Episode 351 | Harnessing the Power of Your Marketing Data

Show Notes

In this episode of Startups For The Rest Of Us, Rob and Mike talk about harnessing the power of your marketing data. Syncing information between marketing tools is a difficult task and its easy to make mistakes. The guys talk through some ways to make it easier.

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Mike: In this episode of Startups For the Rest of Us, Rob and I are going to be talking about harvesting the power of your marketing data. This is Startups For the Rest of Us, episode 351. Welcome to Startups For the Rest of Us, the podcast that helps developers, designers, and entrepreneurs be awesome at building, launching, and growing software products, whether you’ve built your first product or you’re just thinking about it. I’m Mike.

Rob: I’m Rob.

Mike: We’re here to share experiences to help you avoid the same mistakes we have made. What’s going on this week, Rob?

Rob: Do you ever notice that when you intro the show, you say, “Rob and I are going to be talking about XYZ” and that I say, “Mike and I talk about XYZ”?

Mike: No.

Rob: You haven’t noticed that? Alright. I wonder if anyone else has.

Mike: Why do you think that is?

Rob: I think because you’re actually talking about the conversation we’re about to have because you know that 20 seconds later, we’re going to be talking about this, whereas I’m kind of like putting it up as an intro, as if it was independently recorded – almost like it’s done after the fact. “In this episode, Mike and I talk about blah blah blah.” It’s almost like it’s something that happened in the past.

Mike: Like you’re a time traveler, and you’re doing it in the future.

Rob: Exactly. Anyways.

Mike: Anyways.

Rob: Now that we’ve lost all our listeners, you know what’s up for me? This week – last week, once this episode goes live, Clay Collins stepped down as the Leadpages CEO, and he decided that it was a good time to bring in someone to scale the company. He made specific comments of – which I really respected – like this was his impetus. He initiated it. This wasn’t just him offering flowery language, as some founders get kicked out by their board. They say things like this, but I know the backstory of that guy.

I know the inner workings of what happened, and he said, “Look, I’m really good at growing a company from zero to $10-15 million, and we’re a lot more than that now. We need more process, and we need someone who can really scale this thing up to $50-100 million, so the COO John Tedesco, who I’ve worked with now for a year, in essence, since we’ve been at Leadpages – he is taking over as CEO.”

Clay is really taken some time off. He’s gonna spend more time with his family. The dude is super smart, and he reads a lot of stuff. He’s into investing. I mean, he has enough hobbies to keep him busy, and he won’t be down for long. He’s like one of us, where it’s like you’re just constantly – you have that next thing going. Frankly, I applaud his decision to do this, and I think he’ll have some nice – I hope he’ll have some nice restful time as he steps away from it.

Mike: Honestly, I think that’s really smart and insightful on his part to know really where he fits into the startup process and understanding where he provides the most value and realizing that there’s probably going to be a time, where either he’s not good at it or he doesn’t enjoy it. So it’s better to move things around and put a succession plan in place, so that he can go do the things that he really wants to do or is really good at, versus continuing down that road because you feel pressured to or you feel like you are supposed to do that versus “this is the right thing to do.” I agree with you. I think that that’s totally the best-case scenario – is he makes that decision as opposed to somebody else making it for him.

Rob: Right. And making it for him, like kind of overstaying your welcome, and then people are like, “Um…” They’re bored like, “Um…” Your C-Level Suite is like, “Dude, what’s going on here?” Yeah, I agree. It is genuinely – obviously there’s always uncertainty when this type of thing happens. From my perspective, when I first heard – which is a while ago – I was like, “Alright.” Clay and I worked close together, and I know him. He’s a known quantity. I know how we interact together, so I was a little concerned because they did a national search for replacement. They didn’t just say, “Well, the COO is gonna take over.”

My concern was like, “Who’s that gonna be? Is it gonna be someone that I don’t know that runs a company completely different than Clay did? It’s gonna be this big shakeup that I’m not going to enjoy working with all that stuff,” and then the more I learned and the more I heard they were thinking about going with John, I had an inner sense of relief because he’s a known quantity. I’ve worked with John, so there’s obviously gonna be some changes. I’m sure, John’s gonna run it a different company than Clay did, just because they’re very different people, but I’m really genuinely curious and interested to see what’s coming here in the next couple of months.

