Dive Deeper Into Marketing Automation Features To Multiply Results
Many agencies just skim the surface of the marketing automation features, using the email tool, adding in some basic automation and identifying anonymous site visitors. Clients are impressed, results improve and everyone wins.
In this webinar, SharpSpring partner BizBudding talked about how to dig even deeper into the features and functionalities of the platform for exponentially better results. We covered:
- Powerful marketing automation features that you might be overlooking
- Tips to improve email deliverability and ways to measure results using list segmentation and email tagging
- A case study about a client who moved from a traditional email service provider to marketing automation and saw click through rates increase over 28%
President - BizBudding Inc.
David started his career in software development and quickly learned the importance of integrating technology with business process and marketing. Combined with an analytical focus, this results-oriented approach became the foundation for BizBudding and its clients. BizBudding has been a SharpSpring agency partner for almost two years and sends nearly one million emails a month using SharpSpring.
Training and Usability Manager - SharpSpring
As Usability Manager, Bryan is responsible for creating content to help users get the most out of SharpSpring. This includes maintaining the support forum and creating instructional “how to” videos. Working in collaboration with Marketing, Support, and Development, Bryan helps create an exemplary experience for every user.
No time to watch? Read the full transcript after the webinar.
Bryan: Alright, let’s go ahead and get started. Everyone thanks for attending today. We’re going to be going through a quick webinar about how to use SharpSpring in a bit more of the beyond the basics capacity. So today, we have myself Bryan Tobin here on data product team with SharpSpring, then David as well, who’s the president over BizBudding, a SharpSpring partner. So we’re gonna walk through just some simple housekeeping stuff to begin the webinar today, then we’ll get to the fun stuff and David will take over the presentation, and we’ll start rocking and rolling.
So to start with, we’ll just start with a round of greetings, so to let everyone know who’s in the audience who are talking to. So it’s kind of a mixed crowd, we have some current SharpSpring a partner agencies, the folks that are working with us probably here to get the better understanding of what you can do, that’s outside of the standard scope of what you’ve start using SharpSpring initially for. We have some folks that are considering SharpSpring, thanks for attending, I think you’re going to be really impressed with what we see especially with this webinar. Today is it’s just more of the, the cool fun stuff that we can do with the application. Then we have some in-house marketing professionals, so likely marketing folks at the companies who are here to expand their knowledge on marketing automation, and how to use it tool like this to help increase sales, increase conversions, get a more qualified lead. And then at the end of the day go back and look at our marketing investment, and understand how all if it works. That really encompasses the why are we here as well, so it’s a peer-to-peer learning. What we wanna do is provide thought leadership in the marketing automation space, and let…not kind of like a just a prospective idea of what can be done, we’re gonna talk about real world application of the SharpSpring tool, and some really cool things that David and his team has done with the application.
Again, the focus of today’s webinar is we’re going to take a look at the features, that automation, that marketing automation can enhance the usage of, so we’re talking about a better web experience, better communication, optimized marketing, and investment, using the tool to really broaden the entire marketing arm of your organization. Now, we’re real big on interaction, so you guys we see the #SharpTweet at the bottom left-hand corner of the slide, so please, let’s interact, we have our social media manager online, and she’s going to be answering any questions that we have. From the end, you can also email me directly, Bryan@sharpspring.com with the why, I’d love to answer questions as they come in. Your phone lines are muted during the session though, we want to keep this very focused and have this be much more of a presentation style. But if you do have questions please submit them to the chat box or via Twitter, and we can of course answer them. As they come up, if you have a good question we’ll likely save it for the end as well. We’re gonna have some Q&A that we’ll close the session with. And we can talk about those sessions at the time.
If something happens and you have to jump off, busy client calls, or if something happens with your connection, don’t worry about it, we do record all of these sessions, and we’ll distribute the slides as well as the recording after the session occurs. The last part is, we love feedback, if this session was valuable and good, let us know. If there was something that we missed out on, whether it was expectation setting, or just something that we didn’t cover, let us know in the survey that we’re gonna provided at the end, we do take that feedback and we make sure that we include it in the upcoming sessions.
On the SharpSpring webinar side, we do have an upcoming webinar this Friday, which is SpringBoard live, it’s our weekly how-to training series. Gregg Robinson, he’s our usability manager, actually taking up a role that I used to run here, is that gonna be leading that, he does a great job, and please attend those. While this is more about a broader picture and showing different features and functions and then how they can touch various parts of the business. Those sessions are a bit more focused on certain features that we’re gonna be showing at a point in time. And you can, of course, register on the website.
From here, we’ll just do a quick round of introductions. I’m Bryan Tobin, I work here at SharpSpring on the product team, been here a little over two years, touched a lot of different areas to the app. Hopefully, we’ve talked, if not, please drop me an email, I love chatting with customers or prospective customers about ideas on marketing automation. Then we have David. David is a fantastic partner. David and I have worked together a lot, and I always love getting his feedback. I think he uses the tool in the way that it was that was intended to be used honestly, and does some really basic stuff as well, some extremely, complex, and fun things, but it’s a, it’s a full lifecycle management tool for David. And with that, I do wanna pass them on David, unless you wanna say some additional things about yourselves.
