Email Marketing: Why it’s Important — and How KickoffLabs Makes it Easy

Selling your online business is a lot like dating: you make your site look as pretty as possible, you say friendly things to get your “date” (i.e., the customer) to like you, you expend all this effort to keep them interested (i.e., buying your product). It is exhausting!

And important. Business relationships require just as much nurturing as their romantic counterparts, and follow-up is equally important — and woefully neglected — in both.

Not to worry! Email can fix that in a jiffy.

What is Email Follow-Up?

We wrote a whole tutorial about email marketing here, but all you really know is that consistent communication between you and your customers converts potential leads to loyal customers.

Email marketing is the easiest way to do it – and we’ve got the tools to make it as easy and painless for you as possible:

  • Newsletters – alert your customers to special promotions, or just check in on them (or say hi to new ones) by sending out newsletters tailored to different segments of your customer base. You don’t have to send it to everyone all at once; you can tailor it to your biggest spenders, inviting them to take first crack at new stock. Or even the folks who’ve given you a viral boost, which we talk about here. Build a central list on MailChimp, AWeber, or Zapier and we can easily integrate that into our system.

  • Autoresponders – Thank someone for signing up for your business or service INSTANTLY with one of our automatic emails. You can customize it to your heart’s content… and use them to reach your customer base in lots of other ways, too (like sharing your site with a friend, which we talk about below!)
  • Influencer Emails –Automatically drive word of mouth by using our influencer emails. Our analytical tools will help you recognize when customers share your content, and encourage them to keep sharing by sending them a “thank you” email the moment they do.

You can do all this on your own. We know you can. But, you’ll have to juggle multiple tools in multiple places with multiple accounts. And write a ton of emails. And schedule them. And worry about keeping your message consistent to all of those different segments of your customer base. Total headache!

That’s a hassle. We make it easy. We put all that information in one place, along with the tools to manage it. And then we automate everything for you (because we love you).  We do all the hard work you don’t want to do, saving you time and effort AND making you look like a prince in your potential customers’ eyes. Score!  Check us out.

Why is this important?

Every single one of these interactions shows your interest in your potential customer. Reaching out consistently, with polite, personalized communication that’s specific to their interaction with your site, builds trust. That trust builds a relationship, which in turn builds business.

Make the most out of those interactions. They are impressions. Do not give your leads any reason at all to drift away from your message. Check in often. Be friendly and personable. Customize your response.

See how friendly that is? Why wouldn’t your customer want to share your stuff others if you’re that friendly?

Key Takeaways

In a sea of cold, unfeeling internet businesses, you stand out like a knight on a white horse by giving a personalized response. From a real email address. You stand out by being different – and that makes you look exceptional.

Let us help you become your customers’ prince charming. There’s enough frogs out there already.

 

Get Realtime Notification AND Weekly Summaries!

We have a couple exciting changes coming to our reporting options.

The first is ready for you to use today.

Previously, you could choose to be notified about sign ups in realtime (as they happen), daily, or weekly.

Starting today, you can be notified of updates in realtime and either daily or weekly.

status email options

More Options For You!

This is a small change, but should be very helpful for those of you who need to keep customers updated on list progress, but still want the instant gratification of seeing new signups as they happen.

Lead Conversion Tracking with Google Analytics Goals

Google Analytic goals allow you to track your lead generation conversions directly within Google Analytics.

KickoffLabs has always made it very easy to take advantage of Google Analytic Goals. When a new lead signs up we notify Google Analytics for you. Starting today it gets even better.

Recently, Google rolled out a new version of their analytics called, Universal Analytics (the previous version has been named Classic Analytics).

Should I be using Universal Analytics? Short answer is yes, you should be using Universal Analytics.

Are you using it today? That is a harder question since Google currently makes you opt in when you add a new property or request the change in the Google Analytics admin.

However, the good news is regardless if you are using Universal Analytics or Classic Analytics, KickoffLabs will handle the goal tracking with no additional input from you. In other words, It Just Works!