Mike: I wouldn’t think it’s unusual for a company to run a national search like that and then end up hiring somebody internally anyway. I would imagine that even if somebody applies internally – if they were planning on doing a search for a CEO anyway, they’re gonna do that just so that they get a lay of the land and see if there’s other things that they’re missing because the last thing you wanna do is promote somebody from within, only to find out that they’re really not a good fit for that particular thing and you feel almost obligated to give them the position, versus if you actually do a full-blown search. You’ll feel a lot better about making the decision – assuming you go internally anyway.

Rob: Totally. It’s almost like a fiduciary duty or could be considered. It’s like we’ve got to protect all the shareholders. Let’s do the right thing, rather than do something that may look like an inside job or an insider – almost like a nepotism thing, although it’s not family, but that kind of stuff.

How about you, man? You are knee-deep in a launch right now.

Mike: Yeah. I sent out my first launch email yesterday and trying to record a video today that I still have not gotten to, and I’m hoping to get to that soon. But I got a few replies for my email that I sent out yesterday, from people who are interested in signing up. I’ve got some other people, who I’ve talked to over the past week or two that they basically just said, “Hey! This is not a good time right now, but in a couple of weeks, let me know” or they’ve got a vacation coming up or they’re gonna be out of the country or what have you.

I’ve got some things that are coming up, but the real impetus is really push hard on the email list this week. I’ve got a series of, I think, four or five emails that have got to go out, and I’ve still gotta write most of them so that’s gonna be the big priority for me over the next several days – is getting those emails written and scheduled, and then making sure that all the signup code is in place, so that people can get in, and they know what to do and have some videos that will walk them through how to do different things. All that stuff. It’s not hard. It’s just time-consuming to be honest.

Rob: Yeah. I know how that goes. How would you describe your mood? Are you excited? Are you stressed out? Are you just wanting to get it over with?

Mike: Real stressed out, to be honest. It’s just because I know all the different things that need to get done. There’s like the short list and then there’s the long list. The short list is the time-consuming stuff that has to be done in a relatively limited time frame, and then there’s the long list of all the things that I would really like to do or should be done or need to get done, but I can push them off theoretically until after the launch date, but I’d rather not, if I could get them in. I just can’t. I don’t have the resources or time or anything to be able to do that. Plus my wife’s out of town this week, which I hadn’t anticipated until after I decided on the launch date, and then I realized, “Oh, she’s out of town from Wednesday morning until Sunday night.”

Rob: Piece of cake.

Mike: Sure.

Rob: These kids are watching themselves, right?

Mike: Right. They’re cooking me dinner and making breakfast, yeah.

Rob: That’s perfect.

Mike: Right.

Rob: Totally not happening.

Mike: Yeah, totally not burning the house down.

Rob: Yeah, that’s pretty much what you’re trying to do. Oh man, I didn’t hear that part.

Mike: Yeah. What’s even worse is on the schedule, it was messed up. I thought she would be back Saturday night, because that’s what the calendar says. She looked at it and realized that on her calendar, it shows that she’s out till Sunday, but her hotel only goes until Saturday. It was like, “Oh, that sucks!” because I really thought – it was two days ago, when I found out that she was not gonna be back until Sunday.

Rob: I’m sorry. That’s not cool. Yeah, [inaudible 0:07:31] when you get this.

Mike: It’s nobody’s fault.

Rob: No. I don’t mean, not cool on Ally’s part. I just mean it’s not cool when that kind of stuff happens, and this is entrepreneurship. This is launching a startup, while you have a real life and you have a family, and this kind of stuff happens. It’s a drag, and it stresses you out, but it would almost be too easy without these wrenches getting thrown into the works.

Mike: Business would be awesome if you didn’t have to worry about customers or money.

Rob: Customers, people, money. Yeah.

Mike: Support issues. Yeah.

Rob: Yeah. Cool, so what are we talking about today? Is it one of the most fascinating topics that we’ve ever talked about on this podcast?

