Technology for Inbound Marketing Funnels

By  •  Updated: 10/28/15 •  11 min read

Tools mentioned in the video:

WordPress – Popular content management system

ActiveCampaign – email marketing tool with great automation features at an entry level price

Thrive Leads & Content Builder – Plugin for creating landing pages and data-capture forms on your WordPress blog

OntraPages – new free landing page builder (free version only sends email notifications, no integration)

OntraPort – full-blown version including email CRM

Hubspot – comprehensive, but more expensive inbound marketing solution



Hi this is Stephen Pratly, and this is the Visibly Better Marketing Show.

So today I want to go over a question that we get asked a lot when we start creating inbound marketing campaigns for people.

That is campaigns which are based on good, solid content, gathering leads, doing great follow up by email, and engaging customers with social media, so that we’ve got customers that are coming to you warmed up, and ready to talk to your sales guys rather than banging them over the head with call cools, interruptive advertising, and other interrupting marketing techniques.

So one of the questions we get asked is about the technology that needs to be put in place to do this.

And although the component part is quite simple, the big challenge seems to be, do we have a set of best of breed parts that we then have to do work to link together, or do we try to buy a tool that has everything under one roof?

The reality is that the tools that have everything under one roof have a lot of advantages. They have simplicity, but they don’t necessarily perform quite as well as the individual parts. And also at the moment, the cost of all-in-one systems is relatively high. So I’m going to talk you through the components of it, and how you can actually build up from scratch at relatively low cost a platform for doing your inbound marketing.

And then as you get more sophisticated at it, if you start to hit barriers, and you start to find that the technology, and linking bits together, and swapping different tools in and out – if that’s becoming a challenge, then at that point you’ll at least have some numbers to know what you can afford to move to one of the all-in-one systems.

Okay, so for most campaigns the place that we start is with a landing page which is promoting some really good quality content, like maybe a video, or an ebook , or a webinar, and the content that sits behind them.

Now the tools that we use for that really just a landing page tool, and some way of delivering that content. So LeadPages is a very strong one, and a very popular one, we use a tool called Thrive Leads which is a WordPress plugin which allows us to build landing pages, and build them on the same site as the rest of our website.

The last one is a new product called Ontrapages which comes from Ontraport who do one of the all in one systems. Now Ontrapage is on its own is a free tool, so that’s one you might want to look at as well.

The links for all of these tools – if you’re watching this on YouTube there’s a link below this video that you can go to to find the page. If you’re looking at it on our website at, you’ll see links to all of these tools just below.

So the first thing is creating a landing page. Creating a landing page which has some content which is going to be useful to your customer and solving the first challenge that they’ve got. So for us, for people wanting to embark on marketing, it might be how to design a good landing page, how to choose some technology to help you build some landing page. That would help them get over that, that first hurtle, but give us a chance to introduce ourselves, and show off our expertise.

The next part is an email marketing tool. And an email marketing tool is two things.

1) It’s a customer contact database, so you have to have somebody to send your emails to, and a record of at least those email addresses,

2) It’s for creating, and designing, and merging content together, so that you’re sending out an email to each of those individuals. It’s like a mail merge online is how these work.

And within that you’ll also have some reporting about how many people have opened each email, how many people have clicked on each email. And on the more advanced tools, you’ll be able to see things like sales that have come from those as well.

Now the one you’ve probably heard of is Mail Chimp, and we use that on a couple of small clients.

But it’s not our favorite, and the reason is that it’s only really there to send out big campaign blasts, not for sending up emails after somebody follows up, and being able to change the sequence of emails that people receive after they’ve signed up your newsletter list depending on whether they become a customer or whether they don’t become a customer. You can’t really do that  effectively within Mail Chimp.

So the other tool that we use is Activecampaign. And Activecampaign will do all the things that Mailchimp does, it allows you to hold your contacts in there, it’ll allow you to create emails, and it’ll allow you to send emails out one-by-one based on the time that somebody has signed up.

So you’re not sending them out all at once. But it also allows you to say “when somebody buys from me, move them on to another set of emails that’s there for customers, and not prospects”. And if somebody stops buying from me, then maybe you can even put them on a lapsed customer list as well.

So it’s a very cost effective tool, it starts off at around $9 a month, and you can build it up to some really quite serious enterprise level stuff.

We have customers who are sending six, and seven figure databases managed on Activecampaign, and it’s really effective for those, so it grows really well.