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Finally, if you are thinking, “I couldn’t set this up”, we have updated our documentation as well and provide you step by step instructions on navigating Google Analytics and setting up the proper goal.

If you use Google Analytics along with KickoffLabs, this is something you really should set up. If you have any questions on this, please contact us at support@kickofflabs.com and we will be honored to help you.

Lessons Learned: The Seven Marketing Secrets that Grew MRR 73% in 2013

growing_kickofflabs

As we move into 2014 at KickoffLabs, we’ve decided to give you the inside scoop on the tests, pricing and marketing experiments we’ve used in 2013 to grow MRR by 73%. We’ll walk you step-by-step through every failure and success we had, and share the lessons we learned in order to help you succeed, too. Ready? Here we go!

 1. Should you charge up front or let people have a free trial?

In January 2013, we ran an experiment with trial accounts and decided to offer access to our premium accounts for the first time without committing any money. We still asked our customers to enter credit card information, but we didn’t charge them unless they chose to keep the service at the end of the monthly trial period. In 2012 we had asked people to pay as soon as they entered a credit card.

 Assumption: We thought more people would upgrade because they didn’t have to pay on the spot. They would be able to use the product for the next month and get familiar enough with it to want to continue with it.

We did get a slightly higher number of trials and signups, the percentage of customers we ended up billing actually declined. Previously, about 86% of customers who signed up for the service would make it past the first month to become a paying customer. After this experiment, that number dropped to 55% because of the people that dropped out during the trial without having paid anything.

It turns out that people that paid something up front were more invested. We could see they created and published more pages without giving up as easily. They also ended up sticking around longer past the refund period to become long term customers.

Bottom Line:  The slight positive that produced more trial signups was negated by the drop off in customer success and ultimately our ability to bill and retain them.

 

2. Should you offer a free account or go paid only?

Since launch, we’ve offered a free version of our product. The free account is limited to a small number of themes with KickoffLabs-branded URLs and pages, and our Free subscribers were able to test our services without entering credit card information.

We decided to remove free accounts on July 27, 2013 because we wanted to focus on paying customers.

Assumption: We thought we’d encourage more serious leads to convert to premium accounts by removing access to the free ones.

Immediately after we removed those accounts, our number of weekly signups decreased by 80%! Not our best move. But, what we found even more disconcerting was that our number of weekly conversions stayed flat. We didn’t increase conversions at all — and we lost the opportunity to gather more people to market future upgrades to.

Here’s that lesson in numbers: while we added 600 people to our mailing lists in July, we only added 350 in August after removing free accounts. We lost about 250 people in 2 months simply by removing the free accounts.

Those 250 people were ones we could have reached out to in other ways — through our regular updates, or Landing Pages 107. Thankfully, we were able to recoup those numbers because of this widget to capture email addresses.

KoLSS3--ECU

We lost valuable impressions by shunning the free accounts. Lesson learned.

Bottom Line: Even though we expected a decrease in signups, that decrease was much greater than we anticipated. Also, it’s ok to change your mind (we did). We brought back free accounts – and you can sign up for one by clicking here.

 

3. Does having branding on free accounts work?

For November, we gave free accounts the ability to customize their landing page domain. It would still have KickoffLabs branding, but at least they’d be able to choose their own URL. It was more freedom than they’d had before, and — again — we thought it’d convert more accounts to upgraded services.

Assumption: We thought more people would leverage the free accounts because we knew that access to custom domains was a big upgrade driver. This would lead to more upgrades, and drive more business to our site since all the pages still had KickoffLabs branding.

Again, not the result we expected. We saw upgrade rates drop 50% and it became clear that custom domains were something that pushed people to get serious and upgrade.

Another problem is that the people taking advantage of this didn’t succeed as well as paying customers did. While 75 domains were added, only 20 of them were published — and of those 20, most received little web traffic. Because they got it for free, they didn’t put work into marketing it..

