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  • TAM 007: Jake Hower – Getting Started With Marketing Automation
ActiveCampaign Marketing Automation Barry Moore

TAM 007: Jake Hower – Getting Started With Marketing Automation

In episode 7, I chat with Jake Hower from FuzedApp, Jake has a great story about being a bricks and mortar business owner and how he started using marketing automation in that business, and how he got it to pay for itself straight away.

[pullquote align=”normal”]Does this impact my customer in a positive way? [/pullquote]

Jake also talks about how you can use tools like Infusionsoft and ActiveCampaign to increase the human contact and customer touch points in your business.

Jake saw the power of marketing automation and the impact it can make in any business and eventually started his own marketing automation business of his own. That business, FuzedApp.com, allows you to hook the major automation platforms to other systems like Wistia and Goto Webinar to ensure a seamless customer experience

We Chat About:

  • How Jake got started
  • Using marketing automation for customer care
  • Using automation to run your business
  • Where to get started
  • How to get your automation platform to pay for itself
  • How to make sure you are doing the right thing by your customers
  • The groovy things you can do with Fuzed

If you would like to have a chat about how you could be using marketing automation to grow your business join us in the Automation Nation private Facebook group.

Links Mentioned In The Show

Listening options:


Jake : I signed up for a MailChimp account, I hired an Indian developer to design our website on O Desk and I quickly realised over the course of a few months that neither were the right fit for what we were doing.

Barry: I was going to ask you about the developer.

Announcer: Welcome to the Active Marketer podcast. We talk about how to design, automate and scale your business to the next level using sales and marketing automation. You can find out all the tips, tactics and techniques you need to get more customers and sell more stuff over at theactivemarketer.com. Now, here's your host, Barry Moore.

Barry: Welcome back to The Active Marketer podcast, I'm your host Barry and this is episode seven. In this episode, we've got a really great interview with Jake from fuzedapp.com. Jake is a great entrepreneur and another marketing automation freak like myself. He's got a great story of how he got started down his entrepreneurial journey when he kind of got gifted a developer from Dan Norris who we talked to in episode three.

Dan was just wrapping up Insightly and was running out of money and he couldn't pay some of his staff. So, he called up Jake and said: ‘Hey, do you want to hire one of my developers?' So Jake said yes and took over that developer and you can hear the rest of the story in the main part of the interview.

Before we get to that, the shameless social proof segment, where we read out a few I10's reviews. So, we've got a couple more in this episode from the United States. Here's one from Bernard Maxwell, five stars. He says: ‘Great quick podcast to get more moves for my business. Keep them coming. I'm subscribed.' Thanks Bernard, we appreciate that.

We'll read out one more from Donald Bowe. He says: ‘Five stars, excellent information. I love this podcast. It's short and to the point and the tips are inspiring.' Thank you Donald. That's what I'm here for. I really want to give you guys a balance between some inspirational interviews, like this week's interview with Jake and some actual tips that you can take away. Some automations that you can put into your business straight away.

So, without any further ado, let's get into this week's episode with Jake from Fused App.

I'd like to welcome Jake Hower to the show. How are you Jake?

Jake : I'm doing really well, thanks Barry. Thanks for having me on. I'm pretty excited to be here.

Barry: I've been really looking forward to chatting with you. I found a lot of entrepreneurs online, probably a lot of the same people that you deal with. There's two stories I read about, which I really loved. One is Dan Norris' story, about how he's been at the plate, swinging and swinging and swinging in this entrepreneurial game for I think about 10 years now, with mixed success. Finally he gets on to the WP curve and then just hits it out of the park. It's a great story.

Jake : Absolutely. I think most entrepreneurs would have a similar story to him. I think the reason he stands out is because he lets people into his story. That's something I'm very comfortable doing, but in terms of lows, he shares a lot more lows than he does highs. People seem to resonate with it, don't they?

