TAM 028: Chris Davis from LeadPages
In episode 28, I chat with Chris Davis the head of marketing automation at LeadPages. Chris handles a lot of webinars and customer leads over at LeadPages, so he has learned a lot of lessons along the way.
Chris shares his experience in how to create a new sales funnel and how to optimize it to ring out all good the marketing juice. Learn the easy way, model what works.
Join Chris Davis from LeadPages and I, as we chat about:
- Simple but important reminders when running a webinar
- The current automations at LeadPages and Chris's favorite
- Why simplicity is still the best way to do it
- What metrics should you track and what tools you should use
- Why the good ol' notebooks still work
- Chris's big do's and dont's for marketing automation
Links Mentioned In The Show
Where to Find Chris
Announcer: Welcome to the Active Marketer podcast, where 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: Hello listener and welcome back to another episode of the Active Marketer Podcast. I'm your host, Barry Moore. Just like to take this opportunity to thank everybody for listening and leaving all the comments in the show notes and on iTunes. We really do appreciate the support, and I really do love getting great guests on the show and having them share their marketing knowledge with all of us.
And this week is no different. This week my guest is not only a killer automater, he is also the co-host of our private Facebook group over at Automation Nation on Facebook, if you want to join us there. He is Chris Davis, head of marketing automation for Leadpages.
Chris has a wealth of information to share on marketing automation and how to do it at a large scale. Over at Leadpages they've got hundreds of thousands of users and they're running webinar after webinar, so there is heaps of experience and lessons learned inside Chris's head, and we're going to talk all about that in our interview.
But first, of course, the shameless social crew segment. New iTunes review from a Matt McWilliams in the US iTunes store. Matt says: “Five stars. Great job. Wow. The Active Marketer Podcast is flat out awesome. Good production quality, easy to listen to. Very impressed, Barry. Keep bringing it.”
Well thanks Matt, I do appreciate you taking the time to leave a review on iTunes. And if any of you want to head over to iTunes or Stitcher and leave us a review I will be happy to read it out on a future show. But for now let's get into this week's episode with Chris from Leadpages.
All right, I'd like to welcome to the show, Chris, the head of marketing and automation for Leadpages. Welcome Chris.
Chris: Thank you so much, Barry. Very, very glad to be here.
Barry: Always happy to talk to another marketing automation buff and like you. So what are we going to talk about today, let's talk about what marketing automation is. I think a lot of people have a lot of misconceptions about what it is and how to use it. So obviously, you see a lot of users come through Leadpages over there and you had a marketing automation company before that, so I thought we might talk about some dos and don'ts and how to use marketing automation properly. Does that sound cool?
Chris: Sure. That's perfect.
Barry: Lovely. So over at Leadpages I'm imagine you've got hundreds of thousands or at least over 100,000 users, is that right?
Chris: Yes, we've got tonnes and tonnes of users and we're just focused on creating the ultimate conversion product.
Barry: Yeah and that's one of the things I really liked about Leadpages as opposed to some of the other platforms. You can sort everything by conversion and then the odd thing I hear is, “Oh you can't modify the templates very much.” And it's like, well, you're not supposed to because we've already figured out which ones are converting the best so why would you want to go and change it. But anyway so what kind of sequences or what kind of automations do you have in place over there?
Chris: Yeah. The biggest one, and actually my most favourite, is our webinar sequence. Anybody who's familiar with Leadpages knows that we religiously run webinars.
Barry: Tonnes of them.
Chris: Yes. I mean, it is not uncommon to have six or seven webinars a week at Leadpages. It's normal. It was not normal to me when I started. [crosstalk 00:03:53] And I think it's a testament to staying true to your core values. Clay built Leadpages on webinars. I was one of the early adopters. I was pre-sold on Leadpages before it was even created and that was on a webinar. So, he is an extraordinary marketer that has shown the discipline, the marketing discipline, to stick with what's working and just optimise the mess out of it, until- it's like squeezing the fruit. You know a lot of people squeeze the fruit, Barry, and they get a couple drops and they're like, “Mmmm, that was good. Let me get the next fruit.” You know, where it's like, “No, keep squeezing it, there's more juice, just keep squeezing and squeezing.”
