Automation with Infusionsoft and WordPress

how to automate customer on-boarding with infusionsoft & wordpress

Automating processes is the first thing a small business needs to do when they are starting to achieve success.  Unfortunately there is an enormous learning curve at the beginning of this new phase and I can tell you first hand that you need all the help you can get. Even if you are teach savvy, there are just so many options out there and it’s hard to know where to begin.

I have had the pleasure of taking a few internet SaaS companies through that process and this post is dedicated to explaining how to perform automation with Infusionsoft and WordPress.

It’s no small feat to build a product and get customers so congratulations to you if you have done that successfully.  Depending on the product or service your customers may need some hand holding at the beginning of their relationship with you to learn how to use your product.  In our case, being a SAAS product we developed a 4 session training process wherein we guide our customers through the different features of Hubbli.

Once we hit a point of 10 new customers per month we quickly realized that we needed to automate our customer on-boarding system and our products of choice are WordPress and Infusionsoft so this is a tutorial of how to automate customer on-boarding with Infusionsoft and WordPress.

If you want to automate scheduling sessions with your customers you’ll need a tool that allows them to pick available sessions and then trigger the next step in the automation. For this we use a WordPress plugin called Appointments + which can be purchased at WPMU Dev.  This allows our support site to be used as the location for our customers to schedule their sessions and that is important to us as we have an ongoing relationship with our customers and we want them to easily understand how to reach us and get the help they need.

There is one more piece of software that is required for this automation process which is sometimes termed ‘middleware’.  This means it is a product that is built specifically to speak between two other products utilizing their API. In our case we decided to go with Parsey which can be found in the Infusionsoft marketplace.

So here is the process:
When our sales team closes a sale and processes the transaction on Infusionsoft we then tag the customer with “Start On-boarding Process”.

automation with Infusionsoft and WordPress

Then, Infusionsoft triggers a campaign that shoots them an email sequence with a welcome message and one goal which is clicking a link to schedule their first on-boarding session.  This is the link that takes to our WordPress site which is where our automated support calendar lives.

automation with Infusionsoft and WordPress

When they select a session that’s when Appointments + sends out an email to Parsey which is tied into Infusionsoft and that customer is now added to the on-boarding process.

Within the Infusionsoft campaign we setup automation to send out emails after each session that has a recording of the customer on-boarding session and a call to action to go back to our support site (WordPress) and book their next session.

All our customer support team has to do is go into the customer record in Infusionsoft and paste a link to the recording within an internal form.  That’s the only manual part of this entire process.

So here is what it looks like inside infusionsoft:automation with Infusionsoft and WordPress

I know this might seem really involved at first but it’s actually quit simple once you see how these pieces fit together.  And the only manual step our staff has to perform between each session is paste one link in the contact record.

I hope this helps, but let me know if you want more information in the comments below.

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What do user experience designers do?

what do user experience designers do


As someone who professes to be not only a digital product manager but also a user experience designer, I wanted to devote this post to answering the question, what do user experience designers do?

Think of the UX designer less as a designer and more of a problem solver.
This is not to say that the UX’er doesn’t design. Of course we do, but our roles are much, much different than you may think. If we were to break the goal of the user experience designer role down to the bare bone definition, we would call UXers simply problem solvers.

A good user experience designer is really, really great at solving problems because the process, which is seeped in user centered design, can be applied to almost any issue a company is having.

So, before you can be a great problem solver you have to make sure you are solving the correct problem. Understanding the problem first, before jumping into the solution, is one of the most important arts of being a great UX designer.

Many times, clients will come to me with problems and before they even understand what their problem really means, they already have a solution they want made.

This is a big deal, because in reality, if we don’t define the problem, how do we know if our solution is the correct one?

Often times, clients will present us with what they believe the problem is.  But once you get into the weeds and start digging deeper, the problem often changes and needs to be revisited.

For example, if we ask this client why they needed an iPad app they may say something like, we need to be cutting edge or we need to get more users. After digging even more, we find out that their nearest competitor recently took 5% of their user base,… and they just also released an iPad app.

So the client is assuming that this is the cause of the competitor’s spike. But what if the iPad app has nothing to do with the competitor’s spike in users.

Unfortunately, because we didn’t work to understand the problem in totality and really get to what the client was doing that caused users to leave and go to competitors, we just spent tens of thousands of dollars, creating a beautiful piece of software that nobody wants.

