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Paul Sokol

Campaign Builder Mad Scientist

I'm Infusionsoft's mad scientist around the visual campaign builder and spend my days creating automated marketing campaigns for the masses. It is literally the most fun I've ever had!. I'm an electrical engineer by trade with a passion for music, skateboarding and life in general; I love being given a challenge and figuring out a solution!

Recent Posts

Free Campaign of the Month: Sales Pipeline Starter Kit

Quick! Can you succinctly describe your sales process in a few sentences? In no more than a paragraph’s worth of words?

Think about it for a moment; I’ll wait.

If a short sales process description doesn’t come to mind, it’s alright.  Even if you can answer the question, I am happy to share a very special campaign that will help you further refine how you make sales.

Pipeline campaign of the month

Develop a sales pipeline

Your sales process is arguably one of the most critical pieces in the living entity of your business. No sales equals no revenue, and if that occurs too long, you’ll end up without business. Our research has revealed that when it comes to small businesses, having a clearly defined and effective sales pipeline is a rarity, but so very necessary for success.

The operative words are “clearly defined” and “effective.” A clearly defined sales pipeline has specific and explicit milestones throughout the process and at Infusionsoft, we call those milestones your sales stages. Each stage implies that certain things have happened up to that point, and certain actions must be taken by a prospect in order to push the sale along.

An effective pipeline doesn’t necessarily mean high conversions — especially when starting out — but it does mean that the strategy behind it leads to meaningful reporting. This type of visibility into your pipeline makes it easy to adjust or fix what isn’t working and to amplify what is.

There is a module in Infusionsoft called Opportunities, which is the sales pipeline piece of the software. I’ve written about these before in a 3-part series because, in my opinion, it is the most powerful part of Infusionsoft and needs a thorough explanation. There is nothing else in the software that so elegantly blends the CRM and e-commerce with automation like the Opportunities module.

However, in the past we haven’t done a delightful job showing how to properly setup your sales pipeline and, more importantly, how to properly work your pipeline. Its not enough to get it setup, to make the money you’ve got to actually use it!

For this very reason, I’m beyond jovial (even more than last month) to unveil the August 2014 Free Campaign of the Month: Sales Pipeline Starter Kit.

Sales Pipeline Starter KitClick for larger view

The campaign’s purpose is to give you a customizable sales pipeline framework you can feel confident in, along with training on the setup and management of it once implemented. Frankly, the campaign itself doesn’t contain the magic; its the diligent and proper usage of Opportunities that create huge revenues. The campaign provides the sales stage framework for any sales process, at any price point, regardless of the length of the sales cycle. The four recommended sales stages will allow you to do a dive deep into the effectiveness of your lead generation and sales teams.

Who can use it?

Any Infusionsoft, customers can download any campaign from the Infusionsoft Marketplace, but because the Sales Pipeline Starter Kit  uses Opportunities, you need to have the right edition of the software. As of this blog post, the two versions of Infusionsoft that include Opportunities are the Deluxe Sales and Complete editions.

Opportunities are merely a manual accountability tool for the sales process, so while you don’t need a sales team to use this — for example, if you are a sole proprietor — an individual does have to be involved to sell your goods and services. If you have an automated funnel that doesn’t require a prospect to speak to a live person, this particular campaign isn’t going to help you very much, but it will work for both B2B and B2C businesses that use individuals to sell.

Anything else I should know?

The campaign comes out of the box with four recommended sales stages (see stage definitions on the left side of the image above) and two stages we expect you to customize. While you may be thinking that you need more than just two sales stages after qualified, I invite you to try on the idea that you really don’t. I have personally set up many opportunity pipelines using those stages and in most cases, there are not more than 6 stages in the entire process (not including Win/Lost stages). The more stages your pipeline has, the more challenging it will be for your sales reps to manage in their day-to-day, and the more challenging your reporting as a sales manager will be. Can you add extra stages? Of course! However, I’d try and see if you can pick two really meaningful milestones after qualified and use those for a bit. If, after a few months, you really do need more granularity in the stages, then add more.

The campaign launch instructions live in a Help Center article that is a linked on the campaign itself and this is because the campaign setup also requires you to build your dashboard and learn how to manage your pipeline daily. It will make it much easier for you to build the campaign by watching the help videos.

There is one very important point to consider with this campaign: To make money using a sales pipeline, you have to commit to working your pipeline daily! Remember, an opportunity is simply a manual accountability tool. You tell the system when you need to follow up with a prospect next, but it is up to you to build the habit of logging in daily and seeing who you said you were going to talk to today. Based on past experience with customers in pipeline setup, the the primary reason  they “fail” is because they are not committed to logging in every morning and working their pipeline. But when they do use it daily, watch out! The results are often beyond their expectations!

