The Two Biggest Challenges Faced by Small Business Owners – And How to Overcome Them

,

small-business-challenges-infusionsoft-review

No matter what industry you’re in, if you own or manage a small business, you’re likely to suffer from the same two major challenges as other small businesses:

  • Lack of cash
  • Lack of time

There is no denying that running a small business can be difficult. In all my years in business, and all the interviews I’ve done with other business owners, I’ve realized there are a number of common problems, the top two being time and money (and not necessarily in that order).

Here is some practical advice on how to address the challenges that otherwise will sink your company.

Problem #1: Cash Flow

moneyproblems

The number one challenge of small businesses is cash. Even if a business is profitable on paper, it’s astoundingly easy to hit the bottom of your bank balance.

Solution #1: Find a Way to Generate Recurring Revenue

My last company, an outsourced IT services firm, almost didn’t make it. The standard sorts of projects we were working on just didn’t create the kind of consistent cash flow we needed and – even after a few cash infusions, including mortgaging my house – our bank balance was hovering near zero.

BUT, we were about to land a new client. It was a big contract, and would certainly put us in the black for quite some time. I had a great relationship with the client. All seemed to be headed in the right direction.

Sadly, after a lot of hard work trying to win the contract, they told me they’d decided to go with another firm!

We had a great relationship, and they told me they wanted to work with me, but we didn’t offer what the other firm did – a monthly service contract with remote management (which at the time was new technology). The monthly contract also meant a fixed (predictable) expense each month for the client.

From my perspective, it was predictable revenue for the IT service provider. I asked for a couple of days to be able to redo my proposal, got my partner to figure out the technology end of it… and we won the contract – which meant that we now had money coming in each and every month. (yay!!)

More importantly, we had a new business model. One that was much more stable, and much more valuable.

Starting out each month at zero is very likely to kill your business. That’s why I strongly recommend building in a recurring revenue model, so that you automatically have income coming in each and every month.

This is one key to how I’m growing my marketing agency. The other piece of the puzzle is getting the leads so that my recurring revenue clients can find me. That’s where inbound marketing comes in.

Problem #2: Limited Time

We all have a limited amount of time in which to do our work.

As a small business owner, this becomes painfully obvious. You may end up finding yourself work hours so long that you wonder why you started that stinking business in the first place.

Solution #2: Create Systems to Automate As Much As Possible

robotLuckily, there are ways to maximize the time you do have available.

Focus on Bringing in Money

First, stop trying to do everything yourself. Prioritize your top activities – these should be revenue generating.

Set up a routine so that you’re focused on what brings you results (in the form of revenue) before all else.

Systematize What You Can

Second, get yourself set up with smoothly running systems for the things that need to be done repeatedly in your business.

If you’re not familiar with the now classic E-Myth: Why Most Small Businesses Don’t Work and What to Do About It, it’s well worth a read. The big takeaway of the book is to get out of the minutiae of your business, by developing systems. There are a number of benefits to this:

  • Because you have figured out exactly how you’re going to do a particular task, that task requires less mental time and energy
  • It allows you to easily train new employees (or outsourcers) to do the repetitive tasks
  • It allows you to grow your company more efficiently
  • It allows you to automate tasks, saving even more money because you don’t have to worry about labor

My Favorite Way to Automate

I’m a huge fan of Infusionsoft. It’s a seriously powerful automation software that allows me to:

  • Lead generation on my website
  • Customized, personalized follow up lo leads to help convert them to customers
  • Email marketing
  • eCommerce
  • Offline payment processing
  • Digital product delivery
  • Automate internal processes

Here’s the caveat to all of this: Although I’m a big fan of Infusionsoft, its strength is in helping you convert your website visitors to customers, and managing everything behind the scenes during and after that process. If you aren’t getting enough traffic to your website, Infusionsoft won’t be enough in and of itself. That’s why I also use HubSpot – and a solid inbound marketing strategy.

Conclusion

I hope this post has been helpful to you. If you’d like more of an Infusionsoft review, you can find that here, or check out this excellent demo of the software here.

If you have any questions about the software, I’d be happy to answer them. Just post a comment below, or contact me directly.

[xyz-ihs snippet=”InfusionsoftCategoryHeader”]

Ontraport vs. Infusionsoft: Which Marketing Software is Right For Your Business

, , ,
Ontraport vs. Infusionsoft_0

 Ontraport vs. Infusionsoft_0

“I’m switching from Ontraport to Infusionsoft.”

This is what I heard from one of my subscribers a few weeks ago – three weeks in and he was so frustrated with the functionality constraints, he decided the lower startup costs weren’t worth the hassle, even after he had migrated most of his business into Ontraport (formally Office AutoPilot). The same day I heard from him, another one of our subscribers brought a very similar complaint to us via Facebook. The complaints were pouring in!

So, I decided to write this comparison.

With the great CRM system, the loads of 3rd party support, and the amazing Campaign Builder, Infusionsoft was an easy choice for us, but not everyone has the same needs. Here we’ll take a look at the different features each software provides. Specifically, we’ll analyze the following components:

  • Pricing & Setup
  • Training & Initiation
  • Features
  • Marketing & Automation
  • Other

Pricing & Setup

Each program has its own unique approach to software set-up. Infusionsoft is consultant-based and detailed, while Ontraport is more self-servicing and intuitive. Here are the prices and expectations for each:

Infusionsoft

Pricing

$199-379/month,  ~$2000 Kickstart fee

Setup

While the initial startup costs can seem daunting to small business owners, Infusionsoft feels that due to the customizable nature of the software, the startup Kickstart training is necessary. The packages follow a structure which includes:

  • One-on-one consulting and implementation help in the first 30 days
  • A custom implementation guide to follow for the next 60 days
  • Analysis of your business’ needs and challenges
  • Help implementing the features that will make the biggest impact
  • Data import and dashboard configuration assistance
infusionsoft kickstart

Taken from Kickstart Page

There are two packages you can choose from once you begin your Kickstart program:

  1. Marketing Blueprint- Ideal for newer businesses looking to create and implement a marketing strategy for their lead generation and nurturing. This program will help create a framework to utilize in the future.
  2. Automate and Scale- Focused more on businesses looking to scale their efforts and make the business processes self-sustaining and automated. This program is designed to help businesses create internal processes to help sustain growth and scale their operations with the business.