David: No, thank you, appreciate it.
Bryan: Cool, then let’s go ahead and move on forward. And David, I have given you a mouse and a screen control so you can go and control my screen, and go ahead and rock and roll.
David: All right, great. Thank you. Thanks everybody, for attending, I want to give a quick shout out to the BizBudding team, without them, we wouldn’t have the fun that we do. We’re out in northeast New Jersey, and so we love the outdoors, we love working with customers, and we have a pretty good time.
With a bit about BizBudding, we’re a little over five years old. We’ve been a silver partner for two years with SharpSpring. We’re almost done with the gold certification. So if you’re an agency partner, make sure you take the certifications, they really do help train your team and help you grow with SharpSpring. We do a lot of web development and design, so our background is working with our customers. We have some really big sites, and we have some medium and small businesses that we work with. So our customers are kind of all over the place. We’re proud that our largest site had over 58,000 people on it at a single time. Those types of sites present a lot of challenges for marketing automation, but they also provide some really great and exciting opportunities.
We focus a lot on membership sites and franchise location management. We also do a lot with the wholesale and retail, and you’ll see, throughout today’s webinar, how SharpSpring can really help you track your sales, can help you grow your email lists. You know, the new data-driven parts of SharpSpring are fantastic because you want to be able to segment your customers and focus one-on-one marketing to them. And that’s really what the purpose of marketing automation is. We focus a lot also in marketing analytics, so that when we work with our team, and our customers, and our partners, we can kind of show them the results of what we do. And that was one of the fantastic things that we liked about SharpSpring, is the ability to aggregate some of the reporting into a screen that’s easy for a marketing manager to understand, where the data is coming in, and what people are doing, and we find it to work very, very well.
So with that being said, this whole session is focused on going beyond the basics and diving a little bit deeper. We’ve picked a couple of areas that we thought made a lot of sense that we’ll jump into them as soon as we grab this quick poll. Okay. So the results of the quick poll, about 27% of you said yes, you’re an expert, about 12% you wanna get to it, and 61% said you’re not sure what it is. So when we speak a little bit about email deliverability, we will get into what DKIM is and why it’s important. And how it works? So we change slides here to…
So today’s discussion, we’re gonna focus on some really powerful features inside SharpSpring. That maybe you haven’t worked with. We’re gonna talk about email deliverability, and some components that will help you to make sure the messages that you’re sending get into the inbox. And then we’ll go through a couple of case studies to show some real-world application of how we used of some of these powerful features. And also from an agency perspective, how we work with our customers to understand their business process, and then apply marketing automation solutions to it.
So if I start here with one of the first interesting media center analytics in our group of powerful features. I’ll just…sorry I took ahead one slide. When looking at these features, the most important part is understanding your customers and how their business process operates. When you, when you understand that and you discuss with them, what their goals are, and what you’re trying to achieve? You can then apply some of these features to their business process and help them with their marketing automation. And the most important thing was you don’t have to apply all these features at once. As we’ve worked with our customers, we’ve grown our use of marketing automation with them. And we’ve been able to implement features as we learn more about their business and help them grow.
Everybody wants to grow a list of contacts, and email is one of the best ways to communicate with people, and sell them products, and share with them your views. So a great way of building your email list is to, often times offer a free PDF, or some type of document, or a link to a free membership, and you want to be able to track that media. Now, a lot of times people will have that PDF just on their website and you can download it. With one of our customers we noticed that they were doing that and, by converting their website to support SharpSpring and their email to support SharpSpring, we are able to create these trackable media. And what’s great about these is you can embed your PDF in SharpSpring and then use that link on your website, use that link in your emails, and you’re able to create these trackable links that will show you statistics very quickly and easily, how many times people are accessing that media.
So one and the really cool things here is that, you can see anonymous visitors also. So this link was for a free PDF, like a recipe type book, a quick start guide, you know to a process. And when somebody signs up for the email list, we send them this link in an email to the PDF in the media center. And we could see that 1,045 leads have opened it, but also we can see that 14 anonymous viewers. So that shows us that our customers are sharing our information with other people. And that, if we see a very high level of sharing, then one of the things that we may think about doing is in the beginning of the PDF, putting a note in there that if they love this content, that they could sign up and get content like it. So it really helps you analyze where your visitors have come from. You able to track multiple links. So if you offer the PDF directly from your website, create a trackable link and view the media from there. If you offer the media in an email campaign, create a separate trackable link, and then you’ll be able to, in this one report, view where the data represents where people are looking at it.
