TAM 075: Riffing on ActiveCampaign – Chris Davis
In this episode I welcome back long time friend of the show Chris L. Davis, formerly of LeadPages and now director of education at ActiveCampaign.
There are so many things you can do with your marketing automation, sometimes you just need to sit and spitball ideas with other smart folks, to find new and interesting ways to make it work.
In this episode we throw around a few ideas and some trends we see on the way.
We Chat About:
- Other messaging formats
- Site messaging
- Site tracking
- Ecommerce integrations
If you want to give ActiveCampaign a try, you can set up a free trial account here.
Links Mentioned In The Show
- ActiveCampaign QuickStart Training Course
- The Active Marketer Academy
- Marketing Trends for 2017
- Site Messaging
- Google Analytics
- Ideas at ActiveCampaign
- Also check out our huge list of online marketing tools
Barry: All right. I want to welcome back to the show Mr. Chris L. Davis. Chris, how are you?
Chris: Barry, I am doing very well. It's so good to be back on the show. I know we've been trying to get connected with each other and just missing. It's great when we are synced up and we can finally make this happen.
Barry: Folks, if you are not familiar with Chris, he was at Leadpages for a while and now he is head of education, is that right, at ActiveCampaign?
Chris: Yes, I'm the director of education at ActiveCampaign, tasked with the job of creating or making marketing automation a lot more easily adaptable for small business owners and of course our users just so that when they are ready to get it implemented, they know exactly what they are doing and they can leverage it at the highest level.
Barry: Whenever I run into a problem I always just look at the bumper sticker on the back of my car which says, “What would Chris do?” Folks, this is going to be a little bit random, we were talking before we hit record here and we were just kind of going in random directions about what's happening in marketing automation. We are going to keep the randomness going here. Chris, let's talk a little bit about … I know we had a little bit of, you contributed to a trends article that I just put out of where we see kind of marketing going in 2017. Maybe you can give us kind of the official if you are not letting any secrets out of the bag, but kind of the official direction that AC seems themselves going in 2017.
Chris: Yeah. In fact, some of the things that we are working on internally is what shaped what I put out there as far as the trends that I see. To your point in your article, I would say, every single person or every piece of expertise in that article, I found myself shaking my head like, “Yeah, I can see that. Yes, you are right. I do see that landscape.” One of the things that I've enjoyed, it's taken me a little bit to come on board and really understand everything as with any company. The more I understood the more I'd get excited because I know without a shadow of a doubt where Jason's vision is for not just marketing automation but the company and the impact he wants to make in the small business, the small enterprise section.
It's never been about just the emails, the more I learn marketing automation and adapted it for myself, I started to realize, “You know what? It's so much more than just sending emails.” There is so much more you can do besides just, “Hey, they've visited a page, send an email. Hey, they are on this list, send an email. Hey, they bought, send an email.” Those are basic functionalities that are really powerful. When you start getting to have more mature processes and bigger processes in your business both internally and externally, you start to get a different appreciation for automation and what it can do and just how much of your business it can handle. One of the things that I've mentioned in, or the thing that I did mention is messaging outside of the inbox.
Barry: For sure.
Chris: Barry, essentially if we think about it, we are kind of already used to doing it when we are talking about re-targeting. Because it's a way of putting some messaging on social media. There is no way to really track who sees it unless, oh my God, you are paying for impressions. Oh my goodness. You have some basic metrics, you are paying and people are clicking. You know they are seeing your message, but you don't really have control. We have, site messaging is one of the features you'll see coming out soon in 2017, which essentially turns your website into an email inbox.
It looks very similar to your support little bubbles that pop up in the bottom right, but the functionality is very much that of an email. You can see when someone opens it when they go to your website and they see it. You can see when they open it, you can see when they click it. Then you can trigger automation based on the action taken on the little, the site messaging.
Barry: I was just walking through, I was doing a live call for my academy members last night and we were walking through that site messaging stuff as well. It's one of those things you open and you go, “Wow. This is really cool. What are the uses cases?” It's like there is a million or, “I haven't really wrapped my head around how to use it best at the moment, but it's pretty cool.” Maybe even one thing, maybe you could take this back, maybe the one thing that'll make it even cooler is if they didn't, because for those site messages they have to be subscribers already to get those?
Barry: If you could have like anonymous ones as well.