Thus, you need to understand the problem first.

Here are some of the types of questions I try to answer before figuring out the real problem:

  • How is my client defining the success of my work?
  • What impact do they want me to make?
  • Are there numbers we are trying to reach?
  • Will this solution have to lead to another?
  • Are there other projects happening or planned that could influence
    the solution that I will have to take into account?
  • What is the worst thing that could happen during this project?
  • What does failure look like?
  • Who out there has solved this problem, and what makes their solution awesome?

What you are trying to do when understanding the problem is really get to the business, stakeholder’s or client’s pain points.

You are trying to get to the why. And once you have done this, you can begin working on the solution.

If you have any questions about how to approach a user experience challenge, or just want to tell me I’m crazy… please comment.

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When a startup should hire a product manager

As as a product manager in Toronto who often acts as a strategic advisor to startups I often have conversations about when a startup should hire a product manager.  I have noticed a common inflection point at which I think startups need to make a strategic HR decision to hire a product manager.

I want to take a step back for a moment and talk about what a product manager does in an organization.  A PM is often described as the CEO of the product.  This is fairly accurate because the product is the central point of the business to which everyone is connected.  Similarly, the product manager is the person responsible to strategically manage the product, acting as the connection point between the product and every part of the business internally and externally.  Even if a company is built in silos, the product manager has to take the product and cut through all departments to ensure it’s success.

When a startup is just getting off the ground with a founder or two and perhaps a few additional team members, everyone is having a massive impact on the product.  These are the developers, designers and marketing people making version 1.0 in a totally flat and cross-functional organization.  It’s super easy to be collaborative and people are really excited and passionately taking ownership over the product.  I’ve been there a few times and I know how sensational it is.

If the team does a good job and creates something interesting, after three, six or nine months there will be some initial movement. This could take the form of investment capital or maybe some decent early adoption, perhaps some media buzz.  Inevitably people start to get pulled into their areas of specialty.  The founders are having more meetings with investors, the developers are squashing more and more bugs as early adopters start breaking things, marketing people are writing more copy, designers are making more landing pages, etc.  And all of a sudden the product, which is the whole reason for all this effort starts to get less attention.

What generally happens next is a resource decision to add people to the existing areas of specialty.  Another designer over here, a junior developer over there, and on the surface this makes sense.  It’s math right, like more cores in a processor… But I humbly disagree. What I suggest is making the next hire a product manager.  Why? because someone needs to be focused full time on the product.  This isn’t about taking ownership away from everyone else, rather allowing the whole team to do their respective jobs they specialize in while ensuring that the product is getting the strategic attention it needs.

A good product manager makes sure that all team members have their input on the product and understand the “why” and the “what”.  They should also be able to relieve bottle necks in different areas of operations to help everyone put their respective fires out until the business is doing well enough to hire more people.

If you’re a startup founder and you’re feeling the pain of growth then congratulations,  you’re off to a good start.  I hope this blog post gives you something to think about and helps guide you to the right resourcing decision for your team.

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How to increase conversion rates

If you are like myself and most people today, you go to Google to find the answers to every question. Well, when I started learning how to increase conversion rates on websites that I work on I found a ton of blog posts and articles that all pretty much said the same thing.

how to increase conversion rates

And now after years of actually working on it I’m here to offer my version. But I have to warn you now, there is no formula that you can plug in to any site to make it work. The only way to increase conversion rates is to intensely understand your markets needs and effectively communicate solutions while offering a clear path to the answer.

You can test all the landing page designs you want, use captivating images and videos, make the call-to-action button bigger etc etc. But if you are not saying the right thing it’s all for not, or another way to say it is “it don’t mean a thing, if it ain’t got that swing”.

  1. Talk to your market. If you think you know your market, think again. Really, I don’t care how smart you are, as interesting as your opinion might be, it’s irrelevant. I’m not saying you aren’t 100% correct but you just don’t know until you’ve spoken to hundreds of representatives of your target market segment. Ask them what their problems are and just keep on digging.
  2. Measure the intensity of the problems you discover. You don’t want to offer solutions to something that doesn’t feel like it’s a hair-on-fire issue. For example, if someone’s hair is on fire and you offer them a bucket of water, they are going to take it. And if you are brazen enough to ask for cash in exchange you will get it and quickly.  Use the chart at the top of the post as a way to measure the depth of pain being experienced as a result of these problems.
  3. Group the problems together. After digging for long enough you will inevitably create a long list of real problems but you will also find that many of them seem to be similar. Now you group them into categories and start thinking about features that will solve the whole group. The best example of this is “bumper-to-bumper warrantee”. There are many real painful issues solved by that one feature but when you are communicating it you don’t want to get specific. You want your features to sell your product like “bumper-to-bumper” sells new car leases. And sell them it does.