Barry: So you guys have one of those giant webinar juicing machines where you're extracting every piece of content out of it.
Chris: Right, right, yes exactly. And it's really amazing. It's amazing to see it work, to see what works and kinda where it doesn't work in terms of webinars that convert, webinars that don't, follow up sequences that convert, follow up sequences that don't. All of that- and when you experience it all, it makes you realise, when you start looking at everybody else and they start jumping in marketing and think they want to do marketing automation and they've got like ten funnels, ten products and they're all over the place, you just kinda shake your head in- not in disgust but like hurt, you know, because you know what it takes to get one fully optimised funnel up. And when you see people all scattered it's just kind of painful to watch.
Barry: Yeah, for sure. So tell me a bit about that webinar funnel then, and what you've seen is working and what doesn't seem to work or hasn't worked.
Chris: Yeah, yeah absolutely. One thing I cannot stress enough about anybody wanting to run webinars is that A, do not be afraid to repeat yourself. And when I say repeat yourself, do not be afraid to tell them more than once the date and the time, communications, and what they will get on the webinar. Man, I can't stress that enough because a lot of people think that once somebody has registered and they've done it once, I'll send out a GoToWebinar, whatever platform you're using, reminder and that's good enough.
And unless you're established and you've been running webinars for a while, I recommend that you just tell people all the time what they registered for, what they're getting, when its happening, and in a clear way. So something as simple as writing the date out. You know, June 15th at 4 p.m. instead of 6/10/15. And it's comical when I say it, but it's amazing how many people actually do stuff like that. So as clear as you can get in your communication with your emails. We've also found that templated emails, you know the branded ones with the logo and the background and everything, they're really good for brand, but most people just need plain text.
Chris: Just plain text. Especially when we're talking about reminders. Plain text you don't have to worry about their HTML, their images not loading in their browser, and everything else. Just, “Hey, starting in 15 minutes.” “Hey, see you tomorrow.” “Hey, in three days …”
Barry: The other thing most people seem to overlook is, when you get an email from your friend, it isn't all html templated with logos and all that other stuff, you know. It's just a few paragraphs of texts. “Hey what are you doing on Saturday? Let's get together.” So if you want to talk to somebody in a familiar voice, then you don't need all that formatting and logos and all that other[inaudible 00:07:48] stuff.
Chris: Yeah, absolutely. I know it looks good, but you really don't need it.
Barry: The other cool trick I heard somebody, it might have even been you guys, said that like in GoToWebinar, like ten minutes before the webinar starts, they'll go in to the GoToWebinar platform and they'll change the name of the webinar. And they'll put in brackets “starting soon” or “starting now” or whatever and then when you change the name of the webinar, GoToWebinar will send that out to everyone saying the name of the webinar is changed. And so it sends out a message to everyone that it's been updated. So you kinda get a free message out from GoToWebinar.
Chris: Absolutely. And I would never run a webinar without doing it. Because it's just amazing, I alluded to this on the Conversion Cats interview I did, but people are busy and they have every intention on attending your webinar and just get a call at last minute, a client that you know, some work that you were doing, you get in the zone and without that gentle reminder, it's amazing how it [inaudible 00:08:55].
Barry: Cool, very cool. And so what's the follow up kind of look like?
Chris: Yeah, so I've wrestled with this for a while, Barry, because you know how it is in marketing automation. Sometimes when we're approached with a new challenge, we want to go all out. We want to build the most extravagant sequence that does everything and covers every case. And that's what I did in the beginning and as I started to get more familiar with the system that I created and understand more of our target audience and look at the feedback of some of the webinars, I realise I may be doing some overkill here. I may be doing too much.
So our follow up system is really straight forward. When you opt in for a webinar on Leadpages, we use GoToWebinar so you'll get a- we use Leadpages to register them for GoToWebinar while adding them to your list, your autoresponder list. So that's one of the main reasons why a lot of people use us because it's hard to find a platform that does that, but once you're in there, you're going to get a reminder from GoToWebinar, and you can set up other reminders in GoToWebinar as what'll go out, three days, an hour, two days, however frequently you want to communicate with them.
