TAM 016: Justin Brooke – Why I Switched To ActiveCampaign
In episode 16, I talk to Justin Brooke "The Traffic Guy Millionaires Recommend". In the past Justin has been a staunch supporter and user of HubSpot. He recently ditched HubSpot and switched to ActiveCampaign. So I thought I would get him on the show for a chat to talk about 'why I switched to ActiveCampaign '.
Listen in as Justin shares a couple of his favourite automations, including;
- A gamification VIP automation
- A 7 day warm-up automation
We talk about a number of things in this episode:
- What prompted Justin to move to ActiveCampaign
- What are some of his favourite features of the platform
- Some of the automations he uses in his business
- The tools he uses to capture leads
- Some of the common mistakes with paid traffic
- What is working now with paid traffic
- The 'best quality' lead source
- The 'best conversion' lead source
- The 'cheapest' lead source
If you want to give ActiveCampaign a try, you can set up a free trial account here.
If you have any questions or just need a tip from the ninjas, join us in the Automaton Academy private Facebook group.
Links Mentioned In The Show
- Thrive Leads
- Episode 2 with Thrive Leads creator Shane Melaugh
- How to use lead scoring
Barry: All right, that looks pretty good. Can you just say something just so I can check the levels on my side?
Justin: Hey, how you doing? This is Justin.
Barry: Yup, that's it, cool.
All right, I've got Justin on the line, "The traffic guy millionaires recommend." I love that tag line.
How are you doing, Justin?
Justin: Doing great, man. Thank you so much for having me on.
Barry: My pleasure brother, my pleasure. We are big fans of ActiveCampaign here at the Active Marketer, obviously, and I noticed, well maybe not so recently, but not too long ago, a big post on your blog because I follow you for all the good traffic strategies, but a big post on your blog on how you moved away from HubSpot to ActiveCampaign and so I thought I might get you in the show to talk a little bit about ActiveCampaign, how you're using it in your business and what's working funnel wise and what's working driving traffic to websites. How's that sound?
Justin: That sounds good. Perfect.
Barry: What really kind of prompted the move to ActiveCampaign?
Justin: I love HubSpot. HubSpot still has a spot in my heart. I still got HubSpot mugs and hats and shirts. I was a stockholder, I was a VIP, I was a partner, I'm certified HubSpot owner for two years, got several people on the platform. I was as deep as they get, and then I moved up to the Enterprise version because I was like, "Man, I want to go all in." There was like one last thing that I hadn't done in the HubSpot world, and I was like, "You know, It's done so well for me, let me go up to the Enterprise version." I was paying $800 a month prior, and the Enterprise version was $2,400 a month and it gave me access to some split testing, split testing emails, you know, some really advanced functionality. Event tracking and it was great stuff but I just never got around to using it after three months of paying $2,400 a month, and I was like "You know, that's ... As much as I love it, as much value as I see in here, I just can't keep paying for that if I'm not going to use it. It just doesn't make sense."
Nobody ever said anything at all about that I wouldn't be able to go back down to my original plan. I even checked the paperwork that I signed. There was nothing in there that said I couldn't go back down or there was any fees or anything like that, but soon as I tried, and I knew immediately when I mentioned it to my partner, [inaudible 00:02:48], sponsor or something like that. I forget. They got some weird names for things, but anyways, to wrap up the drama, long story short, as soon as I tried to go back down they put me through this 1990s AOL, force you to stay on kind of sales process, which is so far away from the whole HubSpot mojo and everything they're about with inbound marketing.
It just kind of broke my heart a little bit, being so much in love with the company and I know this is emotional and whatever, but I was just kind of on principle, and the girl kind of lied to be about pricing that I was going to have to pay and so I was just like, well, the way my business was going anyways I was building a big agency with lots of clients and lots of employees. We had switched to being more of a boutique agency with a few clients with bigger budgets and that's how we raise our revenue is by earning more [inaudible 00:03:50].
I just didn't need the tool anymore so I just told them, you know, "Enough of these shenanigans. I really don't even need the tool anymore. I'm just going to switch," and ActiveCampaign pretty much gave me all the same functionality other than having having a landing page generator and social listening, but all the other automation and deliverability and all that good stuff that we love about ActiveCampaign was still there, so it was a natural fit and it was about a third of the price.
Barry: You didn't have a HubSpot tattoo, did you?
Justin: I didn't. You're right. There was one more thing that I didn't have. Thank goodness.
Barry: I was just picturing you burning it off Sons of Anarchy style, you know, when the kick you out of the club.
Barry: It must have been like trying to cancel an American Express card. Was it?
