to it, they implemented these changes to the site.

In addition, the new Like button features a unification of two, separate icons. The old design separated the actual Like button from the number of likes that are registered beside the button. The new design seamlessly melds these two elements, combining the icon, the word “Like” and the overall number of likes into one, longer, rectangular blue button.

Besides the Like button, the Share, Save and Follow buttons get a different look, too, all based on Facebook’s new “cleaner design” approach.

Essentially, its suite of social buttons has been modernized. This means that each button receives an updated icon that can better represent the Facebook brand while at the same time offering a superior user experience to people on the network.

This dedication to better engagement includes the following design properties:

  • A consistent color
  • A flat button shape
  • A refined visual style that integrates the Like and Share counts within the button

Never one to neglect mobile, Facebook is also thinking of mobile usability in its button redesign. More than 30% of the engagement from people clicking or tapping the Like button comes from mobile, so the company is addressing mobile friendliness, too.

In an acknowledgement that the original version of the Like button is now obsolete as it was designed in the infancy of mobile, Facebook has released a variety of different button sizes. This means more freedom for designers and developers who can now decide on the specific button size to use with their desktop or mobile site.

Interestingly, these new button designs are also going to appear on Facebook’s Instant Articles in the next few weeks. Look for the new buttons at the bottom of those pages. They’re going to count toward aggregate share, like and follow counts.

Facebook won’t roll out these new buttons everywhere at once. Instead, you’ll probably see a trickle of these new designs popping up here and there on its site and apps over the next few weeks.

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Wednesday, June 29, 2016

5 Steps to Recovering from Low Landing Page Conversions

Landing pages are intended to be simple and straightforward – a single page designed to get a specific audience to take an action.
Marketers use landing pages to get people to:

  • Make a product purchase
  • Opt-in to get a promotional product like an ebook or report
  • Request more information or a consult
  • Urge an audience to subscribe

You’d think that creating a page for such simple tasks would be easy, especially when you consider the wealth of tools at our disposal for building out landing pages.

And, in fact, the act of producing landing pages is actually not complicated – at least, until you factor in the human component of your audience.

People, the ones you want to get to take a specific action, muck up the entire process and make landing pages much more difficult.

There’s no specific way to design or configure a landing page to ensure it’s going to perform a certain way or deliver favorable conversions.

All you have is your research and whatever knowledge you may have picked up about copy and landing page best practices, so you go on intuition.

You’re not alone in that. Over 60% of marketers optimize sites based on intuition alone.

Then the testing starts. And despite everything you feel you’ve done correctly, you go through what many others experience: lackluster conversion rates.

There are a lot of changes and tweaks you can make, but don’t approach your landing page like a master control panel where you start pulling levers and pushing buttons blindly.

There are 5 key areas where you can start making small challenges to positively influence your conversion rates.

1. Trust Signals

Simply put, if you don’t have trust, then you don’t have sales. You may have been funneling traffic to your landing pages as a result of lead nurturing, but chances are you’ve got some fresh landing page traffic made up of people who have no idea who you are.

Even if you’ve been nurturing your leads via email and building a relationship, you still need strong trust signals to boost the confidence of your audience and help tip them over into a conversion.


Social proof

Social proof tells your audience that you can be trusted because other people have trusted you and made an investment of time and/or money. If you’ve got the attention and business of these other people, then you must be credible to some degree.

Some of the most common ways of adding social proof to a landing page include highlighting social shares, number of purchases, subscriber counts, or social followers.

Supplier/manufacturer affiliation

If you partner with any brand, be it a major organization or an influencer, getting their name or logo on your landing page creates an affiliation in the mind of the audience.

The audience will perceive you as more trustworthy and credible because you’re working with X brand, which must mean that X brand trusts you.

You’ll see this a lot with brand mentions that include “As seen on” logo placements.

