The Business of Internal Training and Raw Talk on Course Completions with ActiveCampaign’s Director of Education Chris Davis

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Learn about the business of internal training and raw talk on course completions with ActiveCampaign‘s director of education Chris Davis in this episode of LMScast with Chris Badgett of the LifterLMS team. Chris and Chris dive into how you can create an awesome learning environment for your students and feed learners’ passion for growth.

For those unfamiliar with it, ActiveCampaign is an intelligent email marketing and sales automation platform that makes it easy to design a sophisticated and automated marketing campaign. ActiveCampaign is a CRM (Customer Relationship Management) email marketing tool.

The business of internal training and raw talk on course completions with ActiveCampaign's Director of Education Chris DavisInternal training is the process or effort to ensure your employees are as well versed or better than your customers. Most people don’t think of online courses as a means of internal training, but it can serve that purpose beautifully. As Chris Davis emphasizes, internal training is very important for fast growing companies to have in order to become sustainable in the long run.

Chris Davis touches on the important point that you should always know your weaknesses as a company, and don’t be afraid to admit them. If you acknowledge your pitfalls and align your brand with what you do well, then you can double down on what you are good at, and your customers will give you credit for being straightforward and honest.

Promoting a culture of learning is a huge part of of creating successful online courses. Chris Badgett points out that it is rare to see a successful stand-alone course today. Many high performing online courses offer some sort of value in addition to the course content itself. That additional value can take the form of prizes you win as you complete the course, live calls, private coaching, and much more.

A lot of course creators focus too much on completion rates and not enough on value. The majority of people making online courses are experts in their fields, and they end up packing their course with too many nuggets of advice or wisdom. That actually discourages people from really absorbing the information, because they get overloaded.

To learn more about Chris Davis and the things they have going on at ActiveCampaign, head to And be sure to check out to see the educational resources they have over there about ActiveCampaign, entrepreneurship, and business topics in general. You can sign up for their office hours there as well. You can also find Chris on Twitter at @AutoBizChris.

You can find out more about how you can use LifterLMS to build your own online courses and membership sites at If you like this episode of LMScast, you can browse more episodes here. Be sure to subscribe to our newsletter for updates, developments, and future episodes of LMScast. Thank you for joining us!

Episode Transcript

Chris Badgett: Hello, and welcome back to another episode of LMScast. My name is Chris Badgett, and I’m joined by our special guest, Chris Davis, from ActiveCampaign.
How are you doing, Chris?
Chris Davis: Chris, I’m doing great. Man, I can’t wait for the podcast.
Chris Badgett: Before I start the podcast, I usually write down the person’s name at the top just so in case I ever forget, but I do not need to do that with you, so thank you for making that easy.
I listen on Chris’s podcast, the ActiveCampaign podcast. There’s great episodes. He’s a great interviewer, so I’m really looking forward to where this conversation goes.
Chris is the director of education at ActiveCampaign. ActiveCampaign is a CRM email marketing tool. We use it. It’s actually our main email marketing CRM tool at LifterLMS. We’ve been using it for years. We love it. We use it with our ecommerce store, depending upon some of our training courses that we use for internal training and training the public. We’re applying tags through something called WP Fusion to get that contact and that data into ActiveCampaign. It’s all kind of mixed together, but I wanted to start by asking you … We talk a lot on this show about creating courses, selling courses, marketing courses, instructional design. Sometimes, this concept or this segment of the market called internal training doesn’t get enough attention as it should. What is internal training and how do you approach it?
Chris Davis: Yes, man, I’ll define what it is and I’ll give you like my three-pillar approach for the department of education. Before I say it, it’s … You and I were talking. It’s really tough at times because this is a new space. If you Google director of education, you’re going to get a bunch of universities, and this is totally different because this is ActiveCampaign kind of trailblazing and making a strong case of why a company, a fast growing company should focus time and effort on education. So when you do that, what I found in my time here is internal education is critical, and you can define internal education, internal education easily by saying it’s the process or effort to ensure your employees are as well versed or better than your customers.
Chris Badgett: Yeah, that’s-
Chris Davis: Right?
Chris Badgett: That’s super cool.
