New Visual Automation Builders, Online Whiteboards, and Onsite Segmentation

This month’s theme is to look deeper than the surface. The time where one blindly gives some new tech company your money because it’s a new cheap service has come to an end.

Just think about this, you wouldn’t hire just any babysitter to watch your child would you? That same type of careful scrutiny you would place any babysitter under us the same scrutiny you should use when assessing software to run your business.

The great part about the tech space right now is the amount of tools available. The bad part is a lot of these businesses are silently declining, or even worse, failing.

What kind of impact does that have on your business if the tool you rely heavily upon goes out of business? Most people don’t even think that far. They’re main focus is how little they can pay and get the most back.

But you heard it here first, if you don’t start doing your due diligence in properly assessing each company your business’ marketing relies on you will find yourself on the short end of the stick at the most inopportune time.

Don’t just focus on the price, look at the company’s leadership. Who is calling the shots? How seasoned are they? How long has the company been around? What are previous employees saying about their experience working there? Are they actively developing and adding new features that matter? How many employees do they have? etc.

Be willing to let any unsatisfactory answer to these questions be the sole reason you DO NOT buy the software.

Enjoy the report!

ActiveCampaign Updates

Starting from the top, this month brings a few updates to help work more streamlined within the application.

13 More Integrations – here is a list of 13 of the most recent tools that have a direct integration with ActiveCampaign.
Saved Responses – huge time saver here for all users who occasionally send personal emails from within ActiveCampaign. They are pre written emails (subject line and body) that can be selected from the individual and deal contact record. Once selected they populate the email along with any personalization tags you used.

Lots of other minor updates and tweaks to the platform have been made that those of you who use the platform frequently have probably already noticed. I won’t spoil the surprise here ;).

PlusThis Additions

Marketing Automation 3rd Party Software

I should’ve mentioned this a while back but PlusThis, the famous Infusionsoft add-on, has been very busy expanding their platforms integrations.

First let me say that I really respect what PlusThis is doing. They started off as an Infusionsoft only integration but have adjusted to the market demand, and possibilities, and started adding more platforms. As of today they now integrate with Ontraport and Drip.

Here’s where I’m a bit intrigued. Drip will soon me inheriting the functionality of Center. This will mean that a lot of the integration features PlusThis has, Drip will be including in their application by default (supposedly). So it’s not clear to me, as of now, who the big winner is in this deal. I can see PlusThis getting more users in the short term, but will those users eventually cancel when all the functionality is native to Drip? Or is this Drip’s insurance plan to deliver this level of functionality to their users in the case Center’s functionality never makes it to Drip as promised?

Will Drip and/or Ontraport start using this integration as means of getting people to more easily migrate from Infusionsoft?

Or…will this integration allow Drip users to more easily migrate to more robust platforms like Infusionsoft and Ontraport?

Who knows but like I always say…time will tell.

Note: Not all PlusThis integrations are available for Ontraport and Drip, but all integrations are available for Infusionsoft.

ConvertKit’s New Visual Builder

Visualize your email marketing with ConvertKit's new visual builder

It was only a matter of time.

I stated recently in a private training I did that the future of marketing automation is two-fold. More personalization, and more visualization. Any platform that chooses to ignore the visual demands of today’s business owners will be committing professional suicide.

So when I caught wind of ConvertKit adding a visual builder I couldn’t do anything but smile. “Of course they did”, I thought to myself…”they had to!”

For the record, I don’t classify ConvertKit as a marketing automation platform at all. Similar to Drip, Aweber, and GetResponse; I’ve always looked at these platforms as email marketing automation. However, that doesn’t mean ConvertKit should ignore such a visual trend in the marketing automation space.

If I’m a professional blogger using ConvertKit and enjoying it, I would be smiling ear to ear right about now.

GetResponse the New Marketing Command Center?

GetResponse adds CRM to their Email Marketing

This is a very interesting move and development on GetResponse’s part.

I was logging into my account earlier this month and I was prompted to update to the new version of GetResponse. This new version not only consisted of a new, cleaner looking dashboard but also a new CRM feature.

