On this week’s episode of Performance Delivered, we are once again speaking with Richard Fallah, 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. Richard joined us last week to discuss marketing automation and how it can help put your lead generation on steroids. This week, we’re taking that concept a step further by speaking about how to actually plan and implement a marketing automation buildout for your business.

“Assuming you have picked a platform for your marketing automation, take an inventory of any existing tools you are using, as well as an inventory of how you’re capturing your leads. Once you’ve taken that inventory of what your funnel looks like, you know exactly what you need to implement in your marketing automation. This is very high level, but technically it’s taking existing processes and building them over your marketing automation platform of choice,” says Richard.

We chat about marketing automation across industries, as well as:

  • Important terminology within marketing automation, including triggers, actions, filters, and funnels
  • Expectations for seeing tangible results from implementing automation
  • Using data analytics to tweak your automation process
  • Secrets to a successful marketing automation campaign
  • 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 personal brand. I’m your host, Steffen Horst. Today, we’re going to continue our conversation with Richard Fallah, CEO of VBOUT. The topic we’re going to continue to talk about is marketing automation and how to put your lead generation on steroids. Welcome back, Richard.

Richard Fallah: Thanks for having me. Happy to be back.

Steffen: So last week, we talked about the benefits of marketing automation, how to use marketing automation and how to identify the right solution for a company. Today, we’re going to kick off talking about how to plan to build out marketing automation for a business. So, Richard, what would you advise? What’s the best approach in terms of planning to build the company’s automation?

Planning a Company’s Marketing Automation

Richard: Yes, so, I hopefully, that last week’s episode was helpful in identifying what marketing automation is. So I’m just going to start from the point that people or the company or the listeners know what marketing automation is and they want to get started. Now, it all starts with picking the right platform. So also, assuming you’ve done that, it comes down to take an existing inventory of what you currently have. It always starts there.

Are you using anything? Are you using an email tool versus an SMS tool? So taking that basic inventory, which literally might take you about 10, 15 minutes. And then you take an inventory of how you’re capturing your leads. Are you using your Facebook ad channel to collect leads? Do you have forms on your website? And what else do you currently have to collect leads?

And third is what are you doing for your retention? How does your funnel look like? So this entire exercise may be about an hour, hour and a half. If you have a team, it’s an open conversation. And once you’ve identified all that stuff, now you look at the tool and how you can do the migration of the data. How does your funnel look like if you want to consolidate it?

Starting from your Facebook traffic that’s coming in assuming you have a Facebook ad, let’s say. to a landing page and then the landing page will have a form fill and how the lead gets captured and who gets notified and how many emails they’re after that lead gets or how many SMS or Web Push and so on. So once you’ve taken that inventory of how your funnel looks like, then you know exactly what you need to implement on your marketing automation. I know this is very high level, but technically, it’s taking existing processes and building them over your marketing automation platform of choice. Was this helpful?

Steffen: I think so. Yes. Yes. I think that’s a nice context to this. From an industry perspective, is marketing automation the same across the industry, whether it’s b2b, b2c, ecom, etc.?

Richard: I think it’s a matter of, it’s a volumes game for b2c. But it’s more of a quality game for b2b and different, slightly different kinds of data for b2b that are relevant for the conversion process. Because people who are, b2c consumers consume data more, you have higher top of the funnel, more people on the top of the funnel. The b2b, they usually have less people on the top of the funnel and, but they need better quality leads because they’re working with businesses.

And the signals for buying are not individuals themselves, but the company’s budgets and the company’s revenue. So I think looking at, let’s just break it down, b2b, b2c, and then ecom. The b2b world really relies heavily on company data and some company metrics and the decision making process and conversion, whereas b2c might have a slightly different funnel, shorter maybe, shorter funnel, and lifecycle for closing. And the data that gets consumed is not necessarily relying on companies but on individuals.

Now, in the ecom space, the ecom has slightly different metrics and their data, slightly different, campaigns slightly different because you’re talking about ecommerce marketing, in this case. The lifetime value, the customer acquisition. And these can be, I would say, it’s a very competitive space to be in ecom because they work on small margins. So I think that’s my two cents to the question.

Steffen: What do you see the biggest penetration from marketing automation so far in b2b, b2c, or econ? Or is that pretty equal?