This meant we didn’t get the expected boost from having our branding on truly free accounts. We went back to having free accounts simply be a way for people to get comfortable with our platform before deciding to commit money.  Since then we still get a similar number of upgrades from our branding campaigns.

Bottom Line: Free is great, but the customer who pays (even a dollar) is in a totally different group than the one who’s never paid for anything. Make sure you get the value out of your branding campaign before you cannibalize your primary upgrade drivers.

 

4. Should you increase your prices?

When we first launched our service 3 years ago, we had a different feel and focus to our product, and set our prices accordingly. We charged 15/25/49, respectively, for our Starter/Premium/Business plans and thought it was great. But as we spent the next year collecting feedback, tweaking designs, adding features, and making the software more user-friendly, we realized we were doing a heck of a lot more than we anticipated. We thought we should charge more for our services.

So we did!

The First Price Increase

On May 5, 2012 we raised our prices… the first time. We went from 15/25/49 for our Standard/Premium/Business services to 19/29/99, respectively, for new customers. We made sure to grandfather the old rates for existing customers (because we’re not jerks), and waited to see what happened.

Assumption: We thought that increasing our prices would increase revenue but  decrease our conversion rate.

Our conversion rates didn’t really fall! And our overall revenue increased almost immediately! We thought the higher rates would deter new customers from signing up, but the data proved us wrong on that one. Our cancellation rate even stayed the same.

But before you run off to double your prices, read what happened the second time…

The Second Price Increase

We spent the next 4 months further developing our product. We hired developers and designers to add some really beautiful themes. We felt we’d greatly increased the product’s value, so we raised our prices again and waited for another happy result.

Assumption: Same as the last price increase — increased revenue without a big hit to conversation or cancellation rates.

Surprise! Our conversion rates took a hit this time. They dropped nearly 35% and stayed there. The drop in conversion rates taught us what our customers were willing to pay. We froze our rates and moved onto other experiments.

Bottom line: Pricing can be easily tested and changed. Don’t be afraid to try something new! It can make a significant impact on your bottom line — just remember there will be trade-offs between growing user base and revenues/profitability. There are limits to what people will pay.

 

5. Are freemium users more likely to upgrade if you give them more before they pay?

Since we launched we’ve been adding new themes/page templates to KickoffLabs. Now we have themes for launching new businesses/campaigns, lead generation, contests, sales and more. Our Premium members have access to all of them, while Free and Starter accounts only have access to a handful of them.

Then we had a thought. “What if,” we wondered out loud, in our offices, “we gave everyone access to all of our themes? Can we convert any of the lower paying customers into higher paying ones by offering them temporary premium content?” The walls didn’t have answers for us, so between October and November 2012 we tested our idea. We gave away all of our themes for free. ALL of them. Free and Starter plan users had access to the same templates as Premium users and we crossed our fingers that they’d upgrade.

Assumption: We assumed Free and Starter plan users would be more willing to upgrade once they’d been given access to more themes.

Nope. We didn’t see a significant impact on sales or cancellations for either of those months, so we reverted back to our original plan.

Bottom line: Experiment! Even though we didn’t initially see much change, the act of giving aspects of our product away kept us thinking about how we could better serve our customers.

 

6. Do email email lifecycle campaigns work?

On December 15, 2012, we launched Landing Pages 107. The idea behind this course was to demonstrate our expertise and build trust with new customers while providing high quality content for conversion focussed entrepreneurs and marketing professionals. Anyone who signed up received emails every 3 days over a 30-day period filled with bite-sized, actionable chunks of content.

We knew it would attract users who wanted to learn more about landing pages before creating a KickoffLabs account, and we included it as a bonus for everyone who did. We hoped it would encourage new customers to opt in to our services — and it gave us 30 days to build a relationship with them that would hopefully allow them to trust us.

Assumption: We created this site, and all of its accompanying material, with the assumption that it would increase conversions by building trust and demonstrating our expertise.

It worked! Significantly! Over the next few months, we saw more and more new customers tagged with the campaign name “LP107” and our conversion rates nearly doubled before starting to plateau. We’re seeing about 10% of our paying users coming from this campaign now, and we consider that to be a success.

