Imagine this: A couple of years ago as we were in the midst of some MAJOR business model changes, I went to get my nails done on a Sunday, and I brought two books with me, Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less and The One Thing. When I sat down at the salon, I thought, “Why did I bring two books to a one-hour nail appointment?” And it hit me: I couldn’t decide between two books about focus! Ugh. The struggle is real.
As business owners, you have so many tools and platforms available to choose from, and it can be very hard to focus and decide which is right for your business. There isn’t one tool that can do everything, and I don’t believe in putting all eggs in one basket, especially not with something as big as your business.
Sometimes I think the fact that my brain loves both technology and art often leads me to paths that others are afraid to venture into. With this comes both good and bad. The good is I can write code better than most WordPress developers we have worked with. The bad is I can write code better than most WordPress developers I have worked with.
I find I often fall into the camp of “I can do it faster than they can.” I've been trying to stomp this strength and weakness and leverage more tools and technology that can make my life easier. Yes, this may mean the tool or platform doesn't do EVERYTHING the EXACT way I would like it to. However, it also means I can move faster, execute more efficiently and achieve my goals.
If there is one thing I learned after working in my 15+ year career in corporate America managing product and brand for startups to some of the world's largest enterprise brands as well as the past 9 years running my agency, is that no product or tool is ever what their website says it is, period. Too many digital and social technology companies promise more than they can deliver.
5 Digital and Social Marketing Platforms to Streamline Your Business in 2019
In this blog post I'm excited to share with you my top 5 technology platforms that I recommend and use for growing, streamlining, and integrating with my business. From lead capturing and subscription-based platforms to shopping cart and social media, and one that integrates them all, these tools will make a huge difference in your business.
I recently had a discussion with my buddy Scott Ayres over at Agora Pulse. You can also watch the Facebook Live interview below where we discuss each of these technology platforms in detail, why I LOVE them and how they have helped streamline our business.
If you think of a funnel, it has a beautiful, wide opening that flows everything into one small tunnel. It’s brilliantly simple. And it’s critical for marketing your business and generating leads.
Yes, the wanna be marketing expert word whackers may tell you “marketing funnels are dead.” It's similar to stating “relationships are dead” or “ice cream is going out of style” The truth is regardless what you want it to call it… your customers must first know you exist, then be inspired to learn more and later want to do business with you… possibly… if you're lucky!
The platform that I absolutely adore for capturing my leads from all of my different marketing sources is ClickFunnels. I first started using it as a landing page platform and only for that: a place to land my leads and capture their email address. Our conversion rates are 62% – 82% on free offers and have been for years. We know our audience and what they want.
Although up until early this year we were only using ClickFunnels for lead capture, the truth is it can do so much more. Build a website, add a shopping cart, Facebook Messenger bot, send marketing emails, create a membership site, run an online event, manage parts of your customer relationship data, establish an affiliate marketing program—ClickFunnels can do almost everything.
The tool provides thousands of templates that are easy to configure, and the support and documentation is incredible.
Plus, I'm a HUGE fan of Russell Brunson and his vision for helping entrepreneurs. Heck, I left an incredible 15 year corporate technology and marketing career to become an entrepreneur so I could help small business and marketers wanting to grow in their career. Russell and I drink from the same cup of technology geekdom, faith, hope, drive, never giving up and a true desire to serve others that lives in our DNA! He's what I call “good people” and he has blessed us and many others with his relentless work and desire to change the technology landscape for entrepreneurs.
Here’s an example of how we are currently using ClickFunnels:
You might have seen on my site or heard me mention my annual content calendar template. Through ClickFunnels, we’re able to capture leads via a free lead magnet (the content calendar template) and then easily upsell those new subscribers all within one “funnel” and platform. It’s the first time we’ve ever done that. For years, we’ve been giving away content—hundreds of thousands of dollars of free content for the past 10 years. SMH. But now, we’re able to make a very profitable change literally almost overnight, thanks to this tool.
Don't get me wrong… we've still put in a lot of late nights. Moving from our prior systems and consolidating was no easy task. Making the move to ClickFunnels was and still is a HUGE decision and something that has major impact on our daily workflow and business results.
And I’m going to admit something here: up until a few months ago, I haven’t really been capitalizing on all that ClickFunnels can do because I’ve been attached to doing things the way that I’ve always done them. And that’s dangerous for a business owner.
I’ve always had everything in WordPress, and although it’s been hard, we’re shifting a lot of that over to ClickFunnels. We also recently migrated our email marketing from Infusionsoft to ClickFunnels. Yes you read that right. We had been an Infusionsoft user for many years. However, it started to get far too complicated and time consuming trying to integrate everything together.