We also use a workflow conversion analytics. Workflows are very, very important for drip email campaigns. And oftentimes, we will create a drip email campaign for someone that signs up for a particular section of the website, or if someone is visiting the site frequently and they come to our section of the site for recipes perhaps three times. We could track that through automation and then we can add them to a drip email campaign, to perhaps market or sell some additional products to them. And these workflow conversions are the best way to track and set that up. When you go into analytics, and you view the workflow of conversion, you can identify the performance and you could see where your drip campaign sort of drops off.
So in this example, we’re sending out an email to somebody, there’s five emails in a row, based upon someone expressing interest in a franchise. And this was from a couple days ago, we’ve only sent it out to 33 leads, but we were able to see that out of those 33, eight opened it, and then three had clicked through. And then I could see on franchise email number three, that nine people opened it, and four have clicked through. Now, I’m able then to compare, are they the same people by creating some other workflows and adding some custom data fields inside of SharpSpring. But the great thing here with the workflow analytics is that you can use this as a tool for planning your next campaign. If I see that people are dropping off on email three and don’t open a review email four and five, either my messaging is wrong, or I’m sending them too much information. Creating the workflows and then going into the analytics is the best way to track your performance of a particular drip campaign. And well, I think a lot of people haven’t gone in and viewed it that way, but it seems to work very well for us for identifying and planning a drip campaigns, and then follow up emails. Drip campaigns also work well if somebody purchase a product and you want to send them training information to make sure that they’re using the product.
Another really powerful feature of SharpSpring that we use a lot with our customers is setting custom fields. And we also set those custom fields through the SharpSpring software API. So we’ve built and one of majority of our sites are all on WordPress. We’ve built our own plugin that makes it easier for us for managing and updating the custom fields. And what we’re able to do is if somebody purchases a challenge, say the hot body express, they purchase this 30-day challenge. We can set a field to a value, and when that field is triggered and set, that begins a workflow, and that workflow then enables us to send out a drip email campaign, and also to send them the information for the 30-day program as they go.
What’s really cool in workflows with SharpSpring is you have the ability to do date-based workflows. We know a lot of people like to start a program on a particular date. So you can see the bottom of this example, we’ll set the launch date to 11-14 at 6 o’clock in the morning. So when someone purchases the program, we send them a thank you email, that it was purchased. We add them to the newsletter list because they’ve confirmed that they wanted to be on the list. And then what we do is we will set the launch date and on that date the workflow automatically trigger and begin sending them the product information, what they need to do each day as part of the program. And our programs are typically built online as a membership in our websites. So the emails are a reminder to someone at 6 o’clock in the morning that they have their next step of the program that they need to complete and do. So setting custom fields is really important.
And another really important part of the custom fields is now with the dynamic emails. Being able to create custom fields and segment your customers as to whether they like recipes, or they like nutrition information, or they like sports, is really important. And when those custom fields are set, you can create dynamic segments for your emails, and I’ll touch on that in a little bit.
Email tagging is another kind of hidden feature in SharpSpring that I think adds a tremendous amount of value. When you wanna get some aggregate report data on how your newsletters are doing, you can do that by simply creating a saved report in the email section. And by tagging the emails with a tag that makes sense. So here I use a newsletters, we have some emails that go out that are advice driven, we have some emails that are go out that are giveaways. And you can create whatever tags that you want, and then run to a report. It’s the email performance report and you’re able to select the tags. And it will go through and create an analysis for you of each email that’s tagged with that report, its performance. And at the end of the report, it will generate aggregate data, which is really nice to be able to see how your overall email campaign is going.
This was the section of the poll where we asked if you knew about DKIM. And you know, sending an email for your customers or to your clients is easy. Getting that message into the inbox is actually really hard. And it can be made quite a bit simpler using some of these tools from SharpSpring. You wanna be able to get the right message to the right person at the right, and that you could do through automation. So one of the very simple but very important things to do is to, in your email editor, select the plain text settings and make sure that you put in some plain text. Most email service providers, like Google, look for a plain text version. It helps differentiate from someone who is just spending sending spam and doesn’t have the time to go in and put in plain text. Almost everybody has an HTML type email viewer. Years ago, it was important because a lot of people didn’t. But today, it’s important because a lot of spam filters actually look for a plain text version that sort of matches the HTML version. So you know, try to get it to match, make your header stand out in the plain text version by using all caps or putting some underscores underneath it. And add the links that you would typically add in there. So the links match what your plain text settings are with your HTML settings. And when you’re done validate your email. We love this tool for mail tester you can get three free validations a day, and they have a very simple service that you can subscribe to, it’s like a penny a day. But what’s really cool is when you go in to send the preview email, mail tester will then validate your spamminess, it will validate your SPF records, it will validate your DKIM, and we’re gonna talk about those in just a second.
But you can see from this section that it says that you’re properly authenticated. It will also tell you if your text image ratio was too low which is another indicator of spamminess, it will also tell you if you’re on any blacklist. And that’s important to take a look at because you can work to remove yourself from those a little bit. One of our customers is a network service provider, and some of their customers were spamming from their IP address, and they caught them stopped it, but it left, you know, blemish on their domain name. You know, you can work to remove that or move to a slightly different sender domain, but it’s really helpful to understand and know if you’re authenticated properly.
