078: How to Build a Sales Funnel with Chris Davis from Automation Bridge

Welcome to episode 78 of the Food Blogger Pro podcast! This week, Bjork interviews Chris Davis from Automation Bridge and ActiveCampaign about using marketing funnels to drive sales for your business.

Last week Bjork interviewed Joel Comm about how staying on top of trending technology can help you stay inspired with your business. To go back and listen to that episode, click here.

How to Build a Sales Funnel

When most people have a new product for their business, the first thing they want to do is go tell the world how amazing it is and try to get people to buy. That’s the point of creating a product, right?

Not so fast, says Chris Davis from Automation Bridge. The sale starts way before you every publish your product or need people to start buying. The sale starts with your first interaction with your potential customer – and that interaction should be friendly, helpful, and interesting to the customer. This is the start of your sales funnel, and in this episode Chris talks about what to do next.

In this episode, Chris shares:

  • What marketing automation is and what it does for your business
  • If “marketing automation” means no work
  • What a sales funnel is and why it’s important
  • Why funnels are more natural than cold sales
  • How the stages of a sales funnel work
  • Why you need a product to sell
  • How your existing processes can show you what to automate
  • How email marketing differs from marketing automation
  • What email platform you should be using for your business

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Bjork Ostrom: Welcome to episode number 78 of the Food Blogger Pro Podcast. Today, we are chatting with Chris L. Davis, and Chris is the Director of Education at ActiveCampaign, which is an email marketing platform, whereas Chris describes later on in the podcast. It’s a marketing automation platform. We’re going to talk about the differences between different email platforms, what type of email service provider people should use, and at what stages, and we’re going to talk about funnels as well, why it’s so important to build a funnel and to think about the product that you are offering as you are building your platform, your blog, your brand, your business, and how funnels fit in to that, and why they’re so important. I’m really excited to welcome Chris on to the podcast to talk about some of these really important things, so let’s jump in without further ado. Chris, welcome to the podcast.

Chris Davis: Yes, Bjork. I am excited to be here and ready to get going.

Bjork Ostrom: Hey. All right. Sounds good. I was a little bummed out because you were previously living in the Twin Cities in the Minneapolis area, so I was like, “We could’ve done this over coffee, right?” We know the local spots. We could’ve met up. We could’ve had some like cool background, but you recently moved to Chicago.

Chris Davis: Yes.

Bjork Ostrom: You got a new job, so congratulations on that.

Chris Davis: Yes. Thank you so much.

Bjork Ostrom: You’re now the Director of Education at ActiveCampaign.

Chris Davis: Absolutely.

Bjork Ostrom: Curious. Real quick. What does that involve, and what does that look like for you?

Chris Davis: The Director of Education. It’s a lot easier if I describe what I was previously doing in Minneapolis with you locally.

Bjork Ostrom: Sure.

Chris Davis: I was working as the Head of Marketing Automation at LeadPages, a SaaS company that sells landing page software.

Bjork Ostrom: For sure.

Chris Davis: I was responsible for executing the marketing automation. All right? Building out all of the funnels, identifying the best third-party tools, and tying those in to the existing strategy to essentially create subsets of automated systems to run the marketing for LeadPages. Now, when we come to my opportunity here at ActiveCampaign, it’s a bit of a change of pace because I’m no longer doing the actual marketing and executing of the marketing. I actually get to educate on marketing automation. Somehow, I stayed in the automation space, right? Just operating in two different capacities.

Bjork Ostrom: Yeah, and …

Chris Davis: This one is a lot closer to my heart.

Bjork Ostrom: Why is that, when you say closer to your heart? I’m curious to know what you mean by that.

Chris Davis: Yeah. Over the years, I’ve been fortunate to be able to grasp a deeper understanding of automation, marketing automation from a sense of when it should be applied in your business and the results to expect. Whereas a lot of people are being sold marketing automation as like, “This? Oh, you just need to automate. Your business isn’t broke. You just need automation.”

Bjork Ostrom: Right.

Chris Davis: Right?

Bjork Ostrom: It’s almost like a buzz word that people can use like systematize, and automate, and online, internet.

Chris Davis: Exactly. There you go. It’s people … There you go. Very cliché, so my passion is … since I love this space so much, is to educate people so that they’re coming into it with the right expectations.

Bjork Ostrom: Got it, and so from a high level, can you define what marketing automation is? Then, what we’re going to do is we’re going to drill down and talk about a specific subset of that.

Chris Davis: Sure.

Bjork Ostrom: When you say marketing automation, what is that?

Chris Davis: Absolutely. To make it easy, every business has processes, and the most critical processes are those that are responsible for generating revenue, so every process that you have in your business that is required to generate revenue is run by something or someone. Traditionally, you’re hiring staff to take calls, for lead gen, to nurture, and you’re taking their credit card payment over the phone, so these are humans. Marketing automation, the definition of marketing automation is taking your marketing strategy and executing it with technology.

Bjork Ostrom: Got it. Even as you’re saying that, I’m thinking through the different things that we do for our business, and we have the food blog component which is Pinch of Yum, so we have this food blog. Occasionally, Lindsay does these workshops now, and I’m thinking about the process we have for that. Right now, it’s manual like we encourage people to sign up for this waiting list, and then like whenever we have a new workshop, we send out a broadcast, but even within that, I’m thinking like, “Ah, we could create some systems that … or some marketing automation that would allow us to not have to like a day off to think, ‘Oh, we got to go in and send out this email.’ We could start to automate that a little bit.” Even just you describing it, it’s like … It’s a reminder to me of all the different areas that require a human being, and going in, and like pressing buttons at a certain time, so it’s a good thing to learn.

Chris Davis: Absolutely, and I’m so glad you bring that up because another fallacy that’s given out freely amongst the space is this idea that automation is some person sitting back, not touching anything, feet up on the beach, sipping a piña colada, and their business is just generating money.

Bjork Ostrom: Yeah. Right, right. Yeah, and while you sleep or nap. Yeah.

Chris Davis: That’s just not true.

Bjork Ostrom: Yeah.

Chris Davis: Granted your business can generate money while you sleep, but the reality is there is always going to be some level of human engagement required always.

Bjork Ostrom: Mm-hmm (affirmative). Mm-hmm (affirmative), and I think it’s a good reminder like you said because sometimes, I think people can, like you said, paint this picture that, “Yeah. Well, if you grow a business online, you’re going to be able to work an hour or two.” There might be times where that’s possible, right, where you could take a vacation and unplug a little bit?

Chris Davis: Right. Yes.

Bjork Ostrom: Really, it requires you to be present to it and to always be working, but one of the things I love about this concept is it ties in pretty closely to another concept we talked quite a bit about, and that’s 1% infinity. The meaning of it is like every day, getting a little bit better, and letting that be a snowball.

Chris Davis: Yeah.

Bjork Ostrom: With the marketing automation side, I think that can be applied to your business, so maybe you’re making this, the automated stuff, a little bit better every day, right?

Chris Davis: There you go.

Bjork Ostrom: You get a little bit more targeted maybe, or you deliver the message a little bit more clearly, or maybe you get better at like not sending email to people that aren’t interested in getting it.

Chris Davis: Yeah.

Bjork Ostrom: I saw as I was scrolling through your Twitter feed one of the tweets you had, and you said, “A broadcast email is like the laziest email possible without segmenting it.”

Chris Davis: Yes.

Bjork Ostrom: Meaning … Actually, can you explain what you mean by that?

Chris Davis: Absolutely.

Bjork Ostrom: I think it’s an important thing to understand.