But one of the things that we don't do is we don't rely on GoToWebinar to send all the reminders. So we will also send a confirmation reminder just in case. And in some cases we may send out an additional reminder. It just really depends on the webinar and that's essentially the pre-webinar followup.
And then of course post-webinar, I got to a point where at one time it was like, “Okay, who didn't show up, who attended but left early, who attended, saw the pitch and didn't buy.” Like I said, I have nothing against those three models or those three segments to market to. But truth be told, a lot of people starting out, Barry, don't know what to say. They don't know what to say to those three people. So they can really simplify. So when I first started, it was just simplified by who bought and who didn't. And Barry, you would be amazed at how effective that was. Just who purchased and who didn't. I was-
Barry: I was gonna say, I talked to a lot of guys like yourself who have been using marketing automation for a while, kinda the heavy hitters and it's the same story. Everybody starts out wanting to make it super complex with the[crosstalk 00:11:38]statements and then everybody else at the end just kinda comes full circle to a couple three, four simple automations you can add people to and remove people to.
Chris: There you go.
Barry: So, keep it simple from the start would probably make your life a lot easier.
Chris: Yeah, you have to do that, because here's the thing, keep it simple because you have the rest of your life to optimise it, and it's going to take a good portion of your time to optimise it. Now, when you start optimising it and going back to the fruit, squeezing the juice out of the fruit, when your trying to squeeze more fruit out of it, then yeah, it becomes “Okay, let me talk to attendees different and not attendees. And then even in that you can start breaking off subsets. Somebody who's attended a webinar and maybe downloaded my free report, right. Now I can talk to them and now I can start branching off and speaking real specific to these different segments, but that's only until my simplicity has proven itself effective.
Barry: Yeah, a good rule of thumb is, if you can't keep it straight in your head, it's not gonna work.
Chris: Absolutely, yes. I agree.
Barry: If you need an eight foot wide white board to make it all work, it's not gonna work. So tell me a little bit about how you're tracking stuff. What kind of metrics are you measuring and how are you tracking that.
Chris: Okay so this is- Barry, you've tapped into a new love of mine. Like having a baby for the first time, it's like, “Oh, I've heard about it, but I never knew this could be so beautiful. I just want to hold it.” I stumbled across the importance of measuring your marketing because at Leadpages we're heavy advocates of split testing and I'll admit this on your podcast, I wasn't always a believer in podcasting and I would use it in its simplest form. Like split test the colour of a button or a headline. All of those things are important, but I think what people really need to understand is that you're not necessarily split testing to see what colour is better or which headline is better. It's to get information from your following that you can make educated decisions on.
So the more information you can get or I should say the more you can act, the more you can intelligently act on the information you can get, the stronger your business is. And starting out, you're not going to know what to measure. That's just- you don't have experience, right. Some of the things that we measure are, of course, website traffic and we like to tie that website traffic with our CRM, because that's telling a very, major story on the journey of the customer.
Now we're using Infusionsoft right now, so all of my Infusionsoft users out there know that that's just simply not possible. So there's other ways to do it with tools like Kissmetrics and there's various platforms- well there aren't various platforms, there's only really a handful of platforms, that I know of, for marketing analytics which is Kissmetrics and HubSpot but what we're concerned- to get back to the core of your question is we're measuring show-up rate. We're measuring conversion rates of entire campaigns. We're running paid media. I want to know the conversion rate from the very beginning, the source, whether it's Facebook or Google, all the way to the customer. And we're also measuring that time that it takes. So at Leadpages, we wanna know, “How long does it take for somebody to become a customer?” And how does that change when it's paid media, when it's a blog subscriber, or when it's a webinar attendee.
Barry: Yeah, it was my very first guest on the podcast with James Schramko, I don't know if you're familiar with him, but-
Chris: Yes. Yes I am.
Barry: He's a very clever dude and always tracks and measures everything and he was sharing some of his metrics with me about- I can't remember the platform he uses right off the top of my head, but-
Chris: [inaudible 00:15:48]
Barry: No, it's one of the metrics platforms, I'll have to look it up.
Chris: Oh, with metrics, okay.
Barry: I put it in the show notes- and there was 28 touch points he'd had with this customer before they bought something. And he could track it all the way back, like how many days it was, which blog posts they'd listened to, which podcasts, which emails. But 28 touchpoints until they bought something. So it was a pretty impressive trail that he had there on what that customer had done and interacted with.