So real briefly, SPF we joke around that you know, I don’t get burned in a distance, it’s not the Suntan lotion factor here. But it’s a sender policy framework, and what SPF does is it basically tells an email hosting company who’s allowed to send email on your behalf. So if this record is not configured or not set up properly, most likely you will get errors here, and when something like Google receives this mail it goes right into spam. It looks like it’s been delivered for you, but it goes right into the spam folder or right into the promotions folder. If you were web server, sends emails on your behalf, your SPF records should have that email address in it. It should have in the SharpSpring SPF record. There’s a help document in SharpSpring that will show you how to configure that.
And there are…we use a helpdesk system called Help Scout so we put that in our SPF record. And then there is an option on the record here where you can say, these are the only people allowed to send mail on my behalf, or these are the only people but if somebody else tries to it’s okay. We typically set it so that we only allow authorized senders to send mail on our behalf and everybody else gets rejected as you know, an unauthorized sender. And this is really important in delivering email today, you know Google has made a clear statement that if you’re sending email to people with Gmail accounts, you better not be sending it bulk from you know, another Gmail account or EarthLink account. They want it to come from a properly authenticated domain to show that you have permission to email those people. So setting up a SPF is really important. DKIM is the next step for that, DKIM stands for DomainKeys Identified Mail, and what’s interesting with the domainkeys, the DKIM is that it basically adds a second layer of authentication so that when the email leaves the SharpSpring server, and it gets to a customer on Gmail or any other mail platform. When that mail server receives the mail, it reads those keys and identifies that is an authorized sender, and it really helps in the delivery of your mail. It’s really important to set this up you will get a much greater mailbox penetration. In our case study, we’ll show you, you know some of our click-through rates have really gone up because we’ve been able to get the messages into the inbox by working on reducing spamminess of the emails, by making sure they are properly authenticated and making sure that that DKIM is set up.
There’s a section underneath your settings and email set up, where you could set up DKIM, and if anybody has any questions on it, you know they can send us a question to @bizbudding, or reach out after the webinar, and we’ll be glad to share our experience there with you. Most people don’t need to set up DMARC, that is the next level of authentication on top of that, and it stands for Domain-based Message Authentication. Essentially what that does is it’s a reporting and performance tool. So if someone is sending email on your behalf, if this is set up, the web server that their email server that’s receiving it will know how to reply to someone, basically us when we have it configured. So what this does is some of our popular brands, brands that are really concerned about their delivery of email, and that they’re the only brand voice speaking, we have SPF and DKIM set up to authenticate that we are authorized in the right voice. And then DMARC we use as reporting, so when we find somebody trying to spam on our behalf, we can catch them and stop them. DMARC is very, very tricky to set up, but when it is set up properly, it’s a cool reporting tool.
One of the most important things is making sure your message looks great on mobile devices, and these email render tests are a great way to do that. Make sure that you go into your emails and in the options tab, select render test. And it asks you for a name of a person to put in, you could put in anybody’s name there, it doesn’t actually email them. But it takes a couple minutes, and it creates render tests. This saves you a lot of effort of instead of having every mobile device and every version of Outlook on your computer or on computers in your office. And it’s great to see what it’s gonna look like. It will help you point out design flaws that you may have in your email. And SharpSpring has added some really cool features in the new email editor. If you create a link there’s a button that you can click that will turn that link into a button, and that handles all the old versions of Outlook, it will handle the new versions of Outlook, and it creates a nice-looking button in your email. So the render tests are really important because it will help you see what your email is gonna look like when it’s going out.
Now before, I was talking about custom fields and deliverability, and what’s interesting about the custom fields is it allows you to really get into segmentation. So create your preferences section in the contact manager, and send emails to your list asking them what their interests are. Ask them whether they want to receive emails as weekly, or monthly, or just summaries. We also ask them if they wanna unsubscribe. We try to catch them with an unsubscribe that then ask them, you know do you really just want to be monthly instead they completely unsubscribe. You can ask any type of data that you want, so here is someone wants a healthcare professional, we want to know that. And in our email to them, perhaps we have a dynamic content section where somebody is the health care professional. We wanna market a continuing education class that comes up.
So there’s a really great way to do segmentation, you will get higher inbox delivery rates because you’ll be sending a more accurate message to the people. I do believe that Google and a lot of the other email providers are getting very smart at realizing how many times you delete a message, or how many times you receive a message, and don’t open it. So you know, I noticed in my Google mailbox, even last week they rolled out a new feature, where I don’t respond the emails in a couple weeks, it moves it to, you know my updates folder, or my promotions folder. So you wanna make sure that you create emails that are compelling subjects. Use the A/B delivery testing features inside SharpSpring to test which subject is gonna open. Get your open rates higher and focus on making sure your emails configured properly, and your segmentation is there, so you can get the right message to the right customer.
