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Treating Your CMS & CRM as One

Welcome to Press This, the WordPress community podcast from WMR. Here host David Vogelpohl sits down with guests from around the community to talk about the biggest issues facing WordPress developers. The following is a transcription of the original recording.

David Vogelpohl: Hello everyone and welcome to Press This the WordPress community podcasts on WMR. This is your host, David Vogelpohl, I support the WordPress community through my role at WP Engine, and I love to bring the best of the community to you hear every week on press this as a reminder, you can find me on Twitter @wpdavidv, or you can subscribe to press this on iTunes, iHeartRadio, Spotify, or download the latest episodes at In this episode we’re going to be talking about driving massive growth by treating your CMS, and your CRM as one is joining us our conversation, I’d like to welcome, Anthony, Cassara, Anthony, welcome. So much.

Anthony Cassara: Pleasure to be here.

DV: Awesome. Glad to have you here and I know we mentioned some acronyms in this kind of topic here and Anthony can tell us what these acronyms mean but really looking forward to Anthony he’s with a company called True productions to share his thoughts on common CMS plus CRM strategies, how sometimes they missed the mark and then strategies you can use to kind of use your CMS and CRM together to operate as one funnel and I think this is a really powerful combination is really glad to talk today. Here with Anthony about all this. Alright, Anthony, I’m gonna ask you the same question I asked every guest briefly tell me your WordPress origin story.

AC: Great question, our WordPress origin story came from many years ago, back when WordPress. In fact, I actually had one client today that was 3.9, and they, their WordPress version was still 3.9 I was like, Whoa, my goodness, but we’ve been using WordPress as a company, since 2008 I want to say. And that was back when trying to migrate it was a full time job and you had to have a master’s degree in computer software to figure out how to actually move these things around but we got started in it because clients wanted to be able to blog. And that was when the themes were all PHP and you had to hard code, everything so we’ve been using it for a really long time and we actually love seeing all the changes and how the builders have gotten better and better and the security has gotten better and the speed. So, we’ve been pushing it for a long time but it goes all the way back to about 2008

DV: Interesting, so this would have been two years before custom post types and post meta were introduced into course, this is pretty early pre CMS even, I consider CPTs and custom meta as the moment when WordPress becomes like a true CMS to you like going back to WordPress prior to its CMS days. That’s really interesting. You know, I looked up while you’re talking like what percentage of WordPress sites run on WordPress version 3.9 And it’s point 3% That’s how rare it was what you found yesterday.

AC: It was, it was insane so they called us and said hey, our website is showing this kind of php execution error can you find out what’s going on. We don’t host their website so if we were hosting an N WP Engine, we wouldn’t have that problem because WP engine would never let us even get that, that low of 3.9 but when we looked at it, it was just it was chaos, so the only way to fix it was to revert back before they tried to update it and hopefully we’ll get them to update their website it’s been many years and they’re, they’re hosting it on just a random cPanel with Hostgator so you can. I would bet that they don’t have backup and they don’t have anything that they really need to move forward but yeah 3.9 That is going back I mean the menus were like teal color. If I remember correctly I mean that’s how far back it was, yeah,

DV: nice, nice Wayback Machine. Well, I love it good public service announcement about keeping WordPress at the day. Yes, but tell me a little bit about true productions What do y’all do they’re in like maybe even in the lens of like CMS and CRM strategies just from a high level.

AC: Got it. We are a digital agency downtown Chicago, been in business since 2008. We specialize in three main things we do website development, video production and marketing automation services, the marketing automation division is that tie between building a website and then having a talk to a CRM, such as keep or Active Campaign, Salesforce, those are the top three that we find ourselves constantly logging in and out of for our clients but it’s, we do those three things, either for one client, or we can treat them all as separate projects, and so the, what we like about our model is that if one is kind of slower than the other one helps carry it. So in our 12, plus year history, we’ve had a really good run in certain cyclical seasons of websites being truly amazing and having a ton of work there and then having video kind of carry it to so we’re very unique in that you can call one company, and have us, talk to you about websites and email set up and we can build you campaigns we can host you.

