Mastering Google Reviews: Superhero Secrets for Pilates Business Success

Mastering Google Reviews: Superhero Secrets for Pilates Business Success

David Gunther hosts this latest episode, part of the CRM for Clinical Pilates Studios series of The Pilates Business Podcast, delving into how clinical Pilates businesses can enhance customer experience and operational efficiency through Customer Relationship Management (CRM) automation, specifically using ActiveCampaign.

Highlighted is a case study from Pilates Can, featuring insights from their marketing manager, Tara Smith, and returning special guest, expert Adam Tuttle from ActiveCampaign, who shares in-depth knowledge on leveraging CRM tools.

The discussion covers practical applications of CRM automations for various business needs, including automating Google review requests, managing customer journeys, and streamlining operations. The conversation emphasises the importance of keeping CRM automations simple, purposeful, and customer-centric, while also exploring strategies for personalised communication and A/B testing to optimise marketing efforts.

Real-world examples and advice on implementing these practices provide valuable insights for small business owners and marketers aiming to enhance their customer relationships and business growth through effective use of CRM systems such as ActiveCampaign.

Show notes

  • [00:00:00] Welcome to the CRM and Customer Experience Deep Dive!
  • [00:00:35] Introducing Our Experts and Their Insights
  • [00:01:44] Exploring the Power of ActiveCampaign for Business Automation
  • [00:04:20] The Simplicity and Strategy Behind Effective Automations
  • [00:08:38] Deep Dive into Google Review Automation Strategy
  • [00:14:58] Crafting the Perfect Email: Tips and Techniques
  • [00:19:34] The Art of A/B Testing and Optimisation
  • [00:26:08] Wrapping Up and Looking Ahead

"There's a lot of things being done by the system that we don't have to do, and that's just amazing. I can feel my shoulders releasing and relaxing as I think about that."     David Gunther – The Pilates Business Podcast, and Co-owner & Instructor Pilates Can, Canberra

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Episode Resources

Episode Transcript

DAVID GUNTHER: Welcome back to our fourth episode now, where we're focusing on the customer experience and automation through CRMs, Customer Relationship Management. That's what it's all about, your relationship with the customer. They are at the very center of your world, and, if they're not, they should be. They make the difference to your business, our business, either thriving or perhaps not surviving, and it is that important with a lot of clinical Pilates businesses around the world.

We have our marketing manager, Tara, from Pilates Can. Welcome.

TARA SMITH: Hello there, David.

DAVID: And, as we mentioned in the last episode, we've got Adam with us again.

Hi, Adam, welcome.

ADAM TUTTLE: Hi, good to be back.

DAVID: We are so lucky to have Adam as a special guest because Adam, as you would have found out last week, has some really important insights for us into this area.

It's so valuable for us to be able to use what he can share with us today, so we're going to do a deep dive into our actual Google review automation.

Before we do that, we thought that we should explain how we use this software, because it's a lot more useful than just this automation. We're just using this as a very important example, as the most recent example, of what we're doing with our automations. 

How we're creating a better customer experience and a much better potential customer experience. As you may know from the customer journey series that we've done, if you don't have a potential customer experience, you will not get that customer. 

We're going to ask Tara to talk a little bit now about all the other things that we use ActiveCampaign for, as our CRM of choice for customer experience, and email marketing, and all of those things that we're doing. 

Tara, tell us a little bit about what you do day to day with ActiveCampaign.

TARA: Not every single day with ActiveCampaign, because one of the good things is that once I've set up these things, they do run automatically on their own a lot of the time, except at those points that we need interaction.  It really takes a lot of tasks out of my day. 

We mentioned in the last episode the NPS survey, which is the Net Promoter Score survey in case anyone didn't listen to our last episode. They should definitely go back and listen to that if they haven't. That one is just one of our automations, that's sent to clients relatively early in their customer journey. 

But as well as that, we also use ActiveCampaign for our sales. So, it tracks our new prospects coming in from the website, as well as informing David and myself that there are sales that we need to get in contact with. As well as that, it also runs all our upsell automations for our current clients, to see if we can move them on to a longer-term arrangement. 

It sends a lot of educational emails to our new clients, educating them on things like how to change their sessions, how to organise a suspension when they might be away, things like that. It also sends out. 