With the addition of a CRM I can confidently say that GetResponse is serious about being classified as a true marketing automation platform (I would never qualify ANY platform as true marketing automation without a built-in CRM). Upon further investigation it was true. A nice Trello-ish CRM is now available for aiding you in closing more sales. But that’s also when I realized something…

After visiting the blog to read the official launch there was an interesting trend happening. To say it nicely…GetResponse sure is “borrowing” from a lot of other apps. Not saying it’s a bad thing but not only did their CRM look like a clone of ActiveCampaign’s but the language on the blog describing their new positioning seemed mighty similar to how Leadpages marketed Center years ago.

They used terms like “your command center for all your online marketing”. I promise that exact copy was used to promote Center by Leadpages. I guess they didn’t hesitate one second to snatch up some good copy from a dead product and use it to give life to theirs.

Lastly, check out the last line in the blog post…”Not just email marketing. ALL your marketing”. Wow…if Center existed I’d tell them to watch out! But I think more than anything GetResponse is putting everybody on notice that they are in the marketing automation space for good. I wonder if MailChimp will follow suit any time soon?

Let me end by saying I found the new update clean but confusing. Seemed like the new interface fought me at every click. Not only that but the CRM is all manual. By manual I mean it’s not connected to the Workflows and automation to be able to automate your sales process. So for someone like me who is very familiar with a tightly integrated CRM and marketing automation platform like ActiveCampaign…these updates sound good but mean nothing at the moment.

Let’s see how they continue to develop.

Hubspot Gets Has Been Visual

Hubsport's Marketing Automation Visual Builder

Hubspot implemented their visual builder earlier this year as a beta and is now standard in all accounts.

Why this is important is because when enterprise software starts to adjust their platform offering you know the industry it is in is picking up steam and really gaining momentum. In addition, a platform like Hubspot is not going to carelessly adopt a new way of working with their product without being sold on the new direction.

We’ll, that new direction of visual builders is here to stay for good and all platforms that want to be labeled marketing automation better catch on quick.

My prediction for the future is that not only will we see more platforms implement visual builders, but they will all be, vertical, top-down implementation. Even if their current builder is horizontal, left to right.

Mark my words…ALL visual builders will be vertical.

That being said my good friend, and Hubspot master, claimed the new builder is functional but nothing futuristic. You click plus signs and add actions, similar to Drip, but no Drag & Drop and cloning capabilities like ActiveCampaign.

ConvertFlow On The Rise?

ConvertFlow Onsite Marketing Automation

ConvertFlow is a lead generation tool that plugs into to your website to allow your users a more personalized journey. From pre-filling form data to dynamically displaying CTAs, ConvertFlow offers a pretty powerful punch in the lead gen space.

This month I had the pleasure of meeting and talking to both the CEO and CTO (Ethan and Jonathan) of ConvertFlow.

The more I grow as a marketer the less willing I am to adapt new, unproven technology. Partly because of understanding just how hard it is to build a sustainable SAAS product, and the other part of me being less willing to change my setup just for the sake of using a new tool.

These factors were definitely in play with ConvertFlow and hence why I hadn’t jumped on and tried the platform out yet.

A lot of that changed after meeting the minds behind the software.

I learned that they started out as an agency struggling to get clients to understand how to build marketing friendly websites. Since it was too difficult to get them to rebuild their site, they thought of a way to “inject” lead generation without needing any web development resources.

I’m grossly summarizing here, but this was the foundation of what we would come to know as ConvertFlow. Given the fact they also ran a website maintenance company gave me a bit of relief that they weren’t some internet marketer with a good idea they pre-sold and built on their audience’s dime without really understanding the true needs.

That being said I have an account and intend on putting it to good use. But that’s only because I believe in the people running the company. Not just the tool by itself (remember, start thinking and looking beyond features and price).

The Discovery of Online Whiteboards

Given how much I love whiteboards and how many notes I take in my Moleskin daily, you would’ve thought I had researched the space of online whiteboards.

Not to mention my artistic background in digital art.

This month I did just that on accident and really enjoyed what I found.

A while back, under the advice of Pat Flynn, I tried a tool called OmniDazzle. This tool allowed you to write on the top of your computer screen for annotation. The problem was the tool was not intuitive at all and frustrating to use.