Mike: Absolutely. It’s all about harnessing the power of the marketing data that you have available to you and making sure that the data that you have in each tool is accurate, which doesn’t sound very sexy, but at the same time, it’s very useful. If you don’t have things wired up properly, you can very easily miss things from one tool to the next. Or let’s say that things aren’t getting synced properly between your app and either your marketing software, like your marketing automation software or your email list software. Your billing code, for example, because somebody can sign up for an account, but they may use a different email address – is their generic catchall for all the credit card statements and stuff that they sign up for because they want all of the billing emails to go there. But they don’t want to use that email address to actually sign up for your service, so now you’re going to end up with mismatches between things.

What we’re going to be doing today is talking about how to synchronize some of that information between your prospects, leads, and the contacts and the fact that – of course, generally doing that sucks, but it has to be done. One of the things that I’ve noticed is that inside Drip, for example – I think that Drip does a really good job of this. But they differentiate between tags, events, and custom fields. Since I look to that as the source of authority for those types of things, why don’t you explain a little bit about the differences between them? Because I think you guys are doing a fantastic job of explaining it on your website.

Rob: Thank you. I appreciate that. The reason we do a good job, I think, is that we have been asked that question, especially in the early days, so many times – “What is the difference between these things?” To me, this is the heart of marketing data. In almost any marketing system you go into, you’re gonna see tags and custom fields, for sure, and then we innovated in the marketing automation space, in the email marketing space. We brought in events, so we pulled that over from analytics like Kissmetrics and Mixpanel.

Here’s the simple answer. Tags are basically just a string, like a single word or phrase that you can attach to a person, so you typically use it to segment or bucket groups of subscribers. I might import 10 subscribers, and you just say, “I’m gonna tag them with ‘microconf 2017 attendees’.” That tag is just a piece of text, and it attaches to the record. Then you can later search who has these tags. I only want to send to people with these tags and not these other tags. Tags, I think, are pretty well-known, and they’re common now in marketing automation platforms and in a lot of others likes sales platforms and stuff.

Custom fields are really just name-value pairs. That’s how you think of it. If you use MailChimp, they call them “merge tags.” We call them “custom fields,” but it’s basically like if you want a first name, then the name is “first name” and the value is “Rob.” Or you could have last name or telephone number or address, so there’s just a name-value pair. It’s kind of like having two tags that are linked, but really it’s just name-value.

Events are the thing that – there’s no other marketing automation platform that has events, like Drip does. Again, we borrowed it. We migrated it over from analytics. Events are similar to tags, in that they have a name. There’s a text thing, but they also record a timestamp of when the event happened. You can look at how often it happens, so someone could – you can’t have a tag applied seven times. A tag is applied, or it’s not. It’s applied, or it’s removed, whereas an event – you can say they made a purchase seven times. That actually makes sense in the context.

Events also have a payload, meaning they have a collection, almost like a JSON Blob or a collection of name-value pairs. You think about an event like “Made a purchase,” what type of values do you want attached to that? You probably want a price, may want an item title, a skew – something like that. If the event is “Visited a page on your website,” what’s a metadata you might want to know about that? What was the page? Maybe you already know when it happened? Maybe you know how many times they visited this page. You could attach that all to that single event. They’re kind of like, in my opinion, a better version of tags, although tags still have some use.

I realize that was a long explanation, but I wanna describe it like if you’re a sophisticated marketer, it could have been shorter, but I wanted to make it approachable to lay people – basically a lay person. We have a good KB article on getdrip.com, and we will link that up in the show notes.

Mike: Yeah, I think the big differentiator there is just – with the tags versus events. The tags really give you a single indicator that says, “This person fits this particular profile,” and you can’t apply that tag more than once to somebody versus the event, where it can be – like you said, somebody could make more than one purchase. That’s an event. But the tags in Drip will just by default prevent you from adding a tag to somebody more than once, because it doesn’t make sense in that particular context.

The other thing that struck me was the payload side of it, because an event can have a payload associated with it. It’s really a description of that event and all the different parameters or properties of that event, and that may be important for something down the road.

Rob: Yeah, and the way I think about it is custom fields are – they’re like a description of the person, who the person is, because it’s like first name, last name, and properties about them – maybe have their plan and the price they’re paying you – stuff like that. Tags tend to be the buckets or groupings of people, and then events are things that people do. That’s the plain English version of it.

