We Interview Jay Quiles of ActiveCampaign

Email & Marketing Automation Done The Right Way!

We have great interivew with Jay Quiles of ActiveCampaign where we discuss how to do marketing automation the right way in 2018. Jay deals weekly with agency and power users of ActiveCampaign so he has some great insight on what’s working and what you shouldn’t do connected to marketing automation.

This Episode is Sponsored By Kinsta Hosting 

ActiveCampaign began as a solution for business owners who needed to keep in touch with their contacts. There was a demand for a powerful, easy-to-use solution at a reasonable price in a market that lacked options. Over the years, the company has seen a number of drastic transitions. We cut our product line from eight solutions to one, transitioning from a traditional software company to the SaaS model, providing a consistent and stable experience for our users.

Here A Full Transcription of Our Interview With Jay

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Jonathan: Welcome back folks to the WP-Tonic Wednesday show. We’ve got a great guest this week. We’ve got Jay Quiles with us from ActiveCampaign. We’re going to be talking about all things Email and Atomization of your Marketing. I stumbled there folks. 

Jay: I’ve been struggling with it for 3 years.

Jonathan: Jay, would you like to give the audience a quick bio of what you do at ActiveCampaign?

Jay: Sure, yeah. Thanks, Jonathan and thank you again for having me. So, as Jonathan said, my name is Jay. I’ve been working here at ActiveCampaign now for, going on 3 years. Actually, next week will be my 3 year anniversary. So coming up on that. Worked primarily in a direct sales role with ActiveCampaign customers. And as of October, I’ve been working exclusively with our channel partners. So Marketing Agencies, Marketing Consultants, helping them grow, not only their customer’s businesses through Marketing Automation but also growing their own businesses.

Jonathan: Oh, great. Thank Jay. And I’ve got my co-host with us. She’s in a remote location. She’s been unleashed. Kim, would you like to introduce yourself quickly to the audience?

Kim: Absolutely. I’m Kim Shivler. I’m a Communications Strategist and Instructional Design Consultant and part-time host here or co-host at WP-Tonic podcast.

Jonathan: Thank you for doing that Kim. And I’m the founder of WP-Tonic. We’re a support maintenance company. We only support WordPress and we have a specialty with Membership and Learning Management Systems. That’s what we love to help and support. And before we go into this interview, I just want to quickly give a shoutout to our major sponsor of the show and their sponsorship is much appreciated, that’s Kinsta Hosting. And Kinsta actually hosts the WP-Tonic website and some of my clients’ websites as well. They’re big enough to have all the technology and support systems that you love, staging sites, fantastic UX design of their dashboard, great staff that really know what they’re talking about. But they’re small enough to still care. So, if you’re looking for a specialized WordPress support partner for your hosting, go to the WP-Tonic website. There’s loads of links and banners on the site and we’ve also got some articles about Kinsta themselves. They are affiliate links. So if you use one of those for yourself or for your clients, you will be helping the show as well. Can’t speak more highly of Kinsta.

Now straight into the interview. So, Jay, Marketing Atomization is a big subject but also a scary subject. Got any insights or any remarks? You know I use ActiveCampaign myself, think you’re a great company. That’s one of the reasons why I wanted you to come on the show really because it’s something I use myself. And you’ve done a great job with the amount of functionality and interface but it’s still a little bit daunting when you first open that ActiveCampaign account. Got any insights how you deal with that and what you should concentrate initially on?

Jay: Yeah, absolutely. And I think that’s a good question. And to your point, Marketing Automation is a buzzword that’s growing in popularity and it can be daunting and scary for a lot of people. But I think when starting your Marketing Automation experience, many of our customers come to us from a traditional email newsletter platform, without naming any names, where they’re sending monthly blasts, weekly blasts, etcetera. And I think the thing to think about in Marketing Automation is you kind of have to put your customer hat on and figure out what is the journey that I as a customer with my own brand would like to experience and kind of build out those experiences for them. So when you’re first thinking about your first kind of foray into automation, keeping the customer journey in mind from top to bottom, from their first interaction with your brand to later interactions with your brand is really the best way to think about it.

