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How to Apply Design Principles To Your Marketing Initiatives

I want to review a quote from Mike Monteiro’s book, You’re my Favorite Client:

So let’s look deeper into the design process, with a giant caveat. Every designer claims their own process… But whether you’re working on an agile or a waterfall process (or smartly between the two), all processes break down to some version of:

  • Find out what the problem is
  • Come up with ideas to solve the problem
  • Pick the best idea
  • Build it
  • Watch people use what you built
  • Tweak it as necessary

The section struck me when I read it. I used to eschew “design.” I was a developer. On the development team. Design was for the design team. But in development I always ran into a problem: I felt like a code monkey. I never had a say in the “what” or “why” of the work. I was a pair of hands doing as I was told. It’s frustrating.

That’s when I realized my problem was my aversion to design. I thought I wasn’t a designer. But design is more than what I thought it was. You can design a process. You can design a system. That’s what I wanted to be doing. I was a designer, I just sucked at Photoshop.

My exit strategy was to try to apply my technical expertise to marketing problems. At least in marketing, there is a clear goal and it’s marked with dollar signs.

So, can we apply design thinking to design a marketing system?

#1. Find out what the problem is

First, we have to decide what marketing problem we want to solve. It’s more specific than more money.

  • Is the conversion rate low?
  • Do we need more traffic?
  • What was the lifetime value of our customer? Is it high enough?
  • Do we have right product/market fit?

We have to know what we’re solving before we try to figure out how to solve it.

#1.5 Decide on a measurement strategy.

I’d like to add my own step (Every designer claims their own process 😉).  Once we decided on a problem we must decide how we will measure results.  Specifying how you measure results forces you to clarify your thinking on the problem. Then you have more clarity on what a solution looks like.

#2. Come up with ideas to solve the problem.

This is the most fun part of marketing. I feel like the marketing departments get a license to have a bit more fun than others. Sometimes an out of left field idea can create real monetary gain. If you want something more standard,  there’s plenty of case studies and resources you can refer to. The challenge of marketing departments isn’t generation, but focus. That takes us to…

#3: Pick the best idea

By defining metrics early, we’ve built a rubric for a pile of ideas. How will this idea move that particular needle?

Once you’ve done that you can do a cost-benefit analysis.

  • What’s it gonna take to implement the strategy?
  • What are the long-term costs?
  • Can we do this once or we going to have to have someone work on this weekly or monthly?

These questions inform costs, Metrics inform benefit.

#4 Build it.

Pretty straightforward. write the content and/or code. Do whatever it takes to get the idea out there quickly in front of as many eyeballs as you can.

#5. Watch people use what you’ve built.

You don’t always get a chance to watch people use what you built. User testing is not always an option. Instead, we have to use the next best things: analytics, and screen recording pools like HotJar.

#6. Tweak it as necessary.

Yet another reason the analytics or important: You’ll learn fast.  For example, Open rates and click through rates vary wildly by industry.  But if you see a variance in one email in your campaign, it could signal that you’re doing something wrong or ride. Adjust as needed.

This is where A/B testing is useful. You can’t test your way to brand new ideas, but you can improve upon a solid 1.0.

A solid 1.0 is the goal here. You won’t know what version 1.1 or 2.0 should look like until your first iteration meets the real world.

Moving fast means faster feedback, which means faster learning. If your idea isn’t working out better to find out sooner rather than later. That way you don’t waste time painting pigs with lipstick.

What I Learned:

I hate that I avoided design for so long. Design is in many ways of what I wanted to do all along, I just didn’t realize it. In my mind, I connected “design” to heavily with “the visual stuff.” Just because you’re not a “designer” doesn’t mean you can’t apply these principles to create better work.

Win Clients With Robots: Marketing Automation for Consultants

A few weeks back a reader asked:  Where should consultants start with marketing automation? I wanted to take a second to answer this.

Here’s the challenge consultants face: working to relationships based business. You want to be efficient without being robotic. How can you put systems in place that make you more effective without turning clients off?

Most of the times, I find it beneficial. It shows you put thought into having systems in place. It makes you look professional. As long as you aren’t being spammy, putting automation systems in place is a pure win.

Here are a couple of projects that you could knock out on a slow day. Something that won’t take a lot of time but will give you a long-term benefit.

#1.  Build a post-engagement follow-up campaign.

Set up a campaign to send emails over the weeks and months after a successful engagement. That way you can automate asking the client for referrals, testimonials & case studies. If you want to be more personal, another option is to use a tool that sends reminders to you instead of them. That way, you could write a personalized one-off email instead of a canned response.