The benefits of the Kickstart program go beyond the training and support for the actual software. With the right strategy and self-reflection, business owners can use this support to write personalized goals and campaign strategies, which is a powerful step in lead generation.

Ontraport

Ontraport Prices

Taken From Pricing Page

Pricing

$279-579/month

Setup

As opposed to Infusionsoft, you can order Ontraport online and move through the setup process fairly quickly. There is a much shorter lead-to-customer cycle, which is a nice touch and can be less intimidating.

As you can see, the monthly fees are higher but there is no startup fee. There is a free 2 hour implementation session which connects you with a dedicated “Hero” who is in charge of your account. The session includes:

  • Immediate Ontraport training with a dedicated Implementation Specialist
  • Get started building automated processes tailored to your business
  • Gain a deep understanding of Ontraport’s features and functionality
  • Get your sales and marketing automated right away
  • A unique head start in mastering Ontraport that’s tailored to your business

While the stated deliverables are a little overlapping repetitive, the main point is a service professional will contact you and help set up the program while tailoring the session to your business model.

The difference between Ontraport’s Pro and Team options is pretty negligible as far as I can tell, the main difference being the number of program users and email contacts. The number of emails does not change, which is odd considering the extra $300 a month fees.

Training & Initiation

Infusionsoft

Approx. Set-up Time: 4-8 Weeks

The length of set-up time is partly due to the Kickstart training regimen provided by the company (which takes place over 30 days), and partly because the software is so dynamic. While it the time period may seem long, remember that you will be building and implementing your software throughout the actual process. You will be in contact with a dedicated consultant and can utilize the program while it is being created.

After the Kickstart, you should be well prepared to operate the software, as well as automate many of the processes to run your business. That being said, this is not a quick fix solution. This is a long term strategy which takes time to develop and understand. For this to work you need to allocate some time for reorganizing your business.

Community

The other training advantage I believe Infusionsoft has is their large user community. There are large forums with people actively searching and posting ideas on how to use the software effectively and other strategies they have seen succeed and fail. This is something Ontraport, being a relatively newer and self-learning software, does not yet possess.

Along with an active community, Infusionsoft also hosts events and seminars for their users to learn more about the program and upcoming changes. These include:

  • Infusionsoft University– Based at locations across the country, these classes offer hands-on training, Q&A sessions, mastermind groups, and other events.
  • Virtual Academy– Online training course
  • Mastermind Webinars– Weekly webinars focused on marketing strategies and automation
  • ICON–  Annual seminar for users to learn from business experts and thought leaders

Along with live phone support, Infusionsoft also features 24/7 chat support, which is vital because if you’re a small business owner like myself, you know your business is always a 24/7 effort.

Ontraport

Approx. Set-up Time: 1-4 weeks

This is one of the nice features about Ontraport. There set-up is much simpler. Most of the functions are relatively easy to understand after an initial training. As with Infusionsoft, you have one point of contact during the transition to help you customize your set-up.

The actual time frame depends on your level of experience with marketing software and willingness to learn, but is undoubtedly shorter than the time Infusionsoft takes to master because it is a less involved system.

This process can take longer if you are migrating from other platforms to a centralized system, but if you are unsure or time-restrained, you can hire a concierge to migrate the systems and help with other learning hurdles.

Ontraport Support

A Small Staff and Window of Support Makes Me a Little Nervous

Ontraport offers live chat and service calls for customers, but support hours are limited to 6AM-9PM PST on weekdays and 9AM-9PM PST weekends.

The personalization the “Heroes” offer is nice, but it is also a weakness, as only 12 support staff members are available. This is restraining for businesses located outside of the West Coast or in other parts of the world.

Non-Threatening Feel

I like the friendly feel of the entire interface. If you watch the videos and visit the page it is clean and non-intimidating. If you’re a small business owner looking to make a big money decision, you’ll value that level of approachability.

Features

Let’s break down the different perks and features included in each software.

Infusionsoft

CRM

The CRM is the real backbone of both of these software packages. Here are the rates provided by Infusionsoft:

I normally suggest ignoring the Essentials package and moving straight to the Deluxe(s) and Complete packages. The usefulness of the sales component is reason enough to pick up the larger packages. If you don’t have an inventory or product, you will have less need for Infusionsoft in the first place.

Tagging and Lead Scoring

This is an incredibly easy and powerful tool within Infusionsoft, and with the rising importance of tag management in online marketing, I believe it’s a must for any good CRM software.

You can utilize tags for any number of actions users take on your site and automate what procedures to take when these actions happen.

Infusionsoft Tagging

Searching for Tagged Contacts in Infusionsoft’s CRM

As you can see, data can be sorted by tagged details applied to each contact. This is information you can gather based on opt-in forms, random surveys, user actions, or during the check out portion of your sales process. This allows you to search for relevant information depending on the needs of your campaign.

Notice the tag section below. We utilize hundreds of tags. No joke. We tag everything from clicking a certain link, to attending a webinar, to watching a certain percentage of a video, and so much more.

These tags allow you to monitor your customer’s behavior throughout their experience with your site and give you the opportunity to make informed decisions on how to respond to their actions.

Infusionsoft Lead Scoring

Identifying Hot Leads Automatically

Infusionsoft also offers a quality lead scoring system which you can automate to update when a contact has completed certain actions or purchased certain items. This can be incredibly useful for sales teams looking to optimize their time as it helps to quickly identify quality leads without doing manual searching and decision-making.

This is the key to automation – a powerful CRM system which integrates with a reliable automation system. The tagging and organizational aspects allows you to make more precise and meaningful automation decisions.

Clean Data and Company Identification

While this may seem trite, the value of these features on Infusionsoft should not be understated. With the amount of data coming in, it is important to capture unique contacts.

Infusionsoft allows you to delete repeat information and keep a concise and accurate customer base. With Ontraport, this can be time-consuming.

Infusionsoft B2B

Adding One Tab Can Be So Important

Infusionsoft also allows you to categorize companies independently from customer contacts. If you are running a B2B service or even just have elements of B2B work, this feature is critical. This is also missing in Ontraport’s CRM system.

Sales Pipeline

Infusionsoft Sales Pipeline

Informative Video On The Various Actions In The Sales Pipeline Feature

The Deluxe Sales and Complete versions of Infusionsoft allow you to make complex and powerful sales pipeline adjustments. Use this tool to structure task assignment for sales teams, assign leads to users, update product lists for possible customers, and more. This is a feature especially important for companies with devoted sales teams and a list of products the sales team is working with.