Chris Davis: Yeah. It’s the difference between yelling at a group of people and speaking one-on-one to a specific individual, and broadcast messages … To define a broadcast message for anybody listening is a message that you send to your entire list. There are cases where you many want to use a broadcast message as long as you have a strategy that can leverage that, but for the most part, there are a lot of businesses where that is their means of communication.

Bjork Ostrom: Yeah, that and that only.

Chris Davis: Yeah, even if they signed up for a newsletter.

Bjork Ostrom: Yeah.

Chris Davis: Sending a newsletter to your entire list is a broadcast, and the reason why I say it’s lazy because how much thought goes into sending an email to everybody?

Bjork Ostrom: Right.

Chris Davis: Whereas perhaps if you have a newsletter and you’re strategically putting links in your newsletter, you can at least start mailing people specific to the links that they’re clicking because it’s showing interest.

Bjork Ostrom: Yup, and that’s going to get into some of those conversations around funnels and intentional work that you can do in that, which I’m excited about.

Chris Davis: Yes.

Bjork Ostrom: One other thing that I want to talk about that I’m interested to hear you process through is your time at LeadPages. That’s a Twin Cities company where it’s rare to have like a tech startup like that.

Chris Davis: Yes. Absolutely.

Bjork Ostrom: That’s a huge deal that you owned the marketing automation side for this company that is … like what they do is the marketing space. I think that’s like a huge privilege and an honor obviously to be able to do that.

Chris Davis: Yes.

Bjork Ostrom: I’m sure that you learned a lot too because not only are you surrounded by people that know marketing and are really tuned in to that, but also, the … A lot of the customers at LeadPages are marketers, so I’m curious to know from a marketing standpoint, what were some of the things that you learned during your time there, and whether exactly about LeadPages or just in general with the industry, some takeaways you had?

Chris Davis: Yeah. LeadPages will always have a dear place in my heart as an entrepreneur and marketer because Clay Collins is hands down the smartest marketer I have ever met, ever met. Clay Collins. He just gets it. There are certain people that get it. You would argue. I just get marketing automation. He just gets marketing, so the idea of someone who can create strategy really sound quickly put somebody like me in a position where I can just show up and perform.

Bjork Ostrom: Yeah, for sure.

Chris Davis: You give me strategy, and I’m going to execute it. The biggest thing that I learned at LeadPages was the power of hiring the best of the best and creating an environment that was conducive to them collaborating.

Bjork Ostrom: Sure. That’s awesome and not an easy thing to do, right, like it’s hard to …?

Chris Davis: Yes.

Bjork Ostrom: You and I know like Minnesota is a good place, right?

Chris Davis: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Bjork Ostrom: If you’re in California, it’s maybe a little bit harder to convince people to come to Minnesota and takes marketing in and of itself probably to get those people to come.

Chris Davis: Right, right. Yeah.

Bjork Ostrom: This is a very quick side story related to Clay. My wife and I did a vacation. This has nothing to do with anything, but it’s just a funny story. My wife and I went on vacation. We call it “up north,” right? You know that, but people that listen probably don’t.

Chris Davis: Yup, yup.

Bjork Ostrom: We go up north which is this beautiful area in Minnesota. You go up. There’s lakes, things like that. We’re eating at this really great restaurant. Somebody came in and was with their significant other. They placed an order, and I heard who it was, and I was like, “Oh, that sounds familiar.” I looked, and it was Clay, and I knew because I had watched some LeadPages videos and stuff like that.

Chris Davis: Yes.

Bjork Ostrom: I was like, “Oh, I got to go, and connect with him, and say hi.” I’ve never met him before, and just by chance, we were both away for the weekend, and so I went up, and I shook his hand. I started talking to him, and we were just chatting a little bit, and then the guy in the booth behind … and Clay was like, “I’ve never been recognized in public before.” He was like, “You have to know like this is so bizarre for me,” and then the …

Chris Davis: It sounds like Clay.

Bjork Ostrom: Yeah, and then the guy behind us as we were chatting in the other booth slowly turns, and then he looks at us, and he goes, “You guys wouldn’t happen to be online entrepreneurs, would you?” and we’re like, “Uh, I guess. Maybe?” and then he said, “What are your names?” He introduced himself, and then he knew Clay as well.

Chris Davis: There it is.

Bjork Ostrom: It was this totally bizarre interaction, but anyways, when you said that, I thought, “I better tell that story.”

Chris Davis: Yeah.

Bjork Ostrom: We digressed. I digressed. One of the things that I wanted to talk to you about, Chris, that I’m excited to hear your insight on and some of the expertise that you have is this idea of funnels, and we touched on it a little bit, and we talked about how in general, it’s not good to just send huge broadcast emails, and you want to be intentional with your efforts with emailing. One of the ways that people do that is by using funnels, and I know that you have a lot of experience and a knowledge around this not only from your time at LeadPages, working with ActiveCampaign, and understanding that, but also, because of your … the content that you have and the work that you’ve done with Automation Bridge, your site.

Chris Davis: Yes.

Bjork Ostrom: I’m focusing in on different email service providers, and marketing funnels, and marketing automation, and things like that, so let’s talk about funnels a little bit. I think a lot of people that are listening to this can take some great insights away from this, so can you talk about what a funnel is and why it’s important?

Chris Davis: Absolutely. To make it … To explain in common terms, funnels is another one of those kind of cliché words it’s becoming, but essentially, a funnel is a pre-determined path from stranger to customer in your business. It’s how you progress somebody from, “I don’t’ know you,” to, “I heard about you,” to, “I’m interested,” to, “Okay. I’m going to give you a try,” to, “Oh my gosh, everybody that I know come to this … They’re amazing. This product changed my life.”

Bjork Ostrom: For sure.

Chris Davis: That entire process is encapsulated by what we call a “funnel.”

Bjork Ostrom: That’s such a great way to describe it, and I’ve never heard anybody say it like that before. Even hearing you talk about it, it’s like, “Yeah, of course, because that what allows you to do is to not push so hard to sell something right away.”

Chris Davis: Yes. Yes.

Bjork Ostrom: It allows you to be a little bit more respectful and essentially, like a little bit more normal in your interactions with people online. It’s like if you would go up to somebody and say, “Hey, you should buy this,” as opposed to like meeting somebody, and getting to know them, and then by chance, realizing that they sell something, and then it’s going to be a much more natural conversation.

Chris Davis: Yes.

Bjork Ostrom: Do you have an example of maybe what a funnel could look like or one that you’ve seen that works really well?

Chris Davis: Absolutely, and I’m glad you mentioned … Before I go there, I’m glad you mentioned it relieves some of the pressure, right, because this … The small business space is filled with people who have unrealistic pressure and expectations of themselves. They think that when they go and they’re at a networking event, they have to close. They’ve got to be selling. They’re always in go mode.

Bjork Ostrom: Yeah, and you know those people too, right, when you …? Yeah.

Chris Davis: Yes, yes.

Bjork Ostrom: It’s uncomfortable.

Chris Davis: It’s very uncomfortable even if they have a great product and they’re a great person.

Bjork Ostrom: Yeah.

Chris Davis: Their approach is offsetting because they don’t have confidence in the steps afterwards, right?

Bjork Ostrom: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Chris Davis: If I’m confident that … Okay. For instance, we’ll talk about a form. If I’m confident that … Let’s say I’m going to a trade show, or some marketing event, or some networking event. At that event, I’m handing out a form of a business card that has a way for people to learn more about me. The reason why is said business card like that is because I’m not talking about your traditional business card where it’s just like your number, and email, and website, right?