How do I get it?

Check out the Marketplace listing and download it to your Infusionsoft account.

That’s it for this month, but please let me know what you think in the comments below and keep your eyes peeled for next month’s campaign that will help you with Wowing your new customers after the sale. You’ll need that campaign after you implement this month’s  campaign and develop a great sales pipeline.

Free Campaign of the Month: Business-In-A-Box using Lifecycle Marketing

Imagine you want to start playing electric guitar and if you already play guitar, let’s pretend you are brand new, without any equipment.  This will all make sense in a moment.

To play guitar, you need a few things at minimum: a guitar, guitar cables and an amp. As a brand new guitarist with minimal sound gear knowledge, when standing in the music store, what is easier for you?

  • Buying a guitar, cords and an amp separately
  • Buying a starter kit that includes all those items

If you don’t know much more than, “I want to play electric guitar,” choosing the equipment separately is probably a daunting task. How do you know if this is the right amp or the right type of guitar cable?

By getting a starter kit, you can feel confident that all the components are compatible with each other and you can focus on learning to play; it accelerates your progress.

At Infusionsoft, our purpose is “To help small businesses succeed.” Our software provides a platform to enable this, but there is still the issue of implementation. To help, we’ve created an industry-agnostic framework called Lifecycle Marketing. The general idea is you must attract leads, have a process to sell them and  a strategy for wowing them once they become a new customer.

This makes sense, right?

However, how do you actually implement this for your business? How can you attract leads? How can you follow up with them to sell and then wow them?

The task of fully implementing Lifecycle Marketing has been an Achilles Heel for Infusionsoft. Users used to start from a blank campaign canvas and build  out each phase themselves, which can be a daunting task, even for the most seasoned users.

That all changes today!

Similar to the electric guitar starter kit, we have developed a complete three campaign package that provides a full Lifecycle Marketing framework. It is with great pleasure I announce the July 2014 Free Campaign of the Month: Business-In-A-Box.

Business-In-A-BoxClick for larger view

These three campaign models lay the groundwork for you to easily attract and capture leads, follow up with them to the sale and then wow new customers. Even though they are three separate campaigns, they are designed to work with each other. For example, the new lead follow up task from the Attract campaign instructs the user to use any of the three note templates found in the Sell campaign. Once someone becomes a customer, you can apply another note to indicate this OR if you are using eCommerce it will automatically start once a purchase is made.

Who Can Use It?

Any Infusionsoft customer can download any campaign from the Infusionsoft Marketplace, but this campaign is designed to give you a framework to build your own Lifecycle Marketing implementation. As a result, won’t be as useful for Infusionsoft users that already have systems in place for attracting, selling and wowing, however, this framework will work for both B2B and B2C businesses.

Anything else I should know?

These campaigns have the crucial elements necessary for a full implementation. The idea is that you can take these starting points and customize them for your own unique business needs. Also, if you already have certain Lifecycle Marketing systems in place, you can still use this. Just be sure to use the areas where there is a gap. For example, if you have a working sales funnel but no new customer nurture, simply use the Wow campaign.

How do I get it?

Check out the Marketplace listing and download it to your Infusionsoft account.

That’s it for this month. Let me know what you think in the comments below and next month I’ve got something for those people who need a solid sales pipeline!

Post image for Free Campaign of the Month: Easy Hiring
Free Campaign of the Month: Easy Hiring

Remember when you applied for your first job? You had to fill out a paper application and hand it in. If you were lucky, a big chain would have a super fancy computer to collect that information. Either way, after submitting the application, you were left twiddling your thumbs. You had to wait for someone to actually look at it and follow up with you.

Then there was a week or more worth of anxiety waiting for the call back.

Today, you are on the other side of the coin as a small business owner. You are the one doing the hiring. So now you are the one hand sorting applications and following up with applicants weeks later to setup an interview. And while it may make your job hopeful anxious, it undoubtedly causes a lot of stress for you as well. You are already wearing a lot of hats and chasing down job applicants for an interview is another expenditure of your precious time.

Is this the best way you could be making a hiring decision?

With all the automation capabilities of Infusionsoft, wouldn’t it be nice if there were some way to streamline the initial job application process too?

One of the themes at Infusionsoft this year is ‘Own Your Summer’. For some business owners this will mean escaping the sales lull by working smarter rather than harder. For others it will mean  finding time during your busy season to actually enjoy summer.  Either way it’s about putting less hours into your business and getting better results.