Justin: It was horrible. She just, and she was so bad at that job. I have a lot of sales training before this whole internet stuff I come from a telemarketing background, and she was just really, really bad at trying to get me to remember my 'why' of signing up. It was an awful hour.
Barry: Awesome. How did you find the move to ActiveCampaign? Was it fairly painless to migrate all that stuff across?
Justin: You know, the pain was all in the disconnect of HubSpot because it's such an all-inclusive tool. My landing pages were built on it. My website was built on it. My email, everything. Ran my whole business. It's more of a business operating system than it is [inaudible 00:05:29] -ware, so it was a lot to get everything off of that, rebuild my site, re-set up all of my auto responder campaigns, but ActiveCampaign, the actual act of using ActiveCampaign was very easy. That part was easy. It was the disconnect from HubSpot that was the hard part.
Barry: Yeah, I often wonder and I often hear that objection and I often wonder about, you know, ActiveCampaign is missing a couple things that some of the other platforms have, like you said the landing pages, and maybe payment pages and that kind of stuff. I often wonder if that's not a good thing. They're good at what they do and they're really, really good at what they do, and they don't try and do everything, so I think that might actually be a benefit sometimes. You know what I mean?
Justin: Yeah, and they do have the ability if you want to get into with ActiveCampaign, you can put code on your landing pages so that it tracks everything and you can do event based things so if you really want to get into it, it can kind of do that stuff for you but I much prefer when a tool says, "This is what we are, this is what we're great at," and they don't just try to play a 'me too' game, because they'll end up dropping the ball.
Barry: Yeah, exactly. I'm just kind of curious what other systems did you plug in to plug the holes for what you were using HubSpot, you know, like you mentioned the social listening and the social media management, that kind of stuff?
Justin: Prior to HubSpot I was using Unbounce for my landing pages, so I just started that for my landing pages again. I love Unbounce. Then for social listening I use HootSuite, which again, I was using all these things prior, but I had to piece them all together, and before ActiveCampaign, before HubSpot I had AWeber, so I had to use AWeber plus AW Pro Tools plus HootSuite plus Unbounce plus WordPress plus Google Analytics. It was all like all this stuff. Literally, I wrote a blog post on the Franken-funnel and that's what most people have.
With ActiveCampaign though, I'm able to really limit how many things, so I have HootSuite, I have Unbounce, you know, WordPress for my website, and I have ActiveCampaign.
Barry: Yeah. Right.
Justin: The majority of what I do takes place in Unbounce and ActiveCampaign.
Barry: Okay. Cool. I was just re-listening to some of your podcasts about growth hacking and how it applies. What do you think some of the more important sequences that people can put into their business straightaway are?
Justin: Yeah, so my favourite one is, I kind of gamify the engagement of my subscribers, so I've got, I set up the lead scoring in ActiveCampaign so that if they open an email they get one point. If they click a link they get two points and so then if they reach, I think it's 25 points, if they reach 25 points they get an email from me. They're actually added to another list once they reach that point and then they get an email from me telling them like, "Hey, I've been watching." Because my group is marketers, it's very easy for me to be very open about what [inaudible 00:09:03], like, "Hey, I'm using this thing called lead scoring and you scored over 25 points and because you did that I've added you to a VIP list and you get this free bonus. Wait til you see what you get at 100 points."
Barry: Cool. Very cool.
Justin: That helps them ... It helps me, actually, because then they're like, "Oh, well I want to open and click more links so that I can figure out what I get when I reach 100 points." The engagement goes way up, but if I weren't in the marketing space, I don't know if I'd be so vocal about what I'm doing. I would just happen to say like, "Hey, I happened to notice you open a lot of my emails and click links. I put you on the VIP list. That means you get these special things." I'd just be very nonchalant about it. Otherwise it would be very spooky.
Barry: Yeah, I think if your target audience is marketers they appreciate knowing what tricks you're using so that they can use it themselves, but if they're more of a layman they probably think it's creepy.
Justin: Yeah, they'd be like, "Well what else are you watching?"
Barry: Yeah, exactly right. They're probably going to be disappointed then they find out the prize is an old HubSpot mug and T-shirt, though.
Justin: Right. My old sweaty ball cap.
Barry: That's right, that's right. The lead scoring thing is pretty cool. Any other kind of features you found in there that you've just gone, "Hey wow. This is really cool"?
Justin: You know, I love the whole way that the build the automations and how you can list segment and they make it very easy for you to send out an email to anybody who didn't open a campaign. I love how easy they make that because in other times I used to have to go, "Okay, well these are all people that didn't open that one," so I'd have to run a report to find them and then I'd have to add them to a new list and then I have to go duplicate that email, where ActiveCampaign you can pretty much just click a button and it duplicates it and sends out to those people who didn't open your campaign.