Bjork Ostrom: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Chris Davis: Perhaps I have thought it through, and I’m very strategic with what I hand out, and it has a specific … Let’s say a text code, a SMS code where it says, “Text ‘Give Me’ to 44888 and receive my guide to the 10 ways of improving your small business in 10 minutes.”

Bjork Ostrom: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Chris Davis: Right? I’m in this space with all of these small business owners. I know all I have to do is sell them on texting the number. That’s it.

Bjork Ostrom: Right.

Chris Davis: Imagine how much easier, and how much friendly, how much more likable I can come across when the ask is nothing but, “Oh, and here. Text this number,” and they will be able to learn more about me and get more engaged with what I had to offer.

Bjork Ostrom: Yeah.

Chris Davis: Right?

Bjork Ostrom: Right.

Chris Davis: Now, they have this, Bjork, right? They have this. They text it. What’s going to happen is it’s going to add them to some form of email list.

Bjork Ostrom: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Chris Davis: Right? That phase of the funnel is what we call “capture.” I’ve captured their email. They are now a lead to me. Now, the next step is follow-up. The next phase of the funnel is follow-up. Now, I would want to follow up based on our initial conversation. I don’t want to follow up and start sending them stuff that is not related to what we just talked about and what they opted in for.

Bjork Ostrom: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Chris Davis: Right? Now, this follow up can be … To keep it simple, let’s just say it’s a sequence of three emails, and in each email, since I’ve got 10 tips, I’m just giving them an overview of three tips, right?

Bjork Ostrom: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Chris Davis: At the end of every email, I’m inviting them to get a small business assessment to improve the efficiency of their business, right?

Bjork Ostrom: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Chris Davis: Now, in each email, I have what’s called a “call to action” that if they say, “Yes, I want a … I would like a small business assessment,” they could click the link that takes them to a webpage on my website with a web form, right? The web form now asks for more information. Let’s go back. Before, all they had to do was text a number and give me their email address. I didn’t ask for, “Hey, what’s your company? What is your biggest struggle?” Ask for any of that.

Bjork Ostrom: Right.

Chris Davis: Now that I’ve had time to follow up, build some relationship, and they’ve clicked the link which shows that they’re interested, I now have the green light to ask for more information, so now I am asking, “Hey, what’s your website? What’s your business’ name? X, Y, Z,” and then I’m in a position where I can still get … Listen. I haven’t asked for anything up until this point, but your email and some additional information. Now, I’m going to give you a complementary assessment, so the giving, you … What you gave to me with respect to what I gave back to you, I should always be greater. As the business owner, I should always have given more to you than you have to me.

Bjork Ostrom: That’s another little concept, or phrase, or idea that I haven’t heard said like that before, but it makes so much sense as opposed to asking.

Chris Davis: Yes.

Bjork Ostrom: Like if somebody gives you … Like for instance, like you said, signing up for a list. If somebody is giving you that information, which is … It is a gift in some sense.

Chris Davis: Yes.

Bjork Ostrom: I love that idea of being respectful and saying, “Now, here is something for you that I’m going to give you,” or if somebody gives you their time perhaps for a call, or a webinar, or some type of follow-up thing that you are then giving back to them something greater than what they had asked for. I think that you’d continue to apply that all the way. This isn’t … necessarily doesn’t apply to funnels, but I think it’s a great concept to apply to the actual product itself. If somebody does purchase something that when they do spend whatever it is that they’re spending on it, then what they get is not equal to what they spent, but above and beyond.

Chris Davis: Yes, exactly. The goal … If you want to gamify it, I win when I give more than you in my business.

Bjork Ostrom: Mm-hmm (affirmative). Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Chris Davis: No matter what. You just gave me 10 inputs for my contact form? Okay. I’m going to give you a free assessment with the dollar value of hundreds of dollars, right?

Bjork Ostrom: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Chris Davis: In the same funnel here, so we’ve got capture. We’ve got follow-up, and now, we have some interest. They’ve filled out a form, and we’ve given them an assessment of their business. Now, we can ask for the sale.

Bjork Ostrom: Got it, and at that point, the person understands you and knows a little bit about who you are, maybe feels comfortable with having those conversations.

Chris Davis: Yes, yes. There you go.

Bjork Ostrom: Great. Okay, so here’s my question that I’m curious to know, and I would assume a lot of people that are listening to this would feel the same way and have some questions about it, but a lot of the people that listen to this podcast probably have a focus on content, and producing content, and using that either to work with a sponsor that then like promotes … or that then they like promote the product within that, so maybe it would be somebody who does a recipe and includes a certain type of wine with it as a compliment to the recipe, and they get paid to include that, or they have advertising on their site and they create income from that.

When we’re talking about funnels, do you feel like it’s necessary for people that are in the content space? Is it necessary for them to have some type of product that they are then offering at the end of a funnel, or are there ways you could create funnels or even automate your marketing to open it up a little bit broader in ways that are helpful to the business even if you don’t have an actual product that you’re selling?

Chris Davis: Sure, sure. The product … In business, business begins when you have a product, so to help people … to make it easier for people because right when you said the word “product” what happens to everybody listening is you just … If they don’t have a product, you just created a big to do. “I’ve got to create a product.”

Bjork Ostrom: Cliché. Yeah, for sure.

Chris Davis: Right? It’s just what we do as humans. We’re like, “Oh, I need it. I need it to …” and if I can’t figure out how to do it, I’m paralyzed, right?

Bjork Ostrom: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Chris Davis: If you think of a product this way, it’s more freeing than paralyzing, and understand that a product is just the physical or tangible manifestation of an idea. That’s it. Okay? If you can come up with an idea, it is the exact same as having a finished product. Proof of this is when the iPhone sold.

Bjork Ostrom: Sure.

Chris Davis: Remember back when … way back when the iPhone was being introduced?

Bjork Ostrom: Yeah, for sure.

Chris Davis: All they had were mock-ups, man.

Bjork Ostrom: Uh-huh (affirmative).

Chris Davis: They’re just mock-ups.

Bjork Ostrom: Yeah, and if you read interviews, it was like the path that Steve Jobs had to take in order for it to work was like so small.

Chris Davis: Yes.

Bjork Ostrom: Like it was like you had to hit the phone button, and then you had to hit like the … This isn’t it, but like the idea was like the third contact down below and like if anything else happen, it just would’ve like crashed like it was …

Chris Davis: Yes.

Bjork Ostrom: There are stories about the engineers in back like taking shots every time that it worked because they were just so relieved.

Chris Davis: Right, right. Like just show this one process because what was happening back that a lot of people don’t understand is that Steve understood that, “I just need you to clearly understand my idea. Fund my idea, and I will create the product. I’ll create the tangible, physical manifestation of that idea.” Now, when we’re talking about business, you need a product, X, Y, Z. Business begins with a product. Essentially, I’m saying business begins with an idea. Once you have an idea, it is your job to prove that idea, and the only way to prove an idea is by profits.

When someone exchanges … When there’s a monetary exchange that takes place for your idea, you have vetted that this is worth spending more time on. I know that sounds simple, Bjork, but there are so many people that miss that step right there, and what they end up doing is creating content. They end up, like you said, getting sponsorships, but it’s not aligned with an end goal.

Though all of it is good, all of it is praise-worthy, all of it is worthy of creating content about and interviewing people about, if you ask that business owner, and I know because I did as hundreds of business owners, if you ask them what their idea outcome that they want in their business is, they would tell you it’s not what they have, and that’s because they never aligned their current actions with an end goal, and that end goal is always the product.