This month’s campaign is designed to help you streamline your hiring process so you can enjoy your summer instead of adding another task to the to-do list. Introducing the June 2014 Free Campaign of the Month: Easy Hiring

Easy Hiring Campaign Model

Click for larger view

This campaign’s purpose is to provide an online application process for a job you need to fill. It is actually a novel implementation of the two step web form campaigns from last month since we are driving someone from one form to another. The difference is that we are requiring them to confirm their email address first before completing their application. Even though that seems really simple, adding this one extra step will help you weed out the tire-kickers who probably wouldn’t have been a good fit anyway. Once someone completes part 2 of the application, Infusionsoft assigns a task for someone to review their application and take it from there.

Who can use it?

Any Infusionsoft customer can download any campaign from the Infusionsoft Marketplace, but this campaign is designed to help hiring owners and managers. You are most likely going to turn it on and off alongside the demand for new employees. This will work for both B2B and B2C businesses.

Anything else I should know?

The campaign comes out of the box with five great application questions on the Part 2 landing page. However, the application is completely customizable so you can add or remove as many application questions as you want. This campaign “ends” when someone has finished their initial application. The hiring process has more going on than just an application, feel free to modify the end of this campaign to incorporate your existing hiring process once someone submits a new application.

How do I get it?

Check out the Marketplace listing and download it to your Infusionsoft account.

That’s it for this month. Let me know what you think in the comments below and next month I’ve got a ‘Business In A Box’ for you. What’s that? Well, you’ll just have to speculate until then.

Post image for Free Campaign of the Month: Two-Step Web Forms for Courting Leads
Free Campaign of the Month: Two-Step Web Forms for Courting Leads

Imagine for a second, one of your single friends is at a party and they spot someone they are interested in taking out on a date. Which tactic do you think is going to be most effective for getting one?

After walking up and introducing themselves, they can:

  • Ask for the person’s phone number
  • Ask for the person’s phone number and home address

To secure a date, at the very least, your friend is going to need a phone number to facilitate meeting up. But is the home address really necessary?

Not at this stage. There is a fragile amount of trust that will allow someone to give out their number (or any other information). Push too hard for more details, and your friend will likely climb up a few points on the creepy scale.

Don’t Creep Out Your Leads

When it comes to marketing and lead generation, it is very similar to dating. You have to court the lead and build a trusting relationship before trying to take things to the next level.

Trust is built progressively as the relationship flourishes just like when dating. You have to start slow. Ask tactical, polite questions and accept the fact that you don’t get to know everything about a person at first contact. So don’t expect for your leads to be any different.

Ease them into interacting with your business by asking the bare minimum to strike up a relationship.

The most common way for a lead to show they trust your business online is by filling out a web form, so make it as painless as possible. This new lead believes that you will handle the  information they provide with care, but they aren’t willing to bet the farm on it with every personal detail they hold. Request only what you need to begin communicating. From that point you will have the opportunity to do one of two things: continue establishing your trustworthiness or break their faith in you entirely. If you do the former, you’ll likely have earned the right to collect more information.

Real-World Application

Let’s say you want people to reach out for a free consultation. In order to do this, you need their phone number so you can schedule the appointment and maybe their email address to send a confirmation once it has been scheduled. If you have a web form that collects their name, email and phone number that is a decent amount of information they are entrusting you to protect. Requiring those three pieces of information may be too much for someone to proceed.

If you ask for their name and email first, it reduces friction in the process and gives a little room to breathe (and for you to prove yourself) before asking for the number. The easier the experience is for the new lead, the better chance you’ll have at taking the connection deeper.

Providing two pieces of information initially is a lower risk in the eyes of your lead and can be great for boosting conversion rates. And if someone drops off without sharing a phone number, they probably weren’t a qualified lead to begin with.

This progressive lead capture tactic is extremely popular which is why I’m very excited to share with you not one, but two free campaigns of the month that are both a two step web form.

 Free Campaign for May 2014 #1: Free Consultation

Two Step Web Form - Free ConsultationClick for a larger version

This campaign’s purpose is to deliver engaged leads that want to receive a phone call to schedule a consultation. After someone fills out the first web form, they are taken to the second form which asks for their phone number. Upon phone number submission, a task is created to call and schedule. If someone falls out after the first form, email follow-up occurs to try and get that number.

Who can use it?

Any Infusionsoft customer can download any campaign from the Infusionsoft Marketplace, but this campaign is designed to be used for capturing leads who want a free consultation. This tactic works well for both B2B and B2C business. However, with a B2B, it may be more of a demo instead of a consultation.

Anything else I should know?