Third-party certifications

They may not seem like much, but certifications can put a lot of people at ease, especially if you’re asking them to give you money or personal information. Using third-party certifications such as the Better Business Bureau and VeriSign create a perception of authority around your landing page and brand.


Testimonials are another form of social proof, and are one of the strongest trust symbols. According to Nielsen, 83% of consumers trust recommendations from people they know, and 66% trust consumer opinions posted online.

If you can, share the full details from customers, including their name and city if they’re comfortable with it. Because it’s easy to fake testimonials (and many online consumers know it) it pays to be as transparent as possible.


2. Fix Your Call to Action and Make it Obvious

Remember what I said above: your landing page has a single goal. The only way you’re going to get your audience to take action is if you make that goal 100% clear to the people landing on your page.

If you don’t have your call to action where it’s visible, above the fold, then it’s virtually impossible to direct people to take action.

The reason for this is because most people spend less than 15 seconds on any given web page, which means most won’t even bother scrolling. They’ll glance, their brain will decide whether you’re relevant or not, and they’ll bounce.

If you hide your call to action below the fold, bury it in clutter, or don’t make it stand out, then you’ll lose a considerable amount of conversions.


Eric Ries’ Lean Startup keeps the call to action above the fold and clearly visible.

Everything your audience needs to make a decision should be above the fold, but don’t necessarily try to put all of your content above the fold.

Likewise, it takes more than the placement of the call to action to make it effective. It also needs to be compelling.

Use power words

Avoid using corporate babble and industry jargon. Stick with practical language and power words that are proven to compel people to take action.

Use active language

Remember that your call to action is telling your audience to do something. Use verbs that inspire that action, such as “Join,” “Subscribe,” “Download,” etc.

Make it stand out

You want your call to action to stand out from everything else on the page, but you also want it to be consistent with the design and theme.

Tim Ferriss uses a great CTA design that clearly shows his audience where to begin.


I also want to point out the trust signals he uses on his landing page.

Use brevity

The best CTAs say the most in the fewest words, so limit them to around 90-150 characters. That’s about 5-7 words. If your call to action is too long, then you lose the hook, and if it’s too short, it may not clearly convey what step visitors should take (or why.)

Make it personal

Avoid using broad calls to action like “Start today.” Instead, personalize it to the user so it reads more like “Start your trial today.”


3. Remove the Ability to go Elsewhere

Clear navigation and links are great to use in your content marketing and on your website to help you expand on concepts and help the audience get to a destination, but they don’t belong on your landing page.

Your landing page is the destination.

You never want to give visitors the ability to click out of this endpoint in your funnel. Remove the navigation from your landing page, and avoid adding links to your content at all costs.


I also recommend adding in an exit pop-up that will appear based on user behavior, such as if the user moves their mouse toward the top of the browser. This pop-up should encourage them to stay and focus their attention on the main call to action.


4. Add Visual Engagement

If you’re getting great traffic but the conversions are low, try to incorporate visual elements as a way to improve engagement and keep the attention of your audience.

People who view video are almost 2x as likely to make a purchase, and, according to another study, the addition of video to a landing page can increase conversions by as much as 80%.


Even if you can’t create high-quality video content, you can still use relevant images to seal the deal with your audience. Include high-definition product photos, illustrations, or quality screenshots for digital services that show some behind-the-scenes product/service use.


Think like a shopper – people often want to pick up, look at, and handle a product before they purchase it. Visuals make the audience feel like they’re doing just that. This is why e-commerce sites rely on detailed and numerous product photos to help sell their goods.

5. Improve the Copy

Your copy consists of every written element on your page, especially the headlines. It should be compelling, free of errors, and written in a way that makes an emotional and psychological connection with your target audience.

It also needs to be presented in a way that’s easily scannable, with the most critical points standing out with formatting and design elements like bullets and callouts.


I can’t tell you what you should say – that’s going to be based entirely on your audience and what they need to hear, so that’s where your own research comes into play.