Now, much of that constitutes communication and ActiveCampaign does that well with email and SMS and even on-site messaging and targeting people via Facebook Custom Audiences. But Marketing Automation, I prefer to refer to it as Automation because I think there’s so much more that can be done with an Automation platform outside of just communication. It’s a really great tool for tracking what your users and/or clients are doing on your website, you know, different attributes. But when first starting, I think that the key thing to think about is, “How do I want people to engage in my brand when they first engage with me? And what are ways that I can get them to come back to engage with me?”

Jonathan: Yeah. I think that’s a great overview. You used a few buzz words there like text messaging and a few others. Got any insights about working with your clients about any kind of small case study or things that have stuck in your mind lately that people have been using ActiveCampaign, that’s a getting started kind of first few steps that has been effective? Anything comes to mind?

Jay: Yeah. So I would say the most common first implementation of an Automation software is always your Autoresponder series. So what I like to tell clients is having content ready for new subscribers is incredibly important because there’s no their time as a subscriber of yours where they’re more interested than when they first subscribe. That’s their optimal level of interest in your content, in your brand, in your products. Just like if you were hosting a party, you would want to make sure that you have hors d’oeuvres ready and drinks and things to get people excited about the party that you’re having and prep them for the dinner that you’re about to have. You should have an Autoresponder series prepared for your new subscribers when they get there.

Now, that can be anywhere from 3 emails to 14  ready and drinks and things to get people excited about the party that you’re having and prep them for the dinner that you’re about to have. You should have an Autoresponder series prepared for your new subscribers when they get there. Now, that can be anywhere from 3 emails to 14 emails depending on how much content you already have on your blog or prepared to go. But when getting started, the most important thing is to have something ready for when a new subscriber comes in to give them some insight into who you are, how often they should expect to hear from you, what sort of content they should expect and I also like featuring popular blog posts. Now, that can change as your content strategy adjusts or evolves. But having something ready from the get-go is crucially, crucially important to starting in Marketing Automation.

Jonathan: And one of the things I like about your company is that you’re approachable as well. If you’re having some trouble, you will do some face to face training with people, won’t you?

Jay: Sure. Yeah, absolutely. We have a lot of different opportunities to engage with our support staff, with our success team, with our sales team, a lot of different touch points here at ActiveCampaign whether you’re a direct customer or if you’re an agency partner or a reseller of ActiveCampaign as well.

Jonathan: Oh, that’s great. Kim, got any questions for us Kim?

Kim: I do. Online Marketing and Email Marketing, in particular, has become so competitive. We know that you recommend that they have a good series. Do you have any recommendations for what that lead magnet should be? Because just give me your email and I’ll put you on my newsletter doesn’t seem to be working so much anymore. 

Jay: Yeah. And I’d like to get rid of the word newsletter forever if possible. If we can come together as a conglomerate and just get rid of and expunge the word newsletter, I’d really like to do that. Frankly, I think a lead magnet really depends on the market and the industry that you’re in. In some cases, like the B2B space and report is always a really good lead magnet. Some sort of like Top 10 List. We live in a buzz feed world. So people love their Top 10 List, their Top 5 List, their Top 15 that. So some sort of report or a step by step guide or even like a teaser video series can always be a really really good lead magnet. I think video as a medium is something that is starting to grow in popularity amongst Digital Marketers as a way to build some brand loyalty. You have a face and a voice to your brand and to your product. But it’s a way to very easily explain the message of what they should expect to gain from subscribing to your list and the promise of more. Having a lead magnet with a quick video for tips and tricks of maybe three further videos, that maybe if you’re Membership site or you have like an online learning class or a course that you’re teaching, it’s a way to give a little taste, going back to that appetizer analogy of a little taste of what to expect with the main course.

Jonathan: I think that’s great. What do you reckon Kim?