The reason we’re talking about this and defining these things is that tags, events, and custom fields are really the heart of your marketing data. This is how you have information and the learnings about the people that are on your list, coming to your site, etc. I think we’re gonna dive in now to – there are definitely other things, other data points, but these are probably a big part of what you’re gonna wanna try to be syncing between your marketing tools.

Mike: One thing to kind of point out in terms of those things, like Bluetick has tags and custom fields. One thing that I use custom fields for is tying contacts inside of Bluetick to other applications. You’re not always using, for example, a numeric ID or an email address, depending on which tool you’re using. Some of them will use one or the other, or they’ll even have a hash of some other data value or of the email address, and it’s difficult to match the data from one tool to another unless you have that information included.

I actually use the custom field in Bluetick sometimes to attach it to some other products. For example, a pipedrive deal – I’ll add a pipedrive deal ID in as a custom field. That’s the name of it, and then there’s a value associated with it that says, “Here is ID 123,” for example, that you can use inside of Zapier or other tools to tie the data back and forth, or to be able to map events from one tool to another.

But along those lines, let’s talk about some of the different ways that you can map information from one tool to another. The first one is a manual or custom sync. When you’re doing this, really what you’re trying to do is just export data from one tool into another, and you may either be doing that through the API itself or you may be downloading a spreadsheet or creating a CSV file and uploading it. These things are brittle. That’s the biggest problem with this is that the tools themselves – they require a lot of code or engineering work to take those things and translate them and move the data from one tool to another. It’s really hard to keep up with the changes. That’s really the biggest drawback to this.

That said, it can be the easiest way to get up and running or to get an initial prototype of “Hey, how does this data sync or data transfer work?” but longer term, as you expand what you’re doing, it’s probably not a great strategy to rely on that too much because it is probably not automated. Yeah, you could create a scheduled job or a cron job someplace that runs it on a periodic basis, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s going to be the best way because it is so brittle. It can fall down, and when it does, you may not even know that something went wrong or that it’s not doing what it’s supposed to until much later. Then it’s almost too late.

Rob: Yeah, unless you’re kind of at scale and you’re really gonna monitor it. I’ve written some manual – they’re like cron jobs and stuff that would sync up between systems, and it just seems like every three to six months, something would go pretty badly wrong, and I would have to investigate. I have to stop what I was doing.

It’s like if you have developers – have a team of developers and you’re maintaining a whole system, and this is just one piece of it – that’s cool. But if it’s literally you hacking together a PHP script and putting it in a directory and having it run on a cron, meaning on a schedule-basis, that’s not set-it-and-forget-it. You’re gonna need to send yourself emails when it fails. It may die. A bunch of stuff can happen with it, and so this is not an ideal thing, if you’re just running it on your own and you want a set-and-forget solution.

Mike: I think your point about having something break every three to six months is spot on, from what I’ve seen. I used to export the data from Gumroad into a spreadsheet, and then I would take that and then I had a small script that I wrote that would take that data and then upload it into Infusionsoft. Like you said, every three months, something would change, and then something would break. Then I’d have to spend time on it. It just really was not worth the time and effort. Because they didn’t really support a lot of other ways to get data in and out, it just made things harder and more difficult. It’s hard to deal with a time-consuming time sync.

Rob: The problem is as developers, it’s super easy to build this thing for the first time, and so it’s very appealing to do so. It’s kind of like, “I can just hack up a script here in an hour. There’s an API here. There’s an API here. I pull it out and put it in.” You can. That’s right. It’s not that part though. It’s the maintenance of it that’s the pain.

Mike: The next mechanism that you can look at is using a tool that’s built specifically for syncing data. The tool that come to mind right off are Zapier and If This Then That. I think that mostly what I found is that for individual events, this tends to be something that you turn towards. Zapier obviously has a huge base of applications that they work with. I think they’re up over 800 at this point. Finding an integration between one tool that you’re using and another tool is generally pretty straightforward, but the problem with doing those is that, depending on how complex your sales funnel is or your marketing funnel and what data you need to move from one to another – it’s very easy to miss or realize after the fact that you should have been forwarding this particular data over and you weren’t. Then you have to go set it up, and there’s this line in the sand drawn, so to speak, which is not – before that point, you almost have no data. You can go back and upload it afterwards using a Zapier integration and a spreadsheet or something like that, but it still means that you have to do extra work in order to get it.

