On this week’s episode of Performance Delivered, we speak with special guest, Richard Fallah. Richard is the CEO of VBOUT, an adaptive marketing automation platform that aims to help business owners and marketing professionals centralize and automate their tasks in a simple, effective way. The platform includes powerful email and social media tools, lead intelligence, and comprehensive analytics.

“A lot of people fear deploying marketing automation, or a marketing stack, because they think it’s way too complicated to do that. It’s actually the total opposite; a bit of investment, a few hours of your time, and you should be set for the rest of your usage. And, it reaps results. You start really seeing tangible results in your lead generation every three to six months,” says Richard.

We chat about what marketing automation means, as well as:

  • What areas marketing automation can help with
  • The direct benefits of automating your marketing
  • The importance of accurate data analytics
  • Determining the right tools for your business’ needs
  • And more

Listen now…

Mentioned in this episode:



Steffen Horst: Welcome to the Performance Delivered Insider Secrets for Digital Marketing Success Podcast, where we talk with marketing and agency executives and learn how they build successful businesses and their personal brand. I’m your host, Steffen Horst. Today, we’re going to talk about marketing automation and how to put your lead generation on steroids.

Here to speak with me about the topic is Richard Fallah, who is the CEO at VBOUT, a marketing automation platform for any business. The platform includes powerful email and social media tools, lead intelligence and comprehensive analytics. Richard, welcome to Performance Delivered.

Richard Fallah: Thanks for having me, Steffen

Steffen: Richard, before we start talking about marketing automation and how to get more leads in, tell our listeners a little bit more about yourself. How did you get started in your career?

Richard: Sure. I was initially a digital agency. I started in 2007, as I graduated from computer science, and I started building websites for a living. But actually, we took on the job of doing the marketing for those websites, because as you know, we can build the website for a million bucks but without proper marketing, you’re just, your money goes down the drain.

So we ended up running campaigns and doing lead gen using all these different tools. And we realized there is a bottleneck inside there fragmented tools all over the place. And that creates a bottleneck in your analytics. You have to use a lot of different tools so there’s a learning curve for it, plus your money, the monthly rent ramps up pretty quickly.

The alternatives, however, were expensive, bulky, you have to invest almost like a mortgage and a car payment, to be able to afford the Marketos and the Hubspots of the world. So we built a product right in the middle, that’s affordable, simple to use and it provides the stack experience, the marketing stack experience. And we never looked back. Were not a service anymore, of course. However, at core, we still provide strategy and support to our clients.

Steffen: So VBOUT, obviously, as a marketing automation system. For the listeners who are not so familiar with marketing automation, can you just briefly explain what marketing automation is?

Richard:  Honestly, I personally, not a fan of the word marketing automation because it’s almost like it looks to, like it doesn’t have a life to it. It’s almost like, Hey, we have shipping automation, we have billing automation, it’s technically just taking the tedious tasks that you do on a day to day basis in your marketing department and automating the process. So it’s seamless, it’s more accurate, it’s more consistent. And of course, it drives better results.

So when I say automated, it’s simple things like for instance, when someone fills out a contact us form on your website, instead of sending them just one email and stopping there, you can actually send them an email, you can wait a couple of days, send them a follow-up email, assign this lead to someone on the team, add them to a retargeting campaign. Automation branches out beyond just that one touch and taking those, you know, doing it manually to creating a system very easily to automate this entire flow.

Steffen: What areas of marketing can marketing automation really help a company with?

Where Marketing Automation Has the Most Impact

Richard:  What areas of marketing, usually it’s, we have different kinds of automations in our new world that we work in. It’s either an internal process that’s being automated. So from a marketing operation standpoint, there’s a lot of stuff that happens internally, like what happens when someone does an action or takes action A and has that sort of engagement. Maybe you want to add them to your own list. Maybe you want to update some values on that record. And I know these are pretty granular stuff.

But instead of doing them manually, you can automate these internal tasks using marketing automation. The other aspect of the marketing ops is how you reach out to that client, the messages, you send them. You send them an email, one on the first day, five days later email two, or maybe you can choose a different channel, like sending an SMS or sending a browser push notification, or even an app notification. So it’s either internal, meaning you’re doing things to help you organize as a marketer, or external reaching out to the client via relevant messages.