When we have our client workshop, it sends out the homework to all of the participants who went to that. It's really, just more.

I didn't want people thinking they need ActiveCampaign, just to do this one Google review automation. It's actually really powerful for our business in terms of a whole lot of little automations that we have running, that just cover these really repetitive tasks that the admin team and myself have to do.

DAVID: Thanks Tara. Yeah. That's a good little summary of all, perhaps not even all... 

TARA: That's just the first page of automations that I had opened, so we have many more things that it actually does for us. 

DAVID: And we'll have some of our actual clients from Pilates Can listening to this episode, shout out to them, and we don't mind them hearing this. We talk about upsell, and that sort of thing. 

It actually makes their life easier, because they're getting the right message, the right communication, at the right time, in the right format. 

What we're trying to do to make their life easier, as well as Tara's life easy, the rest of our admin team, and also our instructors, of course, who are very important in delivering the service. Thanks, Tara, for that. 

We are going to do this deep dive into what this particular automation and the details of that, but before we do, I might ask Adam to maybe have a bit of a response to what Tara said. Adam’s got such a wide depth and breadth of experience with ActiveCampaign and many other businesses, and we don't only learn and improve from what we know about clinical Pilates. 

We want to also learn from other industries as well. Sometimes that can be a much better lesson, because they're doing it better than us. They've been doing it differently to us, and perhaps we need to take on some of those models. Any thoughts on that, Adam? 

ADAM: I think the part that I loved was that was the first page of automations.

Obviously, there's a lot of things that you can do. I think the one thing that I would always remind people that automations don't have to be complicated. I think that one of the biggest mistakes I see customers make when they first get started with ActiveCampaign is that they are trying to build automations that are doing every single thing they could ever want inside of a single, or inside of 2 or 3 automations. 

 We use our own software, so I've built hundreds of automations for ActiveCampaign. We have hundreds, if not thousands of live automations at any given point in time within our own account, so we use our product all the time, and sometimes those automations run for a couple days and then they're done. You turn them off. 

Automations can be simple. One of my favourite automations ever: I always build a custom field in my own accounts or a customer account that I work with, and it just says last open date. That's the name of the field. Really simple. It's a date-based field. Then I have a two-step automation. The first step is a trigger that says anytime that somebody opens a campaign, it triggers the automation. So that's the starting point, and then the next step is there's an update action, and I update that field last open date with today's date. Really simple.

What that does is that lets me see when was the last time someone interacted with me, and if someone hasn't interacted in say, 60 days? I might shoot them a text message and say, "Hey, we've been sending you some emails. We want to make sure that you still want these?" I might put them on a list that doesn't send quite as frequently because you sending to people over and over again, when they're not opening, is not good for your deliverability.

There's a lot of things you can do off of that. I think the simplicity side of it is that, and then the other pieces which I think Tara was getting at, is your automations should have a very specific purpose for each one of them. If you try to have it have three or four objectives within an automation, you're gonna get upset. You're gonna get frustrated. You probably will break something. 

I've broken things for myself. I've broken things for customers early days when I was learning what I was doing, because I tried to make it too complicated. My rule of thumb has always been creating a task, create an objective or an outcome that you're going for, create the automation for that, and then move on to the next and let them work together. Let them complement each other, but you don't have to have them all in one place. 

DAVID: Thanks very much, Adam. That's terrific. Everything starts with the purpose. That's correct, and then the purpose can uncover what the triggers might be for the automation. I really got the message there from both Tara and yourself, Adam, to keep the automations as simple as you can to fulfill that purpose. 

That makes your job easier in actually creating them as well. You don't have to do all of this complicated stuff because if you haven't used something like ActiveCampaign before, you just want to get a start on some of these things and get used to, Using the process to fulfill these little repetitive tasks for you so that you can spend more time instructing your clients.

I had a great class this morning after my bike ride. I'm able to still instruct, and I was able to do that, because Tara is organising all of these automations and ActiveCampaign is activating all of these automations. There's a lot of things being done by the system that we don't have to do, and that's just amazing. 

I can feel my shoulders releasing and relaxing as I think about that because we've got enough to do, right? We've got plenty of things to do, so this is something that really does work and really does make a difference.  

