This post is the third in a series of posts entitled, “Digital Marketing Strategy For Startups, Small Businesses, and Entrepreneurs“.

I love the era we live in.

The technology that's available can save us so much time by helping us automate portions of our business.

For example, you can automate emails, text messages, direct mail, and ringless voicemails.

Not to mention the fact you can automate your entire social media presence or outsource tasks to virtual assistants, freeing you to focus on “bigger” things.

There's so much opportunity to automate portions of your business, that if you're not … you're not only wasting time and money, but you're missing out on growth.

This article is all about using marketing automation to help generate sales.

Transactional Communication

Transactional communications (email/text/direct mail/ringless voicemail) are the easiest and most logical communications to implement and automate.

If someone requests a Lead Magnet (see part 2), you send them what they requested.

If someone purchases a product or service, you send them a receipt and/or more information.

If someone abandons their cart, you remind them about it.

This makes sense, right? Nothing revolutionary here.

But, you still gotta do it. The money is made by following the basics.

#1 Goal Of Transactional Communication

The #1 goal of transactional communication is to present your next offer. (now is a great time to ensure you have a Value Ladder!)


  • An individual requests a Lead Magnet, you present the product/service that complements the Lead Magnet
  • An individual purchases a product or service, you present complementary products/services
  • An individual abandons their cart, you remind them about the products in their cart and possibly include a discount or bonus to drive them back to complete the checkout process

Again, this is no-brainer stuff right here, but it's overlooked so often I have to bring it up.

Relationship Building

In part 2 we discussed capturing people's contact information so you can follow up with them later.

Beyond sending transactional communications, you can send more “generalized” communications that build and maintain relationships, promote your products and services, and gauge interest (more on that later).

What does it mean to send “relationship building” communications?

It means that you're sending valuable content. For example, blog posts, videos, audios, infographics, stories, Q&A, support, etc.

Now, just because you're sending valuable content, it doesn't mean that it can't link to your products/services sales pages or that you can't use it to “mold” your leads and customers to conform to your way of thinking!

It's kind of like propaganda without the whole “misleading” part. You will never, ever mislead people on purpose. Right? But, you can teach them your ways if you believe them to be better than what's out there.

Before you know it, you'll become the authority and they'll follow you anywhere. (that's the goal at least!)

How To Build A Relationship

Too many small business owners and entrepreneurs overthink the sending of communications.

They worry about sending too many emails and annoying their leads and customers.

Or, they're not sure what to send.

I'm telling you right here, right now … it's not rocket science.

Talk to your audience like you normally would. Share what you would normally share.

You don't have to use fancy pants tactics and copywriting hacks to send an email.

Be a human being talking to other human beings. Really. That's it. That's the secret.

Now, there are some general rules of thumb if you're completely lost…

General Rules Of Thumb

  1. Email 3-4 times a week. Any less and they'll forget about you. Any more and you may become a nuisance.
  2. 1 promotional “sales” email every 2 weeks. ie. share more valuable content than promotional content.
    1. Remember, that's not to say your valuable content can't have links to your promotional/sales material!

A Pattern

I know some folks are like, “I really, really, really, really need a formula or pattern to follow! Just give me the freakin' formula!!!”

Ok, here's an email pattern to follow.

You Gotta Gauge Interest!

We've just talked about transactional communications, where if someone performs an action, you send them something.

And, we also talked about relationship building communications, where you're sharing valuable content in order to get people to know, like, and trust you and your business.

Now, it's time to merge the two!

Introducing the Interest Driven Sales Funnel concept!

On the left hand side we have our “Straight Line Sales Funnel” or “Main Series”.

The “Main Series” contains all of our relationship building communications or engagements, ie. emails, ads, etc.

When an individual engages with a piece of valuable content we send, they're automatically placed in a “Micro Sales Funnel” or “Product/Service Sales Funnel”.

The “Micro Sales Funnel's” purpose is to drive the individual to take action, ie. buy something, register for something, etc. This is accomplished by sending more, relevant content to the individual in an effort to persuade them to buy a particular product/service.

A quick example: Let's pretend I run an ecommerce store that sells kitchenware. I offer three categories of products: flatware, pots & pans, and cutlery. I send out a piece of communications with a link to an article called, “The Best Way To Clean A Kitchen Knife”. If an individual clicks that link, I know they're interested in kitchen knives and they're automatically entered into my Micro Sales Funnel with the sole purpose to get them to purchase my self-cleaning, state of the art, kitchen knife!

It's much easier to sell someone something when they've already shown interest in it.

Micro Sales Funnels can range in complexity from very simple, like sending a few emails on a topic the person showed interest in, to full blown funnels featuring 1-click upsells, downsells, and everything in between.

We'll be going into greater detail on Micro Sales Funnels in part 6 of this series.

That's the Interest Driven Sales Funnel concept in a nutshell … figure out what someone is interested in and then try to sell them a product/service based on that interest.

For the full Interest Driven Sales Funnel concept, please check out The Sales Funnel Book. (It's free, just pay for shipping!)

The Tools

In our opinion, the best marketing automation tool on the market today is ActiveCampaign.

It lets you send emails and text messages PLUS it connects to Zapier which connects to over 750 other apps that do anything and everything from sending direct mail, to ringless voicemails, and beyond!

ActiveCampaign allows you to create automations for transactional and relationship building communications, while helping you gauge interest(s) via tagging that can trigger Micro Sales Funnel automations.

ActiveCampaign is a very solid marketing automation tool and one we highly recommend.


You need to take advantage of marketing automation. It will save you time and money while simultaneously helping you grow your business by converting more leads into paying customers.

Marketing automation really shines when it comes to sending transactional and relationship building communications. Plus, you can merge the two concepts into an Interest Driven Sales Funnel!

Finally, there are a lot of tools on the market to help you with marketing automation; however, the best tool we've found is ActiveCampaign.

Click here to go to Part 4: How To Use Retargeting To Generate Sales