Chris: Yup. Absolutely. And if you don't have a platform, if you're starting out with[inaudible 00:16:21] or something like that, Google Analytics is your best friend. In fact Google Analytics is the bear minimum. If you put up a website, before you think about logo and all this other crazy stuff, you need to understand that you need to have Google Analytics in there and at least know how to go in there and check the behaviour flow through your website just so you can get an idea and understanding that, “Oh, well maybe people aren't going where I think they're going.”
Barry: Quite clearly, they didn't have the same thought pattern that you had, which is always the case. No battle plan ever survives contact with the enemy, right? So no matter what you think they're gonna do, they're always gonna try something else.
Barry: So what technically- what techniques are you using to measure that through from paid media to the thank you page after a sale? Is it-
Chris: Yeah, this may draw some laughs here, but the technology we're currently using behind it is Google Drive. We've got marketing dashboards set up in Google Drive. It's a bit of manual, you know, labour, but that's what- there was a point in time we were using Kissmetrics, but what you'll find is that as your company grows you have different departments that need to share information. And unless you've got a database type solution that can pull all of that data out and display it to every department, how they would like it to be viewed, there's gonna be some manual extractions. So even the Kissmetrics, there was this, you go in and pull out the numbers that you want and then we populate a drive sheet and do some calculations to report on. So the main technology behind it is really Google Drive.
Barry: So are you just putting UTM codes on all your advertising and then tracking it through that way? Is that-
Chris: Absolutely. And this will go back- I guess we will back peddle just a couple steps to understanding that Google Analytics is going to track that for you, so we use that to see the effectiveness of our campaigns as well. And you can also use the ecommerce portion of Google Analytics to start getting a value, like a monetary value, on some of your campaigns. So we're pretty Google Analytics heavy now, but we're looking at some other marketing analytics tools out there to give us some more information easily. Barry, I don't know if you're familiar with- have you used Infusionsoft before?
Barry: I have briefly. I haven't done a lot with it, so I'm not too familiar with it.
Chris: I'm not bashing you, but everybody in the community will tell you, reporting in Infusionsoft is like pulling teeth. So right now there is some manual labour, not efforts, not work, but labour that's involved with really getting into our sequences and extracting the data to populate a drive sheet and understand how effective our marketing is. But we're planning on changing it.
Barry: THere's one thing in common with everybody I've talked to that uses Infusionsoft, I've never, ever, ever once heard someone go, “Man, I love Infusionsoft.” I've never heard anybody- I've heard people say it about Ontraport, I've heard people say it about Active Campaign, but I've never heard anybody say it about Infusionsoft.
Chris: Yeah. You know what, they feed you just enough to keep you hungry. You're never full. You're never satisfied. They do just enough, right when you get comfortable, it's like, “Oh, why couldn't it just do that.” So it has it's place I guess.
Barry: Yeah, for sure. All right so let's say someone's just wanting to start out with automation, what kind of advice do you have for them if they're just getting started?
Chris: If they're just getting started and they have their eyes on marketing automation, there's two tools, of course one I'm biassed towards, but there's two tools I would tell them to use and one approach. Okay, we can deal with the tools first. Leadpages, ActiveCampaign. Those are the two tools that, hands down, you get those two, you're good. Now if I want to make this general, you need an autoresponder and you need Landing Page Platform. Okay, and I would honestly, now Barry, I'm gonna do a shameless plug for you here, you actually have a very good tutorial or class on ActiveCampaign. So, I would honestly recommend it, to do that.
Barry: Well, thank you very much.
Chris: Yup. To get started, so they can at least wrap their mind around the tool, right? Now, I'm not gonna tell them to jump in the tool yet, because what I want you to do is take out a good old piece of paper and a pen and actually write down your objectives and map out your sequence.
Barry: I'm sorry, Chris, but that does not sound sexy at all.
Chris: It doesn't and it looks so ugly, but anybody that knows me, knows that I have shelves of notebooks. I carry paper, like I carry a tablet of paper with me everywhere I go. I'm an avid note taker as well as just a scribbler and mapper[crosstalk 00:21:56]
Barry: It's funny that you should say that. As you're talking, I'm looking at the top of my desk and there are four notebooks sitting on the top of my desk.