Barry: It's great to see a success. The other great story is, I think, your story. Just a guy slogging away at a travel agent, which is a notoriously low margin, hard work business, stumbling upon market automation and then almost over the course of a weekend, go from being a retail travel agent to a sass app entrepreneur. Largely in part to Dan Norris, as well.

Jake : Exactly, exactly. It's an interesting story. I guess, probably the biggest learning out of it is it's actually all about perception.
Barry: Yeah, for sure. So, we'll talk about Fused in a minute, but maybe if we could get into the time machine and go back a few years when you were working in the travel agency. When you first started, what were you using to manage your list? Was it one of the basic tools like MailChimp or Aweber or something like that?
Jake : Yes, I guess I had a relatively normal evolution into online marketing that probably most of our listeners are going through now or have been through. I opened the agency, didn't open the agency, I joined the agency as an owner in 2009. At that point, maybe I'd managed a website build with a local designer at one point for the old agency. So, I'd had pretty much no experience in the online space.

That's exactly what we did. I joined the agency, which had been around since the 1950's, so a very long-standing agency. Our customers had never been marketed to. My first job was really to get to know our customers. I thought the best way to do that would have been to start emailing and talking to them. So, I signed up for a MailChimp account, I hired an Indian developer to design our website on O Desk. I quickly realised over the course of a few months, that neither were the right fit for what we were doing.

Barry: I was going to ask you about the developer.

Jake : Absolutely. I think it would have progressed very similarly to the way most people do. I got the developer. He coded up basically, or hard-coded a custom website. Then I got involved with James Schramko and his community at Super Fast Business. I learnt a little bit more about what you could do on the web, about website building and realised that WordPress was going to be a lot simpler for us to use.

So, the next foray was a paid … another development company on O Desk to convert the website that we'd built custom, across to WordPress, so that we could add new posts et cetera et cetera. I think the next step was, from the website evolution, was using templates. I'd probably spent, well, gee, it would've been 100 plus hours through this process and probably $5000 or $6000 through the process as well. Quite a substantial amount of money, only to work out if I'd got involved with some people who knew what they were talking about earlier, that I could have done it all on maybe three or four hours worth of work and $20 to buy a WordPress theme.
Barry: Yeah, sure. Always model your behaviour on someone who's doing it right to begin with.

Jake : Absolutely, absolutely. I think, probably the biggest lesson for me there and it's something that I've taken on through the rest of my business career, has been to A – find yourself a mentor and B – find them fast, because they're going to shortcut a lot of the learnings and a lot of the expenses and costs. I think that's probably the big thing that I do now, when I go into something that I don't understand or I don't know, I will find someone who does and I'll pay them whatever they're asking because invariably, they're going to save me money in the long term.

Barry: Yeah, sure. I'll give a shout out to James Schramko's community as well, I'm a member there. There's a fantastic amount of value there and a lot of very smart people in there as well.

Jake : So, the next thing we did, I started emailing our customers. I quickly realised because they'd never been marketed to before, that they were quite unresponsive. Just using email alone wasn't a great way to connect with them, so …

Barry: Were these just straight broadcast emails?

Jake : Exactly, yeah. We were doing a weekly newsletter type of thing. It was pretty much what every business does. It might even have been monthly, to be honest actually. One of the trends that were taking place at that time was video. So, I started shooting videos instead of … I'd shoot a quick round up of all the travel news and I'd send that out to our customer base weekly. When I quickly found that I started to get people starting to reply to the email messages with the links to the videos. I started having people … when I answer the phone and say: ‘This is Jake', they'd talk to me like they knew me, like they were my friend and I didn't have a clue who was on the other end of the line.

Video really served a great purpose in our agency in that it really resonated with our customer base and it allowed them to get to know me without me having to invest in a thousand individual relationships, which was really powerful.