Barry: So if someone has come to your site and they haven't opted in yet, but you can hit with them with an anonymous site message or whatever. For people who don't know we are talking about site messaging, I think it's been on beta for a while now. If you've ever seen like intercom, it's probably the most known one, where there is a little icon in the corner and it says, “Hey, Chris, welcome, blah, blah, blah.” You click on it and it opens up a bigger message and you can have images and custom fields which is really cool. You can bring in your custom fields from a campaign and you can have call to action buttons in there and all stuff.
As Chris said, what's also super cool is that that becomes a trigger for your automations. You know if there is, whatever triggers and they are subscribed to a list, the form tag is added. Now there is a new one which is, the message has been read. If someone has read that message that can be a trigger to fire in your automation. I totally get why that's important. I totally get where it's going. I like that. I think the unified messaging stuff is I think a super powerful trend that's coming. I keep thinking to that scene for Minority Report, do you remember that movie by Tom Cruise?
Barry: Where he's walking down the street and all the messages are coming at him from the shop because they recognize that it's him, and they know what he's interested in and it's very creepy and stuff, but creep is here man. Creepy is here already.
Chris: Creepy is here. It's to the point of I think maybe Russell Brunson is the biggest advocate of the on-page sales funnel. Progressing them from visitor to customer without email. Literally just using pages linked together. This is another tool in that box, because this pop or the site message when you expand it, it could take them to perhaps a landing page. That landing page, perhaps the thank you page is a registration page for an evergreen webinar. They register for the webinar and maybe there is an offer that says, “Hey, get this before you attend the webinar.” Or a special offer or what not.
Now they've progressed through literally an entire funnel without you having to capture much information or rely too heavily on email. It's one of those things that never, the intent is never to replace email. It's just to add to it, so that it's more effective for you. That's the hardest part Barry I'll be honest with you. That's the hardest part of what we do because we've been doing it for so long. We see applications like that and they are like, “It makes sense to use immediately.” However, the space in general, they are still really catching up with the dynamic email sending tagging, custom fields of marketing automation. Sometimes you can get a little patient, like, “Hurry up, guys get it. Hurry up.”
Barry: Turn the light bulb on, turn the light bulb.
Barry: If you mix that, where it's gone is it's not automated email, it's automated messaging.
Chris: There you go.
Barry: Whatever that message is, it's always the right message to the right person, at the right time.
Chris: Right, exactly.
Barry: Add to that, in the right medium.
Chris: In the right medium, exactly.
Barry: That could be a Facebook ad, that could be a site message, that could be an email.
Chris: There you go.
Barry: That could be a Facebook messenger thing. I bought something from the states, I found this was really cool. I bought something from the states and instead of getting an email that said, “Hey, you package is shipped.” I got a Facebook message in messenger. It said, “Thanks for your purchase. Here is your purchase and here is a link to track it.” Then when it shipped I got another Facebook message inside messenger, it said, “Hey, your package is shipped and here is where it is.” Then I got another one when it arrived, I was like, “Wow, that's pretty cool.”
Chris: Yeah, the implications are there. As marketers we have to stay on the cutting edge and realise that email is no longer the only means of reaching the customer. Another thing I wanted to point out Barry as we were talking because you were saying tracking anonymous users or visitors or what not.
Barry: Messaging anonymous visitors, yeah.
Chris: Yeah, for the messaging. This is another thing I'm really excited is our dashboards in our analytics. Which we are calling, is all part of our deep data initiative this year, inside the application. Now, we track everything. We track everything that happens, the second you put your site tracking script on your page. That's why it's one of the first things I recommend every single person do is to put site tracking on because there are so many benefits that you get from it. One of them is that you are able to start tracking anonymous user data. Just so everybody understands how the platform works. We are tracking anonymous users by cookie, many platforms do. The problem is they –
Barry: As soon as they hit, the first hit of the page.
Chris: There you go.
Barry: You cookie them and track them by cookie, right?
Chris: Yeah, we are tracking pages. Everything that they've done. The minute that they provide their email address or their unique identifier that lets us know who they are. We match it with that anonymous user and now those two profiles are merged.
Barry: You are going and retroactively all that traffic from whatever, two weeks ago is now tied to that customer's profile?
Chris: Exactly. Now that begs the question, is the anonymous user data valuable? When you ask that question, the immediate answer is yes. Yes, that is very valuable. Then you ask yourself why? In that anonymous user data there are trends. You may not know who they are but you can see trends very much like Google analytics. Instead of somebody having to figure out just another analytics platform and log in, I haven't talked to people who really enjoy going into Google Analytics.