Test Everything You Do

Every change you make is going to have some kind of an impact on your conversions. Hopefully you’ll see a lift in conversions, but it’s possible for a change to cause them to drop.

That’s why testing is so important. There are two ways to test the work you’re doing.

A/B testing lets you pit two elements against each other so you can test one or two updates, such as a headline or call to action. Once you have a winner, you can test again or move on to another element.

Multivariate testing lets you evaluate a larger number of changes across your page at the same time, helping you find the best combination. It’s more complex to do, and many marketers prefer A/B testing over this method, but it can get you through testing a lot of changes more quickly.

If you’re getting low conversion rates, you don’t need to scrub it and start over. Make small, strategic changes to your copy and calls to action, and monitor your performance using the recommendations above. With the right approach, you should begin seeing substantial lifts in your conversion rates.

What kind of changes tend to bring you the best results with your landing pages? Share your success with me in the comments.

About the Author: Aaron Agius is an experienced search, content and social marketer. He has worked with some of the world’s largest and most recognized brands to build their online presence. See more from Aaron at Louder Online, their Blog, Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and LinkedIn.

from The Kissmetrics Marketing Blog

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Cloudinary: Responsive Images Solved

As a designer or developer of responsive websites, your ultimate goal, no doubt, is to maximize an image for each unique device, while not making the files so big they slow down the load time or use excessive amounts of bandwidth. You must find that delicate balance between serving an image that is as large as the device can handle and providing the best possible quality without impacting site performance. This balance is particularly important with increased usage of mobile devices, which commonly have high pixel density, but can suffer from unreliable connectivity, monthly bandwidth limitations and orientations changes quickly.

For responsive designs to work as intended, you require multiple versions of every image so it can be adapted to look perfect on any device in any resolution, pixel density or orientation. Generating, managing, marking-up and delivering these numerous versions can be a daunting task – requiring time-consuming manual intervention. 

You also have to be careful not to make mistakes – such as upscaling or downscaling an image when a window is resized. And, often, you may not take into account the impact of using different image formats. For example, serving a WebP image to Chrome or Opera browsers can reduce the image size by 25 percent compared to the equivalent PNG or JPG.

Solving the image adaptation problems

Cloudinary has long been a pioneer in simplifying image management, enabling developers to just mention the cropping parameters, encoding settings and various resolutions for responsive images so they could be dynamically adapted. Today, the process became even simpler. Cloudinary announced its “Images Solved” solution, which completely automates image management using content- and context-aware image adaptation.

You can upload one high-resolution copy of any image to Cloudinary, which then automatically adapts the image, in real-time, to focus on the most important region of the image, select the optimal quality and encoding settings, and responsively deliver the image to any device in any resolution or pixel density.

Cloudinary eliminates manual intervention, guesswork and tradeoffs by further simplifying image transformation by automating the following features:

Content-aware cropping

Scaling an image isn’t always enough. With experience in responsive design, you likely know that variations in viewport sizes and device orientations mean that images need to be cropped differently. Cloudinary leverages a single dynamic URL to deliver the right image, in the right proportions, on every device. Cloudinary’s content‑aware image cropping algorithm automatically detects the most important parts of each image and crops it on-the-fly, while making sure that important information is never cut off.

Content-aware quality adjustment and encoder fine-tuning

Oftentimes, designers and developers will err on the side of caution when optimizing an image. Despite little discernible difference in quality, you might opt for a JPG at 90 percent over a JPG at 80 percent. This decision packs in extra Kb that offers nothing but wasted bandwidth to the user. At the same time, you may save images as the best all‑round encoding option (commonly JPG), even when alternatives like WebP offer a much faster experience for some browsers. Cloudinary optimizes performance by detecting the capabilities of the viewing browser and delivering not only the optimum level of compression, but also the best-performing format for any browser or device. This, too, is accomplished using the single dynamic URL.