DV: I like these three, you’re kind of like these different parts of the business which is interesting and I guess I just see like how you’re threading the story here right now obviously video gets folks engaged and you have a marketing automation side as well as like the website. So like from a high level though, I mean, I think most of the audience probably knows CRM stands for customer relationship management software. So these are things like Salesforce. And then the second thing we’ve been talking about is the CMS or in this case WordPress content management system. And so like when people think about this though, right, like it’s almost like you have like web developers that are thinking about the website and CMS, and then you have like salespeople and marketers like thinking about leads and like how we’re going to deal with them and things like this. And often they’re different things, and even these groups will kind of battle with each with each other even sometimes but like, what is the common path for integrating say your content management system in your CRM, and then like, how do folks go about that like the wrong way like I kind of mentioned ways people might have friction with that, like what do you think about that.

AC: Definitely. When we get a phone call, almost always it’s from somebody who is deeply troubled or they’re stressed out, they’re aggravated, they’ve had a bad experience with another firm. They are desperately trying to get back on track, they’re trying to save their budget they’re trying to save their project we single handedly exist because we answered the phone. And because we listen, when somebody talks to us, and we don’t try to shove the tool down their throat, because it’s just like if I was a photographer, and I’m the best photographer. Do you care if I’m shooting with a Nikon or Canon camera, or do you care what lens I’m using, I would argue the answer is no, people don’t necessarily care what the tool is they want to know what the end result is going to be. And what we found is that most of the time, the client, they can’t even articulate what their vision is because they don’t know about what’s really possible, so the average person calls us and says, I’ve got a website, it’s got a contact form, the contact form isn’t working, can you help me, and then that leads to a much bigger conversation about, hey, you know, where do these emails go when they are working, and it’s like oh, it just goes to my inbox, and then that’s how we kind of bridge the gap and and tell them about, you know what’s happening when you get the email. Do you follow up with every lead Are you letting some fall through the cracks and then that kind of bridges the gap into the CRM conversation like,

DV: it sounds like from the high level then kind of this this notion of missed the mark for some businesses is really just not knowing what they’re trying to achieve. It sounds like you’re paying them for not knowing about the tactics, it’s like you’re saying like, well, what are you actually trying to do here,

AC: it’s, it’s amazing when we just take ourselves out of the product, because a lot of, lot of companies will try to push the product or they’re committed to this product because that’s what they know and like and that’s fine, but where the real magic happens is when you just talk to the client and say, What exactly are you trying to do, you know like, can you articulate in layman’s terms, what, what’s wrong, or where are you now, where do you want to get to. And when you actually sit back and listen, almost always, there’s a product or service that you’re really good at that magically just weave in and work without having to jam it down, down their throat. So like we’ve got this really, this one client that does a ton of stuff with Facebook ads, so they’re really engaged in it now, And their biggest hurdle is knowing how they’re spending their money, and they want us to help them with their with their tracking so like, naturally and organically we will we will evolve with the client as they evolve with whatever strategy that they’re focused on so like lately we’ve been doing a lot with Facebook ad tracking that we haven’t done before. And it was as simple as just, we watched videos we educated ourselves we talked to some industry experts to make sure that we’re doing it properly. And now we learned a new skill that we can then use when the client is either talking to us about it or asking us for some sort of stretch.

DV: It’s like, to your point, though, like once they focus on the outcome, it’s like the tactics then become more clear, it’s like the old, I can’t get this HubSpot form on the page, it’s like what are you trying to achieve and my sellers. Okay, cool, you don’t necessarily have to use HubSpot form to achieve that outcome, but like, really getting to the root of it to your point, like sometimes there’s something like off the shelf and easy to accomplish that outcome. And it gets a really salient point, thank you for making it kind of want to dive a little deeper though into some of the tactics that folks can use, but we’re going to take a quick break. We’ll be right back.