That’s why if anybody has this problem even before this and if you start listening to my concept after this, I’m a big advocate with beginning at the end. It all starts with your product. Once you have a product, and remember, everybody, a product is just an idea that you can clearly communicate. That’s it.

Bjork Ostrom: Yeah.

Chris Davis: I don’t care if it’s a course. I don’t care if it’s a physical product. I don’t care if it’s a t-shirt. If I can tell you, “Listen, man. Bjork, I have this new fabric. When you put it on, not only does it absorb your sweat, but in cold weather, it heats you up.”

Bjork Ostrom: I’ll take it. Yeah.

Chris Davis: It’s so like you don’t even know it’s on.

Bjork Ostrom: Yeah.

Chris Davis: Then, at midday, it releases a fragrance of your choice, so you actually get fresher as the day goes.

Bjork Ostrom: Yeah.

Chris Davis: Now, if I say that, people’s minds are like, “Oh my gosh.” Single dudes are thinking like, “Oh my, how many girls could I get?”

Bjork Ostrom: Yeah. They would, right?

Chris Davis: Right? Their mind … They’re seeing, they’re visualizing life with that idea. They’ve productized it for you essentially by you being able to clearly communicate. Okay?

Bjork Ostrom: Do you say that’s important because when … You need to be able to clearly communicate it because one of the steps you should take, if you are thinking of creating something, is clearly communicating what that is in order to come to people and say, “Hey, would you be interested in purchasing this?” and/or like actually asking them to do it?

Chris Davis: Exactly. Oh my goodness, yes. Exactly. It creates consistency in all of your messaging, so you’re not handing down that business card that sends down to some resource that doesn’t tie in to your product, right? Like I said, I try to keep things very simple. It’s the same thing of saying, “You know what? I’m going out west.” That could mean anything, right?

Bjork Ostrom: Yeah.

Chris Davis: That’s somebody saying, “I’m starting a business online,” but if I say, “Listen, Bjork. There’s a small city in California named ‘San Anferdino’ that’s out west. It’s going to take me 24 hours to get there. The population is about 5,000. Really small city. If you blink, you’ll miss it, and it’s supposed to have amazing weather.” That destination is so clear to me. I can then get everything in place that I need to get to that destination, so that’s what you owe your customers, your prospects, your leads is showing them a clear destination, and then providing them the means to get there. That’s good funnel.

Bjork Ostrom: Yeah.

Chris Davis: The funnel provides the mean. All along the way, you’re communicating. When I go to build a funnel, the first thing I ask was the end goal. Now, the end goal for every … not be a product. Okay? I know a lot of people where the end goal is essentially … They’re not proving it by a monetary exchange, which I always like to do, but there are some cases where they just want to prove it by how many people they can get to say, “Yes, I agree with this idea.” Right? It could be list size, right? Either way, it’s taking an idea, putting it in front of people to dig to determine, “Who does this idea resonate with? Where is the biggest part of people that really like this?” and then start building out, building the funnel out from there.

Bjork Ostrom: Yeah, got it. I think this is good to chat through this a little bit for a while. Let’s say the majority of people that would be listening to this would have some type of recipe or food-related content, so they’d be posting … Maybe it’s in a niche, right? Maybe it’s in Paleo, or maybe they focus on healthy, or maybe it’s just like all desserts, so it’s people that are in the food space. Maybe they have a little bit of momentum going, but they really want to take things to the next level, and they’re thinking, “Oh, maybe I should introduce something that is mine,” right, so it’s not advertising. It’s not sponsored content. How do you … This is a little bit off script, but I would be interested to hear what you have to say.

Chris Davis: Yeah.

Bjork Ostrom: How do you recommend that people that have already started like pause, and then start with the end in mind, right?

Chris Davis: Absolutely, so the process that I go through. I’ll tell you a funny story before I tell you the answer.

Bjork Ostrom: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Chris Davis: I learned this the hard way, so everybody, this is a vetted idea, and I’ve done … I’ve got all the scars for you, so you don’t have to do this.

Bjork Ostrom: Okay.

Chris Davis: I was doing consulting for a prominent social media figure, and they had about 10 to 20 products on their website. The first thing that I realized when they brought me on this consultant, I said, “Well, none of these products are selling. Just get rid of them. Get rid of them all. Let’s start with one, and build from there. We can be chaining these in a way where we’re upselling, cross-selling,” but as it is now, people are so confused. What’s on there that they’re not taking any action? Now, as good of advice as that is, it scared the entrepreneur to death.

Bjork Ostrom: Yeah, for sure.

Chris Davis: Okay? Even though it wasn’t making money, by me saying, “Let’s take it off,” somewhere in the back of their mind, they figure, “One day, somebody is going to find their website and buy everything, and they’ll be a millionaire,” and I just killed that dream. I just murdered it, right? I realized that, “Okay. Let me try it again,” so what I recommend people do is keep everything in place as it is. If it’s already built, if it’s already up, leave it there. Start a new process, brand new process with the end in mind and build out from there.

Bjork Ostrom: Sure.

Chris Davis: As that process, as that funnel starts becoming more profitable, more successful, and it starts growing, then you start eliminating, but I can’t … It’s just human nature. Don’t take something away from me without replacing it with something.

Bjork Ostrom: Right, right. Yeah. If somebody has a momentum going in a certain direction, it’s not like you say, “Scrap everything. Rebuild with this … and apply this.”

Chris Davis: Exactly.

Bjork Ostrom: It’s saying, “Pause. Rethink things. Apply that concept, and then look backwards, and clean up as necessary.”

Chris Davis: Yeah. Exactly, and the goal will be competing against yourself. If you already have something up like, for instance, you say sponsorships, if you already have sponsorships and that’s making a thousand dollars a month, but you just can’t break through that ceiling like, “Oh my gosh, I just can’t get a thousand and one, just a thousand and one.” You can’t break through that ceiling.

What I would recommend you do is maintain that. Maintain the thousand and one, then compete against yourself with the new product that you own, and the goal for that product or that offering we’ll say is to make more than a thousand dollars a month. Once it starts making more than what you’re currently making, it’s now raised its hand as a candidate to receiving more of your attention.

Bjork Ostrom: Yeah.

Chris Davis: If that thing can keep growing, it really raises the case. Do we even need sponsorships?

Bjork Ostrom: Right, it’s proved itself in some ways.

Chris Davis: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Bjork Ostrom: Yup.

Chris Davis: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Bjork Ostrom: That’s great. It’s really a common theme actually for the people that I’ve interviewed previously that they have started their thing, whatever that is, and then somewhere along the lines, they’ve realized that the most effective way to grow what they’re doing is to create something, whatever that is, right?

Chris Davis: Yes.

Bjork Ostrom: Like you said, it could be physical product. It could be a digital product. It could be a service, something like that, but to own whatever it is they’re doing, and bring that in-house as opposed to trying to work outside of that with just strictly advertisers or sponsored content.

Chris Davis: Absolutely. Here’s the thing. Here’s … to let people off the hook. I like to let people off the hook because I don’t know about you, Bjork, but …

Bjork Ostrom: I think people like that, so that’s good. Yeah.

Chris Davis: Right. I’m my worst enemy, and in this day and age where you can see … It appears that you can see what everybody is doing. The untold speaks louder than what’s told, so yeah. We see the guy that says, “I’ve made a million dollars in 10 months,” but we don’t know what that guy’s life is like afterwards nor what he had to sacrifice as far as integrity.