Responsive images

With so many devices on the market, it’s almost impossible to export the right image size, ratio and pixel‑density for every device. Every image could potentially have thousands of variations. Cloudinary simplifies dynamic image delivery for responsive websites by automating the image width and DPR value decision based on the viewing device, display size and layout. Using Google Client Hints, it determines the required width of an image based on the browser viewport or the layout width and then calculates the optimal resolution for displaying the image on that device. Or Cloudinary dynamically selects image-specific breakpoints by determining the required number of versions of every image in order to balance the optimal dimensions vs. bandwidth reduction trade-off.

Dynamic format selection

Developers are expected to select optimal image formats for different scenarios based on the image content and viewing device/browser.

For example, JPEG should be used for a captured photograph or for faster loading while PNG should be used for illustrations or drawings or when using a transparent background. Additional logic should also be considered for modern formats such as WebP and JPEG-XR, if the viewing browser is Chrome or Internet-Explorer/Edge.

Image formats can have significant impact on the page load time and bandwidth – for example using WebP over JPEG can result in 30% file size reduction, which can lead to faster page loads and improved conversion rates.

The browser/format compatibility requirements seem simple, but manually adopting the format logic for many images can be complex and inefficient.

The Cloudinary Images Solved enhancements can make your job infinitely easier. Now instead of managing multiple versions of the same image, you can upload one high-resolution copy of the image and then automatically adapt it, in real-time, to focus on the most important region of the image, select optimal quality and encoding settings and responsively deliver the image on any device in any resolution or pixel density. Read this blog to view some examples.


[– This is a advertorial post on behalf of Cloudinary –]

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Tuesday, June 28, 2016

The Poor Man’s Marketing Stack: How to Hack Marketing Automation

There are over 2,000 marketing technology companies today.

Each one doing something a bit different, filling some unique yet critical need.

That means on a daily basis, marketers might choose from 100 different software programs to fulfill relatively basic tasks.

That inspired somebody, somewhere, to misappropriate the word ‘stack’ from the development world to describe how a particular company might be aligning all their pieces of a marketing and sales pie.

The result often becomes a head-bangingly frustrating process where you’re piecing together several to deliver a single campaign.

Sure, you could opt for an all-in-one solution like HubSpot. But it’s also F&*#@*G expensive.

What if you don’t have that kind of loot?

Here’s how you can use even the most basic, inexpensive or free pieces of software to replicate sophisticated marketing automation and business process hacks.

How to Eliminate Bottlenecks with App-Connecting Tools

Marketing automation, when implemented properly, has the power to increase leads by 451% and boost sales by 34%.

But… a shockingly high 85% of B2B marketers admit to not using it correctly.

The secret ‘inbound marketing lie’ that no-one wants to admit is how F-ing time consuming this stuff is.

Not to mention, if you don’t have the right tool setup, it’s nearly impossible to pull off.

HubSpot is amazing. I’m a super happy partner and advocate. It makes marketing automation relatively easy to implement at scale. But most can’t (or won’t) fork over the ~$10k a year. That’s completely understandable.

When I started consulting, there was no way my clients or I could afford it either. (Although there is a compelling argument for making your money back relatively quickly if you’re using any all-in-one, database driven tool properly.)

That led to an endless search for tools that played well natively. Existing integrations between key pieces of software, like hooking up Gravity Forms with MailChimp, can make your life 10X easier.

But it’s difficult to construct an entire marketing funnel with only tools with native integrations. And it’s not realistic, as other departments or teams within your organization will probably have their own tools that need to work seamlessly with yours.

Fortunately, tools like Zapier and IFTTT (If This Then That) began popping up to help solve this problem.

They’re pretty basic once you get the hang of it. Simply connect two applications, create a ‘trigger’ (the thing that starts this process in motion) and an ‘action’ (what happens when the trigger is, well, triggered).

For example, Gravity Forms (an excellent WordPress plugin) can then automatically send new form submissions to your favorite CRM like Contactually – even though there’s not native integration between these two applications.