Once you have complete these steps you are ready to market your new product. For a stellar example of this check out this feature page for Evernote Business.  Each feature title is not specific, rather they effectively describe a set of features that solve a set of problems.  When the right person views them they automatically start to salivate.  I know because I’m one of them.

This form of communication is called marketecture which is a combination of market and architecture.  The link takes you to a wikipedia page offering a more detailed definition but if you want to learn how to make them like a champ I suggest attending a Pragmatic Marketing training session.

I sincerely hope this helps you understand how to increase conversions on your website and sorry for not offering a how-to on ux design.  I do believe in the power of good web design when it comes to conversions… It’s just not the place to start.

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What is SEO

What is SEO? and why is it important to my business?

what is seo

SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization and to put it simply it is the process of making improvements on and off your website to gain better search engine results.  This will lead to more visitors finding your website and for the right reasons.

Let me take a step back and explain what a search engine is.  Have you ever wondered how Google works?  Search engines are simply trying to find and understand all the information on the entire internet and then deliver search results based on relevance and authority according to what a user is looking for.

They do this by using very smart, and very proprietary algorythms that determine how your content is written and implemented in code and how other sites on the internet are linking to you.  This is incredibly complex and even still within a fraction of a second they will serve you results you are looking for.

Relevance: search engines are actually quite good at ranking results by relevance.  Let’s take the keyword phrase “Dog Crates”.  Search engines will be able to tell that a site that sell dog crates is of high relevance.  They will also know that a site that sells animal carriers is also of interest, and what more impressive is that they know that website promoting pet food or dog toys are also may be of interest but are of less relevance.

Authority: Search engines also compare you to other sites by analyzing how other sites think of you.  This is done mainly by links that are pointing to you by other site.  You can think of links as a vote of trust on the internet.  The bigger and more relevant the site that is linking to you the more authority the search engine attribute to your site and will rank you in kind.

But don’t get too caught in putting too much energy into getting links.  It’s not a popularity contest and search engines are smart enough to understand when it’s being used as a tactic rather than links being based on actual content.

Now this is crucially important: There are folks that try to replace quality and relevant content on their site with SEO tricks.  No single, or set of SEO tricks will ever help get your website infront of the eyeballs of the right people as well as quality content that is relevant to your target market.

I hope this helped answer the question, “What is SEO” and will be writing more specific tactics in later post so please stay tuned.

If you have any questions on this or other internet marketing topics please put them in the comments below.




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What is Online Marketing

If you are wondering what online marketing is and how you can get started then I am writing this blog post for you.

Online Marketing

Online marketing is a blanket term that includes many tactics like SEO, social media, blogs etc.  It can be very confusing and overwhelming when starting out so try to think of it simply as relationship marketing.  Online marketing is about how to use these tools to build awareness and offer customer service and sales.  All these different tactics are different vehicles to be more human with your marketing in ways you can’t do with paper ads.

It’s important to offer that personal touch because they are more likely to do business with you if they feel like they get to know you. it creates a more well rounded approach to business. If you consider that it take an average of 7 touch points to make a sale, this personal touch with a human face helps that.

You might be thinking that getting too personal would be bad for your brand and that is very valid for certain businesses. For those brands you want to think of this as the place to focus on what you do for local charity organizations or way that your company performs community outreach etc.

Whatever you end up doing, plan to start with creating content. Content is the king of online marketing, whether you are a small business or an enterprise.   Blog posts, articles, ebooks, videos, podcasts, anything that can be seen as thought leadership in your industry. It’s the absolute best thing you can do to kick off your online marketing engine. Because it’s the gas that drives the engine and the best part is, it never burns up.  The more you create the farther you will go.  This all doubles for search engine optimization which is usually a vital segment of most online marketing strategies.

So, say your a small business and your starting to get a little overwhelmed with all these online marketing tactics that you have in front of you.  One thing you can do is just start watching and observing what other organizations are doing.   You should also just start playing around with the different social networks and start to get a sense as to how other brands are using them.  You have to consider what you can mindfully manage and enjoy doing because if you like facebook but get annoyed with Twitter than with out a doubt just start with facebook. You may find that one or two social networks is all you can handle for now and that is a great start.

