As we're closing in towards the end of 2016, I feel it's a good time to look backwards to see what we've been focusing on.
It's been an interesting ride, to say the least. All in all, I'm happy where things are right now - and even more excited what's to come!
Thousands of marketers and entrepreneurs have been viralhacking their business using UpViral, collecting 3,841,143 leads in the process.
My goal of this article is to share my the lessons we've learned along the way, so we can all learn from it!
So... Let's get started, shall we?
Turning into a "real" Business
Wait, wasn't it already a real business?
Yes - it was 🙂
But when UpViral launched in August 2015, it was still "one of the many projects" we were working on.
We completely changed that, which brings me to my first lessons.
#1 Focus is ESSENTIAL for Growth
I can't emphasise this enough.
For years I've been working on (at least) 5+ different projects at any given time. Without realising it, this kept us from growing to the next level.
In 2016 we decided to be 100% focused on just two platforms - nothing else.UpViral, and Connectio (our FB Ads platform).
The amount of opportunity this opens up... is insane.
Plus, it's a lot more fun - because I feel you can take a product to a place that you could NEVER do with 1/5th of your focus.
#2 Surround yourself with people who are 3 steps ahead of you
For YEARS I've been trying to "figure it all out" by myself.
And yes - that works... but it's a slowwwww process.
I've always been a big fan of hanging out and "masterminding" with like-minded entrepreneurs. Sharing strategies and tactics. Inspiring each other to dream big.
But more often than not, these people were at the same "level" as I was.
Just so we're clear - there's nothing wrong with that. But in a way, it kept me from seeing the bigger picture.
This year I joined a mastermind hosted by Russell Brunson. He started ClickFunnels 2 years ago, and is on pace to get 30,000 paying customers on the platform. Seems like a great mind to pick ideas from, don't you think?
Here's a quick pic with me and Russell:
(Alright... I have to admit I got "scammed" into that mastermind - which you can hear all about here).
He gathered a group of entrepreneurs inside his mastermind who're all doing B-I-G things. Amazing what this does to your limiting beliefs and motivation.
So in case you're not surrounding yourself with people who are a couple steps ahead of you... put that on your todo-list right now.
Find those people.
#3 Build a TEAM that's empowered & works together (AKA let go of your control-freak)
Being a perfectionist, I used to do everything myself. It's who I am.
Over time, I learned I needed help from others. There are certain things I just can't do myself (design, development, etc).
As I started hiring more people, I realized that a big part of my week was giving out tasks and things to work on.
What was happening? I had all these people working for me, yet I was busier than ever?
I was still the "center" of the team.
Most of the communication went through me.
That's not a team. That's a group of people working together.
This year, we became a team.
We're all working towards the same goals. We all know who is responsible for what. We discuss and brainstorm together -without needing my personal input.
I'll admit... being a perfectionist it's not always easy (and I'm still learning as we grow).
But letting go of my "inner control freak" helped the whole team to get a LOT more done.
Which brings me to my next point...
#4 Think in systems and processes!
Hold on... this not the boring part. To be completely honest, I geek out on this stuff!
When you're starting out, you just "do" things.
When you start to hire a few people, they just "do" things.
Once you grow to the next level... you need to have systems and processes in place.
This year, I started documenting a LOT of the things we do. Everything becomes a simple - repeatable - process.
Here's what my Trello board currently looks like:
All the way from small stuff (like publishing an episode for our podcast), all the way to a big product launch. It's basically a checklist of things we need to do.
Besides making the business more efficient as a whole, it also becomes easier to identify steps in the process that can be automated.
Plus, as I recently shared on my podcast, it's important to prepare for *everything* in business. Having clear processes and systems in place makes it SO much easier to replace a team member when they get sick, for example.
Marketing & Growth (the FUN stuff)
Ohh, the marketing stuff.
My favourite part. Not just because I love marketing... but also because THIS is what makes a company grow.
You can have an epic product - but if nobody is there to see it... Well, you know the story.
Once again, let's dive in:
#1 Embrace email automation
"Email automation", one of those things that you hear all about... but few have TRULY embraced it.
In 2016, we did.
I mean, why rely on broadcast emails? Why spend time on an email today, but if someone is going to sign up tomorrow... he's missing out on all the good stuff?
To me, that doesn't make sense - which is why MANY of our emails are currently automated in some shape or form.
When we invite a group of people to a webinar, do you think we schedule in a bunch of broadcast emails every time.... or just add people to the following automation? Exactly 😉
Don't worry if that looks complex to you. My 3 most profitable automations are actually super simple (you'll find them here).
You need to have a good strategy in place, though. Mapping the strategy out is often a LOT more work than setting up the actual automations.
We used Ryan Deiss' "The Machine" as the core strategy for our automations - which we've implemented using ActiveCampaign.
#2 Get close to your audience
People used to say the "money is in the list".
That doesn't hold true anymore. Or at least - only to some extend.
Today it's all about the connection you have with your audience.