Richard: We work a lot with b2b. The b2b businesses seem to embrace marketing automation because they see the results firsthand. And usually, companies have a little, I mean, I don’t wanna say bigger but have budgets allocated but strictly for MA. And they know marketing automation as part of their yearly spend, which is going to be 10 to 12% of their yearly marketing spent and that’s it.

Ecom is also mature enough, most ecommerce companies who have revenues of more than 100,000 have some sort of platforms that are either plug and play plugins, or systems that are complete like VBOUT or ecom specific marketing automation. And this is why we built our own ecommerce marketing automation layer to help with things like abandoned carts, lifetime value campaigns, and so on.

B2c, I would say it’s almost as close as b2b but a lot of times because of the quality of the data on individuals is not as good as the quality of the data and companies find slightly less conversion overall. And I know it’s business-specific here, Steffen, and so I can’t give you a general answer but b2c, they need a lot more volume on the top of the funnel because their conversion are usually slightly less than those of the b2b, volume comparing, volume-wise.

Steffen: Richard, can you, in order to help the listeners to kind of think through marketing automation further, can you give some use cases for marketing automation, maybe on the b2b and an ecommerce side? So where does the system can help? You know, we talked in last episodes about time-saving organization. So do you have some examples you can share?

Richard: Yeah, I can give you maybe some particular case studies of companies who worked with varying in different industries. So we worked with a company that has a cloud kitchen and they just open up restaurants in the cloud, technically, and they do online deliveries out of existing restaurants. They literally, they leverage marketing automation, in this case, to open 30 kitchens in five months. So, they have 30 brands, 30 restaurants in the cloud open and they use marketing automation heavily to reach the operators, meaning the restaurants, via email automation, to qualify them and get interest.

But also now they’re deploying it to be used for those who make purchases and the end client. Another example is a staffing group. They have hundreds of locations across the United States. So it’s almost like a family-owned franchise, and increase the team efficiency because they’re all over the place, they have to spend endless amount of time managing social media. Imagine managing social media 470 locations, right? So they use, a mess, exactly. And 150 email marketing campaigns and different platforms and different people managing it.

So they consolidate all that into VBOUT using our multi-layer. And they literally have everything in one place. So that efficiency for that staffing group was amazing. Another one is a design and an agency, a technical agency, who literally just upsold their clients on marketing automation as a way to automate lead gen. lead nurture, and even lead closure. So that particular agency was able to create a system using some APIs with vault and their support, to have an end to end system.

When client comes to the website, they’re interested in a service, they fill out a form, they send them a few emails and then they send them a consultation request, it goes to record a video. After they record a video is done, then they send them a contract. And they literally automated selling, which was amazing. So these are only a few case studies. I didn’t give names because I need permissions of course, but that upsell was amazing to increase the agency’s revenue because it’s an additional layer on top of the existing offering.

Steffen: For many people, just companies, you know, terminologies can sometimes really screw with your head, right? You have drip campaigns, workflows and funnels. And, you know, if you go out there A, you will find different definitions for those things.

But it’s also, a lot of verbiage that goes around and, you know, while you’re trying to think through marketing automation, you now have to deal with these kind of things which you might not be able to comprehend or to understand. Can you shed a little bit of light on what those things mean? What are the most important terms that are used in the day to day and people should be aware of what that means?

Important Terminology Related to Marketing Automation

Richard: Yeah, that’s,  I’m a hundred percent with you. Myself when I started kind of deploying platforms back in 2009, I’m like, why every system is calling the same exact thing something different. I think at core, I want to focus on marketing automation as a marketing, a user experience when it comes to the marketing interaction, right? That’s all it is. It’s the user experience. The people take action A with your brand and they do in return get XYZ. That’s really what an automation is.

Now, if you get down to the technical, workflows, and automations and drips are almost the same thing. It’s just different terminologies that we use. Triggers are what start the automation. It’s like a behavior. For instance, somebody opening an email, and opening an email could mean engagement. Somebody has engaged, that’s an engagement, that could be a trigger. Somebody making a purchase on your ecom website, that’s also an engagement. So that’s what we call trigger.

Then you have actions. Actions are the things that happen after the trigger has been detected. So after someone visits your homepage, what do you do? Do you send them five emails and three SMS and you add them to retargeting? So these are all actions. And then you have things like filters. These are very specific, you know, it’s almost like you’re targeting specific types of people.