Bjork Ostrom: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Chris Davis: To get it, right?

Bjork Ostrom: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Chris Davis: I’m going to let everybody … Everybody, listen so you can rest assure that nobody on planet earth has the capacity or ability to create the perfect product. Okay? The perfect product exists in the minds of your followers that you have to identify or your target market that you must identify, so the goal is this. I can come up with the cursory idea, the preliminary concept of my product, but I cannot complete it until I centralized my target audience and get feedback from them of what this product should look like.

Bjork Ostrom: Yeah, that’s a great … It ties in to The Lean Startup a little bit. I don’t know if you’re familiar with Eric Ries and Lean Startup.

Chris Davis: Yes. Eric Ries. Yes.

Bjork Ostrom: For those that are listening that are interested in building their thing, that’s a great book to check out and a great process to apply to building your thing, and the idea being like you said, you have this initial tiny little idea. You want to get it out as soon as possible and start getting feedback on it because if you take …

Chris Davis: Yes.

Bjork Ostrom: To get internal too long and build what you think is the coolest thing ever, then it might not be in the eyes of other people.

Chris Davis: There you go, and your main customer is going to be yourself.

Bjork Ostrom: Yeah, so let’s jump back into some of the funnel stuff a little bit because I think that’s fun to talk about, and I know that’s an area of expertise for you. When you’re looking at a funnel, is that something where it’s like a term paper where you draft it up, you create it, you have this funnel, you say, “Here’s where people are coming in, here’s what’s going to happen in the middle, and then here’s where we’re going to have a phone call with them, and then …” or like do a product demo, and then you publish it, or is it something like what we were talking about before where you have a little idea, you create it, and then iterate on that, and like build on it?

Chris Davis: Right. The easiest way to do this … There’s two ways, right? Let’s use the easiest way. The easiest way is somebody who has started a business that you … in traditional sense. Most people start a business like this. They either get an idea or an idea is put in their head consistently by the people who are around them. “Oh my god, you are amazing. Have you written a cookbook? Have you? Do you put these recipes online?” and like, “Hmm. Right, maybe that’s it.”

Bjork Ostrom: Sure. Yeah, great example. Yeah.

Chris Davis: They do that, and they’re working hard, man. They’re taking pictures of their food. They’re doing videos in the kitchen showing how to prepare them. The comments are coming in, and they’re like, “Oh my god.” Now, people are asking for a course, “Can you teach us how to do this?” Now, they’ve got a course. For that person, they have processes, Bjork. They have processes that they’re currently doing. They may not be aware of exactly what those processes are until you ask them, but they’re doing something to make money.

Those are the easiest people to start helping build out a funnel because essentially, your business is comprised of the processes that are necessary to run it, and those processes are governed by systems, and the systems are what create your business. That’s the x-ray of your business or is the skeleton. If you put it on a business, you’ll see a system, multiple systems with processes in them, so the better your process is, the better your systems, the better your business. If you have processes in place, my eyes get big like I’m like, “Oh, yes, yes, yes,” because what I’m going to do is I’m simply … We’re not even touching the computer at this point, Bjork.

Bjork Ostrom: Right.

Chris Davis: We’re not even on technology at any form. I’ve got a piece of paper, preferably a whiteboard if I’m in my office.

Bjork Ostrom: Yeah.

Chris Davis: You’re sitting down, and I’m almost like a counselor, so what are you doing to acquire strangers? Like you’re just telling me the process as you talk, “Well, you know, I normally post three times a week on YouTube, and then from that, I’ll get comments, and from those comments, I’ll create a blog post, and then, from that blog post, what will happen is I’ll publish it on social media more. Pinterest is my main source of getting … putting stuff out there, and when people see it, they come back to my blog. They share. They do everything, and then that’s how I get my cookbook sales.”

I’m documenting that whole process, and what I want to do is look at all of these processes and build systems around them, right? By systems, I’m saying, “What technology can I use to execute this system … I mean, to execute this process?” Right? “Okay. How are they getting to your website?” “Um, well, when they click, they go to the homepage, and they had to click the blog page.” “Oh, that’s too much work. Let’s put a landing page in there.” Right?

Step one, because of the process. See, if you have processes, I know exactly where to go. “All right. How are they’ checking out?” “Well, they call, and when they call or click the PayPal link, they pay via PayPal, and then we get an email, so that email then … We go and put in their information, and then ship them the book.” Right? I’m like, “Okay.” Now, that lets me know that the payment process, we can do … We can implement some fulfillment processes there, right? Maybe I can set up a system where that email doesn’t come to you. It goes to a fulfillment service. Then, five or seven days later, they get their book. You don’t even touch it, but I can’t even start that type of conversation without having processes.

Bjork Ostrom: Yeah, and I think, like you said, not even …

Chris Davis: Right? That’s the approachable funnel in that.

Bjork Ostrom: Yeah, not even touching the computer.

Chris Davis: Mm-hmm (affirmative). Go ahead.

Bjork Ostrom: I think that’s an important concept because I think … especially for people that are … like build businesses online. You think like, “If I’m not at the computer, I’m not working.” I know that I can feel like that sometimes like I go to … Like maybe I’ll write something and ideate on a piece of paper, and it’s like, “Uh,” like it’s stressful. I’m just so used to being at the computer, but I think stepping away and saying, “Okay. What is it? How do things work right now?” and drawing that out and saying, “What does it look like when …?” Even from the very beginning, it could be, “What is the process for doing an actual blog post? How does that work?”

Chris Davis: Exactly. Absolutely.

Bjork Ostrom: That could be all part of a funnel potentially. It’s like this process that you have that you go through in order to create content, publish content, get people there, and so essentially, you’re putting all that together and saying like, “Where can we then remove … Where can we remove some of …?” Okay, sure.

Chris Davis: There you go. There you go. Yes. Now, you’ve given me the processes, and I’m going into identification mode. Let me identify which one of these processes I can convert into an automated process and which ones are going to remain manual. All right? A key note there. If any of you are ever looking for a consultant or a digital marketing expert, and they tell you, “Oh, we can automate everything,” eh, red light.

Bjork Ostrom: Yeah, right.

Chris Davis: Go the other way. Do not look back. Run like the plague like get out of there because the truth is every process can … Even if it could be, you wouldn’t want it to be. Okay? There are …

Bjork Ostrom: Mm-hmm (affirmative), because you want some type of personal touch in there or some control over it.

Chris Davis: There you go. Exactly. You just want to make sure where that personal touch is. It doesn’t act as a bottom line to the process, so yeah. Now, we’ve mapped out the process. We’ve done our mapping. Now, we’re going to identification and say, “Okay. Which one of these processes can be automated?” Now, when I ask that question, I’m not asking you from my expertise. I’m asking you from … more so from your ability to maintain and monitor it. If there’s a very advance piece of technology that I can use and you don’t have the capacity to maintain that technology, I won’t recommend it.

Bjork Ostrom: Sure.

Chris Davis: You see what I’m saying?

Bjork Ostrom: Yup.

Chris Davis: It’s more so about you than it is about me and my expertise.

Bjork Ostrom: Right, because you could say, “Oh, you really need to Infusionsoft to simplify this process, and here’s why it’s so great.” Somebody might be like, “Well, that doesn’t make sense for me. I wouldn’t know how to do it. It would be beyond me. It’s something that I couldn’t take on.” Is that what you mean?