DV: Eeryone welcome back to Press This WordPress the podcasts on WMR. We’re in the middle of our episode driving massive growth by treating your CMS and CRM as one. Our guest here Anthony was telling us a little bit around how folks missed the mark sometimes so their CMS and CRM strategy around not really being clear about their objectives. Thanks for sharing that tip Anthony. So, if, like, that’s one way folks missed the mark company understand like What’s your philosophy when you, when you go to integrate like CSRS and CRM to kind of a cohesive strategy.

AC: So the way that I can articulate that for you, is having the ability to know somebody by name, and allowing. Allowing us to help you log in the person into your website so that we know them, we can spit out any information that’s stored in the database, we can ask them questions and we can send them on this Choose Your Own Adventure journey. I am a huge believer of taking somebody through the sales process and not, not exclusively doing it through automation but helping the sales team, helping the marketing team look like they’re 25,000 people strong and just waiting for the day when they have to call you back. That’s when I’ve seen it work the best, so if you missed the mark by just trying to convoluted and use too many tools, I would say having it so that your CRM. In this case, I can say like key. So if, if I had you fill out a form on the website. I now have you in the system. I know your name. I know your phone number, I know everything that I asked you for in that form. From there, that you should absolutely have automatic follow up of some kind, whether it’s because they told you that they like option A, from the contact form, every email that they see moving forward should be all about option A, they should be on a special option, a track that talks to them about option A, gives them pictures and videos and links all about option A, we’d like to take it a step further and say, because they told you who they are and what their email is get them logged into your website. Many people think about a membership site as recurring revenue that somebody pays you monthly to have access to it. We would challenge you to think in terms of having a having a logged in, membership experience, but it allows you to give those five to seven touches before they’re going to commit to you. So you could use the login, logout abilities from the CRM and the website talking to each other, to really help the sales process or even post sale. So, hey, Joe. Thanks for buying x, because you bought x log in to have supportive materials on it, or here’s how you see it, and then follow up with them. Three days later, seven days later, listen for when a link is clicked, listen for when a video was watched you know wait for a page to be loaded all of those things that people are doing all day long, are all triggers that you can use to make sure that you’re moving the conversation forward, even after you’ve got the sale, the most important step, honestly, is to deliver him satisfied. We’re a big believer of the seven stages of the cusp of the perfect customer lifecycle. That’s pretty much our Bible.

DV: Wow that’s awesome Anthony, I think it’s interesting you know we had an episode number of weeks back with a gentleman named Bill Erickson, and he was talking a lot about how the browser how browsers in particularly the last major browser, Chrome in 2022 will sunset support for third party cookies, and he was talking about like, well, How are publishers going to deal with this because this has a material impact to the CPMs they get for ad units, right, and he said one of the strategies that they were approaching was trying to find reasons to get people to log into the site, so they could, you know, learn more about them through their permission of course, and then like be able to show them more relevant ads. And it was funny because like you were talking about this notion of having people log in and having, you know, the fact that a membership site doesn’t have to be like a paid content site, right, that that that gating effect, you know, it’s great for your data, it’s great for your sales, it’s great for your email, but it’s also good to personalize that experience and to use that personalization as bait to earn the login if you will, is absolutely how you’re looking at,

AC: absolutely I mean, there are tools like pick snippets, is one that we use that allows us to make the header of the email have any text and words that we can find from what we are storing in the CRM tool. So, we make tickets that render the ticket renders, when the email renders, we do specialized email countdowns just using basic HTML, where the email will start the timer when they first see the first email and then every time that they revisit the email, the counter is ticking down to their date. And so everybody can have a specialized date it’s great for promos and discounts, like, you know, hurry you have 24 hours before we’re going to expire this

DV: says I think about this and like I’ve talked to a lot of people and deployed strategies like this myself through various projects over the years but like the barriers to people doing this is like well that’s a lot of work, how do I know it’s gonna work and then like, every time you create one of these personalized thingies you end up with like 10 variants of content you have to maintain and tasks. And so it’s like this, amplifying amount of work when you, when you sometimes approach these strategies do you have any tips for like, minimizing the amount of work required