Bottom Line: Focus on building trust. Once you’ve earned a customer’s trust, sales will follow.

7. Does improving the first 5 minutes of your product improve the upgrade rate?

We keep a really close eye on various tracking measures, and we know where drop offs in user activity occur. We’re big on tracking our users’ first five minutes. While we noticed that the majority of users who signed up were able to pick a theme they liked and create a site, the drop off usually occurred when it was time to publish their page.

We asked our customers why, and the response we got more than any other was lack of  customization. They had difficulty making the page look the way they wanted and work the way they wanted, so they never published it.

Made sense. So we fixed it.

In October, before the update, 20% of customers that signed up ended up publishing a landing page. At the end of October, we launched a new editor to improve user experience. Previously, changes could only be made from the sidebar. Now? Users were could make changes directly on the page, among lots of other things we added in.

The result? Success! Over the next few weeks we saw a higher engagement rate. The overall percentage of pages published increase by from 20% to 27% and our upgrade rate increased a similar percentage.

Bottom Line: Use analytics to track where your users are dropping off to focus on areas of improvement.

 

Conclusion

If there’s one lesson we learned over and over at KickoffLabs, it’s test test test! We increased our pricing, made premium items free, and redesigned our page editing features — all because of testing. Testing our assumptions to find the best strategies for our customers is helping us grow in our success…. and it can do the same for you

Now it ‘s your turn! Tell us what lessons you’ve learned about your business over the past year. Have you had any surprises or successes that we didn’t touch on? Let us know in the comments below — and if you have any suggestions for us, we’re all ears! 

Limited time KickoffLabs and Powtoon Animated Video giveaway

If you stare at your webpage all day in the hopes that it’ll magically look sexier or convert better everytime you hit refresh…you might be in need of some help.

Quick fact…did you know visitors who watch a video stay on your website two minutes longer on average and are 64% more likely to buy?

But even though videos help increase click through rates and time spent on a page, a common complaint is that they’re too difficult, time consuming, and expensive to produce.

But these are excuses, and you’re smarter than that. So ask yourself…what would you do if your conversion rate was 64% higher?

How would you feel if your bank account was 64% higher overnight?

Or if you could give yourself a 64% raise?

Well to help you kick off your goals for the New Year (and possibly avoid insanity), we’ve partnered up with Powtoon to help you step up your marketing. If you don’t know what Powtoon is, click here for a 90 second video to get up to speed.

For a limited time, any new subscription of a KickoffLabs Premium or Business plan will get you a free month of Powtoon’s Agency plan ($127 value).

You’ll be able to create a professional animated video in minutes, even if you’ve never done it before! Plus, you get:

 

  • Full length videos in high definition

  • No watermarks

  • Unlimited royalty free music

  • Unlimited royalty free styles

  • Third party transfer rights

 

All you need to is sign up before we pull this deal down. That’s it! Just click here.

 

Cheers,
Josiah Choy
Marketing – KickoffLabs

p.s. This fantastic deal is probably only going to last for about 2 weeks, don’t let it slip you by.

p.p.s. Existing customers can take advantage of this by emailing support@kickofflabs.com.

Over 150 Amazing Landing Page Backgrounds To Choose From!

You have an amazing idea, with amazing copy, but you just don’t have the right background image for your campaign. Well, we’ve got you covered. This week we’ve added over 150 FREE background images you can use on ANY landing page.

Log in, edit your page, and check them out! Just go and pick a new background image and you’ll see a great selection of people, places, blurred images, and amazing wood textures to choose from.

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Here are just a few examples of our new selection… that also includes holiday themes for Christmas, New Years, and beyond!

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Check out our selection… did we miss the image you’re dreaming about? If so… just let us know.

Thanks!

Josh Ledgard

Co-Founder – KickoffLabs

Get a headstart on your New Year’s resolution – Custom domains on KickoffLabs are now FREE!