Chris Davis: Exactly, exactly. My job as someone in the space, as a marketing automation expert, or as a systems architect is to make know all of the technologies available so I can properly match the technology with the strategy. There is no single bullet. “Every single client I get, I hook them up with this.” No, because the last thing I want to do is build something that’s more complicated than what you already have in place.

Bjork Ostrom: Yeah, right. Yeah. Right, right. Two, all that somebody needs is a bike, and you sell them a Humvee or something like that. It’s like …

Chris Davis: There you go.

Bjork Ostrom: Yeah. The point is to sell a bike to somebody who needs a bike, which is a good lead into one of the last questions that I wanted to touch on because I know a lot of people have this question and use different providers. Obviously, you’re with ActiveCampaign. We use ActiveCampaign. We love it.

Chris Davis: Yes, yes.

Bjork Ostrom: Before, I was like, “Are you okay if I ask you about that and give you …?” Yeah, and you’re like, “Yeah,” and because you have so much experience with it, with these different email providers and things like that.

Chris Davis: Yes.

Bjork Ostrom: Can you talk a little bit about if somebody is … Let’s say if somebody is interested in getting into some of the automation stuff, they can check out some of these different providers that are out there. ActiveCampaign is one. There’s Infusionsoft which is another one. Ontraport is another marketing automation. ConvertKit. All of these different examples. Do you recommend somebody start with that, or if they’re just early on in their blog, should they sign up with something a little bit more simple that wouldn’t have … that wouldn’t be as heavy of a platform?

Chris Davis: Yeah, so my rule of thumb is strategy dictates everything. The level of complexity or maturity of your strategy is going to determine which tool you use, right? What happens when you don’t have a strategy in place is similar to going to the grocery store on an empty stomach. Everything, everything looks good.

Bjork Ostrom: Pretty sure.

Chris Davis: It could be a Ritz Cracker.

Bjork Ostrom: Yeah, with Kombucha and then string cheese. Yeah.

Chris Davis: You’re looking at it as if it’s a full course meal.

Bjork Ostrom: Yeah.

Chris Davis: What happens is as you get more full and satisfied, you start tasting it differently like, “You know what? This cheese has a nasty aftertaste.”

Bjork Ostrom: Yeah.

Chris Davis: Right? That’s what happens with tools when you don’t have a strategy. Your eyes are big. You’re like, “Oh my gosh, I need them all. I’ll take one.”

Bjork Ostrom: “I want this. I want that.” Yeah, the shiny object. Yeah.

Chris Davis: Right, and then as things start working and you can … you start to really realize what it’s capable of and what it’s not capable of, you’re like, “Oh, ain’t this kind of sucks?”

Bjork Ostrom: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Chris Davis: Right? I always encourage people to start with your strategy. Let your strategy determine the tools, and not let anybody else’s success or failure do it for you.

Bjork Ostrom: That’s hard to do because you see somebody being successful, and you think it’s the tool, right? Like so often, it’s like, “That’s why, so I need to switch to that.”

Chris Davis: Yes. Listen, off the hook again. Everybody, get off the hook with me. I’ve done it, and I continue to catch myself when I’m doing … It’s the reason why LeBron James fans buy LeBron James shoes.

Bjork Ostrom: What do you mean?

Chris Davis: For whatever reason, they figure, “If I’m wearing LeBron James shoes, I’m going to be able to dunk.”

Bjork Ostrom: Oh, great.

Chris Davis: “If I’ve got on Jordans and stick my tongue out …” It has nothing there. They’re just tools, right?

Bjork Ostrom: Yeah, right.

Chris Davis: It’s you. It’s you. You are the one that will determine your success. Some of you, your mind, higher mind works, and what you’re willing to do on your business, that’s going to determine the tool. That is going to determine the tool because your mind is going to say, “You know what? This is my strategy. This is the way that I know how to run business,” so it’s my job as an effective consultant to match that with the technology and I force you out of your normal means of operating, and adapt to technology, and make you think that this specific tool is going to do something for you that is not, right?

Bjork Ostrom: Right.

Chris Davis: In picking tools, there is a differentiation that nobody makes where any time you read a blog. This isn’t it, but if you look at it this way, I’m hoping this will give you a deeper understanding of how to approach it. Everybody, listen in. Okay? There’s really three categories as of today. Three categories in the market when we’re talking about marketing automation to email marketing. Before I get into that, let me define really quick the difference between email marketing and marketing automation.

Bjork Ostrom: Sure.

Chris Davis: Email marketing is the process of sending email, the ability of sending emails to multiple people at once. Marketing automation encompasses email marketing, and then adds additional capabilities as far as taking over processes both internally and externally. By internally, I mean you can use marketing automation to send notifications to a sales team manager or somebody else on your team to do a specific task. You can’t do that with email marketing. If it’s an umbrella, if marketing automation is an umbrella, email marketing is a subset of marketing animation, but there’s much more to marketing automation, whereas in email marketing, we’re just talking about sending emails.

Bjork Ostrom: Strictly emails. Great. Okay.

Chris Davis: Yeah.

Bjork Ostrom: Yup.

Chris Davis: That is a very important differentiation because as I go over these platforms, you’re going to see it clearly.

Bjork Ostrom: Sure.

Chris Davis: Now, we know that. Let’s break it up into the only three categories that exist, and one of which just emerged in the last two years. We’ve got … The three categories are email marketing, advanced email marketing, and marketing automation. All right? When I’m talking about email marketing, this is the ability to send emails to multiple people at once based on their permission or their interest, right? We’re talking about AWeber, MailChimp, ConstantContact, IContact, Campaign Monitor, VerticalResponse, GetResponse, right?

If the strategy that you’re deploying only needs the ability to send timed emails to people or emails at a timely fashion based on them filling out a form, you are just fine with email marketing. Any of these platforms will do. The only difference between all of them is … Small things, right? Like AWeber is more info-marketing affiliate-based, right? You’ve got MailChimp. MailChimp is … we all know start for free.

Bjork Ostrom: Mm-hmm (affirmative). Yeah, right.

Chris Davis: You start for free. Their campaign … The building of an email in MailChimp is probably the easiest that I’ve ever seen and ever experienced in any platform. They take all the guesswork out for you pretty much for you to send emails, right? ConstantContact has been the small business go-to tool. MailChimp has captured a lot of their shares, but ConstantContact runs sponsored ads on radio shows, places on the internet that only small businesses exist. If you’re an affiliate, if you’re into info-marketing, you best not use ConstantContact at all, at all. Same with MailChimp. A lot of these platforms, you should read their terms and conditions because they will tell you which businesses they serve and they don’t.

Bjork Ostrom: Interesting.

Chris Davis: You don’t even have to leave a question.

Bjork Ostrom: Yeah, I didn’t know that. They’ll say like, “Here’s our focus,” essentially?

Chris Davis: Absolutely. They’ll let you know, “Hey, multi-level marketing is not allowed. Affiliate not allowed,” if you just read it. IContact is pretty much an alternative to AWeber, a lot of affiliates are using. It’s got some small business space, and they’ve got … I think they’ve got an enterprise arm that they push as well. Campaign Monitor is very agency, agency-friendly. Same with Campaign Monitor and VerticalResponse, honestly, are very agency-friendly, nonprofit-friendly, so these are things that make a difference, right?

Bjork Ostrom: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Chris Davis: If you are a blogger, AWeber, MailChimp, or GetResponse are like the three that I will recommend. When we say GetResponse, GetResponse did something very interesting lately is they added what they’re calling “automation” to their platform, so it’s transitioning GetResponse down into the next field or the next area is advanced email marketing. Now … between advanced email marketing and email marketing is it’s all the same. Except now, I’ve added some marketing automation to my platform.