And one of the successes we’ve had was to really streamline the emails going out. That we really focus on just one clear call-to-action in an email. We’ve tried to simplify them, to personalize them to the person’s name, and here is that formats button feature that I was telling you about inside the editor, where you can select the link and turn it into a button. You know, that’s really important to do to make your email, something that somebody wants to open, and then an action that they wanna take from viewing it.
Okay. So I was going a little quickly through there, but I wanted to share those things with everybody, and now we can talk a little bit about some case studies. How to put it all into action? How to pull it all together? How to start with the…and how we started with three different sections? So a forms management, pipeline management, and email management. I had mentioned earlier that you don’t always have to start with the customer with replacing their email service provider and providing email services for them. That is a great easy way to start, there’s a tremendous amount of value in that, but there’s also opportunity when you’re working with your customers as an agency to really understand their business process, and what they are trying to accomplish. So to put it all into action, we kinda tried to summarize this, that it’s really important to segment your list. We have our list segmented with, what type of customer they are? Whether they’re wholesale or retail, their frequency of when they open emails.
We’ll create the list of somebody who is opened the last, you know, 10 emails in a row, or will create a list if somebody who has not opened any of our emails. We try to create lists based upon interest, and these lists are all dynamical lists created off of the custom fields. If there is one thing that I’ve learned over the last two years with SharpSpring, it’s when you’re doing your automation in your workflow, it’s to build those dynamic lists off of data. It’s not when someone fills out a form adding them to a static list called people who filled out my form. What you really wanna do, is when someone fills out your form set a custom field that says form, and the form name filled out. So that down the road, you could create dynamic emails out of that field being set, you can create dynamic lists off of that set being set. So one of the tips that we’ve figured out sort of the hard way and have worked our way through it is not to create static lists and add people to the list but to create dynamic data or to create custom fields and create dynamic lists and dynamic emails off of that data.
You also…you’re going back, you’ve really want to create simple emails with the really clear call to action, and you wanna test and validate everything as much as you can. It’s really, really important to validate that your configuration is set up. If you’re gonna be sending emails to your list, I think you really want to make sure that DKIM and SPF and everything is configured right. So you have the best chance of not only getting it to their inbox but making sure that it’s not in the spam folder or promotions folder.
Performance testing is really important too. You can very easily create a subset of a list, and you can send an email to those two different segments with different subjects, and you could see which one has the higher conversion. And the conversion could be as simple as the email is opened or the email was open and the click through came through. You also want to try sending emails at different times. And depending upon your customers you can really see a difference in how they respond to emails. If you want to learn more about this section of performance testing, I would suggest just Googling it, there’s so much great content about how to do email A/B testing. There is wonderful content out there that you can implement, and you will see a difference when you do it. And when you do implement it, it’s important to monitor it, that’s where the workflow conversion analytics come in, where the media center analytics come in, it’s really important to monitor what the results were. And then repeat these processes, and repeat these processes, and repeat them. And that’s how you fine tune it and that’s how you start to learn how your customers reacted to your emails.
It’s always really important to follow up with workflow and additional communication. So if someone fills out a form, don’t rely on the website to send them a simple thank you. Send them an email, and in that email offer them a free PDF, just for you know, being a great person. Build trust with them, build credibility with them, and embed that PDF as a media center file, that way you can measure the analytics on it.
So in putting this all together, one of the examples that I wanna talk about today, it was a company in the technology infrastructure space. And they typically sold business-to-business. They had a website that wasn’t quite mobile responsive. We rebuilt the website for them and made it mobile responsive, but in doing so the key component in SharpSpring was handling forms. You wouldn’t think that this would be a great place to start, but it really worked out wonderfully for both us and our customers. They had a lot of forms on their website, forms for quotes, forms for getting support, forms for filling out to be part of their channel partner program, right? And so these forms previously just sent emails into the company, and when we looked at the site, we said geez you know, there’s a great opportunity here to use SharpSpring forms and to create automation out of these forms. So if someone fills out a quote, we wanna immediately send a notification to the sales team. And if that customer already has a Account Manager, we are able to send an email directly to that Account Manager, which made for very quick responsive communications with the customer. Also, with their support department and with the channel partner program, it was very, very important to have those forms routed to the right people.