Thus, I gave up on that effort and haven’t returned to the idea until recently.

Since I’m always doing some form of virtual education and training I found that I was waving my hands at the screen and wiggling my mouse to try to communicate virtually what I was trying to say.

It was just too hard.

I thought if there was a tool like OmniDazzle that was easier to use I’d be golden.

Low an behold there are. And yes, I am golden. Nothing but smiles from the tools I found. I plan on writing a full review of each of them in a blog post but I’ll post the 3 that I found and rank them.

1. Ink2Go. This was the most flexible offering. It allows you to write over any application window, or your desktop. With a click of a button it can turn your entire desktop white (or black) for an on-demand whiteboarding session.

2. A Web Whiteboard. I found out about this company by them cold emailing me at my ActiveCampaign email address. Talked to the owner, got some history on the company, liked what I heard so I got an account. This tool is online only and gave me the smoothest writing experience. It also provides the ability to share your board, embed it on your site, and the use of sticky notes and images (which is lacking in Ink2Go)

3. SketchTogether. Perhaps the most functional online-only platform and most disappointing. They provide almost all the features of A Web Whiteboard with a few enhancements that made it even easier to use. Plus it’s free. The problem is when I emailed the CEO he stated that this tool is no longer their primary focus and development for it will be slow. Thank you, but no thank you.

There’s one more tool worth mentioning that I recently discovered. I’m a big proponent of maximizing the usage of tools you are already paying for before going out and buying a new one.

That being said, I learned that Zoom has a whiteboard feature built-in. After giving it a trial run on a private coaching call, I was very satisfied with the outcome (see pic below). All in all, if I’m doing virtual training I will probably use Zoom. For any other training the tools above will be used in the order posted.

Virtual Dry Erase Board using Zoom as a Whiteboard

ClickFunnels + ActiveCampaign Integration

I haven’t seen this new feature hit their help docs just yet but my buddy Adam Teece sent me this update this month showcasing the ability to apply a tag to a contact that opts-in via a ClickFunnels page.

I must admit, I’m seeing more and more users adopting ClickFunnels as their landing page platform. It’s becoming more of a “no brainer” for a lot of marketers online. I take my hat of to Russell because I was one of those that didn’t think he would give software development the attention it deserves and needs to be successful.

Given the growth of ClickFunnels and the rapid growth of ActiveCampaign it makes sense why this was one of the most requested features among a lot of AC users. The video of how it works is posted below.

Note: This is still a new feature and a few AC users posted some issues they were having with getting all of their list to show when using the new tag integration feature.

Email Deliverability Issues?

Deliverability is a complex equation. Lots of people don’t understand all the factors that determine the success delivery of your email to an inbox.

Given that all email marketing providers use shared hosting, one user’s negative behavior can impact your deliverability. No need to complain, that’s just the way it is.

Another factor that hugely impacts deliverability is when someone clicks the spam button in their email client (instead of clicking the unsubscribe link). That’s what happened to me this month by force, not by choice.

I received an Ontraport powered email. When I went to click the unsubscribe link I was taken to the following preferences page:

Email Deliverability with Ontraport Marketing Automation Software

Can you see what’s wrong here?

Though I received an email from Ontraport it’s claiming I am not subscribed to any lists, thus I cannot unsubscribe to stop receiving emails. That my friends, is the quickest way to force me to hit the spam button in my email client (and potentially many others do the same).

I bring this up not to bash Ontraport (the user could be the one messing things up), I wanted to point out just how easily your deliverability can be affected by other users and how they run their marketing.

Hopefully this was just this one user and not something that is prevalent throughout their platform. If so, you can expect more and more emails to be delivered straight to Spam going forward.

Other updates:

Did I miss an update? Is there a tool you’re using and really enjoying that I haven’t mentioned yet? Drop a comment below and let me know. As always, I’m looking forward to hearing your thoughts on this month’s report below as well.

Chris Davis

About the Author

Chris is the founder of Automation Bridge and Host of the All Systems Go! podcast. He has helped marketing tech startups raise a collective amount of funding over $237 million is passionate about helping you do the same.

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