Barry: Have you had a look at the new, the beta of the automation builder?
Justin: I just got a ... I was kind of complaining. The only complaint I have about ActiveCampaign is that their email editor was very clunky and so I kind of complained a little bit about, on Twitter in a playful way. I didn't go Twitter terrorist on them, I just was like, "You know, I love it. Only thing I wish that it was better email thing," and the owner actually reached out to me and said he'll put me on the beta. I haven't logged in yet because this literally just happened two days ago. I'm on the beta; I just haven't logged in and seen it.
Barry: They've got the new email designer beta is really cool. It's probably going to ... it's been around for maybe a month already, so it's probably going to drop pretty soon, but they've also got a new automation builder which takes away even some of the ... Yeah, I think the automation builder in ActiveCampaign is great and it's real easy and really intuitive to build automations, but some of the stuff they've got in the new one is that you can kind of have go to actions, so if you have a branch that says, "Hey, if they've opened this," or "If they've done that," or "If they have this tag, if yes then to all these things, if no then do all these things," but you can rejoin the main branch, if you know what I mean, like so if there's a couple of 'no' conditions there and you've satisfied those, or "Hey, do they have this tag?" No. Okay, we'll add this one and then send them back to the main branch, which is pretty cool.
Justin: Right. You can pretty much do anything you imagine. I find the hardest thing is just thinking of what it is that you want to do.
Barry: Yeah, that's really [crosstalk 00:12:52].
Justin: Once you've thought about what you want to do, the goal you want to have, it will do just about anything you can think of.
Barry: Yeah, very cool. The only other complaint I kind of have is their form builder's pretty naff as well. That's their next task after the email beta rolls out is going to be how you can build better forms, but yeah, very cool stuff.
Justin: What I've actually been doing to get around that is I use JotForm.com, with Zapier and so JotForms, and Zapier connects JotForm to ActiveCampaign and JotForm has really sexy forms, so that's been my way of getting around it.
Barry: Yeah, and I've been using, I don't know if you've been playing around with Thrive Leads at all from Shane Melaugh.
Justin: I love Thrive Feeds and everything they're ...
Barry: How cool is that? So cool, and easy to just copy and past the code across and Boom! You're in business, yeah. That's a fantastic way to get opt-ins. What other, aside from that VIP sequence, you got any other cool sequences in your business that you're using?
Justin: Yeah, I've got a seven-day sequence that I do, which is, it's more of just regular email writing, it's not any of the cool automations, but it works really effectively. I've used it in multiple businesses. In my own consulting I've helped clients implement it and it just works. It's a great beginning sequence for getting like a stranger, because I do a lot of paid traffic, so I get a lot of cold leads who maybe have not read my blog yet, and so it's a great sequence for warming that person up and getting them to want to buy.
How is goes, and there's a whole, like I have a YouTube video that explains this in detail, but the short version is email number one is, "Hey, here's all, you know, look at all these things I'm going to give you in the next seven days." It's like, "Thanks for subscribing," and then it's basically a table of contents. "Today you're getting this, tomorrow you're getting this, you know, that day you're getting this, and it tells them, "You're going to get all these things. By the way, if you want to make sure you get all these things you should probably white list me. Otherwise I may show up in your junk folder. Here's the thing that I promised, and also, by the way, the service I provide is this."
Very light, you know, I don't really do any kind of pitching. It's more about, "Here's the things you're going to get over the next seven days," which makes them anticipate the whole sequence, and so my engagement in that seven days is through the roof.
Barry: Are you repurposing the stuff you've mostly already had on the blog to begin with?
Justin: Yeah, I'm using a lot of things that I already have. Day two is I'm telling them my story. How did I become this person that you want to follow? For me, it's a paid traffic guy. For somebody else it may be a weight loss coach or a life coach or whatever it is you do. How did I get to here, which helps them understand why they should trust me as an expert.
Barry: Yup, sure.
Justin: Me, my story that I tell them is how I started with $60 with a pathetic $2 a day AdWords account and doubled my money for 11 months in a row and turned it into a six-figure business. That's a story that they're like, "Wow. This guy must really know something about paid traffic. That's a crazy story." Tell them a story, they get to really know you, know where you come from.
Day three, you tell them what you stand against. It's very easy to tell somebody what you stand for. You know, "I stand for paid traffic, I stand for honesty, yada yada." Well, what do you stand against? What do you dislike? Coming up with that common enemy really helps you build that 'us verses them' bond with your list. Really helps them say like, "You know what? Yeah, I'm on this guy's team. I hate that stuff too."