We're going to have this deep dive into this particular automation, and we're going to try to use that process there that we've just described. 

What's the purpose of it? The purpose is to get Google reviews, and to get them on a consistent basis. That's the purpose. To communicate with our clientele that we need these Google reviews and to actually achieve getting them on a regular basis, so that we can build those up and stand out in what is a confused marketplace, as we went into in the last episode. 

Let's start doing that. In terms of the purpose and therefore the trigger, we did discover the triggers, didn't we? In the last episode, and those triggers were, we're getting good feedback. Let's use that good feedback to be now proactive. So, that's the trigger.

We've decided that proactivity will include: the instructor knowing about that good feedback, knowing that we're going to be approaching the clients with emails and texts about Google reviews, asking specifically for a Google review so that we can give the instructor a bonus for actually providing the service. 

 Is that about, right? Is that the trigger? Tell us, are we on the right track? 

TARA: A trigger in what Adam was talking about is actually what begins the automation. It's not like the trigger in our studio, it's: how do the people get into the automation and start doing things? 

For us, it would be them being loaded to that list. We haven't talked about what we're going to do, but I do already know. We set up the automation with that trigger as how ActiveCampaign knows to put people into that automation.

It might be when it becomes a specific date, or it might be when a particular field is added. If you have two different kinds of clients, and a field can tell you which kind of client they are, they get sent an automation. 

ADAM: I think that's the trigger that Adam was specifically referring to. You're totally right, and I should have made that more clear. 

DAVID: I think I muddied the waters there talking about purpose and then talking about triggers as if they were the same thing, and obviously they're not, so that's good that we can have that definition. That's excellent. 

Let's talk about that trigger specifically, because this is a deep dive into that automation. What are we doing? First of all, we're collecting information to prepare how that trigger will happen, aren't we?   We're collecting information about who has provided us good feedback, either with that net promoter score, or with the SurveyMonkey survey responses. 

We've decided at the moment, and Adam might jump in any time and say, 'whoa, why are you doing that? You could do it a lot easier if you did this.' We're putting this on an Excel spreadsheet to begin with, because we're collecting information about who our target group of clients are, who we think will be very happy to provide us with this five-star Google review. 

What can you tell us Tara, and feel free to jump in Adam, about what we're doing and how we're doing it? 

TARA: The idea with the spreadsheet is that then will be converted into a .csv file that will be loaded into ActiveCampaign, Adam, and that will tag those people to commence the automation. 

I haven't set up that tag and things on our account yet to make all of that happen, because that's not currently how our Google review automation works, but that's currently the plan.

 What we want to do in the emails that we send to the people is to display their feedback back to them, and say, 'you already said this. Would you say it to Google?' 

To do that we're going to collate the parts of their responses that we want to cut out into a particular column that I'm then going to map to a custom field in ActiveCampaign, so that then the personalised emails sent to them will have their particular feedback inside of them.

ADAM: I love that. I love using personalisation as much as possible. 

I think that's a really important piece and it's not uncommon, I'll put it that way. It's not uncommon to have to take data out, put it somewhere else, and then bring it in. 

In fact, we do that a lot even using a tool like Zapier, which is a tool that connects different softwares together with that same idea: put lots of pieces of data together into a framework that's digestible, and then we push it back into our system. Then we can put it into the right places, and we're often pushing into many different places at once. I think that's a really good way to approach it, and really what that goes back to is the more data you have, the more that you can personalise. The more that you can standardise, and the buyer is looking for a personal experience. Especially in a business like this, that is very hands on, very face to face, very direct, they don't want just something generic. My gut says that they want it to seem real and authentic, and using data is a great way to do that.

DAVID: It makes it true. It is real. It is true. That is what the client has said about us. They do have this love for our services. They realise that they're special. 

But what we often have with our industry is a little bit of a disconnect with how we get that across to Google, of course, so we have to assist our clientele to assist us, and that personalisation is a big first step. 

Step one is our SurveyMonkey, action provoking survey, but that's actually probably step 14 somewhere. We put that SurveyMonkey survey in this email, right? Is that what we're doing, Tara?