I do find it really useful, to be perfectly honest. I have a lot of stuff tied in through Zapier, and it’s supported in Bluetick. So I don’t want to make it sound as if that’s not a viable route, but it can be easy to miss things – is really the point – if you don’t have your marketing funnel mapped out.

Rob: Yeah, I think Zapier’s pretty handy for marketing stuff actually. I know we use it with our own internal stuff and in our own internal marketing communications and getting data in and out. I know we recommend it to customers a lot. It kind of takes the place in the short term of a first-class integration, because we build a lot of integrations. I think we have 40-plus that are direct with Drip and something else, but Zapier gives us another – I don’t even know – hundred maybe, and that’s helpful. Then we can get reports on which are the most common Zaps, and then we can say, “Well, we should build first-class integration with that – with those folks.”

From a business owner’s perspective and you’re running your own startup, I think it’s definitely cool to have that Zapier integration. Then I think as a marketer, it can be a really valuable tool. You’re right. There is that thing of if you miss stuff, and then it’s a fiasco. They do have rate limiting, so if you hit Zapier’s endpoint – if an app hits it more than (I forget what the limit – it’s fairly low) – but if they hit it more than X amount per hour, then those things will just bounce, and so that app has to know to retry, which obviously we do with Drip, but I know there are a lot of other apps that are not doing that. There are pluses and minuses, but overall I give Zapier two thumbs up.

Then you mentioned If This Then That, which I’ve always viewed – I think it’s more of a consumer version of Zapier. If This Then That came first, and I remember some people being like, “Isn’t this just a clone of If This Then That?” It was like, “No. It’s like a B2B version.” They integrated with the apps that we, as entrepreneurs and business owners, wanted [inaudible 0:20:25]. If This Then That’s integrated with Yahoo! Pipes and all this kind of stuff on the internet that isn’t necessarily applicable to businesses. But I haven’t actually used If This Then That. I’ve only used Zapier.

Mike: Yeah. I signed up for If This Then That account a while back, because I was trying to link things between Dropbox folders, and it wasn’t – neither Zapier or If This Then That were able to look into a subfolder and monitor a subfolder that hadn’t yet been created. You can point it to a folder, but if you wanted to monitor it for files in directly that folder, it was fine. But if you wanted to monitor for a folder getting created and then files being added to that folder inside – neither one of them can do it. That’s not their fault. It’s basically Dropbox not being able to offer that.

I found the UI of If This Then That extremely confusing. I signed up for my account. I tried to use it. I probably spent several hours on it, and I’m like, “You know what? I’m done.” I literally deleted my account entirely. I couldn’t deal with it. Because I couldn’t figure out how to do anything. It didn’t seem like it gave you access to a lot of the underlying pieces of how it works. Your description of “it’s aimed at the consumer market,” that makes sense to me now, because I was just like, “How do you even offer a product like this?”

Rob: I think If This Then That has done a lot of integrations with home automations stuff. I think Zapier really has not. That says where they’ve differentiated.

There are other alternatives, of course, to these two, and we’ll link up a core, a thread when someone asks, “What are the alternatives.” There’s a big list there, if you’re interested in looking at more, but for my money, Zapier’s definitely the leader in terms of B2B and marketing data that we’re talking about.

Mike: The next mechanism you can try and use is a product called Segment. You can get this at segment.com. It used to be called Segment.io, but the big draw here is that it allows you to essentially replay some of the events that have happened in some of your different marketing automation tools or your different sales tools, and then pipe them to different places. It’s really good for doing that at scale, and because it gives you the capabilities of really just using one snippet of JavaScript, and you can turn on and off different tools in the application that you’re sending data to. And because it gives you that backlog of things, as soon as you connect it to your account or put it on your website, you then get a full history of all the previous things that have happened and can send them into a new tool.