Kim: Oh, I love that. I’m a foody so I love your food analogies. That’s always going to work for me. We want to pull them in. I love what you talked about. I’d love to get rid of the newsletter. At what point do we pull them in? You mentioned that no other time are they more interested in getting information for us. Are we too soon now to start talking about a sale? Where do we want to fit that into this process? 

Jay: Sure. So I don’t know if any of the viewers or listeners, if you all are familiar with Gary Vaynerchuk as Digital Marketing specialist. I’m a big fan of the jab jab jab, right hook approach, at least that mentality of give value first before you ask for something in return. So when looking at an email sequence, the lead magnet in itself is of value or at least a perceived value. Whether it’s a paid item or a free item, it is of value to that subscriber.

That’s why they subscribed in the first place. Those first couple of communications or touch points that you have with your client should always come from the point of value. Here’s the piece that you requested via the lead magnet. Here’s another thing that adds onto that. And from a Marketing Automation standpoint, that’s a really good way to take a general audience member and then segment them based on what they’re engaging with. So providing them with a couple different links of subject matter or different products that you offer or services that you offer is a way for you to then say, “Okay. Well, Jonathan clicked on this link so I’m going to put him in this class. Whereas Jay clicked on this link and I’m going to put him in this class.”

So providing value upfront and then using that engagement to then dictate who is more actively interested versus passively interested. When you can determine who is actively interested and engage with your content, that’s when it’s time to strike. I think the best approach is always give value, things that they care about, helpful hints, tips, before you actually ask for the sale. And the thing is when someone gives first, the amount of kick starter campaigns out there and Patreon accounts for podcasters where their listeners are getting value out of listening or absorbing their content, you get to a point when you give so much value that people want to give you their money.

Jonathan: Yeah. I understand that. Has there been any kind of campaigns that you’ve seen recently on websites, you are a millennial, you’ve been exposed to this world from a very early age in a way, much earlier than me, has there been any campaigns that’s either talking to your client base or outside work and you’ve seen a campaign that’s caught your eye actually, Jay? That you thought that was doing it really well. 

Jay: Yeah. So I actually recently subscribed to a newsletter of Jason Swenk’s. So Jason Swenk has a podcast and a blog. He works with Digital Marketing Agencies on how to grow their agencies. He’s sold a bunch of agencies, grown like three 7 figure Marketing Agencies. And his whole shtick is to help Marketing Agencies grow. So I recently subscribed to his newsletter so that I could then learn how to give advice to my clients. And one of the things that he does that’s really interesting is he as a three video series similar to the one that I was describing that gives a taste of his larger product. In the Digital Marketing world, they call it a Tripwire.

So it’s a small little taste of something where it’s three videos that give you value and even if you just walked away with those three videos, it is valuable for you as a Marketing Agency but it gives a taste of something more. One of the things that he does interestingly, that I notice and as somebody who lives in this world, I appreciate it, is he’s very upfront about the fact that he’s tracking you. And not in like a big brother 1984 way but in a way that says, “I saw that you clicked on the link for this course that is the larger course that I’m selling. What’s holding you back? Please reply to this email. I’d love to engage with you.”

And that’s something that I think, one, from an email deliverability standpoint, replies from your contacts are huge. If you can ask for engagement within the first couple of emails, that is going to amplify your deliverability of emails into their inbox in the first place. But, two, it gets people talking to you as a business and if you can be human in your content the way that Jason has done, I think it’s a really interesting approach to really just handle the objection up front and say, “Hey. I know things like this can be scary. Please reply to me. I want to understand what’s the holdup or why you feel like you’re not ready for this class now to see if maybe we can come to a mutual agreement of some sort.” It’s an interesting approach that I’ve seen just really just facing up to what Automation is. 


Jonathan: Yeah. I think you’ve touched something there that’s really very insightful Jay, is that Automization like this is a way of seeing in a way of removing yourself but it isn’t. What it should be is it should be a way that allows you then to focus on the people that are really interested in your product and service and then offer them a much more customed human touch. 

Jay: Sure.