The other thing it does is it ties up really well with your website, so there’s some tracking you can put on your website, and you can say if somebody visits a certain page, then change the track of emails they’re on. So what an example of that would be – if I gather somebody’s email address, they arrive on a Thankyou page, and then I’ll push them to a sales page or a checkout page. I can then stop them from getting more prospect emails if they’ve bought something from me based on the pages they visited on my site.

You can use it on E-commerce sites, to say if they reach the cart, but they haven’t reach the end of the checkout, then we can send then a basket-abandonment reminder.

So it can be lots of clever things like that.

It also ties together with all of those tools I’ve mentioned above. So it will tie together with Thriveleads when you create your landing pages, so when somebody types in their email address to get an ebook, that data will go straight into Activecampaign. It will tie in directly with Leadpages for the same thing. Ontrapage is the free version, currently it’ll just send you an email, so you can copy that into your Activecampaign database, or we do have a couple of methods of integrating the two of those together. They’re a bit more technical.

Now I’ve touched on analytics, and tracking an Activecampaign. A lot of you will probably have seen Google analytics which is very good at saying, “A thousand people visited your website. Of those, a hundred got to the thank you page after signing off your landing page,” or, “50 of those got to the end of the checkout on an E-commerce site.” And it give you the numbers, but it doesn’t tell you who did what.

You can’t go back to that individual.

And that’s why the individual tracking reporting is so important that Activecampaign gives you. The last thing is being able to extend that contact data, particularly if you’re selling on a one-to-one basis. If at any point you need to be talking to a direct sales team or an account manager or any other kind of direct telephone or face-to-face contact, then being able to build those details up, and put some kind of deal information in there is useful. So Activecampaign has a relatively basic CRM system, a tool for tracking sales from somebody becoming a prospect through to buying.

It’s not bad.

Hubspot which is one of the all-in-one tools will do that as well. They have a free CRM tool which I think is really great. We use it in out business-to-business model here. And there are other ones I’m sure that larger organisations will use tools like Sales Force, and there’s others. There are hundreds of these small business CRM tools around. So something that will actually keep track of what somebody has bought with you is a really strong point as you grow.

Now the last thing is something to manage your advertising campaigns, and the messages that you’re putting out. So that might be posts you’re putting on Facebook, or it might be adverts you’re putting on Facebook. Same thing with Twitter, that could be Tweets, and adverts that you’re putting on Twitter. Same thing across all of the different social media platforms. So for those, you’re probably going into each individual one. We have some tools that will help to manage that, so tools like Hootsuite is very good for managing Twitter accounts, and posts on LinkedIn, and Facebook. It ties all that stuff together, and allows you to see how people are responding to you.

Now the other tools as you start to grow a little bit, and you want to put these tools together have then under one roof, and it can be quite difficult to say, “Okay, I’ve done an email campaign over here, and I can see who clicked. And then I’ve got a landing page, and I can see who landed on that, and then tracked. And then I’ve got some other emails that I sent out, and people clicked on those, and then eventually they landed on my site, and went through the checkout process. I’m sending another set of emails.”.

All those bits of data in different places, and it can take quite a long time to pull them together. So the advantage of the all-in-one tools is that you can see some really good reporting right the way through that sales funnel. And the two that we really strongly recommend here are, first of all, Ontraport. If you’re sending out quite large volumes, if you’re dealing with large volumes of relatively small value customers, then it’s quite a cost effective system, and they’ve just introduces a new tier of Ontraport, which is about $70 a month. Less than the $200 or $300 that it was before. That doesn’t have the E-commerce part of it, but it has all of the email marketing, and landing pages tools. So that’s quite nice. That is definitely worth a look.

The other one is Hubspot which works right the way through, and you can build entire websites from it as well, and it’s very good at saying where your customers have come from. Pushing those through into your CRM tool for your sales, and saying end-to-end where your best customers are coming from, and which ones are converting into sales. It does come at higher price point, it starts at around, I think it’s around $200. That only covers a few hundred contacts on there. And there are more ad-ons to building the website, so the cost can stack up.

But if you’re selling a relatively high value product where an investment of five, six hundred pounds or thousand dollars or so a month, making that process more efficient. If you’re spending £10,000 or $15,000 a month on your marketing, then you can certainly get more effective and more efficient by using a tool like that. So I think those are the places where Hubspot would become more effective.

So I’m really interested to hear what other tools people are using to build out their sales funnels. What problems they’ve had, and things that they really like about the tools that they’re using at the moment. So check out that link below the video or look at the comments if you’re watching this on our site, and I’d love to hear from you.

Stephen Pratley

I build email lists, that grow into one-man businesses.