This feature is just plain not available in Ontraport.

Ontraport

CRM

Ontraport offers a decent quality CRM system that is useful and intuitive. There is the normal functionality and sorting, but it is much more limited in scope than Infusionsoft.

But this does not mean Ontraport is a bad system.

Ontraport CRM

A Peek Into Ontraport’s CRM

It contains all the necessary components, is clean and efficient, and can handle most CRM needs. There is also a tagging and lead scoring system which can be automated and utilized to act on high involvement actions. The tagging and lead scoring isn’t as advanced as Infusionsoft’s, and doesn’t easily tie into the automation feature (read on for more details about the Marketing Automation differences between the two systems).

These are great features, but they fail to keep up with the sales heavy focus of Infusionsoft. This includes the 150 Custom Fields that Ontraport provides compared to the 100 custom fields per record type that Infusionsoft has. That being said, there are aspects of Ontraport that go above and beyond what Infusionsoft does.

Facebook Integration

If you have a Facebook site or advertising and move a prospect through this channel, Ontraport has a great integration system to capture those leads. This comes standard and creates the lead profile upon user entry. Infusionsoft has a great plug-in called GroSocial which is very similar, but there is an additional fee per month.

Membership Sites

Ontraport offers a free and easy membership site plugin for WordPress users. This is especially useful for information marketing because it allows paying subscribers access to certain content depending on membership level. Infusionsoft offers CustomerHub, but it is also an additional plug-in with an additional fee.

Ontraport offers pretty seamless plugins for WordPress users including order forms, landing page creation, and membership sites. Infusionsoft offers the same.

The difference here is the ability to add-on as your business grows.

Ontraport is limited in its capabilities and does not have a strong plug-in marketplace. Infusionsoft allows you to add nearly any business function you need as you grow your business. This allows for a vastly more personal software system throughout the life of your business.

Marketing & Automation

Infusionsoft

Webpage Builder

Infusionsoft Webpage Builder

Infusionsoft’s Webpage Builder

In the Campaign Builder function of Infusionsoft there is a drag-and-drop feature for creating things such as landing pages. There are templates available that can cater to most customers. With a little bit of training, the process is relatively simple and intuitive.

The function does lack in terms of creativity and manipulation. You can completely customize your pages, but it does take a little more time and understanding of the software.

Email Templates

Infusionsoft Email Template

Infusionsoft’s Email Templates

Email templates are one of the nicer aspects of Infusionsoft’s marketing system. The formatting is very simple and extremely clean, but there are additional functions and personalization available.

For instance, you can insert personalized information in an email, include a download link to an online product, or tag a contact based on a specific link they click in your email.

You can easily direct your emails to specific users, and the integrated anti-spam system helps your emails avoid your contact’s spam folder.

Despite this, there is no real split-testing function in Infusionsoft. You can manipulate the emails to send to specific users (as in cloning the email and selecting A-M and N-Z for example) but it is cumbersome.

THE Campaign Builder

Ok, here it is. The best feature of any small company marketing software – the marketing automation component.

In Infusionsoft, it’s called the Campaign Builder.

Infusionsoft Campaign Builder

Best Campaign Planning Software I’ve Seen

It’s just so damn beautiful.

This feature allows you to conceptually create a system of actions to take place throughout different campaigns. It can trigger automated responses depending on where your contact came from and what they are searching for.

Brilliant.

It’s also very simple to use and makes the process of visualizing the customer buying process on your site much easier.

I really can’t get enough of this piece of software. This is the kind of thing that would normally be reserved for large company software programs worth thousands. This is far and away the best automation tool I’ve seen – not just in comparison to Ontraport, but to any small-to-mid-sized software on the market.

Here are some videos on how the system works and how easy it is to create campaigns.

Ontraport

Webpage Builder and PURLs

Ontraport’s webpage builder is more customizable and looks cleaner. This also applies to Ontraport’s web order forms, post cards, and landing pages. They emphasize the personal touch in their product. These Ontraport-created pages can also be hosted on your own site, which makes it easier to have full control over the sales process.

Ontraport also has a great PURL system. If you are unfamiliar, PURLs are sites that customers land on which has personalized features that can say things like “Hey Brian” or “It’s been 3 days since your last visit, here’s what you missed”. You see this on larger sites like Amazon and it really adds a great marketing angle. These are only available through a 3rd party with Infusionsoft.

Ontraport If-Then System

Ontraport Tagging System

If-Then Systems

Ontraport offers a campaign system which is intuitive and in a language that most users can understand. Select a user action, then a condition (like if the customer is a subscriber), and then a follow up action to be taken.

You can really get down to the specifics with this system and it is a breeze to set-up and utilize. This is a very useful tool in the steps towards profitable automation.

While the system works well and is in the same vein as the Campaign Builder, it can’t even hold a torch to the amount of customization you can achieve with Infusionsoft’s system.

Ontraport Split-Testing

 Split-Testing in Ontraport

Split-Testing

This is possibly the most useful integration feature of the marketing automation tool-set. The Split-Testing option allows you to create up to 4 different emails (A/B/C/D) and send them out based on certain parameters or on random assortment.

This can be integral to your marketing efforts as you measure and report the different response rates you are getting from your campaigns, and is a powerful testing function which isn’t as easy in Infusionsoft.

These emails are also sent from your own IP address and have a time zone identifier for your international customers (Infusionsoft was adjusting that last time I checked).

Other Features

Infusionsoft

To be fair, Infusionsoft is really the only one of the two with any real E-Commerce functionality. There is seamless and powerful integration between E-Commerce, CRM, and the Campaign Builder.

If you have a sales team or a product listing, Infusionsoft has a clear advantage because Ontraport just doesn’t have a E-Commerce system in place other than 3rd party plugins.

Shopping Cart

Infusionsoft Shopping Cart

A Multi-Item Shopping Cart Comes Standard

As you can see, Infusionsoft has a multiple-item shopping cart, and action buttons for the different stages of the buying process. You can tag people who have purchased items and redirect sales efforts based on those new conditions. This can also be used in collaboration with your Campaign Builder, making a seamless buyer process to monitor.

Affiliate Center

Infusionsoft offers a hosted affiliate center which is much easier to initiate than Ontraport’s self-hosted option. The system is set up and ready for you, so all you have to do is configure it. Ontraport has this feature but you must create your own site through the WordPress plugin, much more time consuming.