Jonathan: I think that’s a great way and I think that was a great insight. We’re going to go for our break folks. We’ll be back in a few moments. We’re going to have a real, I’m trying to find a food analogy for this discussion. I’ve failed but we’re going to have a real binge. That’s it. We’re going to have a real binge on Marketing Automization when we come back folks. We’ll be back in a few moments.

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 Jonathan: We’re coming back. We’ve had a feast of information and we’re going to now stuff ourselves completely.

Kim: That’s right.

Jonathan: So, ActiveCampaign. So you’re in a very competitive sector. I would imagine all your competitors are looking at what you’re doing. But how do you think the whole sector is going? Do you see any kind of trends in the next year about how the sector in total is going with Automization?

Jay: Sure. So the biggest trend that I’m seeing with, not only ourselves here at ActiveCampaign but a lot of the other platforms is stepping even more outside of email as a means of communication. It really is a crowded channel. I can’t even think or even fathom how many newsletters I’m subscribed to or how many email lists that I’m on and it’s the ones that have the best content that I’m going to gravitate towards. But the thing is, when it comes to content engagement, everything’s about behavior. So whether you’re listening to podcasts or you’re opening emails or you’re engaging with a social media account of a brand that you do business with, we all fall into behavior. So one of the things that’s becoming a trend in Automation as a whole is separating the different touch points through a lot of different means of communication. So some of the things that we’ve done here at ActiveCampaign is to focus on, not only email as a means of communication but also SMS technology, on-site technology. So actually popping up a Call to Action on your website where people can engage.

And at that point, the barrier to entry is so much lower than it would be via email. So once you’re on your website capturing that attention and making sure that we give them a compelling Call to Action. And we’ve also recently added a Facebook Custom Audiences integration as well. So now, we can engage with them via email, retarget them via social, retarget them on your website and that’s really where the trend is going. In the long-term, we want to make that on-site message a little bit more conversational. But really across the board maintaining touch points in a lot of different ways.

And even more so on the Facebook side of things, chatbots are growing incredible in terms of popularity right now because it is a way to humanize the initial touch points of the initial communication while still getting that information, adding them to your list and putting them into your world of content. And I think as far as a channel that’s growing in popularity that I think will continue to soar after some of the other Facebook stuff dies down or is resolved, will definitely be the chatbots as a means of communication.

Jonathan: Yeah. My only comment with that is I interviewed Rand Fishkin last week. We had a great discussion and it’s being published on Friday on iTunes. And he said he saw more of a trend, if you don’t know listeners, Rand is quite famous in SEO and Rand was the CEO of Moz, a very well known tool, provide software tools for around SEO. But he was saying that he saw that software companies were specializing on one thing and one thing only and trying to be best in that one thing. Jay: Sure, sure.

Jonathan: Well, I’ve seen other companies do the opposite and you’re one of the companies. So you seem to be providing a suite of tools.

Jay: Yeah.

Jonathan: When you’re having these discussions internally, do you ever have any fears that you’re offering this great value that you’re becoming defocused?

Jay: And I guess to the point that Rand made, I think he’s absolutely right and we do take that approach internally here at ActiveCampaign of having a more stackable technology approach. So while our Automation is growing in terms of communication channels, we have no plans to add any landing page functionality or E-commerce functionality. Those complimentary feature sets, we would prefer to integrate with a Leadpages or a Shopify or whomever that specializes in that functionality and do what we do which is the Automation of communication. That’s really what we’re trying to build here is a communication tool with multiple touch points and making sure that ActiveCampaign can be at the center of the way that you communicate with your audience and then get information from other sources. But, yeah, as far as like where we’re going, I think that’s really kind of the intent of the company trajectory is building out even further our Automation toolset and making it even stronger than it already is and focusing solely on that communication tool while also branching out into other means of communication and making sure that email isn’t the only way to communicate with your clients.

Jonathan: Got a question my beloved co-host?

Kim: I do. So it sounds like it’s not that you want everyone to do every single one of these pieces. But you’re going to build the facilitation that whichever piece I want, whether it’s email or SMS etcetera, that you’re going to support me in that Automation. Is that what I’m hearing Jay?