AC: best way that you can help yourself is to draw out the funnel. So we actually tell our clients, we have the strategy meetings with them where we have a whiteboard, and the top of the whiteboard I just draw a big V to represent the opening of a funnel, and then at the bottom, I draw $1 sign. And we just, we go through this exercise, and I say okay, how do we get them to drop into the funnel and then what am I doing with this person to get them to buy, and we have worked with businesses that have been around for 40 years and they can’t answer this question or they look at me like I’ve got, You know four eyeballs. And like a lot of times, nothing is said, and so I’ll have to push them like well what about, you know, this or what about this and then they go, Ah ha ha So businesses that we work with at least the majority of them have a lot of great pieces, but they’ve never actually put the pieces together, to, to look at in one visual for themselves. How does somebody actually go from finding our phone number somewhere to giving us credit card or to paying for a good or paying for some sort of a service, if you actually put that vision map out the process visually any way that you can pen and paper pencil right digital Whatever. Get it drawn out and put yourself in the shoes of the person going through it. And then, naturally that your CRM will do something like that you know your any CRM that’s out there now has, has If This Then That.

DV: So let’s, like, let’s put ourselves in some shoes here Anthony like, let’s talk about one of your projects and give us a real world example here, and we’ll get this example and then we’ll, we’ll cover the rest of the next break.

AC: Yeah so we have a person that is he sells. He sells a subscription service for his site where he has a series of videos, and he has, it’s a whole education model. It’s an add on or mental health, so if you are somebody who’s seeing a mental health professional of some kind. Then, the whole point is that a practitioner would sell his service. And so he’s got this great model where the practitioner says go on for free. Try it out, see if you like it. So the whole time that the person is engaging with this we know that they’re on a trial. So our opening of our funnel is word of mouth, or somebody signs them up for one. When they first log in, we know that they first logged in, which triggers a whole journey, if they haven’t logged in in a while, then we know that they haven’t logged in something that we put them on a separate path. From there, if they go, if they accept terms and conditions we know that they’ve accepted that so then we move them forward every step and every action that they’re doing. During the trial, we’re, we’re logging it, and we’re doing an if then based on how much engagement they’re they’re doing so we give them. We support the engagement that they’re doing, if they are engaged. And if they’re not engaged at all. We try to get them to at least start. And so that’s all what’s happening in two weeks time and then after the second week, we have a decision that they, that we have to present in front of them look are you going to buy this or not. And then if they say no thanks, we have another track for them that says Okay, a couple days after they say no, extend the trial tell them we’re extending it and give them more supportive videos that help them understand the benefits of being a paid member.

DV: It sounds like it’s a lot about like mapping these out, and then it’s to your point, like you’re kind of thinking about it through both email touches via the CRM, leveraging data within the CRM to personalize their experience within this, in this case of course. And, you know, iterating on that ultimately to try to drive the outcomes that you’re trying to achieve with this particular customer. Like how you’re taking it like slow and methodically and like real simple like you draw your V and like what do you really want to do I think right breaking things down to this simple components is how you get to this good outcomes. I want to kind of dig a little deeper, though, we’re going to take a quick break. We’ll be right back.

DV: Welcome back to press this WordPress community podcast on WMR and deliver episode around driving massive growth by treating your CRM and CMS as one. Anthony, right before the break, you were giving us a real world example of one of your clients with a video course and kind of talking about all the little nuanced parts of that funnel. I’m just curious like from a tool perspective, like you mentioned some of CRMs already but like what are your favorite plugins for integrating CMS and CRM is like use off the shelf stuff, do you have like hand code everything like, how do you do it.