Do they like you? Trust you? Are you actually helping them?
That's why this year we started focusing more on that - of which our recently launched podcast is an example of.
Not only is the podcast another way to help our audience... but it's also a personal way of communicating. Based on the responses I got so far, I'm a big fan!
#3 Get your numbers dialled in
What we measure, we improve.
This year we've put a lot of focus on our metrics.
I believe that you NEED to dial into your numbers to be able to scale - especially when you're doing any type of paid ads.
We tried using KissMetrics for a while, but recently switched back to Google Analytics (with a lot of customization and tweaks) along with custom-build dashboards.
#4 Webinar funnels are awesome 🙂
This year we also scaled up our paid ads, which forces you to get the best conversions possible.
If you can't outbid your competitors (at a profit)... it's going to be difficult to scale up.
So we've been testing various funnels to see what works best... and something we're getting GREAT results with is a webinar funnel.
Simply put, we're running Facebook Ads to promote our webinar. On the webinar, we "pitch" them into UpViral.
There's still room for improvement... but it's converting really well for us so far! Definitely something we'll be scaling up in 2017.
#5 Create a culture around your business
One of the things we started doing as well (albeit early stages), is to create a culture around UpViral.
After all, it's not "just a tool".
It's a new way of marketing that we call Viral Hacking.
Recently we started a Facebook community for exactly this reason (click here to join for free). In this community, we brainstorm and share ideas on how to leverage viral hacking in our businesses.
For example, recently one of the members shared how he's boosting his webinar registrants by 25-30% using UpViral:
I'm 200% convinced that having a "tribe" is what makes a company get long-term results.
You've been waiting for this one, haven't you?
Before I dive into the features... let's talk about what YOU (our customers) have done using UpViral.
3,841,143 leads collected using UpViral!
Almost 4 million leads collected using UpViral!!!
That's not visitors... or views... but actual email subscribers.
More and more people are joining the "6-figure club" - meaning they've gathered more than 100,000 leads thanks to viral hacking.
Something we're all VERY proud of.
Communicating new features
This year, we decided to go "all-in", meaning we've got a team of 7 full-time developers for UpViral & Connectio.
And that's JUST development.
When you start counting things like UX, design, copywriting, video editing - etc... there's a lot more 🙂
In other words... we're shipping product!
Something we lacked, is communicating the new features to the rest of the world.
We did post some of our new features publicly (e.g. the new editor, this list of features and these 6 features), but many new features are "silently added".
This is something we still need to improve. Just as an example... we integrated Zapier without shouting it of the rooftops! Crazy, but true. See, we're not perfect 🙂
A "few" things we've added
When comparing what UpViral is today VS at the beginning of the year... my head starts spinning.
We've added more features that I could trace back or list here. Many of the features have become "natural" to me (since I'm using UpViral on a daily basis myself).
Plus, a lot of our work has gone into getting the platform ready for future growth. You wouldn't notice these changes (if we do our job right, that is), but it's going to make adding new features/integrations a LOT easier.
Anyway... because you asked... here's a SHORT list of SOME of the things we've added in 2016 (in random order):
- New visual editor
- Integration with Facebook Lead Ads using ConnectLeads
- Automated Custom Audience sync using ConnectAudience
- Lots of speed improvements
- More flexibility to integrate UpViral into 3rd party tools/sites
- One-Click Signup & Share links for your existing newsletters
- Ability to collect custom fields (phone numbers etc) and send those over to your CRM
- Advanced tagging features (for CRMs/autoresponders that support this)
- We now integrate with 40+ autoresponders/CRM systems.
- Zapier integration.
- Ability to send emails using your own server (PostMark, SendGrid & Amazon SES).
- Ability to "close" your contests automatically.
- Added more personalization tags inside the emails.
- Added a "Learning Center" inside the dashboard for more in-depth ViralHacking knowledge.
- Many improvements to the fraud detection feature.
- Added the option to blacklist people or IPs.
- Added a unique coupon features (meaning you can give unique coupons away to every person who unlocks it).
- You can add multiple email senders to your account.
I could go on and on. Point is... UpViral is getting better and more powerful every single day.
KISS (Keep It Simple, Stupid!)
One of the challenges of adding new features to a platform is that it could become cluttered.
That's why we're currently focused on re-designing the interface to "make room" for all plans we've got for 2017.
Afterall, UpViral isn't just about being the most effective lead generation tool out there.
It's our mission to help as many businesses and marketers as possible, which means it's just as important to make it "stupid simple" to use.
After all... the easier it is to start viral hacking, the more people will pull the trigger and grow their business because of it.
Well, a lot 🙂
We've got a long list of features and integrations we're working on. A long list of marketing strategies we want to tap into. Yes, even a long lists of lists 🙂
In a nutshell, it's time to grow up. To scale up.
We've already helped thousands of people to grow their businesses using viral hacking. In 2017, our goal is to help WAY more businesses leverage virality in a way that (so far) only the "big boys" could.
Are you in for the ride?