And ClickFunnels MD Actionetics program enables customers to have their own SMTP for email transmission. We are currently testing this and have a dedicated IP setup with Sendgrid. We are already seeing exponential increase in our delivery and open rates from utilizing the dedicated IP. Even Gmail is now getting opened at a rate of 66%+ which is crazy good regardless what industry you are in. We work hard to keep our list clean and have an email reputation score of 99.4% so far. Woo hoo!
Clearly, I can’t recommend ClickFunnels enough because of the time and cost savings that it provides, not to mention the so-many-things-in-one factor.
To paraphrase a very successful GEICO campaign, if you’re a business, you sell products … that’s what you do. And for Marketing Nutz, our ability to sell products online with agility is enabled by SamCart. If you just finished reading the section about ClickFunnels, which has shopping cart functionality, you’re probably wondering why I have a different shopping cart. The truth is, there definitely is some overlap between SamCart and ClickFunnels. But for us, SamCart absolutely works like a charm. Although we might migrate to the other guy in the future 100%, for right now, we love the agility SamCart provides.
Anything you want to sell, you can sell within minutes on SamCart. Gone are the days of needing to integrate your complicated payment gateway. If you have Stripe, PayPal, MailChimp, Constant Contact, HubSpot, and any of the other tools with which SamCart integrates, you can have your shopping page up within 15 minutes. I am not kidding. With ClickFunnels it's a bit more difficult to integrate both Paypal and Stripe in one sales funnel with multiple upsells.
At Marketing Nutz, we’ve been using SamCart for the past year and a half for our Social Media Training Academy. We have not had one issue with SamCart, and we will continue to use it because it’s so agile and it works.
In addition, SamCart handles the dunning for you. In the world of subscription payments, dunning is the process of customer communication with regard to collections. Let’s say a customer’s credit card expires, SamCart sends a kindly worded email about the lapsed card. And when the customer returns three months later, SamCart welcomes the customer back with open arms, saying, “You don’t need to pay for these past three months that you didn’t use. We’ll let you start fresh.”
I love this kind of customer relationship management, especially because it’s automated. I don’t need to think about it at all. SamCart provides excellent reporting, so that I know exactly what product is selling, what’s not selling, and where the leaky buckets are. This kind of information can really help businesses learn to sell online.
Let’s face it: There comes a point in every business owner’s life when they think, I need to more effectively monetize some of what I’m doing so that I can spend more time with my family. That’s the whole reason I started this business in the first place. Tools like SamCart (and ClickFunnels) can truly enable us to start doing that.
See SamCart in action:
To see a real life example of how we use SamCart when testing new funnels, check out our Digital and Social Marketing Strategy Mastery Training. The landing page with video is built on ClickFunnels and the shopping cart is SamCart. This is a perfect example of a funnel we literally threw up in a couple days in support of a series of public speaking engagements and paid workshops I am doing.
Part of our business model shift included taking the knowledge we have gained over the past 20+ years working with clients ranging from startups to Fortune 10 Brands and packaging it beautifully into a digital academy at an affordable price for our customers. This is not an easy task to take all that is in your brain, then package it up and deliver it in a virtual way that is easily accessed, organized and consumed by your target customers (new students.)
This is where Kajabi comes in to literally save the virtual training academy day! We use Kajabi as the learning management platform for multiple training academies all delivered in High Definition video as I explain below.
One of our clients is L’Oréal, who wanted us to build an academy for over 150k+ of their Redken salons to learn about digital and social media marketing. As you might imagine, the world’s largest cosmetics company had some big requirements, especially in terms of the user experience. After tons of research, we chose Kajabi for multiple reasons:
- The team at Kajabi is one that I know, I trust, and wholeheartedly believe that they have our best interests at heart. I’ve never seen a team so passionate—it gives me chills.
- The user experience that Kajabi provides is so solid; there’s nothing else like it on the market.
- The power to scale is incredible.
So we were able to build an academy for L’Oréal, which has its own URL, is co-branded with Redken, and is private. Kajabi has also enabled us to create the same academy for the general public that is virtually the same but has slight differences. We literally copy and paste academies by working directly with the Kajabi team.
The part I love the most about Kajabi is that the user experience for our students and customers is absolutely amazing. Our students love the fact they have one login to access all of the different courses and training they purchase from us, regardless how big or small it is.
Kajabi also includes a built in shopping cart, email marketing, sales pipeline management, and numerous other features. We do use the built in Kajabi shopping cart for one of our academies and also integrate it with ClickFunnels and Samcart.
For our Social Profit Factor academy, ClickFunnels is at the top, driving the leads and sales directly to our Kajabi platform once they have purchased. The best part is both ClickFunnels and SamCart integrate directly with Kajabi. This process is incredibly streamlined, because the tools talk to each other as if they are digital API best friends. Can I get an amen?
Here are a few options for you to see for yourself our academy and how amazing a digital and social media academy can be with the help of amazing partners such as Kajabi:
- Grab a seat to our Digital and Social Media Mastery Training Pack.