December is here, which means it’s time to get a head start on that New Years resolutions. If that includes launching a new business we’ve got a treat for you…

For a limited time, we’re allowing all users (whether free or paid) to use their custom domain with their KickoffLabs page for free. Just log in to your account, or create one here.

Your Landing Page On Your Domain Is FREE!

Adding your custom domain is easy – we’ve got videos to walk you through it step by step. For your customers/readers, this means they’ll enjoy a more fluid experience when navigating your site. No more redirecting to a separate KickoffLabs URL. It won’t cost you anything and you’ll get a dedicated landing page for all your promotional and email capturing needs!

Enjoy!

Josiah Choy
KickoffLabs

P.s. You can promote your landing pages for free with Promo – takes a minute to set up and you can easily redirect visitors to any landing page with a great call to action.

6 Great Tools To Engage Your Audience

One of the most important aspects of running an online business is clear communication with customers/visitors. This includes email communication, event planning, promotional activity/contests, customer support, and feedback generation. It’s more important now than ever to stay in touch with your users, amidst an ever changing and increasingly competitive business environment.

Here are 6 tools to help you engage with your customers.

Drip

Drip helps online marketers set up drip campaigns (also known as lifecycle email campaigns). A drip campaign is basically a series of emails (autoresponders) that are automatically sent to the reader over a defined period of time. An example of a drip campaign is our Landing Pages 107 course, which if you sign up for, will send you excellent and free educational content on improving your landing pages.

Drip has a pretty simple process:

Step 1: Choose an opt-in form (widget) which you want to put on your page.

Step 2: Customize an email sequence to send to visitors

Step 3: Install the code on your page

Step 4: Email gets sent to the reader

Features/Details:

Emails and autoresponders: As with any email service, you can send and schedule a one time email blast to your readers. You can also send out a series of pre-written emails, also known as autoresponders. The use of autoresponders for any online marketer is essential. It might take some time to prepare a series of emails, but once you set it up, it’ll run on it’s own, and you’ll be able to build trust and demonstrate expertise to the reader, warming them up for when they are ready to buy.

A/B Testing: Drip allows you to A/B test your Subject Line, To: field, and Delivery Time. You’ll be able to see how many days the campaign has been running, the number of times each email variation was sent, the open rate, and a measure of confidence for statistical significance.

Goal Tracking: Drip offers goal tracking. Goals are triggered when users visit specific URLs. This can be a quick and simple way for you to measure your goals if you have a straightforward onboarding process.

Traffic Sources: See where your traffic is coming from and the respective conversion rates. Are you getting customers through Google or a referred  website? Drip makes it easy to see where.

Custom 5 day course: They offer to create a 5 day course for your readers based on your blog posts, ebooks, or whitepapers for free.

Support: Email support.

Pricing: 3 levels of pricing ranging from  $49, $99, and $149 per month. Free 21 day trial.

Drip’s strong point is clearly on it’s autoresponder capabilities. Their platform is very friendly for beginners and their support is very responsive. The A/B testing features on their autoresponders is very useful if your product is built heavily around them. Most other providers only offer A/B testing on email broadcasts.

MailChimp

MailChimp is another email provider that helps you communicate with and manage your email list. As with any email provider, you can easily create and schedule broadcasts to your list of readers.

Emails and autoresponders: Again, you’ll be able to schedule email blasts and use autoresponders.

A/B Test: You can A/B test your Subject Line, To: field, and Delivery Time for broadcasts to your lists. However, unlike Drip, the A/B test capabilities doesn’t extend to autoresponders. So if you want to test the headlines for your drip campaign, you’ll have to do so manually.

Segmentation: MailChimp allows you to segment your list based on various criteria to focus on opportunities areas of improvement. For example, you can send a promotional email to your audience that hasn’t bought from you yet. Or if you’re planning a meet up, you can send an email based on their location. This is a very useful tool for qualifying your traffic and learning about your subscribers.