Let’s say that you decide to move from one tool to another. Tool 2 is gonna be the go-to later on. You can always just turn that new one on and pipe all the previous data into it. I always thought that that was like a really fascinating way of doing things. They used to have a different pricing model as well. They would look at the tools that you were sending data into or pulling data from, and they would charge you more based on what those tools were. Like Salesforce, for example, tends to be an expensive tool, so it ended up being in a higher price tier even if you weren’t using it very much.

Rob: I didn’t realize you could replay old events with Segment.

Mike: I’ve not done it myself. I have seen – there was documentation. Like the last time I looked at it, in terms of how to do that stuff, that was my understanding was you could basically replay things to – basically pipe all your previous data into a second tool.

Let’s say, somebody wanted to switch from AWeber or something like that to Drip. They could take a lot of their old data and pipe it from – they used to go into AWeber – let’s say it’s 30 days or 60 days or whatever – and they say, “Okay. Take this 30 or 60 days’ worth of history and send it into Drip instead and replay it, so that that now in Drip will get all of that information.” I don’t know how far it goes back, but that was the sales pitch for it.

Rob: That’s interesting because I was going to say, “That would be hefty if they were keeping all your data forever.” That’s always the thing I thought they didn’t do, just because of the volume that they would have to absorb.

Mike: Yeah. My suspicion is that they don’t do that forever, but I would imagine that they probably have at least a semi-limited history. Even if it’s a couple of weeks, that couple of weeks could be important to you. If you wanted to just try out a new tool, it gives you a much easier way of doing that because when you sign into a new tool, especially if it’s any level of complexity, you’ve got nothing there, so you don’t really have a good idea of what it can do for you. But if you can prepopulate it with actual, live data from your own systems for the past couple of weeks – you sign up, pipe it all in, and boom! It’s there. You can actually use it and see what it would really do for you.

Rob: Yes. Segment.com is a solid tool. They integrate with a ton of things, and as you said, it’s not for the one-off moving tags and custom fields here and there. It’s an event-based system. It allows you – the original thing was that they allowed you to put the Segment JavaScript on your website, and then you could pipe it anywhere. You could pipe in into Kissmetrics or Mixpanel or (I think) Google Analytics. You can pipe it into Drip, which we integrate with them.

You could pull stuff into and out of HitTail, like they integrated with us back in the day. They actually wrote that integration, but now when you do it, I think you have to write your own – is my recollection. It’s a good tool, and it’s for masses of data. I think that it can be super helpful for getting data into and out of systems, and being able to report on them and not necessarily in Segment, but they integrate with a bunch of analytics and reporting tools.

That’s something – some people will come in. they’ll use Drip, and they’ll say, “I want all this fancy pivot table capabilities and blah blah blah. I want all this stuff.” It’s like, “We’re a marketing automation platform. We’re not a business intelligence platform. We’re not gonna build that into Drip,” but here, we integrate with Segment. We send a ton of data to them, so just hook up your Segment account, then pipe that into one of these BI tools and you’re set. You can do whatever you want. It allows us not to have to build the world into Drip and to be able to put boundaries on things.

Mike: I think using it as a data hub is extremely helpful. The downside of it is, of course, there’s a lot of complexity there, too, so you could easily spend hours, days, or even weeks just evaluating it and seeing if it’s gonna fit into your business and just spending the time learning how to use it. I found that when I first signed up for it a long time ago was that it was a huge time sync to really get up and running with it and understand how the different things worked and how it pipes data from one place to another and how you would do some of that data piping. That said, it is really powerful. You can do a lot with it.

Moving on to the next section. I think one of the key pieces of advice in a situation, where you’re trying to get all the data from one place to another is to settle on a single source of authority. That’s a phrase that I’ve used for years, talking about systems management software and trying to manage large numbers of machines, whether it’s a couple of 100 or 25-100 thousand machines all at once.

It’s very difficult to do that, if you don’t have a single source of authority for that information. Because if data gets out of sync, you need to know what is the master source where this information comes from. Who’s the gatekeeper of this?

Let’s say you got Tool 1 and Tool 2, and Tool 2 doesn’t have a piece of information, is it not supposed to have that information or does it not have it yet? You have no idea by looking at that tool or the other one, unless you’ve already decided which of those two is going to be the master data source.