Chris Davis: Right, because here’s the thing. You’re going to have power users, Chris. You’re going to have power users, and they spread the word community. Now we’re Web 3.0. Maybe it’s 4.0 now. I don’t know what .0 we’re at, but people are sharing knowledge faster. So, now, when someone fills out a support ticket or they come to you for an answer, and the answer that you … that would’ve been okay a few years ago, but, now, since they know more about your platform than you, now it looks, it’s a bad light on your customer service and the customer experience. So that creates a huge opportunity for internal education to say, okay, my job is to ensure that, when someone calls, at bare minimum, you’re at the same intellectual level, not just-
Chris Badgett: I love that-
Chris Davis: … in the application, but all of the areas around the application, marketing, business planning strategy and all of those things.
Chris Badgett: Yeah, that is a great insight. There’s a lot of focus on education based marketing where you use courses to get leads, free courses, and email mini courses and all these things. But what about once you’ve got that lead? I mean, that happens to us also as a software company where there’s power users. There’s people that have been developing inside our … LifterLMS is WordPress based. WordPress has been around for a while. If a Web developer comes in, who knows how to read code and everything, and they’re looking for something, we need to be able to meet them where they’re at with their support question. So that’s a really good point.
Let’s talk about some of the other benefits of internal training. I’ve always thought about like … The traditional approach at a new job is people will be like, “All right, you’re going to shadow Jane. Hang out with Jane,” and it’s really like kind of inefficient. What if Jane’s an all-star? What if she quits? Can you talk a little bit more about that?
Chris Davis: Yeah. You know what? I like to use what is often a disadvantage as an advantage. For most companies, you’re going to struggle in one area and it’s because of technology and just how things have changed. People going to social media as the primary means of support, it … Oh my goodness, it drives … Every SaaS owner right now just was, “Yes.” It was a rejoicing. Yes, I know. Why do people go to social media?
So, the thing I like to do is switch it. It’s already going to be a thorn, so when I’m getting somebody up to speed or like you said, the shadowing, the process of really defining out what that internal education is, I use what people are posting on social media, and I use those as teaching points because even when someone’s complaining they’re saying something. I don’t want to say everybody has something valid to say. Some people should just leave the computer alone and go do something with their time. But a lot of times people don’t know how to ask the question. Maybe the question that they’re asking really isn’t about what they really need help with.
So being able to listen to it and then take it back and break it down internally and say, “Hey look, this is what they’re asking.” And if I’m not breaking it down internally, I’m using that to guide the type of content I’m creating internally. Because I view it as the education internally as it’s a insurance plan, it is your insurance plan because not only does it, is it your aid to help ensure that everybody on board is savvy and up to speed, but like you said if so and so leaves you’re not at a total loss, you’re still a learning curve, but you have some resources there-
Chris Badgett: Capture their value.
Chris Davis: Exactly, and I love to pull it from real life experience, so communities or whatnot, but not raw. If you pull it raw, that’s where people … You lose it. You’ve got to run it through an intelligence filter, which most of the time is me saying, “Okay, this is why you keep seeing this question.”
Chris Badgett: Yeah, it’s always the question behind the question and what’s the subtext because people don’t … and support anyways, people don’t always, they don’t know … They’re not necessarily aware or they don’t know how to ask the question in the exact perfect way.
Chris Davis: There you go. There you go.
Chris Badgett: I wanted to ask you a little bit about like at LifterLMS we have a training course and our customers can take it, our prospects can take it. If somebody new is coming onto support, I make sure they take it, so like you said, they have at lest the same starting point. But then there’s some things that in internal training that are … It’s really just inside the company. It’s not for the public. What kind of courses can companies benefit from making internal training about that are really just kind of behind the IP wall?
Chris Davis: Yes. Yes. So …
Chris Badgett: IP being intellectual property. They’re private. They’re not meant for public.
Chris Davis: Yeah, this is a really good question because the basic check mark is your HR and compliance and all of that. But then where it gets really interesting is what feature releases. If you think about a future release you have the basic functionality what it does. Most of that can be fed through an IP filter still, and reach externally and it pretty much be the same match. But what you want to do internally is give insight to your employees on how people would be using it, what they’ll trip up on, and what it doesn’t do.