Multiple designs:  They have multiple designs and templates available for you. This is great if you don’t know how to code and don’t want to hire a designer for your emails.

Multi user accounts: If you have a large team, you can create multiple users with different levels of access.

Built in photo editing: Basic editing of photos within their program. I found this useful as I didn’t have to switch in and out between different programs to make small changes to a picture.

Tracking/Analytics: See how many people opened your email, which links got the most clicks, performance charting, and social activity.

Support: Email support.

Pricing: There is a free option if you have less than 2,000 subscribers and send less than 12,000 emails/month (the free plan has no autoresponder capability though). Fees are based on number of subscribers and emails you send out each month.

All around, MailChimp is pretty solid for what they do. The email capabilities and autoresponders work pretty well once you get the hang of it. Their free option is great for those who have small lists, but keep in mind it doesn’t include autoresponder capabilities.

Aweber

Aweber is another popular email service provider that provides a wide range of capabilities. They provide many options, boasting hundreds of email and signup form templates. Creating a newsletter is pretty straightforward, and you can send them instantaneously of schedule them for the future.

Emails and autoresponders: Yes.

Turn Your Blog Posts Into Emails: If you’re responsible for doing most of the marketing at your company, you know that sending an email and posting to your blog is more than just copy and pasting. Formatting and testing can take a lot of time for no good reason! Aweber is integrated with all major blogs so you can send posts as emails.

Signup forms: While the other email providers all offer signup forms, Aweber seems to offer the most robust forms, giving you the ability to customize and even split test them.

Segmentation: Just like MailChimp, you can segment your lists by defining criteria such as who opened a specific message, who clicked a certain link within an email, products they bought (paying customers) or custom information collected such as age or gender.

Tracking/Analytics: You’ll be able to track opens, downloads, links clicked, revenue per email, and subscriber growth/trends. You’ll even be able to see a history of the past newsletter subjects to help you keep track of the topics you’ve written about.

A/B test: This is available for email broadcasts and signup forms.

Support: Aweber offers the strongest support in the space, with live support available over the phone, live chat, and of course, email. They also  have video tutorials and free webinars you can view.

Pricing: Each month has a base fee + additional fee depending on the number of subscribers on  your list. The base fee starts off at $19/month and includes up to 500 subscribers.

Aweber is the biggest player in this space. They offer a lot of bells and whistles for those who want to get fancy. The ability to automatically turn your blog posts to email seems pretty useful. I haven’t tested this yet, but will probably try it out.

Constant Contact

Constant Contact is another email marketing service provider. They have a step by step walkthrough to help users navigate their platform and have an easy drag and drop option for editing. They also have a QuickView application which is useful for marketers sending messages on the go from their iPhone or iPad.

Plus Campaigns: Constant Contact offers “normal” campaigns, and something called a “Plus Campaign”. While a normal campaign is been something simple like a newsletter or announcement, a Plus Campaign includes a higher level of integration between your landing pages and more reporting features.

A/B testing: They don’t offer A/B testing (unless you do it manually), which may turn off a lot of marketers. But if you’re just starting off this shouldn’t be a big deal.

Image Hosting and Stock Images: If your service revolves a lot of photos and images, they offer image hosting and stock photos for your use (availability depends on pricing).

Personal Marketing Coach: If you sign up for their Ultimate package, it comes with a marketing coach to help you with your tools and marketing related needs. I signed up for a trial and their customer service seems to be very good.

Multiple users: Their essential package allows up to 3 users on one plan, while their Ultimate package allows up to 10.

Pricing: There are three tiers of starting at $15, $45, and $195 per month for up to 500 subscribers. The price at each tier goes up depending on number of subscribers as well. The lowest tier doesn’t offer autoresponder capabilities or “Plus Campaigns”.

UserVoice

If you’ve ever gotten bogged down with customer support, you know how time consuming and expensive that can be. UserVoice helps business provide and manage customer support, keeping customers happy and your reputation strong.