Steffen: So it sounds like that marketing automation is kind of a time-saving tool because, you know, if someone would have to manually send a number of emails out to continuously follow up with a prospect, that takes time and a lot of attention. But it also sounds like the organizational aspect is an area that marketing automation solves. Are there other benefits to marketing automation?

Richard: Absolutely. So time-saving and, obviously, optimization is a huge bottleneck for teams, especially when you grow, right? Processes start to take too much time. So on average, you’re gonna save about 30% of your time per week, just deploying the proper marketing automation processes.

Also, you can see an increase in lead generation, anywhere from 18 to 25% because you’re consistently capturing leads more effectively and gathering better data. This is really important, the quality of the data, you gather using marketing automation, like VBOUT, is unparalleled. It’s very hard to get very good data, otherwise. It increases revenue, because, you know, obviously, when you save time and you’re consistently generating leads, you’re gonna see an increase in revenue and customer retention.

Because don’t forget, once the client makes a purchase, how are you going to maintain that client on board? With maybe loyalty, automated loyalty campaigns, follow-ups, that sort of stuff. So all that combined, Steffen, will actually have an impact on the lifecycle of the end lead, making it shorter and more efficient.

Steffen: Yeah. So you mentioned data analytics a second ago, obviously, you know, there are tools out there like Google Analytics, that would help a marketer to get information about their marketing activities, about audiences, what they like, what they don’t like, age, etc. How is the advantage of marketing automation compared to having, you know, an email marketing program and social media program? So basically having a cobbled-together solution that does all the things that a system like VBOUT provides in one platform?

Marketing Automation vs. Having a Marketing Program

Richard:  Yeah, that’s a great question. I think all analytics should work hand in hand. Google does a great job giving you the big picture, the macro. VBOUT dives deeper into the micro to give you particular engagement per client, per person, and on top of it, giving you the macro. So we don’t necessarily replace what Google Analytics provides because it’s great as it is, but it gives you granular details and granular tracking on a profile, who at the end of the day, we’re selling to people.

We’re not selling to anonymous random group of macros, right? So VBOUT lets you dive deeper into the data per person. And so you can target them better based on their engagement behavior and so on. So this is the data that we provide. We dig deeper.

Steffen: Is the result, or is the workflow with a solution like VBOUT, where everything sits under all in one platform compared to having all the systems trying to work together? Is there another benefit there?

Richard: Yeah. You know, obviously, there’s a lot of things you can do if you’re using seven to, on average, by the way, the marketer used around 12 platforms, right? That’s technically the life of a marketer. So you can do that. There’s things like segment or Zapier, but you’re never going to get as accurate of a profile around the person. And you were talking about things like, let’s take, for example, John, how many times john opened an email, what pages John’s visited, how much time John waited?

What kind of purchases John made. How many SMS messages and maybe time spent on landing pages. And there’s a lot more than that. You know, the webinars John attended, how long attended the webinar, especially now during the webinar age. So, he can gather all that data using patched up solutions, or you can gather them real-time in VBOUT without having to connect things and make all sorts of mistakes. But that’s really what it is.

Steffen: Yeah, and I can actually attest to that, right? I mean, just to full disclosure, we’re a client of VBOUT and we had a cobbled-together solution, right? And it was always difficult to push old information between the platform, have one platform to basically be the holder of all data points that kind of serves as the place where we look at to get the entire picture. And although it might have been, honestly I’m no longer that sure, a little bit cheaper, but thinking about the work that we have to put in to get that holistic view at some point or in some platform, it was just crazy.

It just growth myself and the marketing team completely nuts. You know, having one platform where you can connect everything. It still takes time to set it up, I don’t want to just regard that part. But once it is set up and it starts working, there are definitely a huge amount of advantages to having everything under one roof, so to speak.

Richard: Absolutely. And quite frankly, the technical setup for doing one versus another, like, for example, VBOUT, in 10 minutes, the technical, just the technical tracking, right? Not the whole system setup but the technical tracking itself may take 10 minutes, verifying couple of things, sending domain, installing the tracker on the website, and pretty much good to start tracking versus doing it using third party segments and other, I would say the patch up solutions.

Now a lot of people don’t even think about the value of consolidation. They think about it later, once they have things scattered low on the web. So it’s good to approach this problem from the get-go and use a consolidating solution like VBOUT, for example.