Jay: Yeah, exactly. Everyone’s customers’ customer journey is unique. 

Kim: Right.

Jay: And the way that you communicate with your customers is unique. Some people leverage Instagram more so than any social media channel or any communication channel at all. And for some businesses that just doesn’t work. If you sell heating and air conditioning equipment, like the aesthetics of an Instagram post on heating and air conditioning is not very sexy. It’s one of those things where every medium sells differently for a different company. So what we want to do is help facilitate that. We want to make sure that the traditional channels of communication are still available to you, your emails, your SMS technology. But also making sure that if your site is getting a lot of site activity, we want to make sure that we can reach out to those people when they get to your site and provide them with a Call to Action or a way to engage with your brand that’s going to help you and then convert them.

Kim: I like that. So I’m a teacher and a speaker and SMS really seems to be big in my world. People are speaking and have, “Just text me and then I text you something back.” Jay: Sure.

Kim: So ActiveCampaign, if I had the service, I just want to make sure I’m hearing this right. I don’t have to go buy another SMS platform to bring people in. I can do it all from right with my ActiveCampaign account?

Jay: So I will say this with caveat. Our SMS functionality is more of a one-way communication tool right now than it is a two-way communication tool. We have some integrations with some very solid platforms on the market that more of a multi-message system in place for text messaging. For us, it’s more of an alternative communication tool than it is like a show stopper feature set. So the way that I’ve seen it work in the past is, let’s say you’re a dental office. If you have somebody who recently made an appointment, not only do you want to remind them of that appointment via email but you also want to send them a text message because that’s going to be in their hands so that they can then see their information. They can see the date. They can see the time. So it’s a way to kind of alternate your touch points, kind of your jab and right hook, going back to that analogy of different touch points and people communicate in different ways. I would say there are definitely some customers that have some more elaborate SMS needs and in those cases, we go back to the stackable approach where if you have an SMS platform that you like, let’s integrate with it and make sure that ActiveCampaign then can maybe send out a webhook to let that SMS platform know, time to send a text message.

Kim: Okay. I love the clarification. Thank you. And yes, my dentist does that and I love it because I get the text reminding me and I can text back either to, I need to reschedule or confirm and it’s just easy and helpful. 

Jay: Yeah. I think when it comes to engaging with a business, the most important thing is the return. There’s been studies upon studies upon studies that say that it takes anywhere from 7 to 14 touch points for somebody to actually become a customer.

Kim: Right.

Jay: And people have to keep that in mind when they’re sending out content. Three emails as an Autoresponder series and then never sending an email again, the likelihood of having a conversion is very very low. When you increase the content production and distribution and also increase the different channels, it increases the likelihood that you’re going to have more people returning to your website, engaging with your content, going to your pricing page, signing up for a consultation. So you really have to diversify the way that you communicate to make sure that people are coming back to your brand. 

Kim: And I’m also hearing, I think this too and I definitely hear it as I hear you talking about it. It’s not even just that. They truly are two different silos in a lot of ways of communication.

Jay: Right.

Kim: I’m already the customer of my dentist. He’s not trying to convert me other than hope that I show up for this appointment. So he’s doing everything possible to make it easy for me to work with him.

Jay: Right. 

Kim: And I love my dentist. They’re wonderful. But when I first bring you in and then I have the touch points, at that point, I’m to just even get you to become a customer.

Jay: Right.

Kim: So we really have two different strategies that we have to work with. Correct?

Jay: Yeah. And not to just like keep hitting on the dental practice analogy but if it’s your first time engaging with my dental practice and in your first time scheduling an appointment with me, you get an email to remind you and a text message, I as a customer get a fuzzy feeling inside and saying, “Oh, wow. They’re very proactive about making sure that I get there.”, or, “Oh, my gosh. I totally forgot. Thank goodness they sent me that text message that reminded me.” And then, when I go into the office, I say, “Hey doc. Thanks a lot for sending me that text message. That was a great reminder.” It’s a self-fulfilling prophecy of distributing content and granted, some people hate SMS Marketing and rightfully so. I completely understand it and there’s a lot of compliance around that. So you do want to make sure that you abide by compliance and make sure you’re getting the opt-in for text messaging. But in general, all communication tools that are available to you are a way to build some comfort and an overall loyalty of existing customers as well as prospective customers.