Barry: I think especially for travel, since it's such an experience based product, that video sells that really well. Did you put those videos up on YouTube or did you go straight to Wistia?
Jake : We started with YouTube. Then it would've just been a referral from that same forum or that same community where Wistia was starting to get popular and they were starting to talk about it. So, I switched across to Wistia. I think I would have been one of the first to switch across to Wistia in that forum for all of my videos for a couple of reasons. I guess, the main one from my perspective, was the video site map. At that time Google was allowing you to … or basically, if you had a video embedded on your site in the right format, it would display a little thumbnail image in the Google search results. YouTube videos do this automatically, but the problem with YouTube is that they link back to YouTube.

I wanted try to get traffic through the video to my site. By using Wistia, Wistia was able to format these videos in the right way that they showed in the search results, but they came straight to my site. So, that was probably the main reason that I was using Wistia in the place of YouTube, which is against the trend a little bit but I stayed with Wistia.

I guess the next trend that I saw, this is all in a matter of 18 months to two years. The next trend was, a lot of people starting to talk more and more about marketing automation. I went off and bought Infusionsoft and I started doing some basic marketing automation for our travel agency, which was fantastic. It really had a good, positive effect on our business.

At that point, we were using some CRM and task management platforms to manage our client bookings. I guess, one of the biggest reasons I switched to Infusionsoft, was that by doing so, I could actually automate some of those transactional messages between a consultant and a customer. Or, importantly, messages that weren't going from a consultant to a customer.
Barry: Yeah, very true. When you got the Infusionsoft and you started putting it in, what were the very first steps that you started taking with that marketing automation?

Jake : The first thing I wanted to do when I implemented Infusionsoft, is I wanted to basically make the exercise cost-neutral. I wanted to find some point in my business which was going to save me $300 per month that it cost me to have Infusionsoft. Because I hadn't been doing a great deal of marketing automation itself, I worked out that you could use the tool for some internal business processes.

The first thing we then did, is we looked at our existing booking management process. For instance, whenever anybody books a trip with us, there's a few things that have to happen on every booking. For instance, they have to pay a deposit, they have to pay a final payment, we have to ask them about travel insurance, we have to check if any VISA's are required for the country that they're visiting. We also like to check on a few extra things like airport parking et cetera et cetera. At the time, we're also welcoming everybody home with a card et cetera et cetera.

So, I took our current task system, we were using a platform called Capsule CRM, which was fantastic. It basically was consultant driven still, so it set the task on the right date, but then the consultant had to manually do that. So we took that, we converted to Infusionsoft. Then we added in some of these emails or some of these messages that we weren't actually already asking the client.

Some really good examples of that is there are some products in the travel industry that make money but they don't make enough money that it's worth the consultant actually having that conversation with the client.

For instance, foreign exchange is great one. There's a low commission that we get on that, it's about 1 or 2%. The average order size might be $1000. So, it's like a $10 or $20 commission for us to actually go through that foreign currency conversation. If you're talking how long it would take a consultant to go through and ask that manually, it's just not worth it. By using Infusionsoft, we're able to automate that message, put it in a nice email, with some links to the foreign currency platforms. The traveller is able to go off and order it themselves and we'll get that commission.

A couple of other things like airport parking, et cetera, et cetera, pet minding facilities, a few little things like this which, I guess, increase the average order size by between $10 and $60 on a booking.

These are the things that while it's fantastic for me to provide a better service to our customers, it's fantastic for our consultants because it's making them more money and it's taking them less time to manage the booking as well.

That alone, that one little sequence, it made us probably $600 a month rather than … $1200 or $1000 we're making extra and we're paying $300 to have Infusionsoft.

Barry: Fantastic. What I like about your approach as well, is when a lot of people think about marketing automation, they just think it's just a tool to spam out a million email messages to everyone. You're actually using it to, one – automate your internal task flow and two – trigger actual human touch points with the customer. Two weeks from now, I want a reminder to send these people a card or make a follow up phone call, so you can actually do some face-to-face with these people. That's the real power of marketing automation is that you can manage your internal task flow a lot easier and convert more customers by reminding yourself to get away from the computer and get on the phone and call.