Since this campaign is designed to be used for progressive name and email then phone number capture, you can use this tactic in many different ways. Don’t just limit it to a free consultation. Maybe after signing up for your newsletter you ask for their phone number to do an SMS reminder each time one goes out. Or maybe you collect someone’s phone number after they register for a webinar for a voice broadcast reminder.

At its core, you are going from an email channel then to a voice-to-voice channel (phone). There are many different ways to strategically leverage this tactic.

How do I get it?

Check out the Marketplace listing and download it to your Infusionsoft account.

Now, that is how you go from name and email to a phone number capture, but what if you want to collect an address instead? Glad you asked fair reader!

Free Campaign for May 2014 #2: Digital to Physical

Two Step Web Form - Digital to PhysicalClick for a larger version

This campaign’s purpose is to build your physical mailing list. After someone fills out the first web form for some free digital resource, they are taken to the second form which offers a free physical version of what they just requested.

If they provide a mailing address, a task is created to mail a physical version. Even if they don’t provide a mailing address, they still receive the digital copy immediately and are reminded of the physical offering.

Who can use it?

Any Infusionsoft customer can download any campaign from the Infusionsoft Marketplace, but this campaign is designed to be used for building your mailing list. This tactic works well for both B2B and B2C business, but I would wager it is a more popular B2B tactic since those are usually higher-ticket items and have longer sales cycles; which means the higher acquisition cost of physically mailing is more easily justified.

Anything else I should know?

Since this campaign is designed to be used for progressive name and email then address capture, you can use this tactic in many different ways. (Who would have guessed, right?) Don’t just limit it toa digital resource. Maybe after signing up for your newsletter you want to mail them a coupon as a bonus. Or maybe you collect someone’s address after they sign up for an online demo so you can send them more information about the demo they see.

How do I get it?

Check out the Marketplace listing and download it to your Infusionsoft account.

Whew! That’s it for now. Let me know what you think in the comments and I’ll see you next month with another free campaign to help your small business.

 

Post image for Three Commandments For Building Understandable Campaigns
Three Commandments For Building Understandable Campaigns

As humans, we have this natural urge to ask “Why?”. We want to understand things around us. It connects us to the human experience. As you are surely aware, certain things are easier to understand than others. Why is the sky blue? Because sun light refracts through the water molecules in the air and the light just happens to come out blue. Why does your mother-in-law hate you? Probably not as simple of an answer; although I like you fellow reader :) (more…)

Post image for Free Campaign of the Month: Live Event Networking
Free Campaign of the Month: Live Event Networking

Tell me if this situation sounds familiar: you go to a live event and meet lots of people. A few of them you actually want to follow up with after the event is over, so you grab their business card or contact information. Then nothing happens. You forget about them entirely, until you discover that business card crinkled at the bottom of your suitcase or laptop bag. (more…)

Post image for Free Campaign of the Month: Convert Free Trials to Paid Memberships with CustomerHub
Free Campaign of the Month: Convert Free Trials to Paid Memberships with CustomerHub

One concern I hear a lot from entrepreneurs and content creators is, with the increase on the importance of quality and amount of content, how do you monetize it? One of the ways to accomplish this is to offer a free trial alongside with a paid membership to your premium content. Content can be protected with login, which can immediately add value to the information you offer.

This free Infusionsoft Campaign of the Month is geared to help you easily deploy a free trial that compels your audience to purchase a paid membership. (more…)

Post image for Free Campaign Of The Month: Grow Your Social Following
Free Campaign Of The Month: Grow Your Social Following

If every single person on your email list is also following you on social media, you can stop reading right now and have a great day! Otherwise, keep reading because connecting with people on a variety of different channels is very important; email is only one channel to communicate and build relationships. The more places you can connect with people, the stronger and more powerful the relationship can become. (more…)

Post image for Free Campaign of the Month: Clean Your Contact List
Free Campaign of the Month: Clean Your Contact List

When email marketing was first taking off, the money was all in the list. The bigger the list, the more potential. Today, this is still true; however the money is now in the relationship with the list — a big list doesn’t always bring with it a good relationship. (more…)

Post image for Free Campaign of the Month: Streamline Your Coffee Run
Free Campaign of the Month: Streamline Your Coffee Run

If you raised an eyebrow over this title, you should definitely keep reading. Hold on, I know what you’re thinking, “Paul, I don’t see how using a campaign for a coffee run has any value to my business?”

On the surface, you’re correct. However, this campaign actually teaches us a very important lesson about awareness. Plus, this campaign can be used for many more situations than only a coffee run and I’ll get to that further down. (more…)