- Smaller budgets should grab our Content Calendar Quick Start kit. It's loaded with HD videos, guides and more to help you build content that converts to real business.
- Ready to go BIG? Then grab a seat to our Social Profit Factor learning academy.
Pricing: Plans range from $149 to $399 per month, all three with free trials
For social media management, we’ve been using Agorapulse for the better part of a year, and I can’t say enough about it—both the tool and the team. This company truly listens to its customers about features, which is important for our agency, because we have our clients use the tool. And they’ve found Agorapulse to be affordable, easy to learn, and robust in functionality.
We have used almost every social media management platform out there. We were users of Hootsuite and Sprout Social for a long time. For us the Hootsuite user interface got annoying. We still love Sprout Social but my belief is the tool got somewhat bloated and also over priced for many of our small business clients. They were feeling “nickled and dimed” and constantly pressured to upgrade. With AgoraPulse you get it all and without the pressure or high costs.
One of our clients is a big salon in southern Florida, and in the salon world, things need to be super simple because technology is not usually the forte of the users—which is completely understandable. Cosmetology is not my forte either! But our salon clients absolutely love how easy it is to use Agorapulse because the user interface is simple, straightforward, and easy to understand.
It’s not just our clients using it: All of our published content is coming from Agorapulse. The scheduling functionality is phenomenal, especially the ability to reschedule content. We’re able to put content in the tool and then have it automatically scheduled for the future.
A big deciding factor for us to become partners with Agorapulse is the fact they do what they say they are going to do. They execute with agility and speed. Their team has a heart to serve and when they say they are going to implement a new feature they do it fast and good. They also do not ever overstate or over market what they can do or can't do. Honesty and authenticity is what their business is built on.
So now comes the part that’s so critical: integration. In simple terms, Zapier enables two or more technologies that you’re using to talk to each other. As basic as this description sounds, what Zapier provides is very complex. Recently, we’ve been finding that many APIs are kind of being slapped together. The brand or tool says, “We work together” or “we work with these 100 other platforms.” But the truth is, they don’t. With Zapier, they do, and I can sleep at night.
Here’s a couple examples:
Zapier Example 1: New Social Profit Factor student with lead source being free lead magnet.
- User signs up to receive our free content calendar template, which is hosted on a ClickFunnels page.
- They then purchase all upsells in the funnel.
- Although ClickFunnels has a built in integration with Kajabi, we also setup a Zap to add the student to Kajabi as a backup. If the Zap sees that the student is already a student with access to the specific course purchased, then it skips the Zap step. It's a great fall back in case there are any hiccups.
- With that addition, the customer is tagged into my automated nurture series of emails automatically. And if for some reason it doesn’t work, the Zap lets me know that the action failed and explains why. It is so helpful to know when something breaks so that you can fix it.
- Continuing with this example, after a few emails from me, the customer decides to click on a separate link and purchase a standalone course pack such as our Digital and Social Strategy Mastery through our SamCart integration.
- In both of these scenarios, the Zap that integrates SamCart and Kajabi, adds an automatic tag informing the systems, “This person is now a paying customer.” And then Kajabi knows the person has paid, so it sends them a welcome email with login instructions and turns on the product.
- Within two minutes, the customer has paid, received all information from us to proceed, and we can see that the whole end-to-end funnel has worked. Boom. Pam gets another good night of sleep 🙂
Zapier Example 2: New Lead on our Marketing Nutz agency website:
- New contact lead form is completed by prospect on our website.
- Zap is integrated with both Gravity Forms (that we use to capture the lead on WordPress) and Hubspot which we use as our customer relationship.
- Upon submission of the contact form, Zap automatically sends an email to our marketing team.
- Zap then automatically adds the contact to the Hubspot CRM.
The ways you can use Zaps are literally endless. Dream away!
Plus, if you’re a freak like me who’s afraid of losing any data, you can set up a Zap to send a contact from your chatbot (like ManyChat) to a Google sheet. All of our webinars are integrated with Zapier as well as our Zoom communications. It’s endless—almost every tool we use integrates with it.
Pricing: Plans range from $20 to $250 per month, all three with 14-day free trials
I know that this system I’ve described, with all of its integration, can seem overwhelming. And yes, my team and I might have lost some hair in setting up the whole thing. But with hard work and the all-important element of focus, we have streamlined automation, and I couldn’t be happier. I know that you can do the same with one or more of these tools. So what tools have helped your business? Sound off in the comments below.
Disclosure: Please note some of the links in this post are affiliate links and if you go through them to make a purchase I will earn a commission. Keep in mind that I link these companies and their products because of their quality and not because of the commission I receive from your purchases. The decision is yours, and whether or not you decide to buy something is completely up to you.