Rob: Yeah. This is actually an interesting thing happening, with ESPs and marketing automation platforms – is we build Drip – I keep bringing back to Drip because this stuff’s really something we have dealt with a lot – is all this data syncing. This source of authority – I think Brian Dunn calls Drip his source of truth, in terms of the data. Or you could call it the customer database. Some people might call it a CRM, because really it is customer relationship management, but that has now been, in terms been bastardized into sales software.

What you’ll find out is if you do a lot of email marketing, then quickly your email provider (assuming it stores data like clicks and purchases and has your tags and has your events) – it can quickly and easily become your source of authority or your source of truth. That’s something we have been doubling down on as we notice more people doing that.

First it was solopreneurs who said, “Drip is where I keep all the data, and I want to get all the data in there.” Then we started seeing two and three-person companies. Now we have five and ten-person companies. Really interesting to see. We’ve [inaudible 0:28:36] down and started building more stuff to allow people to do that, and so I think if you are gonna do a lot of online marketing, that’s something to think about. It’ll probably be a CRM or a marketing automation platform that’s gonna be this customer database for you.

Mike: I think that actually brings up an interesting point that I run to – is that what is the idea or how do you identify who a person is in your source of authority? Is it gonna be an email address? Is it gonna be some sort of a generated unique identifier or something like that? Because it’s difficult when you get into a situation, where somebody signs up like they put in their credit card. All the billing information goes to that one email address, and then they sign up and they have a user account that is a different email address.

In marketing, the automation software – a lot of them, the email address is kind of that source of authority or that unique identifier for that person, and in the case of billing information, especially if it’s a one-user account, now you have two email addresses. It really is the same person, and it’s hard to differentiate between them sometimes. That’s why some people will go towards using a CRM for that, but again, there’s pluses and minuses in both aspects, whether you’re using a marketing automation tool like Drip or if you’re using a CRM. Both of them are gonna have pros and cons for that type of schema.

The last thing to talk about is how do you keep some of these data paths straight? I think there’s pretty basic guidelines about how to track the information flow from one tool to another, but the basic – you can start it out with is just a pen and paper. That’s easy to get started with, when you’re just trying to build out and map what your sales and marketing funnels look like, because you can just really quickly draw something out. But as it gets more complicated, you’re probably gonna have to graduate more towards a tool or a document or a spreadsheet that is going to allow you to put a lot more information in there.

Something that I found useful is to implement some sort of a workflow in either a desktop or a cloud-based workflow tool. There’s a bunch of them that I’ve tried. I’ve tried things like Gliffy. I’ve tried Draw.io. I’ve tried Moqups. I’ve tried doing things in Drip’s workflow tool as well, and that works great so long as you are operating within the confines of Drip. Once you start to go out of that and do things that are not involved directly with Drip, it sort of falls apart a little bit. That’s not a knock on Drip specifically.

Rob: Sure. Just the reality of it – yeah.

Mike: Yes. It’s just the reality of it. That’s not what it was for. The one I’ve actually settled on is a product called Lucidchart. Fairly inexpensive. It’s like $8 or $9 a month for one of their more advanced accounts, but you can get it for $5 a month on the lower end.

Rob: I’ve heard of it. I haven’t used it, but I’ve heard some people speak highly of it.

Mike: Yeah, it’s really good for being able to map out what a workflow looks like, in terms of how people enter your marketing funnel and how they go into another one. Then you can also have a bunch of different things wired together, so you can zoom in on one specific piece of it. Then you can just encompass it and say, “Okay, this is how people get onto our mailing lists,” and that’s like the whole workflow. Then once they’re there, you have a different diagram and document that describes how they move through the sales funnel itself or the onboarding funnel. Each one of those could be a completely different document. You just link back and forth between them.

Rob: I think that wraps us up for the day. If you have a question for us, call our voicemail number at 888-801-9690 or email us at questions@startupsfortherestofus.com. Our theme music is an excerpt from We’re Out of Control by MoOt. It’s used under creative commons. Subscribe to us in iTunes by searching for Startups and visit our website for a full transcript of each episode. Thanks for listening. We’ll see you next time.


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