Best of all, with a little ingenuity, you can use them to re-create a marketing stack and begin automating your marketing.

We’re going to walk through examples in a minute, but first the theory.

Get Started by Outlining Your Marketing Funnel Steps

In an ideal world, strangers find out who you are and develop interest and trust in your brand before agreeing to become a customer.

Digital marketing 101 talks about creating a seamless customer experience by creating tactics that align with each stage of the buyer’s journey:


  • Awareness: A stranger becomes aware of some problem in their life.
  • Information: They begin looking for ways to help solve said problem.
  • Evaluation: Recognizing a need, they begin actively searching for a solution between different alternatives.
  • Decision: They make the conscious decision to move forward with the alternative that best meets their criteria.

Sophisticated tools can help you hit all of these points without ever switching around. But that’s gonna be tough with inexpensive software that typically specializes in one small area or another.

So instead, the goal is to recreate what these other platforms can do, moving people logically from one step to the next when they’re ready. Ideally, in the most automated and simplistic fashion possible.

The goal is to recreate what HubSpot and other sophisticated (read: expensive) marketing automation software does, for a fraction of the price.

Sounds nice in theory, right?

But practically, how would that look?


  • Awareness: A new lead converts on a landing page, getting added to your email marketing software.
  • Information: As the lead begins searching for more information on your site and interacting with other resources, they should be added and removed from other automated marketing sequences to continue nurturing.
  • Evaluation: Once the lead begins getting serious about considering you as a solution, they need to be updated in your CRM system as such and qualified (if appropriate).
  • Purchase: If they decide to move forward with you, things need to be paid, they need to become a customer or client, and their project or account needs to be set-up immediately.

The important thing to note here isn’t the tools themselves, but your process or workflow. Once that’s defined, you can figure out which tools might be best to slot in each category. For example, even the free Google Contacts might be a good CRM choice (and it integrates easily with Zapier).

Enough small talk though.

Let’s take a look at each stage of this funnel to see how you can use Zapier to recreate steps that typically only expensive marketing automation platforms deliver.

Awareness: Landing Page to Email Marketing

Rule #1 of Permission Marketing (which pre-dated Inbound Marketing by, oh, like a decade) is to get somebody to give you their info in exchange for something of value, allowing you to continue following up with that person over time.

This can be old school, like an email address. Or new school, like their Snapchat… um, err… I have no idea what these kids call it.

In any event, the process is the same.

We already spoke about Gravity Forms, which can be used to power basic eBook forms to collect submissions.

But how about something a little more complex, like a webinar?

Zapier integrates easily with GoToWebinar, allowing you to capture new registrations (and even new attendees).


This is perfect if you’d like to add these new registrations to an email list.

Even better, is if you create an automated workflow in for a specific email list for the upcoming webinar. That way, you can continually send out new messages to the contact to make sure that they attend the event (thereby boosting your Attendance Rate).

MailChimp is perfect for this. The pricing is very affordable, especially considering the beautiful templates, ease-of-use, and pretty decent automation options. Plus, that damn Chimp is so cute.


Simply select the upcoming webinar, add the new registration to a specific list in MailChimp, and you’re done.

Easy peasy.

But… what happens if people DO (or DON’T) show up? What happens if they DO (or DON’T) take you up on that customary end-of-webinar call-to-action?

You gotta update their status.

Information: Email Marketing Updates

Let’s say that you’re getting clever now, and that you’d like to create two different sets of messages based on if people did or didn’t attend your webinar.

Obviously, getting this right is important because if somebody receives the wrong email it could damage your credibility.

There are a few ways to do this, but the most straightforward is to simply create two additional lists in your email marketing service – one for those who do show up, and one for those who don’t.

THEN, you’ll want to unsubscribe people from the initial list (like the original webinar registration one) and add them to one of the new lists you created based on their actions.