Chris: Yes. I don't know what I would do without my notebooks. I just have this- you know when you're inspired the time that it takes to get from brain to real world just has to be minimised with the minimal amount of barriers. And technology is a barrier to me at times.
Barry: Yeah, I think you're absolutely right there. That's a really super important point. When you're sitting down and planning out an automation, if you've got one of these flow chart tools, just put it away. Just whiteboard or piece of paper. Because you get all involved in the tool and how do I get this box to connect to that and how do I change this shape to be a triangle and you just completely lose your train of thought and your automation goes out the window.
Chris: Absolutely. Yeah. And then, once you have your blueprint on paper, it doesn't have to be perfect, it just has to be to a point where you understand what's going on. You can take this blueprint to any platform.
Barry: Yeah, and 70 to 80% of the time when I go back to look at it, I actually understand what I wrote.
Chris: Is that right. And I'm an advocate, if it's time to solve a problem, solve them on the paper first. Don't jump straight into the sequence and be like, “Oh, I forgot to add this tag.” No, don't do that, because I'm pretty sure, if you're not looking at the full picture that tag has a reason for being there, you just- it's been so long, you might've forgot what it's doing. But, yeah, map it out on paper, get your plan together and then go and build and of course keep it as simple as possible. One funnel. One funnel is all you need. Focus on one funnel, measure it and optimise it until it's profitable, then scale that one funnel before you start introducing a whole library of products and funnels.
Barry: Yeah, for sure. Get one thing right, you'll learn so many lessons in that one exercise that when you go to build out the other ones it'll be three, four, five times quicker and more effective that way.
Chris: Right. Exactly.
Barry: And since you gave me a shameless plug, I'll give you guys a shameless plug as well. I see a lot of products- we were talking about this before we hit record, but I see a lot of products that integrate with ActiveCampaign, but Leadpages seems to be the only one that does it the right way. So most of the other pages, most of the other page kinda tools like Instapage, etc., they'll allow you to do API integration with ActiveCampaign, but when they say, when a customer fills out form A, B, C, the question is always, what list do you wanna put 'em on? Which is kinda the wrong approach completely. At least Leadpages allows you to choose which form you wanna submit them by and so far, that's the only tool I've seen that does that the right way. So I'm glad you guys got it right.
Chris: Absolutely. Appreciate that, Barry.
Barry: And lastly, what are your big dos and don'ts for marketing automation?
Chris: Oh my goodness, this could be a session all it's own.
Barry: Part two.
Chris: Right. I would say, listen to what everybody else is doing and they're saying, but don't expect to get the same results. Don't clone what they're doing. When you're watching these videos or these platforms, hear what their saying and try to understand it at a theoretical level. Because once you own the knowledge of the theory behind the strategy, now you take it in your business, in your personality, in your way of marketing and apply it that way.
And what you'll find is that you'll start operating from a place of freedom instead of restriction. Because when you hear somebody- and it's so tempting, Barry, right, you see somebody and it- “Look, my $10,000 funnel.” And you're like- we just do what they do. And then you start doing it and then you realise that you have a different following than they do. And your engagement is different than theirs is. And then there's pieces of their strategy that they didn't tell you and you're trying to figure out. So you become a slave to them. Whatever they do, you do. Whatever they don't do, you don't do, but you don't know everything. So it leaves you in this place of frustration, so definitely don't do that.
But what I will say is do get educated on marketing automation as soon as possible. As soon as possible. I know it's kind of a new idea that's out here. It's been called a lot of things, but if I were to define marketing automation, it's the ability to implement software to execute, maintain, and update your digital marketing strategy.
Barry: Oh, that's good.
Chris: So if you educate yourself on marketing automation and not so much the tools out there- oh my goodness, okay, let me say- not so much the tools, but you understand marketing automation from a strategic point so you can start understanding where it fits into your business and then start simple. Like we alluded to before, one funnel. One lead [inaudible 00:27:30], one funnel and just measure it. Please measure it. And when I say measure, I mean look at your Google Analytics, set up conversion goals. I know these terms may be new to some people listening, but write 'em down and just research 'em. You can reach out to me via Twitter, I'm sure you'll get my information at the end of this.