Jake : Exactly. That's probably one of the biggest things. Number one, I think, the terminology is just totally the wrong terminology to start with. Marketing automation doesn't actually … I don't think it explains what it is very well. For me, it's more sort of business process management or business … it's like a business control system or something else. It's not marketing automation.

Barry: Fair enough.

Jake : That word automation I think is also incorrect. It leaves negative connotations. The travel industry is a high service industry, as are a lot of industries. Lots of bricks and mortar is high service.

Generally, you don't just want to be sending out canned messages and sending out automatic messages to your customers because they don't always appreciate it. People connect automation with that. Realistically, you could hide that automation behind that layer, that consultant layer or that internal layer.

You could be assigning tasks and sending yourself emails to trigger the conversation with the customer, rather than having that email automatically sent if you're not comfortable with that.
Barry: Moving your customers through a pipeline so you don't … you or your consultants don't miss a step in the process and everything gets followed up that needs to get followed up.

Jake : Exactly.

Barry: Yeah, you're right. I think the word automation itself just has a bad rep in that it's cold and impersonal. You're using it to create a more personal touch with your customers which is always good.

Jake : That's the important part of it. I think if you … there's a couple of questions I ask whenever we do anything in our business. Number one, does making this change impact our customers in a positive way? Does making this change impact our business in a positive way? So, they're the first two questions I ask. If I say yes to number one, we'll do it. If we say no to number one but we say yes to number two, then I ask myself a third question: ‘Does this impact our customers in a negative way?' If that's a yes then we don't implement it, but if it's a no, then we'll implement that internal process.

Barry: Fair enough. So there's lots of benefits in getting started with these marketing automation slash business type systems. What do you think stops most people from getting started?

Jake : I think the unknown. So number one … I guess the other connotation automation has is it's going to be complex to set up. Most people are very … it's a daunting task to tackle or the perception, there's that word again, the perception is that it's a daunting task to tackle. I think that's what stops most people.

Barry: Infusionsoft, especially, has a bit of a reputation for being ‘confusionsoft'. How long did it take you to get your head around the back end of that product?

Jake : I'm a relatively tech savvy guy but, even then, it took … to actually understand the product, it took four or five hours. So, not that large of a learning curve. To understand how to use … to understand the philosophy around using automation in business, that was a process that took, probably, 18 months.

There's a lot of training on how to use the platform. There's not a lot of training about why you should be using it and how best to use it. I think that's the hard part.

Barry: Yeah, I guess it's the difference between how do you drive a car mechanically, you know, turn the key, step on the pedal, or how do you race at Formula One.

Jake : Exactly, yeah. That's a very good analogy.

Barry: I know you've got Active Campaign at Fuzed, we'll talk about that in a second. How do you find the comparison in the learning curve for Active Campaign?

Jake : It's actually pretty similar. Realistically, I think it matters less about the platform and more about what you're using it for. What you're using it for is agnostic regardless if you're using Active Campaign or Infusionsoft [inaudible 00:00:00].

I think it's best to try and understand how to use it before you actually use it. I guess where Active Campaign certainly excels is if you're already using a mail system that most people will be, they'll be using MailChimp or Get Response or Aweber, then with Active Campaign, there is pretty much no learning curve, as you're quite aware, to replace what you're doing with MailChimp with Active Campaign.

Barry: That's what attracted me about it. It's an easy transition. Like you said, if you go out and buy a hammer, you know how to use a hammer, but that doesn't necessarily mean you know how to build a house. There's always going to be that learning curve on how you apply that knowledge, but I think wrapping your head around … you can get started easily by doing the stuff you're already familiar with. Then you can bolt on more and more sequences and more and more automation as you get more comfortable with mapping out your business workflow and how you want it to look and implementing that as a tool.

Jake : Yep.