3rd Party Plug-Ins

This is one of the defining features of Infusionsoft. There are a fantastic list of developers catering to niches in your business efforts. If you need a new function in your system, you can often simply find someone who provides it.

Despite the additional costs, I’m going to say this is a big plus for Infusionsoft. Ontraport just does not possess the sheer number and functionality of 3rd party developers as Infusionsoft does. You can add so much personalization and utility to your process, whereas Ontraport users are essentially stuck with the options provided.

Ontraport

Postcards and Email

Ontraport allows you to create and send personalized post-cards to customers with at no extra cost (there is a limit on amount sent). This may not be overly important to your business but it is a nice touch which can really add to your customer’s trust in you.

Ontraport also allows a much larger email lists and amounts of emails to send. You can add additional email contacts to your contract with Infusionsoft, but it is an additional fee.

Ontraport Tracking

Tracking Features on Ontraport

Analtyics and Tracking

Tracking is made pretty simple with Ontraport’s system. It allows you to see with data and charts what things your customers are doing on your site – which pages they visit, which links they click, and more.

This is especially useful with Ontraport’s email split testing and PURL functions, which can give you fast and easy reporting on your campaign reactions.

While Infusionsoft does offer data analysis tools, you will likely want to create your own analytic reports. They do offer some standard functions but for more detailed reporting you have to create your own formulas. This allows for more customization, but to be honest, it can be difficult to know what you want the data to do and, probably more so, what data is worth looking into.

The analytics reporting feature included in Ontraport is a little more easy to read and conceptualize, especially with the graphs and other tools.

I use a 3rd party data analysis tool on Infusionsoft, and regardless, I do recommend you have multiple measuring systems in place, but it is nice to have one already established.

The Breakdown

ontraport vs. infusionsoft

Conclusion

Ontraport vs. Infusionsoft. I know it seems lopsided, but the fact is Infusionsoft is a larger company with more capabilities. Ontraport has some great features as well but for many users the functionality may not be enough.

Ontraport is newer and is continually learning from their progress. It’s great. I love what they’re doing and they have a good program, but they are competing with a better, more established, even cheaper alternative. It just doesn’t stack up right now.

Infusionsoft has more features that focus on more solidified business practices, which is why they’ve been growing so rapidly for years. In fact, they received $54 million in venture capital funding in 2013, and they’re only expected to continue to flourish.

Their focus on CRM, Sales, and Campaign Planning are the reasons Infusionsoft holds such a solid presence in the marketing software marketplace.

I would continue to recommend Infusionsoft for most business structures, especially ones that possess a strong sales angle and a physical product. For information marketing, solo-ventures, and consulting, I can see where Ontraport can provide some great tools. The problem is scalability, where Ontraport is limited to its basic functions, while Infusionsoft grows with the user as their business grows and changes.

But my opinion isn’t the only one worth listening to – what are some of your experiences with these two pieces of software? What are some key selling points? What do you like or dislike? We love to hear your ideas on the analyses we do here.

Additional Resources

[xyz-ihs snippet=”CommentContest”]

[xyz-ihs snippet=”InfusionsoftCategoryHeader”]

[xyz-ihs snippet=”footer”]

MailChimp vs Infusionsoft: How MailChimp is Holding You Back

, ,
Mailchimp-vs-Infusionsoft

Mailchimp-vs-Infusionsoft

I’m often asked by people that are unfamiliar with Infusionsoft if they should pick it, or a simpler software like MailChimp for their email marketing. What these people fail to understand is the magnitude of the differences between these two applications.

Read more

Infusionsoft Tutorial: How to Automate Abandoned Shopping Cart Recovery

bi-ultimate-marketing-automation-guide-feature

The average documented online shopping cart abandonment rate is a whopping 67.75%. Here’s one way to fix it.

bi-ultimate-marketing-automation-guide67.75% is a massive abandonment rate. Just think about how much that translates into in terms of lost profits. Next, add to that the amount of lost profits that result from your not having the opportunity to generate upsells and repeat sales to the (potential) customer that abandoned the cart in the first place.

Abandoned shopping carts is a huge problem for every online retailer. Thankfully, with some smart automation, you can reduce the number of carts that don’t complete checkout.

Thanks to Infusionsoft, recovering abandoned shopping carts need not be as manual or inconsistent a process as you might think.

How to Automate Shopping Cart Recovery

In the video below, I’m going to show how exactly how this can be done using Infusionsoft.

Helpful Hints

  • Ensure that you apply a tag every time a subscriber clicks a link to a sales page
  • Put all these types of tags into a category called Pre-Sales so don’t miss any of them
  • Regularly look at your campaign stats so that you can see which emails are sending the most traffic to your sales pages and then review the copy in these emails
  • Manually follow up with people that have abandoned carts if your automated follow up didn’t work. Get them on the phone and ask them why they abandoned the cart. Don’t try to re-sell them. Just ask why they abandoned in the first place so you look for trends that you can fix.

[xyz-ihs snippet=”InfusionsoftCTA”]

[xyz-ihs snippet=”footer”]

Infusionsoft Tutorial: How to Create Top of Mind Awareness with a Newsletter Campaign

,
bi-ultimate-marketing-automation-guide-feature

Are you top of mind with your customers and prospects? Are you regularly sending them educational content to ensure that you are?

bi-ultimate-marketing-automation-guideIn an era where our prospects and customers are continually bombarded with marketing ‘noise’, staying top of mind can be a challenge. As a result, it is absolutely critical that you are regularly sending your prospects and customers high quality, educational information to keep them engaged – as well as to position your firm as an authority.

One of the very best ways to do this is with a high quality newsletter delivered via email. When done correctly, your list will remain engaged and will share your message, and you will remain top of mind for the products and services that you provide.

Using Infusionsoft to Automate Newsletter Delivery

Thanks to Infusionsoft, delivering a high quality newsletter need not be as manual or inconsistent a process as you might think.

In fact, by using the campaign that I show in the video below, your newsletter will never skip a beat!

Automate Newsletter Delivery

In the video below, I’m going to show how exactly how this can be done using Infusionsoft.