Now, once they started logging into SharpSpring and looking at their forms, and looking at the analytics behind how many people fill that, which type of form and how often? They also started looking at the visitor ID, and the visitor ID was a great way of driving interest into tracking leads because they saw these companies coming to their website and they thought, Wow, it would be great if we were able to track these visitors and convert them into leads, and when that begin, we then moved into the migration of their emails from an external ESP, email service provider, to SharpSpring. And that has now lead to creating sales pipeline tracking. So now, when the lead comes in from the form, it’s turned into an opportunity, and we’ve built out the sales pipeline tracking so that the sales team is able to migrate people through the sales pipeline. And we have created some really cool workflows along the way so that if a salesperson is talking to somebody and they say, well yes, I’m very interested in your network connectivity or if I’m interested in another section of the site or content. We can add them through the contact manager onto a workflow which initiates a drip campaign, and every three days, for three days in a row, they will get an email that kind of continues the discussion of the topic that you’re interested in. So these email drip campaigns, you can create based upon your customers and segmentation of them. And so for us, this was a really interesting example because it moved from forms management into how we supported them with visitor ID and tracking leads and moving into the sales pipeline.
I want to give you another example of pipeline management. This example is customers in the youth sports industry, and they had 90 locations. They were trying to sell a lot of franchises and used two external portals to get leads. And was very hard for them to keep track of the leads, there their website was designed so that somebody could download a PDF, and they had no idea that it was downloaded, so they couldn’t track any of it, and the site wasn’t really built well force SEO. You know, we completely redesigned that site and we implemented the media center for all the franchise sales to material. And that really enabled us to get the media center analytics and we could see whether people were clicking on the website to get a document, or they were requesting information through a form. And we built the private membership section on the site, so that when someone clicked on the form it logged them into the private membership section, it emailed them a summary of the content that they were looking for, and it gave them sort of a course to go through, and everything they had to learn about franchising. And we were able to tell using analytics how these people have moved through the course materials, and tying that with a custom pipeline stages for them has really helped them track and manage their franchise sales through this custom pipeline.
Workflow conversion was, was really important and nurturing the franchise leads. We were able to over a month and a half, really see the effect of having somebody who signed up for free and franchise information, be on a drip campaign, where they dropped off, what we needed to change. And we changed our wording, so now each one of those emails in the drip campaign leads to our goal, which is someone being on a webinar. And we’re able to measure that through the analytics, we can tell using the SharpSpring analytics, if people came in from a Facebook ad that we had, or if they came in through the website, it’s really cool for managing your campaigns. And what we noticed is that one of their portals was not sending any valid leads in whatsoever, so they are gonna be dropping that portal and redirecting the money that they were spending their back into creating more content on their site to focus on supporting franchise prospects. So the analytics really do pay off and pipeline management really pays off, and they really able to grow the franchising business because of it.
One of the aspects was is they have 90 locations, so in speaking to the locations, they really wanted to have a way to blog, and get the WordPress. And what it does is it allows every location to log in, they have their own location page with their social media icons on it, everything about their location, they have facility pages, so they could showcase their facility, they have a contact us form. And that contact us form goes back to a form in SharpSpring and when we send that form, we send a piece of custom field data, which is the page the form was sent from. And we use that with automation rules to determine what location that customer is trying to reach for the franchise system. And we’re able to manage now all the communications to all the franchisees, from customers through a single contact form, and route that and track that data with SharpSpring and the marketing automation.
The other aspect that we did is we created a blogging section on each location page. So they’re able to…the locations were able to log in and create daily blogs of what’s going on with their location. And at the end of the month, we use the RSS feed, and we are able to summarize all those blog posts and send it out for on the locations behalf to their list of people. And their list of parents and people on their email lists are set up underneath the junior salesperson role. So there are some really cool roles that you can use in SharpSpring in the pipeline manager. And the location is able to log in, look at their emails, look at their statistics, see how what percentage of people they’re reaching, and everything that they blog gets shared out directly to social media and also gets summarized in an RSS feed to their customers. And this has been great for ripping out digital products and for tracking shopping cart abandonment. So really cool, the ability to move with just media center and tracking franchise documents all the way through digital product sales shopping cart abandonment and RSS feeds to very finite segments of list is really cool.
The last spotlight is in the wellness industry. We have hundreds of thousands of contacts in the database and we get millions of page used a month on the site and then they have a very large affiliate program. We focused on newsletters, and we focused on getting the open rates higher, and we focus on customer segmentation, the new dynamic emails, we’re very excited about that because now our segmentation that we have, we can get a little bit more specific content in the email newsletter to our customer. The Media Center, we moved into that with both free and paid ebooks, so that’s worked out fantastic. And the database workflows and the drip command campaigns are key, and then we put together several 14-day or 30-day challenge programs for our customers, and that’s worked out extremely well. The dynamic emails and a customer segmentation is gonna be key and you know, a website that supports paid memberships and programs really is supported nicely with SharpSpring’s marketing automation tools.
So the last…one of the last slides that I have, I know, is getting kind of late 11:45 here, and then East Coast, was what we really focused on to get click thru rates. Now we can measure email opens, and we can measure more kinds of statistics. And what’s really we found important to us and our customers is click thru rates. And then from the click thru rates, what are the actual conversions to sales. So it’s important to know what your open rates are, it’s important to get your emails into the inboxes, you have to get that deliverability right. You know, follow all the steps and best practices for getting emails into the inbox. Set up your plain text versions. Make sure your SPF and your DKIM are set up. Make sure that you do everything you can to make sure that, that message is into the inbox. Use the tools that are inside SharpSpring to make sure that the images are formatted properly, that you don’t have too much text, or you have too little text, I mean, in your emails. Work on getting that deliverability right, and measure every step of the way.