For instance, I’m only going to send that email to people who are in the United States. So that could be a filter. I’m only going to send this email to those who opened my previous campaign. That could be a type of filter. So I would say these are some core stuff. I won’t get into the details of like, how are you gonna change directions and fork the automation. But we do teach our clients, of course, all these terminologies when they come work.

Steffen: When people think about, you know, whether they should get a marketing automation system, or should bring it on board instead of all the different solutions that they’re currently using, the question probably always comes up with how long this is going to take to see results? And are there any specific reasons why something, some situation takes longer or shorter? What are your thoughts on that?

How Long Does it Typically Take to See Results from Marketing Automation?

Richard: Yeah, I think if you come in knowing exactly what, like you have some sort of a, I would say the first strategy, because there’s always a first strategy and then all the strategies that come after because nobody knows. Everybody comes in with an assumption that this is the best practice and these other data you should implement. And that’s the best way to start, by the way. If you come in knowing your first strategy and you starting to implement, you can start seeing results three to six months from implementation.

Some people see it pretty much immediately by maybe integrating a form and a pop-up and started collecting more leads. But to have long term quality data, expect to invest maybe one month in setting up your first strategy, rolling it out, testing it. For the next two months, kind of watching it and iterating. Not too much time, just enough to get better at it. And then from there on, you can start seeing consistent results. Now ecom might have data pretty much immediately.

B2b might take a little bit of time, especially that the closing cycle for b2b is a quarter on averages So you’re talking about three months time before closing a deal. And you have to lever, you have to take into consideration three months to measure results. So also, the lifecycle of the closing of the lead should be taken in consideration. I would say three to six months is what should be expected.

Steffen: Last week, and I think also today, we talked about the time-saving factor for marketing automation or marketing automation can generate. How much time does it take to optimize, you know what you are what a company sets up? Because, you know, with any marketing activity in general, right?

You develop a strategy, you set up a campaign, you kick it off, so you set it live, you let it run and collect data. Then you should analyze the data and you should take learnings from the data points that you collected and then make adjustments. How does that work and how does it look like for marketing automation? And how much time involvement is required? How much time is required to do that?

Richard: Yeah, this is a good question. And I think, of course, depending on the business, but here’s my recommendation, you shouldn’t be running more than I would say three to four funnels at once. Unless you have a robust business and robust ecom. I think on average, five funnels should be your cap for each cycle if you’re a small team, because then you’re going to have way too many things that you’re running, way too many things you need to optimize and monitor.

Not only that, but to create, you know, let’s say you have five automations, each one of them requires about eight messages on average. You know, creating the content and maintaining it for, you know, 40 different messages is a lot of work. So I would say keeping it anywhere below five and then each funnel can be run independently in VBOUT. I try not to run more than two funnels at once, to be honest. And each one of them can be a matter of letting it run for a week and looking at the results at the end of the week, or the end of the month, and then the end of the quarter.

So these are the three different, I would say, cadences of timeframes to look at, because if you have only five leads per week, that’s not enough to get proper data. Maybe you need to wait a month, maybe you need to wait a quarter. So according to that, I would say you should dictate how to tweak it. And tweaking it, tweaking an automation doesn’t necessarily mean you have to dump everything you’ve done and start from scratch. It’s probably just recycling things, and a better way. So that recycling is a lot more efficient. It doesn’t take as much time as a setup.

Steffen: But probably, like in any optimization approach, right? You don’t want to adjust several things, which makes it hard later on to identify which of the things you change actually created the uplift. So you want to be very strategic with what you’re just, you know, what you basically change based on data points and where you think maybe there’s just a highest likelihood of seeing an uplift or seeing an improvement to what you have before. So don’t test several things at the same time. Go step by step so you don’t, you can eliminate what works and what doesn’t work.

Richard: Exactly. I’m 100% with you. Start small. People go to analysis paralysis pretty quickly. You need to be able to measure and be efficient. It’s okay. The best and the top companies in the world, they always started with very minimal funnels. Like, nobody deployed 20 funnels and they’re all over the place. We actually fell into that trap when we started VBOUT. And we had a funnel for this and a funnel for that. And honestly, we got so overwhelmed we had to throw most of them out and just focus on the top two funnels that we really like. So that in mind, yes. Don’t do way too much. It’s okay to make mistakes. And don’t go into the analysis paralysis of things.