One of the best reasons to use online marketing is that you have proof of how successful it is.  With a magazine ad you have no way of tracking who saw what and which specific sales came from it.  With online marketing you can track someone from the point of entry onto a webpage or twitter account all the way to their purchase.  That is the reason why everyone is moving more of their marketing to online strategies because every interaction with every person who engages it is tracked and you can then test, measure and compare tactics to then focus on what works best.

I will be writing more posts that will break these specific tactics down but please let me know what questions you need answered in the comments below.

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How to Choose a Logo

I’ll be the first to admit that I’m not a graphic design expert but as a product manager I spend tons of time figuring out which web graphics will cause the desired result and which won’t.  This blog post is meant to help start  you off in the right direction when you are trying to choose a logo.

I have had to make decisions on a number of logo designs and like most customer facing design decisions I always start with the “why”.

Why are you putting a logo on the site? You might think this question is silly and overly obvious.  But it’s a good exercise to make sure you can answer this question with something more than just “because we need a logo”.

Does this logo need to do something different than other logos? What is the desired result of this logo? If you can’t answer these questions then you’re not ready to make a decision on logo design.

For example: is a new social network for school communities that I’m currently the business director of.  So why do we need a logo on the site?

Answer: to get people to remember they were on as opposed to another site.

Our strategy is to promote the name as simply as possible.   I don’t think we should use an image as part of the logo.  As an example of websites that simply use the company name: facebook, google, linkedin, keek (I worked on this one too), path, digg, lifehacker, paypal, craigslist, ebay, wikipedia and on and on and on.

The common denominator with all of these websites is that they are simply trying to get people on them and to stay on them as often and for as long as possible. That is how they make money. Using imagery in a logo is common for websites that promote a product that is something separate from the actual website like a car or a band, etc.

When trying to cary your brand from one location to another imagery ties the product to the online display so people know they are on the right webpage in case they might have gone to a different webpage with the same name but for another product.

The purpose of our logo is to get people to remember the name ‘’ and to come back to that url as much as possible. That is what we are selling.

If you want get a deeper understanding of how to design a logo here is a great book I can suggest.

Now for the engaging part of my post… If you can give me a reason to use imagery for the logo and send me a design that makes me change my mind we’ll use it and give full credit.

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How Do You Go Viral?

How do you go viral? Or perhaps a better question is why do some things go viral and others don’t?

In this blog post I try to answer the question, how do you go viral?

Here are a couple points I learned recently from taking a course call Networked Life on coursera.  I’ll also draw from my experience building viral marketing campaigns and launching a couple social networks.

The ability of a virus to spread depends on the average degree of connections between nodes, or people in a population.  If you have a population where the average amount of connections per person is 1 then the virus won’t spread very far as it will just keep halting after reaching the second person.

If you have an average degree of 2 between people in the population then right away the viral reach of a contagion is much strong, much more than 2 times actually.  Then it doesn’t take much more to reach the tipping point at 3 or 4 which is a threshold where the contagion of the viral spread is complete in reaching the entire population.

Another element of the tipping point is the strength of the virus, or in a youtube video’s case, how entertaining the video is.  Meaning, if the video is really good and people like it will take a lower average degree of connections in the population to spread as would a weaker video.  Much like a bad flu that hangs around for a long time.  If you are in a more rural area with a weak flu it will die out quickly but if the virus is much stronger and makes someone sick longer there is a greater chance for that person to encounter more people while still being contagious.

On the flip side, if someone is living in a densely populated slum in India where people are basically living on top of one another, even a weak flu will make it’s way around a large percentage of the population due to the incredibly high degree of connections everyone shares.

So what the heck does all this mean?  Basically, if you want your content marketing strategy to go viral make sure you focus on these three points.

  1. Make the content awesome so that people keep on enjoying it and sharing it with their connections.   You can’t skimp on the investment here.  If it sucks, it won’t go anywhere.
  2. Make sure you’re spreading it in the networks where your target market has the highest average degree of connections.  A great example would be if you are trying to reach mommy bloggers.  You’re going to want to make twitter your priority over facebook because they are all there and they love to share good stuff.
  3. Focus on getting as many influencers sharing your viral content because they will boost the average degree of connections by having more connections than the average person.  Additionally, they can actually make your content stronger by adding their approval to it.  It’s like when a virus strain mutates into something more powerful and harder to kill.