Helpful Hints

When it comes to creating an eNewsletter, there are a few critical success factors that you must get right. They include:

  • Just start…and then improve as you go
  • Split test your subject lines to maximize your open rate
  • Deliver only high quality educational information
  • Keep sales messages to less than 15% of the content
  • Create an editorial calendar to plan your content in advance
  • Stick to a consistent schedule so you can ‘train’ your list to expect your content
  • Feature other experts in your content so they will also share it with their tribe
  • Segment your list to increase engagement
  • Use trackable links

[xyz-ihs snippet=”InfusionsoftCTA”]

[xyz-ihs snippet=”footer”]

Infusionsoft Tutorial: How to Automate Sales Opportunity Management

bi-ultimate-marketing-automation-guide-feature

Do you use sales reps to close deals? Would you like to gain more visibility into their activity so you can improve their performance?

bi-ultimate-marketing-automation-guideWith a marketing funnel, automation is fairly straight forward. You create the funnel, and then your new subscribers flow through it. If you’d like to watch a video that shows more detail on funnels, check this one out. (to experience the Bright Ideas funnel, become a subscriber here)

So if the funnel automation is pretty straight forward, what about the part where your sales reps actually start to engage directly with your leads? How are you supposed to maintain consistency and ensure that nothing falls through the cracks?

This is where things can get a bit trickier to manage if you don’t have a well defined process in place. Without a process, each of your sales reps may be guiding a lead through your sales pipeline is very different ways and this type of “wild west” approach makes measuring and improving nearly impossible to do.

Using Infusionsoft to Automate Sales Opportunity Management

Thanks to Infusionsoft, managing sales opportunities need not be as manual or inconsistent a process as you might think.

In fact, with a little forethought and creativity, you can actually ensure that there is a consistent process for how all your sales opportunities are managed!

Automate Sales Opportunity Management

In the video below, I’m going to show how exactly how this can be done using Infusionsoft.

Helpful Hints

When creating a sales opportunity skeleton, ensure that you don’t get so focused on adding in the details that the overall process becomes unusable for your sales team.

Instead, focus on creating a skeleton that will allow for the customization needed, while still giving you the insight into your rep’s activities so that you can identify areas where improvement is needed.

[xyz-ihs snippet=”InfusionsoftCTA”]

[xyz-ihs snippet=”footer”]

How Aweber is Losing You Customers: The Big Picture of Aweber vs Infusionsoft

, ,

I’m often asked by people that are unfamiliar with Infusionsoft if they should pick it, or Aweber for their email marketing. What these people fail to understand is the magnitude of the differences between these two applications.

trike-vs-gt2

Aweber VS Infusionsoft: It’s Not Even Close

Comparing the two is like comparing a Porsche to a tricycle. With Aweber, you can do very basic email auto-responders, and nothing more, whereas with Infusionsoft, you can run your entire business; marketing, email, CRM, online shopping cart, affiliate program, and so much more.

So, with all that said, let me begin by giving you my opinion: Infusionsoft is a game changing application, and, by comparison, Aweber is just one tiny piece of the overall picture.

So, with that said, here we go…

Back when I first started my business with a list of subscribers, I chose a company called Aweber for my email marketing provider. They are well known and it only costs $1 to get started on a trial. If you like the software, you have to pay only $19 a month for up to 500 subscribers.

If you are just starting out with email marketing, Aweber is as good a choice as any; however, as your business grows, you are going to eventually run into some serious limitations and then, if you decide to change providers, the pain of change can be quite a burden.

In this post, I’m going to compare the two applications as well as to take a deep dive into why I made the switch from Aweber to Infusionsoft.

Aweber

Aweber’s product has been designed with a single goal: broadcasting and automated email follow up.

They are not a CRM tool, they don’t offer a shopping cart, or anything else that Infusionsoft provides. They just do automated email follow up, so if that is all you need, Aweber will work just fine.

Pros

  • Low cost ($19/month for up to 500 subscribers)

Cons

  • Limited features (no functionality beyond sending emails)
  • Limited customization (you have to use double opt in and you are forced to have a named list for each of your segments, which as you will see when I explain how Infusionsoft works, really sucks)
  • List segmentation is hard (segmenting your list is extremely important and the way that Aweber does this is really a challenge because the only way to get a subscriber onto more than one list is to get them to opt in again which causes extra work for your subscriber)

The Biggest Drawback of Aweber: Multiple System Chaos

Aweber is a very simple application that does one thing very well – hence the short list of pros and cons. However, I have saved the biggest drawback of Aweber for last…and that is this: If you use Aweber, you will suffer from Multiple System Chaos.

As Aweber only does one thing, you are definitely going to need other systems to handle the other parts of your business that are shown in the image below. Do you really want to have to deal with that? I sure don’t!

With Aweber, you will be forced into using multiple systems and the more you have to use, the more complex your business will be

With Aweber, you will be forced into using multiple systems, and the more systems you have to use, the more complex your business will be

Infusionsoft: The Solution to Multiple System Chaos

In preparing for this post, I came across a number of other reviews that restricted themselves to comparing these two (extremely) different applications on a feature by feature basis, and in doing so, they completely missed the (very important) bigger picture!

I am a talented marketer, however, I am not the most technical person in the world and couldn’t write a line of code to save my life. For people like me, this means that using multiple systems will either result in lots of manual work (lame!) or the need for developers to write lots of code which can be a huge challenge as it requires a talented developer and a budget to pay for them.

Infusionsoft eliminates the need for multiple systems because not only does it do email marketing, but it is also my CRM system, my online shopping cart, and my affiliate program – all in one. As you are going to see in the remainder of this post, the integration of these 4 pieces is absolutely critical to your success.

Stop and Look at the Big Picture

Before I dive into all the reasons why I am such a fan of Infusionsoft, I’d like to draw your attention to the bigger picture. No matter what type of business you are in, there are some pretty important things that all businesses have in common. These things include:

  1. Attracting interest
  2. Capturing leads
  3. Nurturing prospects
  4. Converting prospects to customers
  5. Delivering your product
  6. Upselling and repeat sales
  7. Getting referrals
Infusionsoft was designed to support every step of Lifecycle marketing

Infusionsoft was designed to support every step of Lifecycle marketing

In a nutshell, this 7 step process can be referred to as lifecycle marketing and Infusionsoft has been designed from the ground up to support you in every single step, whereas Aweber at best will only support you with steps 2 and 3.

Keep reading, and I will, by way of example, show you why this is such a big deal.