Barry: Yup. Cool.
Justin: It doesn't have to be a person. It could be a thing. It could be a rock. It could be an ideal, whatever. Ideally it shouldn't be a person or another business. That's just low blows. Four, five, and six is content, but specific content because what I'm trying to do is over this seven days I'm trying to keep their mind focused on me, so I'm not just giving them content for content's sake, I'm keeping their ... I'm teaching them the way that I think about paid traffic and again, my topic is paid traffic. [inaudible 00:17:35] be weight loss or whatever it is. I'm keeping their mind ... Here's how I do my metrics. Here's the networks I think that are best. Here's the type of ads that I think work best. It's very strategic. I'm demonstrating my expertise of this topic area through content, and at the bottom of each email is says, "By the way, if you like my content, I happen to offer this as a service. You can get more information about that here."
Soft pitch, letting them know that it's available. If you like everything you've seen so far you can learn more here, and I let the page do the selling, not the email.
Barry: Yup, for sure.
Justin: Finally, day seven I drop the hammer. Free ride's over. I don't come out and say that, I'm not brash and aggressive, but day seven is a full-blown pitch. For me, it's the best traffic product I've ever seen. I don't sell traffic products anymore, courses, so it's actually an affiliate link of a course that I really love, and so day seven I tell them, "This is the best traffic course I've ever seen." I just tell them bullet points of everything that's so great. I just spill my guts out why this is the best course I've ever seen.
Day eight, there's actually a bonus day, day eight is just testimonials, like, "I know I said it was the greatest, but look. Here's what other customers have said." That's the sequence.
Barry: Cool. Very cool. That's just for cold traffic hitting your site? They haven't bought anything from you, they're just new people and you're introducing them to your business.
Barry: Absolutely. Very cool. Very cool. Speaking of introducing cold leads to your business, what seems to be working the best at the moment to get people into your funnel?
Justin: I'm seeing the best leads, there's a couple of bests, so this will be kind of like the Grammys where there's like Best Actor, Best [inaudible 00:19:48]. Best quality of leads is Twitter, Twitter Ads. It's more expensive. On Twitter Ads it's [inaudible 00:20:00] paying anywhere from 80 cents to as much as $1.80 per click, so the click cost is high but the quality of leads that I get from there are people who are ready to buy. You know, it's very high quality people. Best conversions is YouTube Ads.
Justin: My big squeeze page on Facebook and Twitter converts anywhere from 35% to 45% percent depending on the day and the ad group and the ad fatigue and all that, but in that range, 30-45%. When I use YouTube Ads it converts at 70% or higher.
Justin: I think that's just because on Twitter and Facebook they see an ad and they click and they go over to the page. There's not a whole lot of engagement there. There's a headline. "Oh, this kind of looks cool. Let me click on, see if I like it. Eh, I do or I don't." That's why it's more of a 50/50 opt-in, but with a YouTube Ad, it's three minutes of my talking and teaching you something, and you're like, "You know, this guy's kind of cool." At the end of the ad it says, "Hey, if you like this video, I've got an hour-long version that teaches you much more about this topic and this topic and that topic and so it's like, "Wow. Yeah, I did like this video. I'm going to go over there and I'm going to go get the rest of the course."
That works really, really well, so Best Conversions, YouTube Ads, and then finally cheapest with most volume, Facebook. I can get 60 cent leads. I can get hundreds of 60 cent leads all day long from Facebook.
Barry: Are they converting well, or just average?
Justin: Average. I'm not saying they convert bad, it's not like, it's not horrible traffic. It's cheaper traffic, little higher cost to acquire a customer, but it's not bad. They still convert.
Barry: Just looping back to the YouTube stuff for a moment. Are you running ads on your own videos or throughout the network?
Justin: My own videos. What I do is I've got a bunch of YouTube videos that I've made, pure content, and there's always a call to action at the end of the content and so I've seen a couple of them that got more traction. They got more views, more comments, more likes than the other videos, so I felt like they earned the ability to have some dollars put behind them and I did and it worked.
I do the same thing with my blog posts too. The ones that ... Everybody kind of knows. There's some blog posts that you write and they just fall flat. It's like, "Wow, that was a big waste of my time," but then there's that you're like, "Wow, I thought nobody would like that, but it got the most shares and comments," and so when that happens I put some dollars behind it to kind of make it happen more.
Barry: Yeah, for sure. Very cool, very cool. All right. When people start their paid traffic journey, so to speak, what are the big mistakes that you see people make?
