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3 Integration is the New Killer App

chainAll around us companies are innovating. New web-based applications are cropping up faster than you can count. These applications, when used as a stand alone, can make life much easier.

However, the real power of an elegantly thought out application comes when two or more application providers find ways through APIs to get their applications to work in tandem.

This is classic multiplication at work here. When one app with a fan base can start working seamlessly with another app with a fan base, all the fans win and the organizations grow exponentially through cross pollination and an enhanced feature set.

This kind of thinking is something that needs to be baked in at the strategic layer of every business – online or off.

Below are 7 examples of web apps that multiply in value when you understand how to use them together.

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7 Weekend Favs October Two

My weekend blog post routine includes posting links to a handful of tools or great content I ran across during the week.

I don’t go into depth about the finds, but encourage you check them out if they sound interesting. The photo in the post is a favorite for the week from Flickr.


Image credit: joiseyshowaa

Good stuff I found this week

Living Self-Employed Online: The Manual They Forgot to Give You – Great advice from LifeHacker


5 Must-See PowerPoint Tutorials for Creating Better Training
– These tips come from MindFlash a very promising looking online training tool

Social Media Demographics: See Who’s Using Which Sites – an interesting infographic from the folks at Flowtown

19 How to Automate a Lead Engagement System

landing pageTechnology has allowed us to move past the days when we simply drove a prospect to our website, captured their name and email address, and started them in a drip system in hopes that at some point they would click on a link in one of our emails and buy something.

Today’s lead generation system is a fully automated lead engagement system aimed at delivering the right information to the right person at the right time – and helping the sales team spot the perfect prospects ready for further engagement. By chaining together a series of web based applications you can create a system that engages, analyzes, and even gets pretty close to thinking about how to create better leads.

Below is an example of how a system like this might flow

  • Run a series of ads using Adwords and Facebook promoting a free downloadable eBook
  • Create seriously interactive and user friendly landing page forms with wufoo
  • Automatically test two versions of landing pages using a landing page tool like Unbounce or Google website Optimizer
  • Landing page success page includes Audio Acrobat audio recorded instructions on what to expect next
  • When prospect requests copy of free eBook Solve 360 CRM creates a record and sends email to Flowtown
  • Flowtown analyzes the social media activity associated with email and appends CRM record with social media data
  • Based on social media activity criteria Flowtown creates influencer alerts and tags records for segmentation
  • Segmentation information is sent to Constant Contact to enroll prospect in one of a series of email follow-up campaigns based on social media participation
  • Email series invites prospects back to a series of video landing pages using personalized URL technology from SendPepper that also creates a post card mailing with personalized data from the campaign
  • When a SendPepper pURL landing page is visited the Solve 360 CRM creates a task and the appropriate sales person receives a mobile alert to call the prospect

A system like this can be created by any size small business and gives you the kind of fire power that would make a salesperson at a Fortune 100 company giddy – as long as you also monitor every aspect using a tool like Google Analytics to help improve conversion at every step.

The entire process can be designed, monitored and tuned in such a way that it feels appropriate and elegant for each prospect that experiences it. While few things will ever replace person to person contact in the world of engagement a well designed lead engagement system is the front line tool that can help you create the know, like, and trust required to get that all important first meeting.

12 Turning an Email Address Into a Social Profile

Marketing podcast with Ethan Bloch (Click to play or right click and “Save As” to download – Subscribe now via iTunes

Imagine this scenario. You run an ad that directs someone to your landing page for a free report. They fill out the form, providing only their email address, and fifteen seconds later you receive an alert that tells you this person is a very high profile blogger, connector and influencer in your industry – just the kind of person you are looking for to pilot your new white labeled service.

flowtownThe process described above is no longer fiction due to an innovative new service called Flowtown. In this week’s episode of the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast I visited with Flowtown cofounder and CEO Ethan Bloch. Flowtown’s mission, according to Bloch, is to help businesses paint a really rich story about their customers by appending each customer’s social media activity to their record. Or, as they put it on their website – turn an email into a social profile. I equate this to the high tech version of the salesperson of past days that knew how to quickly establish some sort of common ground with a prospect or customer.

The use of social data in the business world has become so essential and so expected that I believe the day is coming when customer and prospects will assume you know a great deal about them and expect that they can discover a great deal about the people and companies that they are considering working with through their own social networks.

Bloch shares a quote from his cofounder Dan Martell that I think is so true these days – “you already know everyone you need to know, you just don’t know who they are”

The power of Flowtown is simplicity and the growing number of integrations with service providers such as MailChimp, Campaign Monitor, Wufoo, and Unbounce.

In case you hadn’t gathered, I think Flowtown is a tool that every marketer needs in the toolbox.

The Duct Tape Marketing Podcast is brought to you by Fairfield Inn & Suites Small Business Road-to-Success Challenge

5 Weekend Favs January Twenty Three

I’ve added a weekend post routine that I hope you enjoy. Each weekend I write a post that features 3-4 things I read during the week that I found interesting. Generally speaking it won’t involve much analysis and may range widely in topic. (Flickr image included here is also fav image of the week)

snow
Image credit:

Enjoy!

Good stuff I ran across this week:

  • Nutshell Mail – Manage social networks through email. An interactive digest of all your social media activity delivered to your email inbox.
  • Flowtown – if you have a person’s email you can turn it into an entire social profile – great way to append social media activity and profiles to all of your email records.
  • iSites – Create and update your very own smart phone (iPhone, Android) apps on the fly.