Steffen: Yeah. Who can use marketing automation? Or who is the normal use of it? Do you have to have a certain knowledge for finding a way in a marketing automation platform? Or is it an easy access for almost everyone?

Richard: Another great question, Steffen. So I think people who find success on the stack, and again, I’m staying stack, that means it’s an entire solution, not just an email solution, or social media publishing solution.  The value, it really works well when you have a dedicated marketer or someone, I would say, if you’re spending more than five hours a week on marketing, you probably do for marketing automation. That’s primarily because there are a lot of things that you probably repetitively doing in those five hours.

So you should start thinking about your efficiency. What’s your hour’s worth, you know, 20 hours a month of work? If your hours 100 or 125 bucks, let’s say, what is that worth to you versus deploying a marketing platform that’s going to slash this by, let’s say, two hours a week. So simple math, honestly, will help you make a decision. For me, any business who’s spending at least five hours a week on marketing, should be considering a marketing suite.

Steffen:  Let’s talk about the tools. I mean, there are over 5000, 6000 tools, and every day, new tools are added to the list of marketing tools. I mean, it’s hard for companies to identify a, what tools do they need? And then once they identified a need, then which tools should they use? So how can a company identify the right tool? So the right all in one tool, so to speak, for them? Do you have any suggestions there?

Richard: Yeah, this kind of landscape of the marketing platform can be overwhelming. I think there’s a, there should be a differentiator, or actually just going back to the drawing board for any company and identifying what they need versus what they’ve heard and the thing that they need. If you need is marketing stack or you need a sales stack or you need a basic messaging stack, I think people put all of these into the same marketing tech umbrella, market umbrella, which is why it gives us a lot of, I don’t say hype, but it makes it look crowded.

If you’re looking for a consolidated, powerful stack and I have this chart that I use with my investors, is that there are three variables here if you have a graph, one is you need to have a stack that has multiple tools. For instance, a campaign, is you need a form and a landing page to capture leads, then you need to do tracking in the background, then you need to start automating processes, you need to do some lead assignments, you need some social media scheduling and tracking as well because we should be on social.

And perhaps you need the, some additional site tools like pop-ups to capture leads and stuff. So all these tools combined in one stack is not the same as saying hey, I’m just gonna have a, you know, one email marketing tool like MailChimp to execute. And by the way, this is the reason why MailChimp is adding additional services because they don’t want to be the email tool.

They want to be a platform that provides more than just email. So with that in mind, I think identifying what you need and how your campaigns will look like, as far as like, the core DNA will help you decide what kind of tool to choose first. Second, the maturity of the tool is really important. If you have a tool that’s two years old, I think it has a lot of bugs with it because, you know, working with tools like HubSpot and Marketo I do find bugs with their system and their 15, 20-year-old beast, you know what I mean?

So I think you should look at a little bit more mature company when you’re choosing your stack and also figuring out how support works. So If the support is responsive, you have to pay for it. And we’ve compiled a nice chart that helps you kind of see how different tools compare. How do you get started? Do you get started with 50 bucks, and the next upgrade will be 800? And the pricing related to that, so have a great tool for comparing marketing stacks, by the way.

Steffen:  Great. So you mentioned a few times now, the stack marketing or stack in general, and earlier, you said tools. Can you just elaborate on what the difference between the two is between tools and stack?

Differences Between Marketing Tools and a Marketing Stack

Richard:  Yes, absolutely. So the tool is one, let’s say a landing page builder, you choose Unbounce. That’s all you need maybe, right? Then that’s great. Unbounce is a great tool. It does what it does and has a lot of the things you need for a landing page builder. But then you realize you need to start doing some email automation. So maybe you get MailChimp. So you do some email automation and connect it with Unbounce. And then suddenly, you realize, you know what, I need to do some social media scheduling.

You get a third tool that’s Hootsuite. And as you start expanding that need, you realize you have an infrastructure you need to build. It’s not only one tool, it’s a whole bunch of them working together. And that’s what a stack is. It’s combining your email, your social, your messaging, not only email because messaging is beyond email, your landing page asset and lead generation you’re tracking in one infrastructure in one day. Does it makes sense?

Steffen: Yeah. What is the flexibility of marketing automation systems when it comes to selecting certain features? I would assume that, you know, there are companies out there say, you know, what we need the social and email marketing, but nothing in addition to that. Is there flexibility with marketing automation systems, to kind of select the services or the features that, you know, a company really needs?