Helpdesk: The UserVoice helpdesk fields support tickets intuitively and easily. The end user gets a plain email reply. Before a user submits a ticket, they’ll also have articles and previously answered questions auto-suggested for them.

Leaderboard: For larger support teams, there’s a leaderboard to show who’s answering the most tickets and getting compliments from customers. Keep track of response times, average number of responses and whether the customer is happy or not.

Inspector: This is a neat tool to automatically pull data on the customer from social media and the internet without having to open another browser so you’ll have a better idea of who the customer is.

Feedback Forums: These are dedicated forums for user feedback, so you can see what customers want and what they’re unhappy with – before they leave. And of course, you’ll also be able to run surveys and questionnaires.

Measureable ROI: An ROI (return on investment) feature helps you track and measure the results of your support and how it affects usage, customer support and revenues.

Intercom

Intercom is a helpdesk, email marketing, and customer relationship management tool. With Intercom, you can hook up your users’ profile and activities with a simple JavaScript snippet, which then provides you a bird-eye view of them on its dashboard. It allows you to easily send messages to users through the dashboard. You’ll also have the ability to set up automated email based on the activities performed (or not performed) by the user.

Customer development: Their software makes it easy to identify certain segments of users and talk to them to understand why they do what they do.

Email and Lifecycle marketing: Intercom also offers autoresponders to help you stay in touch with customers to build the relationship. You’ll also be able to send out announcements and newsletters.

Customer support: Their helpdesk function makes it easy for customers to reach a real person, and for you or your team to reply quickly.

Let me know what tools you use to engage with your audience!

Thanks,
Josiah Choy
KickoffLabs- Marketing

p.s. Get a headstart on starting a business for your New Year’s resolution! For a limited time, we’ve decided to allow all free users to use their custom domains with their KickoffLabs landing page! Click here.

10 Great Tools to Automate and Outsource Your Work

Profits go to those who are always one step ahead.  And the savvy business owner always stays one step ahead by systemizing and outsourcing tasks outside of their core competency. This allows them to focus intensely on what’s in front of them.

Here are a few great tools for automating and outsourcing parts of your business.

 

Zapier

Zapier allows users to automate tasks between different online services. Instead of waiting around hoping that your favorite service will start working to integrate with other services, Zapier does that for you.

You start by setting up a “Zap”, which is essentially a rule that “if A happens, then do B”. WIth Zapier, you can automate over a dozen of KickoffLabs related events!  For example, you can automatically send every KickoffLabs lead that comes in straight to Salesforce or a CRM like Highrise.

It’s a simple tool that can spare you time from doing repetitive tasks over and over again.  Right now they boast integration with over 249 web services and offer a free plan for a limited number of Zaps and tasks per month.

Buffer

If your business relies heavily on social media, this one is for you.  Buffer helps you manage and automate (to an extent) your activity on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and App.net. I love it because I can dedicate half an hour a week and fill up a buffer of posts for our audience that goes through the next week..

People check social media at various times during the day, and Buffer lets you schedule your updates at the best times so the most people see, comment, like, and share your updates.

With their free plan, you can connect one account on each platform. With “The Awesome Plan”, you can link up to 12 different social profiles, and have unlimited posts/updates for just $10 a month. You can also add a user to have someone manage it for you, and you’ll get analytics and tracking capabilities to see how many tweets, shares and comments you get.

Elance and oDesk

Elance and oDesk are the two large companies (or websites) that people go to for their freelancing/outsourcing needs.

                   

A company or individual in need of a particular service posts a job description on the market, and contractors write detailed cover letters and bid for the job. After a round or two of interviewing, you sign the contract and it’s off to the races!

You can find almost anything you need, as the platforms are not geared to any service in particular. Contractors and companies are not qualified in advance, and although they do offer a level of protection for contractors and employers, there has been the occasional horror story, so make sure you do your due diligence. But if you proceed with caution you can probably find some great people to help with your project.

99designs

If you’re looking for a designer, check out 99designs.

They have talented designers working round the clock on logo, web page, business card, book cover designs and almost everything else you can think of.