Bjork Ostrom: Sure.

Chris Davis: See what I’m saying? Like you can do some things, and when I say some things, it’s like tags. Now, you can tag your contents. Now, you can move your contacts within lists between lists within the platform.

Bjork Ostrom: Sure.

Chris Davis: Now, when someone buys, you can say, “Take them off of the prospect list and add them to the customer list.”

Bjork Ostrom: Got it. With the email marketing, those are like, “Hey, you’re sending out email.” People unsubscribe if they don’t want to be a part of it, or they get the email and continue to get the email, and they’re in one list, and then you bump up to this next level, and you can start to shift around and be a little bit more intelligent with how you track, and tag, and interact with these people.

Chris Davis: Exactly.

Bjork Ostrom: It’s like 101, and then we have the 201.

Chris Davis: Yes.

Bjork Ostrom: This would be if you require a little bit more interaction or intelligence with the interactions you’re having?

Chris Davis: Yeah, if you want to be more targeted, right? If you want to start being more targeted with your messaging and sending.

Bjork Ostrom: Sure. Yup.

Chris Davis: Now, you’re going to look at advanced email marketing.

Bjork Ostrom: Got it, and so the examples of those would be … You had said GetResponse is one of those.

Chris Davis: Yup. GetResponse has migrated down there. ConvertKit.

Bjork Ostrom: Okay. ConvertKit. Sure.

Chris Davis: Sure, by LeadPages.

Bjork Ostrom: Yup.

Chris Davis: Those are all in the … and the truth of the matter is some people don’t need a full marketing automation solution. Do not feel bad. Listen. Off the hooks, I’m going to be on the ground by the end of this podcast, Bjork.

Bjork Ostrom: Yeah. We’ll have a little tally that we can have. Yeah.

Chris Davis: Right. Off the hooks. Listen. If all you need is a little bit of automation, don’t put the weight on yourself for a full marketing automation platform. No matter how good me or anybody else says it could be or do for your business, if email marketing with a little bit of automation is working wonders in your business, keep working it by all means necessary.

Bjork Ostrom: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Chris Davis: Okay? That’s what I’m saying. There’s a lot of companies. When I look at ConvertKit, there are a lot of bloggers that are loving ConvertKit. You know why? Because it essentially mirrors email marketing which most of them were doing with MailChimp, or AWeber, or something like that, and they just added some stuff to it. They just added some extra ability that they didn’t want like they were just trying to get it out of their email marketing platform.

Bjork Ostrom: Right.

Chris Davis: “Finally, now I can tag.”

Bjork Ostrom: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Chris Davis: Right? That’s all they wanted. They didn’t need everything, and that’s fine.

Bjork Ostrom: Yeah.

Chris Davis: That’s why when you go to ConvertKit’s website, it says, “For professional bloggers.”

Bjork Ostrom: Right.

Chris Davis: They know who they’re targeting, so you don’t need more than that. It’s just like buying shoes. I’ve got three kids. I’m not going to buy a size 12 shoe for my four-year-old son.

Bjork Ostrom: Yeah, because they can grow into it. Right.

Chris Davis: When they could grow into it. By the time he used to have … Hey, the shoe was probably going to be out of style. The chances they’re going to still have it are very, very rare, and the chances that I still need it in the same capacity I needed it 12 years ago is crazy.

Bjork Ostrom: Right.

Chris Davis: Now, there’s a difference if I get one size bigger. I won’t ever have to replace it tomorrow.

Bjork Ostrom: Right.

Chris Davis: “Let me get one size bigger.” Get a tool that you can grow in a little bit, but don’t try to project all the way down. All right?

Bjork Ostrom: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Chris Davis: Then, the last one is marketing automation, right? Now, this is where you get into your active campaign. Infusionsoft, Ontraport. I’ll throw Hatchbuck in there. AutopilotHQ, and these are full marketing automation platforms. You are going to find a CRM and full marketing automation in these platforms. Infusionsoft and Ontraport is going to take it a level up and give you eCommerce as well. They’re called “all-in-one marketing automation platforms,” but what marketing automation does is it introduces the CRM as a necessity to your marketing.

Bjork Ostrom: Can you explain that a little bit just for those that aren’t familiar with CRM and what that looks like to play in?

Chris Davis: Yes. Absolutely. A CRM is your Contact Relationship Management. That’s what CRM stands for. It’s how you manage your database of contacts.

Bjork Ostrom: Got it.

Chris Davis: When we’re talking about email marketing and even advanced email marketing, a contact exists when an email address is present. They cannot exist in your database without an email address, so everything is email-based. Why is it? That’s why it’s called “email marketing.” Everything revolves around email. Now, when we introduce a CRM, a CRM is a contact exist in my database when I have any information on them.

Bjork Ostrom: Got it. Name. It could be like a product they looked at or … Yup.

Chris Davis: Exactly.

Bjork Ostrom: Okay.

Chris Davis: Exactly. Organization, right? Now that I have a CRM, I can manage my contacts at a deeper level. Now, this introduces sales processes. I have a sales process that is beyond perhaps just a sales process that maybe includes other team members or other … or like a sales team.

Bjork Ostrom: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Chris Davis: Okay? A great example is eCommerce. It is not uncommon for eCommerce platforms to have it strongly for CRM because these people have a process that needs to be managed and over … with an oversight, so a lot of times, you need to put notes on the contacts records.

Bjork Ostrom: Mm-hmm (affirmative). Keep a history of your conversation with them or …

Chris Davis: Exactly. Right.

Bjork Ostrom: If they have a customer support request, then it’s cataloged in the …

Chris Davis: There you go.

Bjork Ostrom: Got it.

Chris Davis: You see what I’m saying? If I shipped it, I want to know I am shipped on this day.

Bjork Ostrom: Yeah.

Chris Davis: Right? Now, when I go to manage my contacts, I can see exactly what’s happening. I could pull up their contact of record. Now, if your business requires a CRM, you just qualified yourself for marketing automation. That’s one of the telltale signs I look for. Do you need more? Do you need marketing eautomation? Do you need a CRM? I never go through applications.

Bjork Ostrom: Yeah, and along with that, potentially, do you already have some type of eCommerce set up? If you do, maybe that opens up your choices for marketing automation because like if you don’t and you want to use Infusionsoft, you would hook all of that in. It would be in one, but if you do have eCommerce set up, you have somewhere where people purchase stuff, you have a little bit more, the options that you can choose from. You could go with something like ActiveCampaign, and that would hook into that eCommerce, and it can talk to it, but it would be at a … It wouldn’t be necessarily integrated in like it would with Infusionsoft.

Chris Davis: Exactly.

Bjork Ostrom: Sure.

Chris Davis: Exactly, and they all have their hang-ups. Listen. There are some people that use Infusion and swear by it. It’s the greatest thing ever. They’re like, “Oh my gosh, my sales, my contacts, and my automation all in one place. I don’t know what I would do without it.”

Bjork Ostrom: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Chris Davis: Right? Other people are like, “I hate the fact that they give me a subpar sales platform, a subpar CRM like I just need you to …” They want the tool to specialize in what they do.

Bjork Ostrom: Right.

Chris Davis: Right? Which is the stack approach, which is now we’re talking about ActiveCampaign, so that’s a big difference between Infusionsoft, Ontraport, and ActiveCampaign. ActiveCampaign focuses strictly on giving you the best marketing automation experience.

Bjork Ostrom: Not having any of the eCommerce or anything like that.