And then once you have that baseline on measuring you can begin your A/B testing. And that will help you improve your open rates because you can test different subjects. And most people have a preview in their emails, so do you have an image that’s compelling that catches people’s interest? Is it easy to see who the email’s from? You know, the ability to send an ad emails with content specific to certain segments is really, really important. So we focused on all that and we really focused on creating clear call-to-actions. And we found that by simplifying the email messages, asking people to do one of thing in an email. Really has helped the click thru rates. And we use the workflow automation to measure and plan. So it’s been really helpful to us with our customers to use these different types of tools to focus on growing their communications with their customers.
Bryan: And a few things in addition to that, that I want to circle on, so the biggest thing that I like what David does from a customer perspective, is a lot of agencies when they reach out to us, they ask to how do how do we get started? And how do we get SharpSpring? Or how do we use SharpSpring? So the fact that in the example that we just saw a few minutes ago, he was leveraging existing relationship and service that he was offering customer, the SEO optimization to their website. And then it moves on to a simple SharpSpring use case. So that low hanging proof whether it’s just getting tracking code on the site, to show the site analytics, to show a leads coming in from form submissions, whatever that first thing is for proof of concept, that’s then our next steps, so leverage existing relationship, low-hanging proof of the concept. The tools going to work and it’s going to pull in data, then once we get that buying, and that’s how these bigger projects get created.
And then circling back to even the beginning of the webinar, we talked about the workflow where we’re using the API to set that, the field value, and the email for the campaign that we’re sending out for the hot body promotion that we’re doing. And we’re using all of that because the customer saw the value in that segmentation, the automation, based on that simple proof of concept that we did.
The last thing that I wanna really focus on to make sure that we take home, is that, it’s not just about getting the message to the inbox like we talked about. I think David did a great job of focusing on, make sure it’s driving an interaction across that message. And simplicity there, I found to be is really key. So a lot of folks when they start doing email delivery, they wanna have these long messages in emails, now that’s completely fine for things that are like newsletter based to users that we currently interact with. But if these emails are intended to be something that grabs attention and gets someone to come to a website or do an action, simplicity helps there, not even just from a user perspective of as clear call-to-action, what am I supposed to do? Click and then take the action? But from an analytics perspective, if we have multiple call-to-actions in a single email, we capture all that data, but the idea of memorializing that and making it something that you can digest becomes a lot more difficult with the increased amount of things or increasing of actions that lead can take across that. So that’s mean to reiterate what you said David, you presented it beautifully about those two things, really stuck out to myself. And I wanna make sure that we leave with those takeaways with the audience.
David: No, I thought that was good.
Bryan: So we’re at the end of the session, we’re gonna open up for some Q&A. So if we have questions here David, I might send some questions your way if they’re specific to you for the ones that are SharpSpring related, I’m going to just pick them up right now. So the first question that we have, can you list other queues that would trigger spam? So David, I’m gonna, we can actually tag team this if you want, but I’ll let you start since you discussed the DKIM, SPF, and DMARC policies.
David: What’s the actual question, can you what?
Bryan: Yeah, so the question is, any other queues that, you know was like a, that would trigger spam or trigger an email flag the spam. It’s a broad question, so you know, it’s based on like email, the delivery, the server web the email you must send to you but just kind of broad strokes.
David: Yes, if there’s way too many images or way too many links in an email, if DKIM and those configuration settings aren’t set up right, there are a lot of great tools from an email company called Litmus, that will give you examples of what to do and not to do in emails. I think the key component is making the email HTML as clean as possible, making the email have one call-to-action and clear focused is really the right thing to do. I think so many email service providers or email engines today like Gmail have gotten so smart, that they can tell from your list if you are sending to, you know certain email addresses that you may have that may be set up as a spam box on Google that you’re not aware of. So keeping your list clean, asking people to update their profile, asking surveys, we ask surveys all the time, and a lot of people love to respond to a survey. So we actually keep two lists, our high interactive list, and our normal send list. And it’s important to engage with them and keep the emails as clean as possible.
Bryan: And now piggybacking on that which had another question come in about, what else in the systems reported beyond open, right? So I’ll take this one. So in the email there’s really…there’s three sections that break down email reporting, and we touched on them during today’s call. There’s email of jobs which located at individual send, email reports or aggregate sends for an email, and workbook conversion. And all of that, what first two we’re gonna see are both open rates, we gonna see clicks, we’ll see hard bounces, so that was a message delivery failure, we’ll see soft bounces, which is a temporary failure, so we’ll attempt to send that message a few more times, it doesn’t send, will then flag that as a hard bounce, we’ll keep spam complaints as well as unsubscribe. And then for the unsubscribes we have actually have unsubscribes reasons category. So you can look at your unsubscribes, and kind of what David was getting to with the survey, that they are a bit more proactive on, if you want a summary of data of why people are unsubscribing from those emails, if people provide that information if they can of course, or like not to disclose why they unsubscribed, we’ll see that information directly in the application.