But set up your conversion goals in Google Analytics, and track the performance of your funnel. Before you jump to something else, just one funnel, set it up, get your pages up, get your Google Analytics code on there and then let it run. Let it run for a month, then look back and say, “Okay, am I satisfied with it?” If the answer is yes, then figure out, “How can I do it better?” Or “How can I get more people to experience it?” If it's no, then focus on areas in- 'cause Google Analytics will show you where people are dropping off. Just pick one and tweak it until- you know it's kinda like a leak, a faucet leak, just figure out how to stop the leak first before you just say, “I need a new house.”
Barry: Yeah, that's right.
Chris: Don't do it. So anyways, I hope those dos and don'ts were good enough. I'm trying not to get off on a tangent because, oh my gosh, there's so many out there, but I think that's good. I think that'll steer them in the right direction.
Barry: And then what kind of- just last thing to conclude on that, so you're tracking your funnel out there. What kind of metrics within the funnel itself are you looking at? Are you looking at opens and clicks on individual mails throughout the entire funnel and then looking for places where people drop off?
Chris: That's a very good point, because there's a lot of marketers that live and die by open rates and I don't. I could care less about open rates honestly, because how I craft all my emails, they have a single call to action and that call to action requires you to click something to get something. And I'm measuring the effectiveness of my marketing by my ability to get you to click. And clicking does so much for me. A- it's a very solid metric to measure, unlike open rates where you have to have images enabled to even know if somebody opened. And then once you click, I'm in control 'cause I know where you're going. Even if you leave, you landed on my page and like I said, with UTMs in place, with Google Analytics tracking, I know that from email you landed here.
So definitely when you're mapping out your follow-up sequence, draught your emails in a way that each one has a singular call to action and that call to action should be a click. Some emails you will say, “Reply here.” Like your first email or so, “Reply here to say hi,” or whatnot. But going down the funnel, every email should have a link in there and the CTA should be to click that link and you should measure that. You should know what pages are getting the most clicks, which pages are not. A lot of times I'll see, Barry, people have videos sequences where they'll have a video series of three videos and then like a sales page and they'll see the engagement fall off, from video one, to video two, to video three. And that's telling. So take that information and adjust accordingly.
Barry: Yup. Sounds great. All right Chris, we might wrap it up there. I really want to appreciate you coming on. I want to take this opportunity to thank you personally for coming on. I know I connect with you online in a couple different places. So what's the best place for someone to find out more about you and learn more about marketing automation from you?
Chris: The best and easiest way to get me is social media autobizchris a-u-t-o-b-i-z-c-h-r-i-s. I'm very active on Twitter, it's actually my preferred method of social media communication. And then, of course, you have chrisldavis.com which is the hub of me everywhere, so those two ways and you can't miss me.
Barry: And if you do, well there's an automation to bring you back, right?
Barry: All right, Chris, thank you very much. I really appreciate it and look forward to hearing more of your stuff online.
Chris: Great. Thanks so much to Barry for having me. I really enjoyed myself.
Barry: Pleasure. We'll have to have you back to talk some more.
Chris: Yes, most definitely.
Barry: I'd like to thank Christ Davis for coming on the show with us today and sharing all his knowledge and experience from all the shenanigans that happen over there at Leadpages. Chris, like myself, is an evangelist for marketing automation. He's on a crusade to educate and help people understand how to use it best in their business. That's why we've teamed up, as I said at the opening of the show, to co-host a private Facebook group. Head over to Facebook and just do a search for Automation Nation and you'll find us there. Join us on the group. We talk about all things sales, funnel, and marketing automation. And everybody else in there shares their experience with what works and what tools they love to use.
Also, if you enjoyed the show and got something out of it, please do me a big favour and share it with two of your friends. It helps drive us up the ranks in iTunes and it makes it easier for other people to find the show and get all these marketing automation nuggets of goodness to put to work in their business as well.
So once again, I do appreciate you stopping by and taking the time to listen in to the Active Marketer Podcast. We'll be back next week with another Tactical 20 Podcast. In the meantime get out there and design, automate and scale your business to the next level using sales and marketing automation. Good day everyone.
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