Chris Davis: There you go.

Bjork Ostrom: Got it.

Chris Davis: Exactly. A stack, a comparable stack with ActiveCampaign will be something like you’re using a landing page platform software, right, like LeadPages.

Bjork Ostrom: Mm-hmm (affirmative). Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Chris Davis: That’s your landing page. They specialize in lead pages. You’re using the best of the breed. Then, you got your marketing automation as ActiveCampaign, best of the breed. Then, you’ve got eCommerce. Let’s say Shopify or WooCommerce.

Bjork Ostrom: Sure.

Chris Davis: Let’s just say WooCommerce for now, and you’ve got WooCommerce. Now, you got three platforms that specialize specifically in what they do. You tie those together, and it’s comparable to Infusionsoft, but you would argue it’s a lot better because each tool specializes in what they do. Now, what’s the drawback? The drawback is you have to know how to integrate the tools.

Bjork Ostrom: Sure, and they have to talk to each other, and work seamlessly, and things like that.

Chris Davis: There you go. There you go. If you can do that, you’re going to have a cheaper bill, and you’re going to have more performance.

Bjork Ostrom: Yeah, that’s great. I think that’s a really good thing to distinguish for people that are listening, the idea or the difference between email … You said it was email marketing, advanced email marketing, and then marketing automation.

Chris Davis: Yes, yes. Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Bjork Ostrom: Some people might just be happy to hear like, “Oh, I think I fit into that email marketing category, and it makes sense for me to stay there.” Other people might be like, “Oh, I would like to do a little bit more of the advanced stuff where I can tag certain people if they click on a link in an email and be a little bit smarter about it,” or you might want to bump all the way up to the marketing automation stuff, which I …

Chris Davis: Absolutely.

Bjork Ostrom: I think if nothing else, it’s good to just know the difference between those and maybe more than anything for people to say, “Okay. I can see what category I fit in, and now at least I know where to research where I can go next.”

Chris Davis: Absolutely.

Bjork Ostrom: Yup.

Chris Davis: Yeah, and just know … I know I said I don’t buy the 12 fit shoe for my son and everything else. That by no means says that you’re not going to grow in your business and your needs are not going to change. Give yourself permission to make the best decision for right now, the state of your business, and what you know, and the team that you have. Make the best decision for now, and allow … In the future, a year or two years from now, you reassess it and say, “You know what? This still is not working. I’m going to have to move.” This is natural. Listen. I don’t know … Bjork, I don’t know one company that has not had to migrate tools because of growth.

Bjork Ostrom: Right. It’s a good problem to have, right?

Chris Davis: It’s a great problem to have. It’s not to be shied away from or try to … “Well, if I just buy this tool now, I’ll never have …” No, do not do that.

Bjork Ostrom: Right.

Chris Davis: Even at LeadPages, we started out … When I started there, we were using Infusionsoft, and our needs as far as analytics and data grew beyond what Infusionsoft could offer, so we switched to Hatchbuck, but we switched out of necessity, not out of projection like, “Well, I think I’ll need this.” Right?

Bjork Ostrom: “I might need this down the line.” Yeah.

Chris Davis: Exactly, so use the tool right now to help you identify your needs.

Bjork Ostrom: That’s great.

Chris Davis: Help to identify what’s necessary.

Bjork Ostrom: For sure.

Chris Davis: If you look at it like that instead of trying to pick the perfect tool which everybody helped to pick the perfect tool, no. Pick the tool that works for you right now that will help you determine your real needs.

Bjork Ostrom: That’s great, and I think it’s a good note to end on. I’ve taken a lot of your time. I want to be respectful of that, but it was really good things to cover, and we have a lot of questions that come up about all of this stuff, so appreciate you diving in. Chris, where can people follow along with you online and keep track of what you’re doing?

Chris Davis: Yes.

Bjork Ostrom: I know that you have multiple places that people can find you, so I would love if you could pass those along.

Chris Davis: Yes. Yes, I’ll give you guys the full skinny on me. If you want to … as a follow-up to this interview, you just want to ask me a question, Twitter is the best way.

Bjork Ostrom: Great.

Chris Davis: My tag is “autobizchris,” A-U-T-O-B-I-Z-C-H-R-I-S. Very responsive. It’s how you and I connected.

Bjork Ostrom: Yeah, it was. People can look at the …

Chris Davis: You can testify.

Bjork Ostrom: Yeah, they can look at our conversation.

Chris Davis: Yup, yup, and any question. I don’t shy away if you have any question that we can answer there. If it’s a bit more private and you want to be a little more specific, you can hit me up on automationbridge.com. Automation Bridge. One word, no hyphen. Automationbridge.com. You can go on my contact form or opt in to my list and shoot me an email, right?

Bjork Ostrom: Cool.

Chris Davis: If you want to learn more about marketing automation, if something I’ve said has peaked your interest like, “Oh, I think I want to learn more about this automation space,” as Bjork mentioned, I’m the Director of Education here at ActiveCampaign, so activecampaign.com/learn is going to be the educational hub with all of the content that I’ll be creating and repurposing some of the existing content, tightening it up, and making sure that it communicates clearly and easily exactly how to leverage marketing automation, and the best part is you don’t have to be an ActiveCampaign user to leverage the website because a lot of what I’m talking about is marketing automation specific, right?

Bjork Ostrom: Yeah, and we were talking about that before. I was saying I was doing some research here over the podcast, and I was looking through it, just reading through some of the things. Slowly, I started to go into not like podcast research mode, but like, “How do I apply this to what we’re doing?” like you get in to …

Chris Davis: Yes.

Bjork Ostrom: Like I was reading through it, and it’s like, “Oh, this is really interesting,” so it’s a great resource as well, and we’ll be sure to link all of those in the show notes and make sure people can see those, check those out. Chris, thanks so much for coming on the podcast. I wish you’re here in the Twin Cities, so we could meet up over a cup of coffee.

Chris Davis: Yeah.

Bjork Ostrom: Maybe next time in Chicago, I’ll drop you a line, but thanks for …

Chris Davis: Yeah, and remember, I’ll be back. I’ve got family there, so I’m frequent. I’m frequent to get this off.

Bjork Ostrom: Okay, good. Good. All right. Hey, thanks so much for coming on the podcast, Chris. I really appreciate it.

Chris Davis: Yes. Thanks for having me, Bjork.

Bjork Ostrom: Thanks. That’s a wrap for episode number 78. Hey, I wanted to mention this real quick as well. This is actually somebody that Chris is connected with. We had a podcast interview with Barry Moore back in episode number 41. It’s called “The Ninja Email Marketing for Bloggers with Barry Moore.” If you haven’t checked out some of the earlier podcasts we did on our first year, I’d encourage you to zoom back to that one and check that out, talking about some of the same important concepts that we did in this interview.

Obviously, a little bit of a different stance on them and coming from a different person, but it’s another great podcast if you’re interested in this niche of funnels and email marketing, which if you’re building a blog or building a brand online, that really should be everybody that is interested in this because it’s such an important part of the process of growing your business.

One more, thank you to Chris from coming on the podcast today. For those of you that are listening, a big thank you wherever you are. It’s such an honor that we get to do this, and we so appreciate you tuning in. If you have a minute, we would really appreciate it if you jump on. Leave a review for this podcast wherever it is that you listen whether that’s iTunes, or Stitcher, or some other podcast aggregator. We would ask that you just leave a quick review. That means so much to us. We really appreciate it, and I appreciate you tuning in. Make it a great week. Thanks guys.

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