Richard: Yeah, you can start, I mean, with VBOUT, at least. You can customize what you need for your marketing. So some people don’t need social. They really don’t find a social presence. Although I’m totally against that, I think everybody should be on social. I look up every company’s Facebook and Instagram and Tik Tok if they’re on any of these channels before I make decisions. That’s just my nature of my due diligence.

So if you just want to take email and automation, by all means, you can do that on VBOUT by taking off the features you don’t need. Because the last thing you want to do is just shove the entire platform down people’s processes. We want it to be granular. You can grow into what you need and if you decide to grow everything still under one umbrella. Some platforms, they force you to buy the entire suite, and then you find yourself using 10, 15% of it in the beginning, discouraging you really, to continue or you have to pause because it’s too expensive, that sort of stuff.

Steffen: Great. How does VBOUT compare to other marketing automation systems as it relates maybe from a feature perspective, but also from the way how you guys approach pricing, for example, for your platform?

Richard:  Yeah, that, I think, you know, for the differentiator, and a crowded industry, it’s never one thing anymore. It’s the combination of, right? You have to have multiple things working on your side because there are some players in the market who started this and there are advantages for that.

However, it’s the combination of the ease of use, because a lot of people fear deploying marketing automation, or the marketing stack because they think it’s way too complicated to do that. It’s actually the total opposite. A bit of investment, a few hours of your time, and you should be set for the rest of your usage. And it reaps results. You know, we’ve seen, we see results, on average, three to six months, you start really seeing tangible results and lead gen and all that stuff. One is the ease of use and how fast you can deploy it. Two is the pricing of course.

You cannot justify any more paying $3,000 for marketing stock if you’re a new business. If you have 100,000 contacts, your revenue is not always parallel to the hundred thousand. Maybe you have only 20,000 active users. So the pricing and that kind of growth of your data is really, really important. That’s two. And three is the quality and the lifetime of the support that you’re getting. Are you gonna have to pay for it? Is it just preassembled documentation?

Or can you access a live person who can really help? Not just give you documents, but maybe get in there, roll up their sleeves and help you solve the problem. Maybe aligning an email campaign, fixing a landing page CSS problem, an automation, they couldn’t quite figure out how to complete and they can come in and do it for you. This is what I’m talking about, that premium, premium support. So the combination of these three, Steffen, I think, are critical for any business. And the fourth one, which is, I think, also important is the integration and the depth of integration that this system provides with other platforms.

Steffen: If you compare VBOUT to, you know, you mentioned Marketo and HubSpot earlier. Where do you see your platform being stronger than those kind of big 10, 15-year-old platforms?

VBOUT vs Older Platforms

Richard: Yeah, first, I want to give them a shout out because they’ve done a great job pioneering this industry. But I have to say that they have their own pitfalls in one way or another. Marketo is extremely, extremely complicated and not user friendly. It’s not for us, like for me, you know, coming from a product or building a product background, I will never use Marketo.

I will refuse if I joined a company to use it just because there’s no reason to use such a complicated platform to achieve the end results. One, Marketo probably targets slightly, you know, the big markets. And then you have HubSpot. HubSpot is a great tool, their interface a lot cleaner. But it’s still complicated.

And the downfall of HubSpot is that they’re extremely pricey as you grow. So all of a sudden, you have, you jump from a $100 introductory license to an $800, if you have 10,000 contacts. And, you know, don’t quote me on the price, I know these things change, but on average. And then if you have 100,000 contacts, all of a sudden your 2, $3,000 in per month. Can you afford that? I don’t, depends on the business. Do you have to pay that much money to manage 100,000 contacts? Absolutely not. So I think it’s a matter of priority.

If you want to, you know, use the platform to start it early and they priced it because they’re early movers and they could justify that high point, then fine. But you don’t have to because there are tools like VBOUT where you can manage 100,000 contacts for 4, $500 and get the premium support, the quality and everything that you would get with HubSpot. And I’m talking just the marketing crowd, to be more specific, not the sales stack. We don’t compete with HubSpot on their CRM or their support stack. These are two different then marketing.

Steffen: You already threw out a few numbers in regards to pricing. In general, is this marketing automation. pricey? So, do you have, does a company have to budget 1000-plus dollars in order to see great results? Or in what ranges does the price usually go?