Steffen: You mentioned funnel a few times. And obviously, we talked about terminologies a few minutes ago. But can you just shed some light on when you say funnel having, you know, one or two funnels compared to other funnels, what exactly do you mean by that?

Richard: Yes, a funnel, it’s technically, it could be a collection of automations. And I’ll give you an example. If somebody comes in, the funnel is the entire experience of the user. So somebody coming in from Facebook ads filling out a form, maybe you can send them a drip campaign or five emails. That’s one automation, okay? Maybe on the fifth email, they request a consultation. Now they go to a different kind of automation that’s gonna send them additional content, different case studies.

And perhaps, if you close that lead, you’re going to push them to the third automation, which is the retention campaign that you have, or onboarding campaign. So automation can be, multiple automations can take part in one funnel. And automation can be as simple as doing two things. It doesn’t have to be something so robust and so vague. So when I say funnel, I mean, from the moment you generate the lead to the moment you get your end results, which could be a purchase, retention, whatever it may be, there could be multiple pieces of the puzzle, like multiple automations.

Steffen: What are the secrets to a successful marketing automation campaign?

Marketing Automation Secrets

Richard: Yeah, I would say the secret is the business twist itself that you’re trying to set it up for. And I’ll give you an example. This particular business struggled, that we worked with, struggled for a long time to figure out which funnel works best. So they tried all the traditional stuff. They looked up like, they set up loyalty campaigns and they set up a whole bunch of things. And then later on, they tested one thing that’s very specific to their business, which is anniversary offers. And that literally, it was an amusement park.

So that amusement park, that one automation was the biggest driver of success to their business because they were offering free, something for free for one person who would eventually bring 20 people with them to book a party at the amusement park. So that was very specific to that business. I cannot really replicate it for maybe 90% of other businesses. So I would say the sequence is figuring out what works best for you. What picks your own client? Focusing on that and then figuring out how you can adopt your automations to enhance that consistently via the same message.

Of course, look in your, into your competitors’ automation, that’s another thing. Your competitors most likely I’ve spent an enormous amount of time and money to deploy it. And don’t look at the small guys, maybe you can look at slightly bigger. Like if I’m a pizza shop, maybe I can look at what Domino’s are doing or some of these big franchises, and get inspirations. I’m not going to adopt everything, because obviously, they’re a lot bigger, but maybe I’ll take some other ideas and I’ll implement it with my own business twist.

So that’s the holistic response to the secrets to successful marketing automations. The second is actually picking the brains of those who are powering the tech. For example, you can speak to your support, you can request to speak to me or my team, if you’re using VBOUT. We can help you if we can give you some feedback. We’ve worked with thousands of campaigns. We will be more than happy to see you succeed. So leverage those resources as well.

Steffen: On the flip side, what mistakes do you see companies do when they implement marketing automation that, you know, people should avoid?

Richard: Yeah, I think it comes back to the analysis paralysis phase that I said. They overthink it. They think it’s too complicated. They don’t have the product, they maybe overlap. So they could create too many workflows, and some of them are delivering different messages to the same exact person. So you just have to have a proper planning. Draw up your funnel on the board. And, by the way, we have a course on lead gen where I dive deep into the strategies of funnels. Maybe I can give your audience access to that.

Steffen: Yeah, we can put that in the podcast description, the link.

Richard: Perfect. Yeah. So laying out your funnel and how it looks like. And then starting from there versus the other way around because then the mistake will be I built so many things, and nothing’s happening. I can’t see conversions. People are not opening emails and things are overlapping. If you have a clear view of your funnel, you know exactly what messages go where at what time, at what stage. That’s gonna be really the, what is gonna drive success. So analysis paralysis is one problem.

Creating way too much is the second problem. Not having the right content getting delivered to the right person. So if somebody is in the early stage of buying, you shouldn’t sell them yet. You should educate them, right? So knowing that stage is very important. And this is why we teach lead scoring, so you can tell what stage they are in. And yeah, I guess just punishing yourself and thinking you’re gonna get it right from the beginning. That’s not true. Nobody gets it right from the get-go.