#2. Build a course to show off your expertise. 

This is something I’m working on right now. I aim to launch the Marketing Automation Crash Course soon. It will provide more lessons about using technical solutions to make your marketing more profitable. You can put together a set of 5 to 10 lessons based on your expertise to educate potential clients. Two options here or to go wide or go specific. You could write a crash course to give an overview of your expertise, or about one specific strategy. For example, I’ve also considered doing a course just on analytics or specific campaigns.

#3. Automate your onboarding process.

Write a brief document you can give clients at the beginning of projects. One that clarifies how you’ll work together. Then,  set up a system to email it to them. This could be an email automation tool like Drip, an email template tool like MixMax.

#4.  An evergreen newsletter.

Build a system to keep in touch with clients on a regular basis without repeated drudgery. Take some of your best work and set up an automation it sends it to new subscribers weekly. Everyone gets the same welcome experience, sees your best work. And you don’t have to put up new work each week.

 

If you have any questions, feel free to ask in the comments below, I’d be more than happy to answer them!

Salutation Formatting For Nameless Subscribers

It’s a common use case: You want to personalize someone’s email by using their first name. You may try to use a liquid snippet like this:

Hey {{ subscriber.first_name | default: "" }},

But there’s a problem. If the first name isn’t set, you end up with this wonky salutation with an awkward space:

Hey ,

How to Fix This:

There’s a bit of liquid syntax that isn’t well documented, if you add a hyphen to your brackets, Liquid will strip the newlines around the tag:

Hey {{- subscriber.first_name | default: "" -}},

This also works with logic tags which would look like this:

 {%-  -%}

Want more? 

Check out some other Drip Quick Tips. If you get your subscriber’s first & last name as a single text field,  here’s a workflow that splits first and last names.

How to Trigger a Workflow For Every New Subscriber In Drip

There’s a weird gap in Drip’s functionality: You can’t trigger a workflow or automation rule for all new subscribers. You can trigger rules based on “Submitted a form,” but that doesn’t work for users that are created via import or API. Here’s how you can work around that:

Drip Doesn’t Have A Trigger, But Zapier Does

Zapier has the “new subscriber trigger” that Drip is missing.

You can use Drip to trigger Zapier to trigger Drip. Weird I know.  For part two fo the zap, you can either add a tag to a subscriber or trigger an event. From there you can use Drip’s regular rules and workflows for all new subscribers.

12 Ways to Increase Revenue With Drip

Email marketing is so much more than a “weekly newsletter” these days, and with powerful tools available at lower price points, a lot more companies can take advantage of these.

My go-to tool is Drip. It has a great balance of affordability, simplicity, and power.  There’s a lot of businesses out there that could gain a lot of value from Drip, but it’s hard to see exactly how it would benefit them.

Here are the core features of Drip, and how they can be used to build evergreen revenue generating systems into your marketing websites, eCommerce platforms, and SaaS applications.

The Basics: Email

Drip has the standard functionality of simple email marketing systems of yore: You can create opt-in forms, and people can opt-in to your mailing lists. Once they are there, you can send broadcast emails to them periodically.

The Not-So-Basic: Marketing Automation Core Components

  • You can add tags and custom fields to all of your subscribers. In this regard, it’s helpful to think of Drip as more of a customer database and less of a mailing list. Read Drip’s documentation here: Overview of tags, events, and custom fields
  • You can use this data to break subscribers into segments. This way if you want a broadcast to go out to a particular subset of your users, you can do that.
  • You can also individualize emails with personalization. Drip allows you to insert variables and if/else statements into emails. Drip users the Liquid Templating Engine, so it’s almost as robust as Ruby.
  • You can trigger events with automation rules.
  • Drip comes with a ton of integrations. View the whole list of integrations here. 
  • You can combine all of these easily with workflows.
  • To take it further, Drip provides a Javascript library and a REST API. If you can’t do something with Drip out of the box, you can write code that does it for you.

How Can You Make Money With These Features?

1. Evergreen Launches

Instead of getting a one-time burst of revenue, you can set up launches that run again and again.

2. Increase Conversions with Free Trial Workflows

Send onboarding messages that educate and empower your user, thus increasing conversions.

3. Recover Lost Revenue With Dunning Emails

Richard Felix of Stunning has some fantastic Dunning email templates you can use. 

4. Gather Insight Using Cancellation Surveys

Groove uses this simple technique to increase Customer exit survey responses by 785%

5. Nurture Leads With Email Courses

Use these email courses to provide value to your users, attract subscribers, and eventually pitch them on your products or services. 