Now the second you publish that customer face and what it doesn’t do, it could be the greatest feature ever Chris, and you’d be like, “Now with the click of a button have your shopping cart built, customers coming in, payment being taken, and all of this money directly deposited into your account.” And it could not do one thing, but you can change the color of the button. That’s all they … Everybody will be like, “It sure would be nice if my button could match my brand.” Forget the fact that you can make millions of dollars just by pushing a button. They focus on that one little thing.
What we do often is prepare them. I think I heard … I think it was a comedian. I can’t remember. It may have been Kevin Heart. It was one of the comedians that their perspective was I will make fun of me before you to do, so I take that power away. It’s the same approach. So let me highlight these, the limitations of it, so I can educate you internally on it so when you see it in a support ticket you’ll be able to handle it. When you’re on a success call you’re already primed to be able to handle it because you’re aware of it, instead of a customer highlighting that shortcoming and taking you by surprise.
Chris Badgett: I think that’s such a powerful insight because one of the things that course creators and membership site people have to do is … the expert, the community builder, the instructional designer, the technologist and the entrepreneur, it’s a lot to juggle. But one of the expert things is being a guide. So if you have that, like you, like me I’ve been in a while, I can hear in my head literally what customers are going to say before they see that new feature. My business partner Thomas will tell me when he’s bringing something over to me, I can tell he’s kind of a little bit edgy. “All right, I just want you to know as soon as we release this, this is what they’re going to ask for, and we have a whole system like this is how a feature request goes, this is how voting happens,” all this, but he has that Jedi, he knows what the customers are going to say before it hits broad daylight.
I think that’s part of the leadership, is just helping people who perhaps haven’t … aren’t as highly developed internally inside the company. They’re relying on the leadership for those kinds of insights and advance notice. And then now you’re helping them develop their Spiderman sense.
Chris Davis: Exactly, and Chris, I use everybody man. I’m a department but I feel like everybody here is part of my department because everybody has a different intelligence level in this stuff. I like to talk to people who have no clue. I’ll talk to our events manager, our finance officer about these features and see what questions they ask, because I know by default I’m too close, I just understand it too much. So I don’t always have to go out to face the community and all of those things to get a raw first impression. When I say it, “Hey, what do you think this does,” be like, “Oh great, you’d be able to do this and that.” Actually no, no you won’t be able to do that, but that does make sense, [inaudible 00:11:42] be able to do that.
Chris Badgett: That’s super cool. How do you promote a culture of learning inside a company because not every company, like you said, this is new stuff, this is not … The director of education isn’t a position that most companies have. I mean, creating that position is part of that, but how do you create that inside of a company?
Chris Davis: Yeah. I’m going to preface this one by telling everybody, Chris, if you asked me this three months from now, it’ll probably be a little different. I think the underlying, like the core will be the same, but when … How I look at it is, yeah, it’s interesting because what you don’t want, you don’t want people to approach education as a check box. Because the check box approach is your enemy.
Chris Badgett: When you hear the words like mandatory, required, continuing education requirements, I mean that’s big business, but that’s not necessarily the culture you want, right?
Chris Davis: Dude, it is… Okay, so for instance, let’s get transparent, for instance we use … Internally the platform that we use for our training is called Lessonly. Now Lessonly knows I have nothing but appreciation for them, great company out of Indiana. They just had a conference we went to. Our team loved it. However, when I get an email from Lessonly, do you know what it says? Assignment do. You know what I’m saying?
Chris Badgett: Yeah.
Chris Davis: You have been assigned and then the name of the course. Immediately that puts me in check box mode, immediately it’s like, “I’m already busy, I already have stuff to do,” and what hurts me Chris is if you go to my educational content that has been created and you treat it like a check box, which means you’re just browsing through it really quick to take the quiz and be done. That doesn’t help me.
So how do you create this culture of learning where really right in the thick of it and one is changing the language. We have an open ticket out to Lessonly saying, “Is there a way that we can just change, make our own notification text for one,” and then two is, Jamie, she’s the one that does all of our internal education courses. She adds gifts. She makes it fun. We had one on fishing. I think it was fishing. Yeah, PH fishing, and it was so good. It was so funny. The images she was using and everything just to lighten it up, to make it … It’s almost like getting kids to eat vegetables, you dress it up and kind of sneak it in. When I was a kid my mom had to sneak it in and then by the end she was like, “Hey Chris, you just ate peas.” “Oh my. Dang it. You got me.” So it’s almost like making the experience so fun that you forget your learning and at the end you have learned and you’re like, “Oh, yeah, that makes sense.”