Justin: The biggest mistake is probably like three, actually, but I would say biggest mistake by far is that they think that they're going to have positive ROI their first time.
Justin: I've been doing this eight years and very rarely does a campaign work out profitably the first time. That's the home run, that's the, "Man, I wish this would happen."
Barry: The mythical dollar in, two dollar out scenario, yeah.
Justin: Right, right. That's something that you work towards. That's not something that ... Then what they do is they're like, "Well, you know, I'm kind of unsure about this so I'm just going to put a little bit of money in and I'm only going to create one ad and I'm not going to do a lot of work." You dip your toe in, you get dip your tow in effort back. Garbage in, garbage out, period.
What you've got to do is you've got to say, "I'm going to make this work. I'm going to do what it takes to make this work because I can literally tell you and I can show you physical IRS audit-proof data that one good campaign is worth millions of dollars to you. Literally everybody is one good ad campaign away from being a millionaire, and so it's really worth it to say, "I'm going to make this work," and you dedicate whatever you can. I'm not saying you've got to put $500 a day in or even $100 a day. I started with $2 a day.
I don't advise anybody start that low because there was a little bit of luck involved with that and an amazing education from my internship, but start with what you can and keep it going. Keep a consistent flow, watch what's happening, build lots of ads, lots of ad sets, and learn from the spend. That's what I do will all my clients now is whenever I have a new client I set up five ad groups or in Facebook they're called ad sets, so I'm testing five different market segments and then in each of those segments I'm testing three different ads.
Usually we're testing two different landing pages. My goal with that first initial spend is to learn what works, not to make money. I'm spending money to find out the secret of what works. I'm going to the data store and I'm buying ... This is the stuff that doesn't work; this I the thing that does. That information is so valuable. The fact that you can even possibly buy that information for $500 should make everybody so excited, but for some reason it scares people. You spend that initial money to figure out, "Okay, this landing page with this ad in this segment, that's the working combination. That's where my profit was." Turn everything else off.
It's like horse betting. You now have found the winning race horse so you're going to stop betting on all the others and put all the money on that winning race horse. That's when you make money. That's the ROI.
Barry: Has anything in all that kind of split testing if you want to call it that, have you found anything really surprising in that, like "Holy shit, I didn't think that was going to work, but it's just knocking it out of the park"?
Justin: A couple of things. Don't make your ads look like ads. Don't try to sell your product in your ad. An ad is not a ... An ad is a great tool to sell a click. It is not a great tool to sell a product. Unless you're going to be able to send out a whole sales letter through direct mail, then an ad is possible, but when you're doing Facebook Ads, Google Ads, you have this little ... The person is probably scrolling through. You have a flash of interest and you have this little square of pixels. That's all you got. It's a miracle that you can even get them to click, and even still a good ad is only getting like 3% of the people that are even looking at it, so 97% of the people are ignoring it, so it is this little mini miracle that's happening, so just sell the click. Don't try to sell the whole product. That's a big thing that people do wrong.
Sell the click and don't make your ads look like ads. That's the biggest thing, because people subconsciously, their subconscious is so used to seeing ads all over the place that before they've even seen the ad their mind is telling them to ignore it. It's like some voodoo magic stuff that happens.
Barry: Yeah, for sure, which I guess is why those Facebook news feed ads are so popular. It doesn't look like one, it's just camouflaged in with all the other cat videos and nonsense that's on there.
Justin: Right. The biggest giveaway that everybody's doing right now is they're adding the little call to action button, the little 'learn more' or whatever. A normal blog post doesn't have that, so the moment you add that little button, you're thinking, "Oh, this is going to help me get more clicks," but to the consumer that's the biggest tell-tale sign that that's an advertisement instead of a regular post.
Barry: Yeah, I've seen that actually, and I have ignored many of those as I'm scrolling through.
Justin: Yeah, your brain will literally do it before you even know it's doing it. It's like breathing.
Barry: Very cool, very cool. All right, Justin, well I don't want to take too much of your time tonight. I know it's late where you are, so I just really want to thank you for coming on the show. Appreciate you taking your time out and if people want to find out more information about paid traffic where can they reach out to you?
Justin: Yeah, they can come on my website at imscalable.com, that's the letter I, the letter M, the word scalable.com. I've got a bunch of articles there. People tend to really like my blog posts. All my YouTube videos are posted there as blog posts as well. You can find my Facebook and Twitter, I mean everything's ... The website is the hub and you can find all the goodies there as well as get on my list.
Barry: All right, and we'll certainly have all those links in the show notes there, so once again, Justin, thanks for coming on the show. Great information there and we'll see you on the blog.
Justin: Okay, thank you so much for having me.