Barry: So, I'd love to move on to Fuze now. For those people who aren't familiar with how you moved from the travel agency to being a sass-app entrepreneur, why don't you quickly tell us that story.

Jake : Absolutely. So, about two years in to me owning the travel agency and heavily embedded in a few communities online, I was enjoying the online space more and more. I had started a podcast on multimedia marketing, I was obviously shooting a lot of video using Wistia, using Infusionsoft. One of my friends that I'd been speaking to quite a bit at that point was Dan Norris, who we spoke about a little bit earlier on. Basically, he'd allocated a year of his time and wages towards building a product called Informly which was a software as a service application.

He'd got to the last month or so where he was running out of cash and he needed to re-allocate one of his developers. He had two developers working on the product. He had to let one of his developers go. Instead of just letting him go, he wanted to ensure that he found him more work and find him a place to work. He asked a few people online and shot me a Skype message on a Friday afternoon and said: ‘I've got to let this guy go. Would you be interested in taking him?' At that point, I've got no development background, I'd not even considered looking at development. I said yes.

I thought, number one, it's relatively cheap, under $1000 a month, the cost of his salary, a full time employee. Number two, we were building some websites for selective clients. I thought even if I don't get him to develop something else, I can use him to help build these websites. That was my fall back. Number three, I was intrigued with what you could do with Wistia and what you could do with Infusionsoft, so on the Friday I said yes. He started work on the Monday. I thought what I'd get him to do over the weekend and we decided that we wanted to connect Wistia and Infusionsoft.

One of the core features that Wistia allow you to do, is they allow you to track a user. You can tag somebody watching the video with an email address. If they click a link in your email that you've sent out, Wistia will grab the email it was sent to and it will apply to the player. Then it will track the view. Any view that they watch of your videos.

So, I said to our developer: ‘Hey, what I'd like to do is, I'd like to have a select parameter. So if somebody watched, say, above 50% of this video, then I'd like to send them an email via Infusionsoft.' He went off and he worked out that we could connect it. When it was working, I played around with it for a little bit and I decided let's build this in a way where I can ask some other friends if they want to use this system as well.

So we built in a user module into Fuzed. That was great, that took another day. Then I started showing a couple of friends. They were like: ‘This is fantastic.' Can you do exactly the same thing here, connect to Webinar which is a webinar platform and it worked along the same parameters. So if someone wanted to know when someone attended or didn't attend a webinar and then they wanted to put them into different email sequences, so we connected that.

Within a month, we had paying users on board. Within six months, we were well and truly embedded in a few communities, including Infusionsoft and Entraport.

Barry: That's a great story. So, in that first weekend, was that white boards and post-it notes and you trying to figure out what you wanted to do?

Jake : It wasn't, it wasn't. I'm …

Barry: Is it really just, you wanted somebody to solve your own problem, yeah?

Jake : I guess it was solving my problem. I don't have too many original thoughts. A lot of what I do is … I model leaders very easily. I seem to be able to model and I guess in most cases I can say that I can improve in most cases and refine points where I can actually do something better. There are some products in the marketplace that are already doing this, which I thought well, this is cool, I love to be able to do this.

There's a guy named Jermaine Griggs, who had built WordPress plug-ins to do this Wistia stuff and another guy named Brad Martiner had a product called Plus This. They are both doing it. I thought yeah, cool, I'd love to be able to do that. I love the concept. So, we went off and developed it. I believe we made it better.

Barry: Yeah, for sure. I love how you started with the platform and, again, modelling successful people by reaching out to influencers and getting them on board so they could end up talking about it as well. I think that person you referred to going to a webinar, was that Taki?

Jake : It was, yeah.

Barry: Whenever you've got Taki Moore or James Schramko on board, it's probably going to go pretty well for you.

Jake : This is a whole other conversation, but this goes to how I network online. These are relationships that come about, not from me just approaching them and saying: ‘Hey, I've got this. Use it.' I'd been nurturing these for pretty much my entire career online.