Chris Badgett: I think about that actually when I’m conceptually designing software, I think back to my real life before internet, pre-internet. I mean learning happens everywhere. There’s some experiences when you’re learning something like riding a bike, playing basketball, rock climbing, or taking machines, TVs apart and putting them back together, whatever it is where you’re intrinsically motivated from the inside. It’s not a mandatory extrinsic check box you got to do. I mean, there is a place for those kinds of courses. I mean, some people need compliance stuff but …
Chris Davis: Absolutely, can’t get away from it.
Chris Badgett: If motivation is a factor you want people to be like internally motivated. I just wanted to say that.
Chris Davis: Right, yeah. Also, accountability, accountability comes in. We started doing reporting so that departmental we can see, “Hey, look, you’re in the 50%. What are you going to do to get that number up there? Who do you need to talk to?” And then give the managers access to that report on a person level so that they can go and check in and push for people to get them completed.
Other things like internally it’s a bit easier to get feedback than if you have like a customer facing portal, but internally we can ask. We ask like, “Hey, is there anything a) that didn’t make sense, or any courses you would like to see?” What’s been really nice, Jamie is a champion of most of the ideas that I’m telling you, and one of the most recent ideas she had was like, “You know what? To get people excited about it we can put people in them, so now they can coauthor these lessons.” And if you’re a coauthor to a lesson, now not only are you guaranteed to take it, but you’re going to share it with your coworkers. “Hey, this is one that I did. Did you take it yet?” This, this, and that. So really just making people feel involved in the process, seeing themselves in it, and also making it enjoyable goes a long way. Now that’s beyond just understanding this is your job and you need to do that. You have to do that. Then I will say the third piece is marketing it internally. So …
Chris Badgett: Oh, internal marketing, that’s-
Chris Davis: Right?
Chris Badgett: Cool idea. It’s not just about selling the public, right?
Chris Davis: Dude, listen. Chris, listen to this. This is hot off the press. You caught me at the right time man. I was walking into the office the other day and I ran through a mental exercise that we do as marketers. As marketers you look at your website, you look at everywhere that you can place messaging and you list those out, you take inventory. Okay, my login page, I can use that for capturing. Okay, the bottom of a blog post, oh, the thank you page, oh, when people are about to exit. So you have a list of all of these places you can capture.
Well, Chris, I came in to work one day and I’m looking at the TV monitors displaying, they’re displaying announcements. We’ve got a blackboard that’s written on it that shows the lunch every day. We’ve got all of these internal display networks that I’m like, “Oh my goodness. These can serve as subtle reminders for internal marketing of the completion of the educational content.”
That’s the other piece, is using your internal because you know what, Slack is good, email is good, but a lot of times those things just fatigue, they’ve got ad fatigue, it’s just you get used to it, you get used to seeing those messages so you don’t always check them, you don’t always give them the attention that they need. When you see a physical sign with something written, when you see something on a monitor, it’s pretty hard to ignore it. Yeah, that’s the other piece that’s … All of it is so fun because it’s so new and to see the results immediately is just like, “Oh my gosh. It worked.”
Chris Badgett: That is awesome. I’ve never thought of that, internal marketing. My brain is going to be busy for a week. Thanks for that. Another thing you mentioned was making it more fun. I can’t remember where I heard this phrase, but it’s wallet closing words, like if you’re writing copy or whatever. In the online education space, a quiz or a test, you may have a negative emotional reaction to those words based on how you felt about school, but if you call it a challenge, or you don’t have to call it a course, you can call it something else, whatever you’re putting on that internal display network, it doesn’t have to be did you take the quiz today. It could be like have you accepted the challenge or whatever else.
Chris Davis: Yes.
Chris Badgett: So like words, how we frame things in, and I hear people resonating a lot I would imagine this especially in internal training is they like it to be fun and they like to see people just being themselves and keeping it authentic and not too stuffy.
Chris Davis: Absolutely.