What’s cool about 99designs is that once you launch a contest (i.e. project), you’ll get anywhere from 30 to 90 designs (maybe even 99!). We’ve used them for logo designs and to generate graphical banner ads based on the copy and dimensions required.

Once you have the designs in front of you, you pick the one you want, sign the contract to transfer the rights to the design, and that’s it!

They have 4 price levels (Bronze, Silver, Gold Platinum) depending on how much money you’re willing to spend.

FreeLancer

FreeLancer is similar to Elance and oDesk. You post your project and people bid according to your budget and specifications.

We’ve used them in the past for a similar role to 99designs for graphic designs work. To date, they’ve had over 5,000,000 completed projects, and it doesn’t cost anything for an employer to post a job.

Fiverr

Fiverr is a fun website where you can hire people to do your bidding for just $5.  Like oDesk and Elance, you could work with pretty much anyone on the internet. Services vary from professional voice overs, song recording, and pretty much everything you can imagine. You can even hire someone to spam a high a busy Starbucks with your flyers.

Pricing starts at $5, but you can buy extras and a “gig” can run up to $100.

VoiceBunny

VoiceBunny is another specialty service similar to 99designs, but with voice acting. If you hate listening to your recorded voice, hire someone to do it for you! They have thousands of voice actors with professional equipment ready for your advertisements, audiobooks, videos, and more.

They offer a full 100% guarantee (don’t pay unless you love it!) and you can hold auditions and search their database for the voice that fits your needs.  Prices vary by how long your recording session is, your required turnaround, and how you select the actor. We’ve used them to narrate our help videos and they typically have narrations back within 2-3 hours of submitting the script!

Powtoon

Creating a video takes a lot of time and costs a lot of money, so the guys over at Powtoon created some software to easily create animated videos and presentations.

If used effectively, videos can significantly increase your conversion rate.  With Powtoon, you can create one for your website, for a product demo, as a guide, or for your social media needs. Their software is easy and intuitive, and provides all the animation tools you’ll need to create a professional looking video. Videos you create are available in full HD, and it’s integrated with YouTube to make uploading easy. They also have a marketplace of people willing to create Powtoons for you.

Gun.io

The final tool we’re presenting is Gun.io. They’re an open marketplace for both full-time and freelancing software developers. Whether you’re a developer or looking to hire one, Gun.io has the resources you need.

They boast a community of tens of thousands of independent software developers from an open source community.

If you’re looking to build web or mobile apps, fix bugs, write code reviews, or design a project specification or estimate, check them out. Posting a job normally costs $250, but if you’re non-profit or if your project will be opened sourced, we’ve convinced them to let you post your project for free (you won’t find this link anywhere else!) Go here: http://gun.io/friendpost

Let us know what your favorite outsourcing/automation tool is!

Thanks,

Josiah Choy

Marketing – KickoffLabs

P.s. Here’s a bonus tool! We just created a new way for you to promote your landing pages (and it’s free).

Introducing Promo by KickoffLabs!

If you’ve ever wanted to promote something on your websites, you know it needs to stand out without being intrusive. You want a simple way to drive traffic from your main website back to your landing pages, contests, email signup, or special promotions.

We looked at all the promotions that we’ve done and that our customers have done. We figured out what worked and what didn’t and built all that knowledge into one simple, free, solution that we’re now sharing with you!

I want to promote stuff for FREE!

    

What is it?

Promo is a friendly widget you can add to your website to point visitors in the right direction. It sits on the bottom of your website and can be used to promote your contests, redirect visitors to your landing pages, or inform them of something new you’re working on. It can also take the shape of a box, diamond or circle!

You’ll be able to:

  • Redirect visitors to an optimized landing page
  • Capture email addresses instantly anywhere on the screen
  • Sign people up for your newsletter or drip campaign

And if visitors don’t want to see it, they can simply minimize it and continue on with what they were doing.

Best of all… It’s free!

Create your own promo tab here.

Thanks,

Josiah Choy