AC: We use WordPress with Memberium, or I remember 360 Either one of those tools, connects the keep CRM to the website. So if, let’s use keep as our example as our CRM. So if we’re sticking with the CRM key. Then we use Membury M or I remember 360 That makes everything available to the contact available to us on the website. So that’s how we can say hi, comma, Anthony,

DV: you know like achieving it. Use membership software, right, to get the kind of personalization effects, and then within the membership Software. In this case member area or I remember 360 They have integrations and the CRM side and what was the one you’re referencing. So keep key. Okay, got it. And that’s a SaaS based right it’s a real service,

AC: okay it was formerly known as Infusionsoft, they just, okay, yeah, I didn’t realize they rebranded yep yeah so they went through that about a couple months ago I think a year and then it’s been like, slowly changing over to keep.

DV: Okay, so when you do like Salesforce is is that you tend to use that same approach by leveraging the in plugin integrations within Imperium and I remember

AC: a lot of it, if for Salesforce we use tools like Zapier, which, because the clients want to be able to get in there a little bit too so Zapier, has been a phenomenal tool to basically just say if this then that and get data from here over to here, or wait for something to happen. In this case, like what, yeah, what’s one of the events you might use so we, we did a pretty, pretty cool one for a financial client so this, this, this guy said, Look, I have this crazy long form that I need people to fill out. And people don’t really fill it out or they kind of give up halfway through, or I got to hound them but it’s important stuff that matters to us and we need this stuff to get into Salesforce, but we can’t send them a link to fill it out in Salesforce because doesn’t work that way. So what we did is we took Gravity Forms on WordPress. We made a nice form that allows them to save their progress it has paid it has pagination on it, and we made the form very user friendly, when the form is completed, we trigger a zap in Zapier, that says, when this form is submitted, take the data, look for an existing person in Salesforce. If you find somebody then update all their fields. If you don’t find that person then create them. Either way, once you’ve either found or created the person, and updated the fields. The next step is we want you to assign a task and create a opportunity for this person inside of Salesforce, We also want you to send an email via SendGrid that says thank you, and a text message via Twilio that says, Thank you. So that’s, that’s a really good like from start to finish how we would use Zapier to connect to systems that wouldn’t normally talk, then we take it a step further by using Zapier and Twilio to have when you’re looking at the form it looks scary right there’s like a ton of fields. So what we do is when you scroll to a certain part of the page, we use Elementor as our main builder. There’s this thing in Elementor that says, you know wait for a scroll event so we say all right, when we know that they’re looking at the fields of the form, trigger a pop up that has a different gravity format this form, says, give me your cell phone number, and let’s make this easier, so like, hey, a random person I don’t know who you are yet. If you comfortable with it, give me your cell phone, we’ll go check our database, see if you exist. If you exist, then we’re gonna send you an email and a text message with a special link that you can use to get right back to this form, but all of the data that we already have on you is pre populated, so you don’t have to work as hard and we accomplish that by using Twilio SendGrid Zapier and Gravity Forms.

DV: Well, wow, that was incredible I was taking notes and not just my show notes to know how to continue the conversation but like actual notes I’m going to go back and do some stuff with that was awesome Anthony Thank you. Yeah, that was a very clever zap I had not thought of using that way relative to forms and odd data configurations in Salesforce. Very clever. Thank you for sharing that.

AC: Yeah, and how we actually get the data back to the form is Gravity Forms are a lot of form builders allow past variables so what we do is in Zapier, they have a URL shortener, and they have like a URL encoder slash decoder tool that’s built into their program. So like, all we’re doing is, if we find you. Then we make this crazy long hyperlink that has all your data passed in it but we wanted to make it secure for you so we then shorten it, so we use a URL shortener tool. So when you see the link, it’s like, 10 characters long, but then when you click it, it expands, and then the form gets all the data passed to it from the URL.

DV: Now that’s great so you can get right back in there and his API is very deep like that, well, Anthony, thank you so much for covering all this today.

AC: Sure. Awesome.

DV: If you’d like to check out more about what Anthony is up to please visit true, thanks everyone for listening to press this WordPress community podcast on WMR. Again, this has been your host, David Vogelpohl I support the WordPress community through my role at WP Engine, and I love to bring the best of the community to you here every week on Press This.

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