how my marketing startup changed it’s face to an automation and integration machine
After many years working in high-tech, circa 2012 I decided to make a change. I wanted to create my own path. Joined by a good friend that was just finishing his engineering studies, we started scratching our brains to find the next billion dollar idea.
The road we took was a long and difficult one. None of our ideas became successful, not even the ones that saw market. The fact that we didn’t go big, took me personally on a long journey towards location and financial independence. I am still taking that ride, and loving every minute of it.
Instant technology and integration
What does all this have to do with my business today? First of all, owning a startup company taught me a lot. Most of what I know today about business plans, marketing, advertising, integration and technology – I learned on my own flesh. Aside from those important lessons, the company left lots of awesome technology. For Bizontop – our first SMB marketing centered startup – we created a vast infrastructure for content marketing and digital advertising. Some of this tech I was able to transform for day-to-day use.
For the consumer side, we created both mobile and web apps. In the backend, we created an intricate technology stack for automating almost any content based marketing tactic. Starting from a system for easily creating landing pages, through a simple CRM system, all the way to a fully automated ad creation and analytics platform. The database we created, was designed to be used for any kind of integration.
Use case #1 – simplifying campaign creation
One of the first uses of this codebase was partnering up with a lead generation agency. After testing the business model, we started using the system to quickly create campaigns that will generate leads for their customers.
The agency created picture designs of the landing pages and ads, which I then uploaded to the system. The system created an automatic landing page, optimized with a lead form. The analytics from the campaigns on Facebook and Google Ads were also connected by API. All this information was sent to a real dashboard, which was specifically created for the task. Later on we also integrated the monthly spend directly to the agency’s reporting and invoicing systems, and send leads directly to clients’ CRM systems.
Use Case #2 – Facebook leads integration
After a few months of this model working well, we got a new type of request. The client especially requested that the campaign will run on Facebook’s lead generation platform (Lead Generation Forms). It has been on my mind for a while to incorporate lead-gen ads in the platform. Alas, up until that point the requirement never came up, so I never got to it.
By that time, I had a lot of experience with the Facebook Marketing API, making it much less complicated than I initially thought. After a few hours of coding and a day or two of testing, the feature was ready to deploy. It still needed some tweaks, but I now had a platform that can receive leads from Facebook Forms, and send them onwards to the client.
While I was creating that, Zapier became more and more popular, and it’s premium plans did include this feature. Still, doing it in-house and not having to pay for any external service, was wonderful and fun to implement. Today I have several small clients that use this feature. Although it’s not a must have for most, they are very happy to get it’s value without an external system.
Use Case #3 – custom integration with Woocommerce
Since I added the feature I mentioned before, I didn’t have much need for new features. Until the last month, when my partner had some trouble with her new WordPress site. The site was almost complete, but one thing was missing – automatic invoice creation upon purchase. There were a few plugins that already existed for this feature, but non that fit the exact scenario she needed.
After a short inquiry, I found out that the invoicing company (Green Invoice) had an API for automation purposes. The idea behind my solution was simple. Use WooCommerce’s webhooks to send the sale detail to my server, and use the API from the invoicing system to create the automatic invoice.
Although I didn’t have any prior experience with that specific API, I found it pretty easy to code. Thanks to good API documentation, and my long time experience with these types of projects – the automation was ready to deploy within 48 hours.