The next question I saw, it’s going into detail on why SPF, DKIM, DMARC are crucial. I think we did a good job of covering that on the call, but in the simplest approach that always made sense to me, it’s these protocols are kind of like pre-signing for a package for delivery. So if we order something and it gets sent to our house, and we don’t, whatever it is we don’t sign for it, this chance is not gonna be left there because we did not denigrate that delivery. So think of those protocols to that pre-signing policy, and it saying, okay this message can be sent or has the ability to be delivered on behalf of this domain because we’ve allowed it to what do so.
David one more for you, we have a question on…really this is more of an opinion question, so what are your thoughts on removing contacts and leads for the customers that you work with from particular lists once they’ve done an action, or do you prefer to keep them on list and just add them to multiple lists. Because I think the root question here is, do you see an issue with having people on too many lists, and you’re, you know, then if a member of too many lists you’re really a member of no list because you’re part of all of them.
David: Yeah, that’s a great question. We found that, you know and I really didn’t talk about this as an advanced feature in SharpSpring, but it should be on the list of cool advanced things. When you build the dynamic list, you have triggers that are gonna create people on those lists. So the trigger could be that someone has filled that form, or that someone has taken an action, or someone has a date based workflow that’s gonna trigger. What’s unique and very cool is that you can also then add filters onto that list. So everybody who’s filled out to contact need form, who is already a customer. So now I filtered that data to look for people in that list who are already customers. I don’t think you can have too many lists if you create your list with focus.
Again, we used to, in early days in SharpSpring tried to put everybody on a list. It was very hard to manage the list. What we’ve moved to is creating custom fields for our customers and keeping data in those custom fields. So if someone purchases a product, we set a custom field that says there are active customer, if someone purchases a blue t-shirt, you know we can set that flag that their favorite color could be blue, right? So you’re able to then use that data when you send that a dynamic email to talk about all the blue t-shirts that are on sale.
There’s two types of emails to send in your workflows. Emails that are only sent once and you do not make those emails repeatable, and emails that are repeatable. So if you have a challenge that runs every month and somebody signs up for it, that workflow of those five emails in that challenge, it should all be repeatable email so that workflow can continuously fire for people who signed up for that challenge to that month. But if you have drip email campaigns, and people can be triggered on it and one maybe two ways, you wanna make sure that the first way they are triggered, that those emails are sent out. But the second campaign won’t execute because you don’t have the ability to send that email twice to somebody. So you do have to be meticulous, but I think you have to be more meticulous in creating your list and what are you actually…what type of customer are you trying the segment? Your list is not your contacts, your contacts are in your contact manager, and your metadata, and custom fields describes your contacts. And then you create dynamic lists to segment that on how you want to reach them. Did that help Bryan?
Bryan: No, that’s perfect. And you know, I know you know I’ve talked about this a few times, and anytime we have the opportunity to update data on leads records, we should do so because then we can reference it at any point in the future.
The last question we have actually piggybacked on this one too, which is fantastic. So we are… this is this one, I’ll take it, it’s just when you talked about the webinar changing a custom field when someone submitted the form. The question was if someone submits another form will it overwrite that data? By default, that’s our only role, it will but what we’d want to do is based on that form submit, find some sort of unique attribute, whether it’s the page they filled out the form on or some hidden field that we pass, that would then either populate a lead field directly or trigger an automation that would change that lead field. And the reason that we want to do that is, while we can make these dynamic list based on show me everyone that filled out this form from this URL, and this, and this, and this, so we have all these multiple clauses, that can get a bit hairy down the road. So in my mind, anytime I can add a workflow action that changed the lead field that captured what I was trying to do. In six months instead of having to build this, a complex list of multiple and or ifs or adding that together in the automation section, I just say show me, everyone, that this field value that I changed for this specific reason. And put them on the list. So it’s honestly more of a strategic opinion question, you don’t have to do it, but for me anytime I have the chance to amend data at a lead record, I do so because also if you were talking about integrations, if we want to export this data or use it in some other platform, we then have that because everything will be tied to that lead record during an export.
So we’re gonna continue the conversation of course, so you can either reach out, David contact information at the top. He did a great job. Of myself, you can contact me directly, please, do so. If you have ideas from your partner, you wanna do a presentation similar to today, please, reach out to Nicole, she runs this program. She can of course connect you and discuss next steps. For questions on SharpSpring reach out to SharpSpring at sharpspring.com. org and of course, request the demo on the website. Thanks you so much, for you all for participating today, and attending David special thanks to you, that was fantastic. And we look forward to hearing from you on the future.
David: Thanks, everyone.