Steffen: Yeah. I think what you just said is, I think, is very important. I see a lot of marketers making this mistake. It’s like, you’re warming up someone, they haven’t heard of you, they might not even have heard of the product because the product doesn’t exist so far. So you’re kind of introducing your company, you’re introducing a new product, you’re not going to shove them kind of a sell button in their face. It’s almost like, I always use the analogy when you go on the first date, you’re not going down on one knee at the end of the date and saying, marry me, right?

I mean, maybe one of a thousand if there was like that spark that is, you know, that might say yes, but in probably 99 cases, you will never see that person again, right? And it’s exactly the same thing. You need to work your prospects, depending on what your business is, through the funnel, generating awareness through the mid-funnel, and then on bottom-funnel where you basically start closing, air quotes, the deal.

Richard: I’m 100% with you. I think people should, imagine yourself when you’re setting up marketing automation flow, they have a person in front of you and you’re speaking to them, to the process. They’re real people. You’re not talking to robots here, you’re actually talking to real people with real problems.

And if you don’t have the solution for their problem, they’re not going to buy. That’s the end of it. So before you sell anybody on anything, you should make sure that first, they’re there to buy and they have real need and the problem and in need for a solution. Do they have the budget for it? You know, that’s a different conversation. And then based on that, evolve your content to speak to that level of the buyer.

Steffen: Some great thoughts there. So obviously, we talked about a lot in regards to marketing automation. If listeners now think, you know what, this sounds interesting. I either haven’t thought about it, I have, you know, all these different systems that don’t really talk to each other and I don’t really feel I’m getting the most out of it in order to help my business to grow. And what are the best ways or even resources that people can deepen their knowledge?

Resources to Learn More About Effective Marketing Automation

Richard: My sales team or my success team, we really have a sales view of successful manager. So we always say tools by themselves, they’re gonna do the job for you. You always have to have a strategy. You have to have some sort of a path to execution. And then the tools are going to do that execution for you, right? You need all three. So this is why in VBOUT what we’ve done is we’ve built an academy that’s going to help people without a strategy to learn how to do lead generation, how to do lead nurture, and how to implement marketing automation.

So this academy, we’re going to share it with your audience. And I’ll give you a coupon for them so they don’t have to pay for it. And then the resources that they need will be, I mean, the second step is the execution part. And this is where you can either leverage your onboarding service, or you can try to do it yourself.

It’s totally up to you. And these resources on the VBOUT side can be, we have videos that we’ve preassembled, self-onboarding, we have a documentation, and we have an online live chat that could help you. And finally, you know, you deploy the tools. And this is where learning how to use the tool and everything is better for, let’s say, two to four weeks, you’ll be pretty good at it. And everything we teach might have parts of the videos talking about the tool.

Steffen: So obviously, we talked, you mentioned VBOUT quite a lot. So if people are interested in the platform, is there a way to try the platform out before buying?

Richard: Yes, absolutely. We have 14 days free trial. Send out a campaign, test the support and the quality of the support and how they, how fast they respond. Very important. I cannot iterate, I am using Google AdWords. And I cannot for the life of me get AdWords support on a phone anymore. How irritating is that? We’re talking about Google AdWords. I literally stopped my campaigns with them because I cannot get them to speak to me to answer me on a very basic issue that’s a critical issue. I use other platforms as well.

Sometimes I can not get a response immediately after three, four days. And that’s also irritating. If I need my answer, I want it now. Unless it’s off business hours, of course. So that’s the support, that’s the platform. 14 days. Send out an email, see the results. And see if you’re happy with the overall experience. Nobody’s buying just tools, they’re buying the support, they’re buying the, you know, the education, all that stuff combined.

Steffen: The entire package. And we’ll put a link into the show notes as well so you don’t have to search around, although it’s easy to find vbout.com. Richard, thank you for joining me again today on the Performance Delivered Podcast and sharing your thoughts and knowledge about marketing automation. 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. They can simply either look me up, Richard Fallah, on Google. You’ll find my LinkedIn and just mention 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 on Facebook and Instagram, we always push out some great content. I yeah, that’s easy. And my email is rich@vbout, Rich RICH@VBOUT.com if you want to reach me directly.

Steffen: Perfect. Well, then thanks everyone for listening. If you’d like the 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.