Chris Badgett: Let’s switch gears over to … about completions and automations alongside courses. Everybody wants the dirty little secret in the online courses and membership sites is really low completion rates. I’m sure that’s true for internal training unless is required as well on the net. What are your thoughts around that?
Chris Davis: Yeah, it’s … You know what? As a evolving educator I find myself torn in my beliefs, and I have to preface my beliefs that these are from experience, these are not theoretical beliefs. But you know what? At the end of the day Chris, you just have to know what you’re doing. You have to know what you’re trying to achieve because for some people completion is the achievement and for others, completion, they may not realize that completion assumes the achievement.
Chris Badgett: Yeah, I just wanted to throw in some age old wisdom. Life’s a journey, not a destination, right?
Chris Davis: Yes. Yes. Right?
Chris Badgett: Yeah.
Chris Davis: So what I found … If we talk about just strictly course completion, there’s … the automation is more of a supplement instead of a driver. Does that make sense?
Chris Badgett: Yeah.
Chris Davis: So like for instance, your platform, LifterLMS, if after the completion of a module, lesson, chapter, whatever, whatever you want to set the milestone to, if I received like a pop-up or some congratulations, confetti, what not, that increases my chances of continuing. We’re talking about gamificiation now, right?
Chris Badgett: Yeah.
Chris Davis: If I can see my progress, progress bars on my dashboard, when I see all the courses I have access to and then there’s progresses on each one, just human nature, you’re tapping it, “Oh, I need to complete that.” So there are things that you can do and most of your completion rate effectiveness is going to come from the in platform experience.
Now outside of the platform, excuse me, outside of the platform you have automations as a supplement. I’ll give you all an automation that I like to run the most. We have one in our marketplace that’s like the webinar follow up and it’s using goals. The essential functionality of it is the goal prevents you from getting a previous email that you shouldn’t have received based on when you opt in. If my webinar is on the 10th and I opt in on the 5th, I won’t get a reminder that somebody who opted in on the 7th would’ve gotten, or the 3rd I should say. I should go further back.
Anyway, so the mindset is this. I have reminders set up, but if you achieve the goal you’ll never get that reminder. I want to try to keep it as basic as possible. If I had five modules, I’d now have five goals, completed module one, two, three, four, and five. Before each of those goals I have reminders, or I have like prompts to say, “Hey, it’s been a week. You haven’t finished chapter one, module one.” Now I would never write email like that. I would send an email with the subject line like, “Something wrong?” You get what I’m saying?
Chris Badgett: Yeah.
Chris Davis: “Hey, just wanted to make sure you’re able to log in and get to module number one. It’s packed with this, that,” give them the link and get them back in. Now if somebody goes through the course, they’ll never receive any of those emails.
If you look at automation in that way it’s a supplement outside of the in app experience, like the in academy experience to help with completion it brings us to the question of completion and is it important. I am of the mindset, educators brace yourselves, I am of the mindset that we have … we have put too much, too much focus on completion rates.
Now again, there’s an asterisk here. It is all depended on your business model, but what you’ll find in the learning experience and in students of learning, a individual in a setting, whether you go to a conference, whether you’re learning online, if we can envision someone having a basket of learning, the size of that basket can only hold a nugget or two. If your course is packed with 50 nuggets and you think that somebody’s going to walk away with all 50, your expectations are wrong my friend and you’re setting yourself up for failure. And the truth be told, specific to online courses, sometime … most of the time actually, and it’s all relative to your price point and how you position it, but most of the time one nugget is enough for the entire course value.
Chris Badgett: Worth the price of admission.
Chris Davis: Worth the price of admission, one nugget Chris. You solved one … I enrolled in your course and I was sold on 12 modules. Oh my gosh, I get so many modules. After three, I had what I needed.
Chris Badgett: I think that’s a really important point. I’m just going to make up a hypothetical course. Like if I was doing or somebody was doing a course on having your first child and getting ready for that, I may have a lot of ideas in there, but there may be one in there that for the rest of that person’s life they’re going to be like, “You know what? I am so glad that one lesson was what I needed to hear. Yes, the other 27 things were valuable,” but we’re not all the same. People are different. They have different contexts and they have different … They may value things different than you do as the course creator.
Chris Davis: It shifts my entire approach now because now I’m building a course where of course for a specific audience, but I want to put … My goal is not now, “Oh, they need to learn all of this.” My goal now is, “Wherever you get the nugget, get the nugget.”