Attracting Interest

Here at BrightIdeas.co, we attract interest with our content – which normally consists of blog posts, videos, and podcasts. Neither Infusionsoft or Aweber really play a part in this step, so, while the concepts are extremely important, for the purposes of this post, we don’t need to talk much about it.

If you would like to learn more about how to attract interest, check out our Lifecycle Marketing Guide.

Capturing Leads

Capturing leads is generally done with what is called a lead magnet, which, most often is a free piece of content that is given away in exchange for someone’s email address.

In my case, the lead magnet is the Conversion Tactics Toolkit, which is a 4-part video series on how to maximize conversions.

Both Infusionsoft and Aweber make building a web form (the thing that goes on your website to collect their name and email) pretty darn easy as they both have form building wizards that don’t require any technical skill at all. Just drag and drop form elements until you have a form that looks how you want. Below is a screenshot of a form that I use to begin segmenting my list.

the form below the video was built in the Infusionsoft form builder. Aweber can do the same.

the form below the video was built in the Infusionsoft form builder. Aweber can do the same. Want to see my segmenting in action? Subscribe to my list at BrightIdeas.co

Nurturing Prospects

Once you’ve captured a lead, what you do next is going to make a massive difference to your results, and it’s where most people really screw up.

Here’s what most people do: they begin sending the exact same sequence of emails to every single person that subscribes. Bad Dog!!!

I literally cannot stress enough the importance of segmenting your list. Why on earth would you send the same content to everyone? The needs of each of your subscribers differs greatly, so why would you send everyone the exact same content? You wouldn’t!

If you don’t segment your list, your email open rates will suffer and your unsubscribe rate will be much higher. From a marketing perspective, creating a Youtube video of your cat would be more effective 🙂

Infusionsoft Makes List Segmentation Easy. Aweber Makes is Really F$%@# Hard!

With Aweber, you must have a completely different list for each series of emails that you want to send. There are a number of challenges with this.

First, each list has to be a unique name that is not used by any other Aweber customer! (read that sentence twice to ensure that you really understand it)

That is just crazy…plus it makes naming your lists much more challenging than it need be.

Second…and this is even worse than the above, is that to get a subscriber from one list to another, you must get them to opt in again and that is going to mean more work for your subscribers.

Guess what that will mean for you? Fewer of them will bother, and as a result, your list will not be as well segmented as it could be.

Lack of Segmentation = Lack of Profits

With Infusionsoft, I don’t need to have separate lists; each with unique and hard to decipher names. Instead, all I need to do is apply something called a tag to a contact record…and, I can name that tag anything I like so that when I look at it later, it will be extremely easy for me to remember what it’s for.

Here’s a few examples of some of the tags I use (I have hundreds of them)

  • Clicked link to MobiLead Method sales page
  • Clicked link to [name of guest] interview
  • Bought [name of product]
  • Registered for [name of webinar]
  • Attended [name of webinar]
  • etc…

Essentially, a tag is like a little sticky note that I use to “stick” to anyone based upon something they click, watch, buy, or do.

Applying a tag is done automatically and can be applied in any of the following ways:

  • Subscriber clicks a link in an email
  • Subscriber fills out a web form
  • Subscriber buys a product
  • Subscriber flows through a campaign sequence

Tagging is unbelievably powerful and I could devote an entire post to it. The thing that I want you to understand here is that a tag can be applied without the need for a user to fill out another web form, so that means that I can make it extremely easy for a subscriber to be tagged based on their actions, or in the case of applying a tag as a part of a campaign sequence, I can apply a tag without my subscriber doing anything at all.

And yes, I can remove tags in the exact same way.

Tags in Action: A Practical Example

Ok…just in case this whole tagging thing isn’t really making sense, it’s so important that I want to give you an example as it pertains to nurturing a prospect.

When I capture a lead via a web form, I can tell Infusionsoft to apply as many tags as I like. At a minimum, I apply a tag that adds them to my newsletter list. I also apply a tag for the date they subscribed.

After they complete the web form, I direct them to another page with a video and another web form (shown in the screenshot further up in this post) and then more tags are applied to tell me that they have segmented themselves and what their occupation is.

Now they might, depending on which segment they are in, begin to receive a series of emails inviting them to a webinar. For this example, let’s say that there are 3 emails to be sent. If they click the registration link in the fist email, they do not receive the second and third email. If they don’t click the link in email #1, they will receive email #2, etc…

With Aweber, this is impossible. With Aweber, if someone is added to a list, they receive every single email that is a part of that list’s sequence unless your subscriber goes and fills out another web form, in which case you can remove them from list #1 and add them to list #2, or, you can have them on both lists.

With Infusionsoft, I might ask them to fill out a web form to apply/remove a tag, but I don’t have to as I could just as easily use any of the other methods that I have described above.

This one bit of functionality is incredibly powerful and it would take me far more than just this blog post to point out all the ways that this can be used.

To show tagging in action, let’s continue with this example…

Converting Prospects into Customers

Now that my subscriber has told me their occupation, Infusionsoft will send them a sequence of emails with links to product offers and content that are highly relevant to that occupation.

More Relevant Content/Offers = More Profits

Let’s suppose that this product offer sequence has 10 emails in it. If my subscriber clicks the link to the sales page in email #4 and buys the product, Infusionsoft will apply a tag that says something like “bought product A” and Infusionsoft will then immediately stop the 10 email sequence and will now start another sequence of emails that was designed specifically for buyers of product A (assuming I created a campaign to follow this logic).

Key Take Away: most people need to be reminded a few times to register for a webinar or buy a product, so with Infusionsoft, I can create multiple email sequences that will stop as soon as the user takes that action that I want them to…even if there are more “reminder” emails in that sequence. This one feature alone is hugely valuable as it increases revenue while avoiding sending too many emails to people who’ve already taken the desired action.

In the product A buyer sequence, I can do anything I want. Here’s a few examples:

  • Ask how they like the product
  • Ask for referrals
  • Send upsell offers
  • Automatically register them for a webinar
  • Start another campaign

Focus On Your Hottest Leads

Lead Scoring is another feature of Infusionsoft that is incredibly powerful because with lead scoring, you will always know who your hottest leads are at any given time, simply based upon which tags have been applied.

So, supposed a subscriber clicked on a link to a sales page from an email that they received as part of a campaign they are in. When that link is clicked, the tag is applied, and then, as you can see below, a lead score can be increased (or decreased) for a given period of time.