Most basic email marketing services don’t have this feature already. However you can create a simple Zap to take care of it for you.


Another example where this comes in handy is if you offer a free trial or demo.

In that case, you don’t want a new lead (or even customer) to continue receiving promotional messages. Fortunately this same simple little hack, creating different lists for different segments of people, being unsubscribed automatically when they join a new list, can take care of a lot of the headache.


Evaluation: New Lead to CRM to Qualify (or Disqualify)

So far you’ve been nurturing this new lead with a few different campaigns or tactics. Everything’s gone well so far and they’re ready to get serious.

For product or software companies this is straightforward and easy: they download the discount or join the free trial and either purchase (or not).

However it’s a little more complicated for service companies.

How do you know if the lead is any good? You can’t just agree to speak with everyone nutjob who fills out your form (and there will be plenty, believe me).

You can start by filtering your results, setting up qualifying questions in your forms to make sure that you’re tailoring your follow-up process accordingly.

For example, you can set-up different zaps between products based on how people answer a specific question.


Now you can begin segmenting the people who ARE interested in your services, with the tire kickers who are primarily interested in wasting your time.

But you still have no idea if they’re even a good lead or not.

To be on the safe side, let’s automatically send an email to someone in your company to qualify each new prospect who’s interested in your services.

Simple! Just use Gmail based on the form filtered submission you just set-up. You can even pre-craft the message, pulling in form data, along with helpful links for the person who’s helping you to know exactly how you want them to be qualified (delegation FTW!).


You can send this email to an assistant, employee, or whomever, and at the same time create a new project management task to make sure they’ll see it immediately as it comes in (along with a due date to make sure each lead is followed up with ASAP).


With a few simple steps and some foresight, you’ve just set-up and delegated the first few steps of your sales process.


But you’re still not quite done yet. What happens when those people decide to pay you money?

Decision: New Client to Point of Sale and Project Management

Again, product or software transactions are insanely straightforward.

When someone wants to become a customer, they whip out a credit card and it takes a few seconds. Then you can update your email or contact lists accordingly with the previous tips.

However what if this is a larger transaction?

First, you can automatically create a new Freshbooks invoice when someone fills out an appropriate form. You can even have someone fill this out internally while on the phone with a new client-in-waiting.


Freshbooks already integrates with both Stripe and PayPal (along with a few others), so you can even take this a step further by automating all of the tasks related to onboarding new clients too.

For example, let’s create a new Dropbox folder for each client when a successful first payment is made.


Pretty helpful. But let’s keep going.

Let’s also create a new TEMPLATED project in your favorite project management tool (like Asana in this case).


Just like we did earlier with the email message to qualify a new lead, you can select a pre-built template for the new client to get everything set-up in seconds (rather than hours).

Best of all, there’s no shortage of tips or tricks here. If you take notes during your Kick-Off Call with Evernote, a task can immediately be created in your PM tool to make sure these notes are added to the client’s project accordingly.


A Time-Saving Caveat

Tools like Zapier or IFTTT open up a brand new world of possibilities.

It’s super interesting and you can geek out on this stuff for HOURS if you’re not careful.

Just think about all of the possibilities you can accomplish if even the most basic software options like Gravity Forms and MailChimp can do this stuff.

But don’t start with the tools.

Instead, start with the process. What exactly are you trying to accomplish? How should people move seamlessly through your own marketing funnel?

Begin by setting up the basic stuff and testing as you go. Once you’ve got the process down, it’s easy to dive into the details and begin customizing each little aspect.

For example, just start by automating how each new lead is followed up with. Then you can get clever with implementing different marketing campaigns that funnel down to this step.

Not only with this approach save you tons of time on the front-end, but you’ll drastically increase your odds of this system delivering better results too.

About the Author: Brad Smith is a founding partner at Codeless Interactive, a digital agency specializing in creating personalized customer experiences. Brad’s blog also features more marketing thoughts, opinions and the occasional insight.

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