James was the first person who attracted me to the online space. I had invested years into providing value and learning and implementing before I'd ever asked him to do anything for me. I didn't even have to ask him at that point because he knew me, he respected what I was doing and he was happy to promote something that was going to benefit his listeners.

Barry: Yeah, for sure. He's a genuine guy. You're right, you add value before you ask for something. Now that you've got a few people using Fuzed, at this point in the story, are you rolling out features or are you just getting them to tell you what they need?

Jake : That's exactly right. Now, it's 100% user driven. Every feature apart from … I tell a lie, there was one other feature that I embedded into the platform because I wanted it. Every other feature is being driven by what the users want.

So now we integrate with Shopify, with Active Campaign, we integrate with Google Calendar, we've got a plug-in for Chrome browser, some help desk systems et cetera, et cetera. We've got quite a nice stable of integrations.

At this point, we have slowed down in continuing to develop new features. We're enhancing the features we currently have. At this point, the main reason behind that is that we're providing tremendous value with our product, but I've seen another market which needs help.

So, we've started working on another product in another space which, I guess, we're trying to interrupt and revolutionise as well.

Barry: I'm intrigued now. I suppose you're not going to share that with us at this point, are you?

Jake : We do have a landing page up for it. I've been following along, your listener will hopefully know about platforms like We Pages and Unbounce, which are landing page templates.

Barry: For sure.

Jake : They provide well designed landing pages so that within a couple of minutes, you can have something up and you can be collecting emails et cetera, et cetera. One of the big things with payments and with shopping carts is that there isn't really any product that allows you to have a selection of simple landing … like layouts. Payment page layouts. Where you can collect money from people really simply and easily.

It's a product we call Merge Cart. We've just stared developing this week and we won't be due to open until somewhere in early 2015. It's a space which I think really needs some innovation and it really needs some simplification.

Barry: Cool, very cool. I look forward to seeing all that stuff.

Just before we close off our interview here, going back to Fuzed for a second, have there been any features that customers have asked for that were just a complete surprise to you and you didn't see it coming?

Jake : Probably the big one for me was the need for … it's probably our Chrome extension, which at the time, was also a Gmail extension. People wanted to access, which makes sense, it's a very simple one. Basically what it allows you to do, is when you're in Gmail, say you've got a message open in your inbox, this little extension looks at the sender's name and email address and pulls in all their contact information from Active Campaign.

Barry: It also tells you what sequences and tags they have?

Jake : Yeah exactly. Automation series et cetera, et cetera. So this was a very simple one. In theory, it's just another browser window that would be open. A lot of people asked for it for a long time before I actually implemented it. That was surprising, because for me, it does offer value, no doubt about it but I didn't see that as a substantial amount of value, but it does.

Barry: All right Jake, so we might wrap it up there. Where can people find out more about Fuzed App and all the groovy stuff you can do with it?

Jake : So get across to fuzedapp.com.

Barry: Thanks Jake, we appreciate it and we look forward to having you back later in sharing your sequence with us.

Jake : Fantastic. Thanks Barry, I appreciate it.

Barry: Thanks Jake.

Really great interview with Jake there. I love his story about how he got started in the marketing automation space and into the entrepreneurial world. He's a really nice guy. I just saw him recently at an event down in Sydney, where he gave a presentation on a sales funnel for James Schramko. Really, really interesting stuff.

As always, you can find the show notes over at theactivemarketer.com website. You can find the show notes for this particular episode at theactivemarketer.com/jake.

Just before we go, this is a new podcast and I'm trying to get the message of marketing automation out in front of as many people as possible, because I think it's a powerful tool for growing your business. I'd really appreciate it if you could share this podcast with someone who you think will find it useful.

Until next week, you can find all the show notes and more blog posts over at theactivemarketer.com. Thanks everybody.

Announcer: Thanks for listening to the Active Marketer podcast. You can find all the show notes and all the latest marketing automation news over at theactivemarketer.com

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