A contact's lead score can be automatically adjusted whenever a tag is applied.

A contact’s lead score can be automatically adjusted whenever a tag is applied.

Within Infusionsoft, leads a scored using a simple scale of 1 to 5 flames and, if you are creative in how you build your campaigns, you can trigger further automation that is starts when a lead score moves from 1 to 2 flames, or from 2 to 3 flames, etc…

Why do this? Don’t you think people with 5 flames should be paid attention to? I sure do!

This cannot be done with Aweber.

Create Lists on the Fly

From time to time, most businesses want to offer some kind of special promotion or discount on one of their products. Thanks to all the tagging that I do with my subscribers (remember, I apply tags for virtually everything my subscribers do/see/click/attend), I can very easily create a list of potential buyers based upon any criteria that I like. For example, I can easily create a list of invitees for a webinar that would appeal to only a portion of my entire audience and then send invites to only these people.

In both cases, all I would need to do is to run a query against my database that looking something like this:

Show me all the contacts who:

  • Subscribed between this date and that date
  • Have clicked the link to my MobiLead Magnet sales page
  • Have attended at a particular webinar
  • Who are not yet MobiLead Magnet customers

Hopefully, you get the idea. With tags, I have unlimited power to create a list of suitable contacts and then send them an offer anytime I want.

This is impossible to do with Aweber.

As I hope you are starting to realize, applying tags is an incredibly powerful and easy way to segment your list and Aweber simply cannot do this. It’s just not built that way…plus, it won’t tie into your online shopping cart unless you buy more software or hire a programmer.

With Infusionsoft, this is all done via the visual campaign builder. Below is a screenshot of a campaign created to recover an abandoned shopping cart. Tags and automation are the key to making this work.

This is a screenshot of a campaign created in Infusionsoft's campaign builder to recover an abandoned shopping cart. Tags are the key to making this work.

This is a screenshot of a campaign created in Infusionsoft’s campaign builder to recover an abandoned shopping cart. Tags are the key to making this work.

As I said earlier, Aweber does not have a shopping cart, so, without hiring a programmer, this type of integration will be impossible to do.

Delivering Your Product

So, now that you’ve collected the money via Infusionsoft’s online shopping cart, you actually have to deliver the product or service.

If your product is digital, you can have Infusionsoft automatically send out an email with a download link. This is easy as pie.

If your product is physical and is shipped by a fulfillment partner, you can have your campaign send a message to your fulfillment partner’s server and the order will be fulfilled automatically after the order is placed. This means you don’t have to do order fulfillment and and instead can be off doing something else…like say…sipping a margarita on your patio or playing with your kids 🙂

If your product is shipped by you or your staff, or you have sold a service of some kind, you can tell Infusionsoft to assign tasks to you are anyone else on your team. You are only limited by your imagination.

Did I mention that Infusionsoft has a CRM component? Well, it does, it’s a fantastic tool!

You can pull up any customer record you like and see a summary of all their tags, their orders, the campaigns that are running, the emails they’ve opened, and anything else you could ever want….and it’s all in one place…which means no more wasting time searching through multiple systems for the data you need!

This is the summary view. Clicking the icons provides much more detailed information about each contact.

This is the summary view. Clicking the icons provides much more detailed information about each contact.

Upselling and Repeat Sales

Unless you have only one product, or you like to continually look for new customers, upselling your customers to generate repeat business is a very good idea.

The reason for this is obvious: you don’t have to incur the expense of finding a new customer, so your net profit per transaction will be much higher than if you did.

With Infusionsoft, you can put product upsells on auto-pilot, and when you do, it will make a massive difference to your bottom line.

For example, 26% of the people the buy The MobiLead Method (now the Best Buyer Formula) decided to buy the first upsell, which is a bundle of done-for-you content. In addition to that, 6% of the people that bought The MobiLead Method also decided to buy the MobiLead Magnet, which is a WordPress plugin that I built to be used with the course.

If, during the checkout process (which is handled by Infusionsoft), someone doesn’t purchase one of the upsells, I could very easily create additional sequences to make additional offers down the road, and it would all happen on auto-pilot.

You cannot do this with Aweber.

Getting Referrals

Back when I ran my last company, Dyrand Systems, we got a lot of business from referrals from our existing customers. This happened because we did two things right: we delivered a premium service that our customers loved, and then we asked them to refer us to other people.

Back then, the asking part was a manual process that was done by our account managers.

Thanks to automation, identifying your happiest customers and then asking them for referrals can now be done completely on autopilot.

The NPS survey tells Infusionsoft who is most happy and then sends them an email with a request for a referral.

The NPS survey tells Infusionsoft who is most happy and then sends them an email with a request for a referral.

With Aweber, you cannot do this on auto-pilot.

Final Thoughts

While extremely capable, Infusionsoft does have a few draw backs.

First, it is much more expensive that Aweber. Depending on what promotions Infusionsoft is running at any given time, the software requires an up front investment of $1,500 to $2,000 and then costs between $219 and $379 per month. Aweber starts at just $19/month. But remember…do you want a tricycle or a Porsche?

If you are struggling with justifying the price, I would encourage you to check out the many Infusionsoft success stories and tutorials that I have published. In each, you will hear an entrepreneur describe how Infusionsoft has had a huge impact on their business.

The other drawback with Infusionsoft is that the application, due to its much vaster array of capabilities, requires more learning to attain proficiency. The good news is that Infusionsoft’s free training material is excellent, as is their support department. Plus, their new visual campaign builder has dramatically simplified the user experience. When people see the campaign builder for the first time, their response is generally something like “wow!” or “that is totally awesome!!”.

In addition to these two resources, there are also an army of Infusionsoft Certified Consultants who would be happy to assist you. My wife being one of them 🙂

Obviously, no system is perfect and prior to choosing which one is right for your business, a thorough investigation must be done. Hopefully, if you are trying to decide if you should choose Infusionsoft or Aweber, this post has been helpful to you.

If you have additional questions, please use the comment form below and I promise to provide you with a prompt answer.

Additional Resources


If you are a marketing consultant or run a marketing agency and are thinking of purchasing Infusionsoft, I’d like to let you know that if you use my affiliate link, I can have Infusionsoft give you a copy of a full campaign that I created just for agencies. You can see this campaign here.

In addition, I have also created an extensive library of tutorial videos and interviews with highly successful Infusionsoft users that you will likely find incredibly valuable.