Richard: You can start for as little as 100 bucks for a solid stack for a little bit of sending. And then you can grow into what you need. Obviously, if you’re not an agency, then that is really, that’s what it is. Now we can factor in some costs for training, onboarding, because we provide premium implementation and personalized onboarding that helps you kind of get on the platform, do the technical setup properly, install your forms and all that.

That’s an additional investment. You can do it yourself if you feel confident or you can pay money. I mean, that depends, of course. We have a price for it because we give you 10 hours and plus about 15 hours on average of back end work. So we price it according to that. So again, to start with it, you’re talking about 100 bucks for a full stack and you still get access to support. But you can invest a bit more for maybe some onboarding services and training.

Steffen: Richard, before we come to an end with today’s episode, what are your thoughts on the future of marketing automation?

The Future of Marketing Automation

Richard: Marketing automation hasn’t reached its full capacity in the market. I do speak with a lot of companies who are mature and we’re talking about hundred million dollar companies who didn’t know how to deploy market automation effectively. So if you tell me maybe in the next few years, you’re gonna see a lot more maturity in how companies are using it.

And I’m talking about real ground stuff, I’m not talking about those, you know, trust radius analytics and statistics and stuff, because they can give you, they can say market automation is mature. Okay, the technology is, but the usage of the tech is not 100% there. And then after that, you’re going to talk about predictive marketing automation.

This is really an area that I’m very passionate about because if you’re using that one stack, and this is where it can have a great way to end, the one stack will give you real-time data consolidated into one umbrella so you can predict the future of someone’s buying. You can predict when someone potentially can open an email. So this is where big data analytics, predictive modeling, of taking existing and past data to predict the future, right? That’s really where marketing automation is.

So it’s almost as I see it, five years from now, you’re gonna see things executing based on, you know, every person that’s joining you, you’re going to have so much data collected, you can determine the likeliness of that person buying, what kind of message to send them, what tone of message at what time over what channel, email versus SMS, versus web push. That’s predictive marketing automation and that’s something I’m very, very passionate about, because we’re starting to build internal models for it, by the way.

Steffen: Right. I mean, that sounds really interesting, which, obviously, also will help marketers. Again, I mean, not saying they don’t have to think anymore. When they get a system and set everything up, there’s still, you know, an element required. But a lot of the going through the data points and pulling the right information and then implementing the insights from those data points, obviously, they’re all takes time.

And if that’s going to be implemented or used in real-time to provide a landing page that is specific to person A on the website, or that comes on now that you had previous engagement with, I mean, that increases just the chance of converting that person, whether you’re an ecommerce business, or, you know, a b2b business or any other type of business.

Richard:  Exactly, exactly, just to help them focus on this strategy. And some of this decision-making stuff that takes up time to analyze will be fully automated. It only does good for everyone because the marketer can find more results, better results. And then all the business needs at the end of the day is more leads and more efficiency, right? That’s what we all do marketing for. Brand recognition, more efficiency and more leads. That’s what we’re hoping for.

Steffen: If people want to find out more about you and your company, although we obviously talked a lot about it, how can they get in touch?

Richard: Yeah, you can simply either look me up, Richard Fallah, on Google, you’ll find my LinkedIn and just mentioned, Steffen, I already know you so just mention Steffen or the podcast. Or you can, I mean, I’m pretty findable on LinkedIn. My name is not that common. You can also look up VBOUT and see, follow us on Facebook. We’re very active there. Facebook and Instagram, we always push up some great content. Yeah, that’s easy. My email’s rich@VBOUT, Rich, RICH@VBOUT.com, if you want to reach me directly.

Steffen: Perfect. Thank you for joining me today on today’s episode of the Performance Delivered Podcast.

Richard: Thank you.

Steffen: You will be back next week. And in our next episode, you and I will talk about how to build automation for a company, the pitfalls to avoid when implementing marketing automation, how long it takes for marketing automation to show results, as well as other topics. Well, then thanks everyone for listening. If you like to Performance Delivered Podcast, please subscribe to us or leave us a review on iTunes or your favorite podcast application. If you want to find out more about Symphonic Digital, you can visit us at symphonicdigital.com or follow us on Twitter at Symphonic HQ. Thanks again and see you next time.