Kim: Right.

Jay: And I think the other thing too to keep in mind is that the one thing that I always tell my clients is, “Respect the medium.” So don’t treat a Facebook like you would a tweet. Don’t treat an email like you would an SMS message.” They’re two completely different communication channels and you should treat them accordingly. 

Jonathan: You took the words just out of my mouth there. You must be reading my mind because I think that’s the other great thing about ActiveCampaign is you’ve also got a lot of educational training and materials on your website. You as a company as your team have spent a lot of money and time in building up a lot of resources, haven’t you?

Jay: Yeah. Absolutely. And kudos to Chris Davis who’s the Director of our education here. When he came on board, he came over from Leadpages and really just kind of took it to another level. We have a video production team. We have a podcast. We have a blog. We have best practices content out there in a lot of different mediums. So YouTube videos, on-site videos, and guides and it’s something that we’ve really really ramped. Because to your point that we started the interview with is, Automation can be scary and without a guide or some sort of compass to tell you where the North Star is, it’s really difficult to know where to start. So our education team has put a lot of effort and emphasis onto building out that content and we’ve even started doing Facebook AMAs on Facebook live. I did one 2 days ago on Podcasting. So if you haven’t, follow ActiveCampaign on Facebook and check it out. But, yeah, we really amped that up.

Jonathan: Yeah and I listen to your podcast. You’ve been doing a great job and you’ve consistently kept at it.

Jay: Yeah.

Jonathan: I find with, not all, this is sweeping but a lot of large, medium to larger companies, they tend to give up on Podcasting. But what they forget is that you’re influencing, it’s like radio. You’re really getting in the minds of a, it might be a slightly smaller audience than some other mediums but you’re building a very close bond with that audience.

Jay: Sure. Yeah and I’m a big fan. I think Tim Ferriss says it all the time like, people look at their email list or just their podcast subscribers as monetization opportunities in a lot of cases. So in the niche market, Tim Ferriss is always saying, “That a thousand true fans are way more valuable than 10,000 meek or like lukewarm fans.” So even if you’re a niche podcast and I’ve interviewed a lot of people on my own personal podcast who have their very niche podcast or they teach people how to podcast. And if that space or even in the content space, when you niche down, you open yourself up to a very small market but that market is very loyal. 

Jonathan: That’s great. We’re going to finish off the podcast part of the show. Hopefully, Jay is going to agree to stay on for another 10, 15 minutes which you’ll be able to watch on the website as bonus content folks. But we’re going to wrap up the podcast part of the show here. So Jay, how can people find out more about you and your recipes and menus?

Jay: Yeah, absolutely. So always activecampaign.com. You can go to our website. There’s an opportunity to sign up for a 14-day trial. And the cool thing is that you can build a lot of stuff and when you’re ready to go, you just upgrade and everything’s still there. You can also request a demo of ActiveCampaign on the website. If you do so, you’ll probably get engaged with one of our salespeople. They’ll show you around the platform a little bit. And also, if you are an existing ActiveCampaign customer and you haven’t checked out the Education page, check out www.activecampaign/learn and that’s where you’ll find a lot of our guides and videos and things to help you get started.

Jonathan: Yeah and they’re not pushy folks. I’ve interacted with them on a few occasions. They really are very helpful people. Kim, how can people find out more about you Kim?

Kim: You can find me at kimshivler.com. 

Jonathan: Oh, that’s easy. And if you want to find out more about me and what we’re up to, go to the WP-Tonic website. We’ve got a load of materials about Membership and Learning Management websites and I’m actually building a new lead magnet and funnel right now which I want to discuss with Jay in the bonus content. 

Jay: I’ll do it. 

Jonathan: We’ll see you next week folks. Bye.

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