6. Personalize Your Calls-To-Action

Everyone is different, why are you marketing to them the same? Tailor your calls-to-action based on what you know about the user. 

7. Use Product Specific Lead Scores to Trigger Behavior Based Pitches.

Instead of pitching all of your products to everyone at once, only pitch certain products to people when it’s relevant.

8. Personalize Your Marketing Pages

Use customer data to personalize your marketing page or application.

9. Discover Your Most Profitable Segments

Get business intelligence on which segments of your audience are the most profitable.

10. Automate Your Webinars

Run automated webinar and event sequences.

11. Integrate with Your CRM

Increase the efficiency and accuracy of your high-touch sales by integrating with your CRM and sharing data.

12. Recover Lost Revenue (again) With Cart Abandonment Emails.

Recover lost sales with cart abandonment campaigns.

How to Increment a Custom Field In Drip

Let’s say you want to keep count of how many times a user performs a certain action in Drip, how can you do that?

Drip doesn’t support this feature natively, but it’s easy to implement. Here’s an example using a rule that counts the number of times a user completed a particular event:

Check out the value tag:

{{ products_created | default: 0 | plus:1 }}

We’re using the Liquid tags with filters in this example. Let’s break it down.

First, you set a variable:

{{ products_created }}

Of course, saying products_created = products_created isn’t very useful, so we want to use a filter to change the data that is output. In this case, we want to say:

products_created = products_created + 1

Which in liquid looks like this:

{{ products_created | plus: 1 }}

This would be fine if we always knew that products_created would be set. We can make this tag more robust by adding an additional filter to set a default to ‘0’ for those cases.

{{ products_created | default: 0 | plus: 1 }}

Using this snippet, you can increment fields in drip.

How to Hide a Secret Landing Page from Google in WordPress with Yoast SEO

Let’s say you create a special offer for a particular audience, event, or your mailing list. You can “hide” the page by not including it in any navigation, and usually,  Google won’t pick it up. However, if you want to be extra sure, you can do so with the Yoast SEO plugin. You only need the free version.

Hide your Page From Google

Before you hit publish, go to the ‘advanced’ settings in Yoast SEO below your post.

  1. Set “Meta Robots Index” to “noindex”
  2. Set “Meta Robots Follow” to “nofollow”

Your settings should look like this:

Image 2016-07-12 at 1.07.44 PM

Now you can hit publish and feel confident that your page will only be visited by the people you intended.

Integrating Calendly with Drip

I hate playing the back-and-forth “what times works for you?” game when it comes time to book a meeting. As a one-person shop, I’d rather spend my time providing value to clients and taking care of more important matters than spend time negotiating appointment times.

I use Calendly to make booking appointments easier. I can send people a link to my calendar, and they can pick a time that works for them. This technique also gives off an air of professionalism when dealing with potential clients.

A prospect requesting 1-on-1 time is a huge buying signal. As a consultant, these are the people that I want on my mailing list.

It would be awkward to ask the person you are meeting with to join a mailing list, so instead I combine a Drip opt-in form with my Calendly. Doing so allows me to create “Book an appointment with me” opt-ins on my site.

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How to Use First Names With a Fall Back (Drip Quick Tip)

You probably have different methods of adding users to your list. Or maybe you are testing whether or not asking for a first name affects conversion rates. Either way, there are situations when you want to use the first name if you have it and have a fallback if you don’t. Here’s a quick code snippet you can use:


<code>{% unless subscriber.first_name == null %}Hi {{ subscriber.first_name }},{% else %}Heya,{% endunless %}

 


Shout out to Kai Davis for sharing this technique with me.

Get the bonus content: Marketing Automation Intro Pack

How to Change the Confirmation Link Text in Your Drip Welcome Emails

If you are using Drip for your marketing automation, you might want to change the copy on the “Confirm Your Subscription” Link that gets sent when people fill out a form. This link is an important call-to-action, and this little piece of text can have a big impact on your subscription conversion rate. Drip doesn’t make it clear how to change this copy, but it is possible.

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How to Write More Personal Emails to Your List That Get Open and Convert

My Email Marketing Strategy In a Nutshell

Email marketing converts better than social media or content marketing. Nathan Barry has a great write up with the numbers. You can build a list by giving people incentives in exchange for their email address, reaching out to them directly, or offering people updates on an as-yet-unreleased new product. But once you have built that list, how do you write emails that people on that list will want to read?

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