And finally, if you have questions, please contact me directly.

[xyz-ihs snippet=”InfusionsoftCTA”]

[xyz-ihs snippet=”footer”]

How to Maximize Conversions with Trackable Links

,
bi-ultimate-marketing-automation-guide-feature

Do you ever wonder how much of your traffic is coming from people typing in your URL vs people clicking links in your emails?

bi-ultimate-marketing-automation-guideHow about that post you shared on Facebook? How much traffic did that wall post send you? Or how about that tweet about your latest webinar? Did it send much traffic?

Answering these questions is exactly what using trackable links are for and in this post, I’m going to dive deeper into showing you exactly how you can start using trackable links to gain much deeper insight into what is working and what isn’t when it comes to using your content and social networks to attract traffic to your site.

About Google Analytics Custom Campaigns

Google analytics is a very powerful tool and I’m only just starting to scratch the surface of how to use it most effectively. One of the parts that I have been experimenting more with as of late is the custom campaigns.

By using trackable links, you can easily create custom campaigns that will tell you exactly which pieces of content are generating the most traffic for you.

Why should you care? Well…if you can identify a trend in the type(s) of content that generate the most traffic, then it might be a good a idea to continue to create, or even just spend more time sharing, more of this particular type of content, right? You bet.

The first step to creating a custom campaign is to create a trackable link with the Custom URL Builder. By using this tool, you can easily create specific links for each of your campaigns and then use these links to share your content on your social networks, within your site, or in your emails (or anywhere else you want).

Creating Your First Trackable Link

In the video below, I’m going to show how exactly how this can be done using the URL Builder and Infusionsoft.

How to Analyze Campaign Effectiveness

Once you have begun to use trackable links, you are going to want to start to track the effectiveness of your various campaigns. To do that, all you need to do is log into analytics and navigate your way down to the section devoted to Traffic Sources…and then within that section, you will see the campaigns section.

campaign-results

Helpful Hints

The very first thing you should do when you begin to use trackable links is to create a spreadsheet to track all the parameters you are using.

For example, in the video above, my campaign source parament was “bi funnel” because I wanted to track all the traffic I get from the subscribers who are going through my sales funnel. If I didn’t make a note of that in a spreadsheet, the next time that I went to create a link I might forget that I’d used “bi funnel” and instead I might type BI-Funnel, which from Google’s perspective, would be an entirely different campaign.

When entering your parameters, it’s also important that you separate multiple words with an underscore. So, instead of putting ‘wall post’, you’d want to use ‘wall_post’.

[xyz-ihs snippet=”InfusionsoftCTA”]

[xyz-ihs snippet=”footer”]

Infusionsoft Tutorial: Marketing Campaign for Consultants and Agencies

, , ,

In this Infusionsoft review, you are going to see how you can totally automate your entire prospecting and nurturing sequence so that you can significantly increase your conversion rate.

bi-ultimate-marketing-automation-guideWhat do you traditionally do with the leads that you capture? I am assuming that most of you will call them or send them an email. If they don’t respond, you will call them again or send them another email. If they don’t respond again, you will probably call them again or send them another email.

Now, here’s the real question. What do you do next?

If you are like most small business people, you stop trying to contact the prospect and they end up in the trash.

Do you realize how much business you potentially throw away every single day? Imagine the impact on your business if you could convert an extra 10% of the leads that go in the trash.

Have you ever wondered why it’s so important to nurture your prospects?

It’s because 81% of your sales happen after you make seven or more contacts to your prospects. Seven contacts! How many of you can honestly tell me you attempt to make seven or more contacts to your prospects.

Please don’t feel bad because 85% of the time, we stop after 1 to 2 contacts.

Have you ever wondered the cost of not making the additional 4 to 5 contacts to each of your prospects?

Let’s say you do a campaign to 10,000 people. This could be by email, direct mail, etc. Out of those 10,000 people, 100 people say they are interested in your product or service. Out of those 100 people, 10 people end up buying your product or service.

I’m assuming many of you would be thrilled by closing 10% of the people that were interested in your product or service.

The question I always like to ask is: what happens to the other 90 responders? Most of them fall through the cracks, have zero follow-up, or will end up buying from your competitors.

In other words, most of these 90 responders will end up in the trash.

What if, on the other hand, you had a way to easily stay in touch with them? What if it was automated?

What if this system allowed you to convert 15, 20, or 25 people instead of just 10? How much of an impact do you think all that extra profit would have on your business?

It would be huge, wouldn’t it?

That’s what I’m talking about! If you aren’t systematizing the lead nurturing process, you could be leaving thousands, or tens of thousands of dollars of profit on the table…for someone else’s business to grab.

Now, that’s just not good business!

As you can see, the key to great nurturing is AMAZING follow up. This is where so many businesspeople drop the ball. They are great at making lots of contacts and connections but they lack the skills necessary to follow up properly.

This is why most businesspeople need a specific campaign or path to follow to deliver the right follow up and this is the exact problem that is easily solved with marketing automation software like Infusionsoft.

Infusionsoft: A Much More Efficient Solution

If you are an Infusionsoft user, there is there is a much more effective way to achieve greater results with less effort (and frustration).

In the video below, I’m going to show how exactly how this can be done.

Want a Copy of This Campaign?

If you purchase Infusionsoft via our affiliate link, we will provide you with a copy of this campaign for free.

[xyz-ihs snippet=”InfusionsoftCTA”]

[xyz-ihs snippet=”footer”]

Infusionsoft Tutorial: How to Automate Birthday Reminders

bi-ultimate-marketing-automation-guide-feature

One of the many ways that you can build relationships with your customers and prospects is to send them an email or a card to extend them a birthday wish.

bi-ultimate-marketing-automation-guideThe challenge with this is that, as your list of customers and prospects increases in size, sending out birthday cards or emails can become a significant resource drain – unless you have a means of automating it.

There are plenty of ways to do this, of course. However, unless you like adding complexity to your business, the most effective ways will not require you to add yet another “system” for you or your staff to maintain.

Infusionsoft: A Much More Efficient Solution

If you are an Infusionsoft user, there is there is a much more effective way to achieve greater results with less effort (and frustration).

In the video below, I’m going to show how exactly how this can be done.

[xyz-ihs snippet=”InfusionsoftCTA”]

[xyz-ihs snippet=”footer”]