And it brings us to the next point is I just, I’m a big fan of lifetime access. You know what I’m saying? Of course, it depends on your model, but if you’ve got all of these nuggets in your course it bodes well for your retention and just the security of the student to know like, “Listen, I only completed 30% and this 30% helped me 5x my revenue.” But just so they know that I can go back and get more nuggets, even if they never go back is value in itself. You know what I’m saying?
Chris Badgett: I totally know what you’re saying. I mean maybe 15 years ago, 10 years ago I read the popular productivity book, Getting Things Done, and there’s some concepts in there about capturing stuff and having all these different buckets to put things in to be really productive. I’ll still come across that guy on another podcast somewhere and I’m like, “There he is again,” and I’ll pick something else out that I didn’t get the first time.
Chris Davis: Yes, yes, exactly.
Chris Badgett: Multiple passes and having resources is really important. I wanted to ask you about teaching because I listen to your podcast and I think you’re a great teacher. One of the things you were saying it was the question you were teaching about ActiveCampaign and it had to do with should I delete my context that … And you did not go right to the answer. You went into this whole story, and me is like an ActiveCampaign user, like you knew where I was at. I’m like, “Man, I should just get rid of all those people.” And then you said, and this is like through a three, four minute story I heard, “But what if they comeback in? Don’t you want all those tags and everything still there?” I’m like, “That’s it.” And there’s some other reasons too, but that was the reason for me. I’m like, “Yeah, I’m going to forget. I’m not going to worry about those guys, and no, they don’t come against my thing or whatever.”
But how do you teach? What’s your approach if you were going to give somebody some advice on how to teach effectively, what are some tips you have?
Chris Davis: Yeah, and I think for me it’s an extra … The challenge is a bit extra because I’m mainly teaching technical things. If you weren’t teaching technically you could probably get away with doing a portion of what I’m doing, but it’s required for me. One of my keys to teaching is no technical words. I will over explain, so-
Chris Badgett: Even though it’s a technical topic?
Chris Davis: Yes, right. Even though it’s a technical topic. Instead of saying, “Email,” email may seem basic, but if I say, “If you were like to send communication in the form of say an email,” now it took extra words but that individual who maybe is not familiar with email has now even got a better understanding of email. Taking my time I am not afraid to over explain because I’m always thinking of the person who’s never heard of this, because the people who know it, it almost like it strokes their ego. “I know. He’s talking about email.” Email and it’s like it makes them feel good. Where I used to think of that person be like, “Oh, no, they won’t listen because they’ll think I’m an idiot. They think I don’t know the official term for this.” That’s the one thing.
Then number two is life man. You have to take it from life and make it relatable to life. No fantasy, like cases that or examples that don’t make sense, I love to use analogies that if it’s not something that I know you’re experiencing I know is something you could relate to, and especially with automation. For instance, I very rarely use the word segmentation when I’m teaching. I’ll use the word grouping.
Chris Badgett: Nice.
Chris Davis: I’ll give an example. In our onboarding I like to teach people on the effectiveness of speaking specifically to an individual. Now we all know that segmentation. I’ll use the example of being in a superstore or like a grocery store or something like that and someone on the com system says, “Sale, sale in aisle 12 everybody, sale in aisle 12.” Now you may think I just told everybody. Everybody is going to run to aisle 12. But guess who would be more prone to take action, are the people around aisle 12, let alone in aisle 12. So what if you had instead of on the com system an employee walked up to the people in aisle 12 and say, “Hey, there’s a sale right here 50% off,” your completion rate with those people is probably going to be 100%. Now once they’ve gone to aisle 12, yes, they can go back out to other aisles and tell them about it and that’s going to be a lot more effective.
Essentially what I’m breaking down is sending a broadcast email versus sending targeted emails based on where people are, that’s essentially what I’m talking about. But if I can take it out of the technical world Chris, you know what I’m saying?
Chris Badgett: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Chris Davis: Take it out of the technical world, not use technical terms, it seems that people are more easily able to make the connection. And then when they go back to the technology it makes sense.