Please share your thoughts on creating viral reach in the comment section below.  I’m always happy to learn something from my readers.  :)




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What is Gamification?

In this blog post I will try to answer the question, what is gamification? This is a very important question for any one who needs to motivate people to take action or to simply make a product or service more enjoyable.

Ever wondered what it is about Angry Birds that has generated over 1 billion downloads? Is there anything you can learn from that game to apply to your product to make more people like it, you bet there is. It’s called gamification.

So what is gamification? and how do I apply it to solve real world problems?

There isn’t one universal definition but in general it’s the use of game elements and game design techniques in non-game contexts.

For example, Samsung Nation is an example of a company using game elements to get more traffic and more interaction with their products.  They motivate users to write reviews, watch videos, find out more, register products they have already bought, etc. They use simple elements they took from games like leader boards, badges, points etc. They ultimately want you to buy more products and are using game elements to reach that goal.

Another great example is the Nike Plus app. It uses the accelerometer on your phone to make your experience of running more game like. It tracks your data, compares you to other runners, has goals and challenges and if you achieve those goals you earn medals and trophies. They also built in ways to connect with friends to get encouragement. So the game structure around the task of running somehow make the experience of running feel more rewarding by using their app.

A competing app also meant to get people running is Zombies Run.  But here the  app is telling you that you are being chased by a group of zombies that want to kill you and eat your brains.  So it is simply making your run more fun, which is different from Nike Plus which is using challenges and rewards.

There are even products like Keas which is a service that helps people in companies engage in activities that makes them healthier, using regular game elements.  Such as:

  • Points
  • Quests
  • Avatars
  • Social graph
  • Levels
  • Progression
  • Resource Collection

But games are not just a jumble of elements stuck together in a half hazard way, rather they use game design that is systematic, thoughtful and artistic.  All of course, for the purpose of being fun.  This involves technology, algorithms, engineering while approaching problems using concepts that relate to all games while applying them to novel situations.

Some gamification examples focus on the elements and some focus more on the game design but all require a non-game context.  Meaning, what the user is doing is game like but the purpose has a validity and intention independent of the experience of the game-like elements.

I hope this shed some light on gamification and please let me know of other good examples you have experienced in the comments below.




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Agile, what does that have to do with software development?

Agile, what does that have to do with software development? Here’s my elevator pitch on answering that question.

Just in case ‘Agile’ is a new term for you, I’m referring to a process for planning, creating and implementing software.  In case you’re picturing a group of very limber developers that can leap from their work stations to the fridge, where their Red Bulls are located, in a single bound… no, not at all. So, Agile, what does that have to do with software development? Especially when you’re a web developer sitting on your computer pounding Red Bulls all day and night?

Agile is a new approach to developing software that challenges the traditional “Waterfall” methodology. So if you are venturing to launch an internet startup, or any new business concept for that matter, pay heed.

Something I learned recently at a Product Owner workshop in Toronto with the WFS team, is that Agile is not really a methodology.  It’s a process of learning.  And though it has been created in the world of software development, it’s foundations can really be applied to any business. Another term closely tied to Agile is Lean.  They share the same foundations and I really do suggest reading The Lean Startup by Eric Reis.

A really simple way of comparing Agile to Waterfall’s traditional style of software development kind of looks like this:

Waterfall = plan plan plan plan plan | make make make make make | test test test test.


Agile = plan make test | plan make test | plan make test | plan make test,…

The reason why Agile has become so popular is the ‘Plan Make Test’ approach is a much shorter loop in which you are able to learn vital information from concurrent testing rather than making the whole product from top to bottom only to test it at the end of the process.

Waterfall generates far more wasted resources and often times causes business failure.  Generally even in good scenarios you have to go back and redo a lot of code to replace or change features that were not a product/market fit.

Here is a great video that shows how this process works: 

Now when someone comes up to you and says, “Agile, what does that have to do with software development?”, you’ve got a great video to show them.

This is a huge topic and I have offered a very shallow explanation of what Agile is.  A great book I recently read is Agile Software Requirements: Lean Requirements Practices For the Teams, Programs and the Enterprise by Dean Leffingwell.

I do plan on writing much more on the subject so please do check back or subscribe to my blog in the footer of this page of the page.

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