Barry: Unless you work for NASA or something.
Chris: This is data that's buried. Many people listening to this podcast very well may not know how to see the top three sites or top three pages that people visit on their site within three clicks when they log into Google Analytics. This is not uncommon. This is not talking about people saying they are slow but it took me years to figure out, and I still try to shy away from logging in there. If we can get that type of intelligence in your account, coupled with your ability to do some, right there you see a trend and now perhaps you can build an automation, based on a certain page visit. Or you are seeing a particular flow that's happening with users on your website.
You can always see the conversion point. If the anonymous data is there, I can see what they did before conversion and after conversion. Now I can see which trends are leading to customers. It's amazing and that's one of the things I'm extremely excited about, very nerdy, very techy but it's extremely important for us that do marketing online or are responsible for it.
Barry: It could be super groovy if ActiveCampaign, the engine would know what the most popular posts on your blog or pages on your website for example. If they know that from the trend information, you could even automate that. Someone who doesn't know you at all, and they've just opted in for your lead magnet, that's their first interaction with you, you can say, “Hey, thank you very much for downloading the lead magnet. It will be in your inbox in a minute, in the meantime you might like these three posts, pop-pop-pop.”
Chris: Yes Barry, and you are just speeding, you know their trends say they are going to read those posts anyway.
Barry: Those three could swap out, based on which ones are currently the most popular ones, right?
Chris: There you go.
Barry: If you could just say, “Hey, ActiveCampaign, put this link in here. That is our most popular thing.”
Barry: Or conversely the one that leads to the most conversions. If post A leads to the most conversions, I want to show that to everybody.
Chris: Exactly. Now it's kind of come a full circle even just these two features. Anonymous, tying anonymous visit trends and usage to known data in-site messaging, because another thing is, site messaging can be very specific to a segment based on actions. Like you mentioned, if someone goes to my tools page, maybe they don't see anything, but if they go to my tools page after they've downloaded my lead magnet, maybe they see like you are saying that message, because I see my trends that most people after they download a lead magnet go to my tools page. Now I can give them specific information via site message, based on their specific actions taken.
If you don't take those actions, your experience is totally different. Yes, that's another in-site something that we are working on, some of these big projects that we are working on that I'm really excited and is really going to help give us … Marketers, we need as many tools on our toolbox as possible because businesses are so dynamic. Even if you say, “I serve a certain vertical.” You'll be able to port over a certain amount of automations or data but that specific business, their audience is going to be tailored to them. We have to be able to quickly introduce and inject new features and strategies to help.
Barry: What you could do too is if they go into that tools page, but they've already had a tag. They've already been tagged as being interested in webinars for example, because they've loved this webinars post. When they hit that tools page you can pop up a site message that says, “Hey, make sure you check out the webinar tools down here and we've got a special on it right now.”
Barry: They've got the webinar tag on them.
Chris: That's exactly it. Even just us talking, if somebody let this tape roll for an hour, we would have like 50 use cases, because the idea of … It's the same thing. Barry, it's the same thing that I say about broadcast messaging. I tell people, broadcast emails are the laziest emails you'll ever send in marketing. You should never get to a point where you are sending your entire database a single message. At bare minimum, take that message and duplicate it, and change a sentence or two, and make it specific to certain segments. Just that little bit of personalization is going to go a long way, the same is for site messaging.
Yes, up until now you can just display messages for everybody that comes to your site or logs into your app. Why not give somebody the granularity to look at what they've done and send the message on your website specific to that? It could change in an automated fashion because you are using logic and if else in determining what message they see.
Then trigger action based on how they engage with it. It just goes on and on man. The possibilities are really endless. It's all about getting that one to one communication and experience. That's it Barry. The whole goal of all of our initiatives this year is helping all marketers, business owners, get as personalised as possible with their marketing. Although it's one to many, it seems very one to me. Like, he's talking to me. He knows what I'm doing and what I want.
Barry: Then if you tie that with some of the third party tools like Fused App, and some of those that can move people in and out of custom audiences based on tags if they've got inside ActiveCampaign, right?
Barry: They've gotten a tag for webinar staff, then all of a sudden they some Facebook ads for webinar. When they remove that tag, you take them out of that custom audience so that you don't keep pestering them and hitting them over the head with a hammer, so they don't see it anymore. So that not only are we getting the right message at the right time and the right medium for the right duration. I need be trademarking all this shit, is what I'm saying.