Chris Badgett: That is so powerful, and I think that’s one of the experts curses, the techno babble and the three letter and acronyms, and bingo, and the conversion optimize segmentation, whatever, and automation. That’s right. You’ve got to unless you’re students, which are like exactly where you are, but then you wouldn’t be able to teach it, right?
Chris Davis: That’s it.
Chris Badgett: I wanted to ask you one final question or area of a few questions. For someone who’s just getting into a tool like ActiveCampaign, I’ve been around marketing automation and CRM for a bit now and over time it’s … I’ve made things like over complicated. Then I learned, I learned, I learned what works, what doesn’t, I go to trainings. I learn from people like you. I listen to your podcast. Then I burn it down, I rebuild it. But I just think about what it was like when I was first getting into CRMs and marking automation. What advice do you have for someone who’s looking to learn a tool like ActiveCampaign? Like where should they start? What are the key areas to focus on? Like what’s level one and then what’s level two that they can save for later?
Chris Davis: Yeah, yeah, yeah, that’s a great question. Shameless plug, it’s actually one of the reasons why right now we’re building out a getting started with ActiveCampaign course, just to be able to solve that easily. But if I were to tell somebody how to approach our tool, my response would be the same to approaching any tool of marketing automation. The best thing that you can do is be very clear with what you’re currently doing.
I tell people all the time, marketing automation is a magnifier of what you’re doing. So if you don’t know what you’re doing, it will magnify and letting more people know that you don’t know what you’re doing. If you know what you’re doing, it will let more people know exactly how well what you’re doing. When you’re coming in it’s … My definition of marketing automation is employing technology to execute your marketing strategy with the keyword around employing. So whenever you hire somebody, you always have a job description. So how do you hire a tool with no description on what you want that tool do to for you?
Chris Badgett: I think you nailed it right there. People, myself included buy tools prematurely sometimes or start looking at the feature set of the tool to figure out what I’m going to do, and that’s kind of [inaudible 00:34:10] approach.
Chris Davis: Exactly. And it’s hit or miss. More times you miss than hit. It’s like going to the grocery store on an empty stomach. Everything looks good then. Then when you’re full you get like, “Why did I buy this cheese? It’s with cream cheese! What was I thinking. And garlic?”
But yeah, so you want to be able … For me, I want to be able to let somebody know this tool is an employee. You are paying a salary. If it’s $20 a month, that’s the salary, and expect it to work. Now once you’re signed up with the tool specific to ActiveCampaign, you have to know who you’re marketing to, understand your segments.
Chris, people do not spend enough time on their … segmenting their contact database. I’m not talking about listing. Do I use multiple lists or do I use tech? I’m talking about what type of communication do you want to send out? What’s your ongoing communication? What’s your drip fee communication? And what is your sales communication? Like what is that and who is it for?
If you can define that and we have the segments, now we can get into the lead generation part and all of that and say, “Okay, for this segment I want to offer this, for this segment I want to offer that.” Now we go into the forms. Now that you’ve got your contacts, your existing contacts, a way to capture new contacts, now let’s get into the automation. And how do we connect with the existing and new contacts? That would be my approach starting out specifically in ActiveCampaign and overall.
Chris Badgett: I love that analogy of hiring an employee with the software. In the same way to tie it back to how this conversation began, if we’re creating internal training and you see yourself or somebody else in the organization without technology training a new hire and it works out really well, then the question is, how do I take the LMS and the video camera and the screen sharing and capture that value for ever? Not let me open up this course tool and see what the features are and maybe I’ll figure something out.
Chris Davis: Yes man. Yes, Chris yes.
Chris Badgett: That was good stuff. I know you the listener out there have found at least one nugget that was worth the price of admission. Chris Davis from ActiveCampaign, thank you for coming on the show. How can a listener connect with you?
Chris Davis: Yes. I make it easy. You can see the educational content at play, If you’re into the social media thing, I’m on Twitter. Don’t judge me. Other people say you should be everywhere Chris. I’m working on it, but autobizchris is my tag on Twitter. And yes, come check me out. If you go to you can sign up for our Office Hours. I run those every Friday at 1:00 P.M.. You could sign for one on one with the success team, get some educational content. It’s pretty much all there for you at the Education Center.
Chris Badgett: Awesome. Well, thank you so much Chris. I really appreciate it.
Chris Davis: Yep, no problem Chris. Thanks for having me.

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