Chris: Right. Trademarks all over Barry. Yeah, that's one. Another one that is, and maybe we can cap it off at three but another one is what people have been seeing. It's been picking up some steam, some momentum. It's still early but the implications going forward are great and that's our deep data with our eCommerce platform. We just launched our Shopify and this is a huge opportunity. I personally have felt like eCommerce has been the bastard child of marketing automation.
Barry: For sure, 100%.
Chris: There is nothing wrong with it. It's not like it did something to be punished, just for whatever reason a lot of –
Barry: You sit in the corner and don't make any noise.
Chris: It won't say anything. With this one, product checkout pages does everything else. You shut up. The closest I've seen love given to the eCommerce space is when 1ShoppingCart back in the day, 1ShoppingCart shopping cart, and if you were using an all in one marketing automation platform that perhaps had a cart where you had multiple products. That's as close as it's come. Now you have other platforms that have slowly been rising up to provide a marketing automation within your eCommerce app. If you go into Shopify and look at the apps, there are so many apps that do a portion of marketing automation. You'd have to purchase like three of them. We are looking at this landscape and we are like, “Wait a minute. We do all of that.” You can do literally all of it and it wouldn't cost you anything.
Doing that deep data integration with Shopify is really opening it up and telling eCommerce, “Listen, you are part of the family. You've got the same last name as everybody else. Come out of that corner, come play. Here is a toy.” It's giving us entryway to a space that really deserves it. Shopify is the first one. I'm excited about migrating or getting integrations with WooCommerce and a few other platforms that we've been eyeing, kind of see as the most high usage of.
That's going to be huge man because when you have a storefront, multiple products that are grouped in categories and you can couple with what we are talking about, site messaging, behavioural analytics. You will be able to get your average order, not only your average order but your lifetime customer value up by doing some really basic things with automation. That's why I'm excited. The eCommerce space, you don't need to be extremely fancy. You just have to be efficient, have a strategy.
Barry: Efficient, consistent, timely. ECommerce will, I keep having that mental image of the kids' table at thanksgiving. ECommerce is sitting on the kids' table, you can come sit at the big table now.
Chris: There is a chair, come on, bring your plate.
Barry: Very cool. Anything you can share, what's coming down the pike at AC?
Chris: Yeah, those are the big ones. We are always looking for refinements and tweaks. Everybody who's listened to this knows I'm very much active in the Automation Nation Facebook Group. Even if I don't respond, there is things that I read and I'm like, “You know what? That's a good idea.” Me knowing it's a good idea isn't enough. It's good enough for me to start thinking on, maybe I can create some educational content that answers this question. Maybe I can have an internal conversation with our product team and push some things forward. Ultimately, the feedback forum where you can post your ideas, your suggestions and get them up-voted is hands down the most effective way. I'm stressing this because before I was onboard with AC, they were very much in tune with what we were saying. That was one of the things we all enjoyed, right?
Chris: It was like, “Man, when we suggest something it gets done.” When you are posting things in there, there are a few posts where you can argue that people are just bickering and complaining for the sake of complaining, but we have a lot of members in there that have genuine issues, concerns, ideas. I would encourage you all, continue. Continue to use the ideas. In fact, the most effective way to get heard is if there is something that you want seen in the app, create it in ideas and then post it in the Facebook group, along with the original question and just have the link and say, “Hey, up-vote it there.”
I'm serious … Our engineers, product owner … When we see a good idea, it's almost like an impromptu meeting on, “Okay, how fast can we get this implemented?” You are not going to see that with any other company. We've not seen it to date and I don't think that's changed and it's one of our competitive advantages. You have the voice to … Next time you and I are talking Barry, a lot of these features Barry will/should come from feedback people have provided, and we've heard and implemented.
Barry: I'll put a link to that in the show notes. If you want to head over to the show notes for this episode, there will be a link to that feedback forum. Which I think is called Ideas, Ideas at ActiveCampiagn?
Chris: Yeah, Ideas.
Barry: Ideas, a link to that in the show notes. Chris, I want to thank you so much for coming on. It's always great to talk to you and we should make this a regular event, the automation round-table.
Chris: Yeah, I like that Barry. I'll be down for that one.
Barry: Thank you so much. I look forward to catching all your great content online.
Chris: Absolutely. I appreciate it Barry.