TARA: Yeah, once it gets loaded from the spreadsheet into ActiveCampaign, then ActiveCampaign is able to send an email that contains the text. I just say to ActiveCampaign, please put this text box here by - what's the technical term for the little weird code, Adam?

ADAM: If you set up a custom field, it has a percent name.

Oh, the personalisation tag. 

TARA: Personalisation tag, there you go. - 

so, you just put in the particular personalisation tag that you want in a particular place, and it will add whatever's in that field into that particular location. We're going to use that in the email where we ask them to go to SurveyMonkey and the survey will have all the answers. Essentially: 'yes, I would like to leave you a five-star review and I've already done it', or 'yes, I would like to leave you a five-star review, but I don't know how, and I'd like Tara to ring me and talk me through how to do it'. 

DAVID: I'm going to read out the email so that we give you all the detail, and the email is to Betty. Betty is an avatar client of ours, and you may have seen the animation of our avatar Betty. 

 'Dear Betty, 

Thank you for providing this encouraging feedback regarding your experience of our services. You said: 

" Pilates Can is fantastic, and Claire has been a miracle worker for me."

 We love helping you and want to keep doing that for a long time. However, there is currently a lot of confusion in the local Pilates marketplace, with many businesses using the word Pilates. Most of these do not provide the same sort of Pilates services that we provide here at Pilates Can. This makes it very difficult for prospective Pilates Can clients to find us and places our Pilates Can services at risk. 

So, we need your help to get our message out to those prospective clients. Please click and fill in the survey. It will help us to keep doing what we do.'

And then there's the click box. Then we say, which we mean, 'Your support is literally everything for us at Pilates Can.

Warmest regards on behalf of Claire and David and the Pilates Can team.' 

I'm going to ask you, Adam, to critique that, is it too long? Is it too short? Does it sound a bit needy? 

ADAM: I would tell you that if I gave you an answer to that, I would be lying to you. I don't have a real answer. 

The tricky part with email, which is not what people want to hear, but it's the truth is that email really depends on the audience. I think that all emails are worth A/B testing, meaning that you try maybe a longer version. You try a shorter, less wordy version.

We actually do have features inside of ActiveCampaign that will help write those via AI, so you could use that, and you can make them shorter or longer. That might be a quick way to spin up some ideas for yourself, but I think that the truth is, to me, it sounds like a great email, but I'm not in your audience so I don't want to get too far ahead of myself.

I think that's really important to call out because, unless you're doing testing, I don't think that anybody can just tell you that this is good, or this is bad. One example I've used for years and years in ActiveCampaign is you could be a realtor in Sydney, and you have a very select demographic. You could be very expensive, high clientele, very high-income earners, depending especially what suburb you're in. 

You can then also have a realtor out in the Blue Mountains, that's a little bit more calm, a little bit more laid back, and they still have the title of realtor, but they have very different demographics. They're working with different audiences, things like that, so even the location of a Pilates studio might actually change how the email should be structured. 

I think first and foremost. Yes, it sounds good to me, but I would always encourage you to test. I think that is just the best answer I can give. 

The thing that I would say too, this is maybe the most important piece, is think about the action that you're trying to drive with the email. Sometimes, especially. For people that have been doing email marketing for a decade plus, they get really hung up on the open rates.

Open rates are getting really tricky these days because of some of the service providers, like Apple Mail, actually will open the emails. They'll give you false positives, so the data is a little bit hit or miss, to be honest. However, things like click rates and then site visits from those clicks, I think that you have to look at: what is the action that you're trying to drive?

In this case, you're trying to get someone to click on the link and interact with the survey. That's the action, that's the result that you're looking for at the end of the day. The other piece that I would just piggyback off of that is, it's great if you have five or six links, but I would encourage you to have as few call to actions as possible. 

The truth is that most people aren't going to click five or six options. Now, I liked how yours were structured where there was a few different links, but they all have very different purposes. It was very clear. 'Hey, I want to do this, but I don't know how. Hey, I want to do this. I'll do it right now.' You're putting them into buckets right away, and I think that's wise. If you're just trying to write an email, and you're trying to get the same call to action in seven different places, or if you have in worst case seven different links that are seemingly unrelated and not thought out like this, that's where you can risk like actually butchering the whole email for yourself.

DAVID: Pilates business owners, you just heard a treasure chest of information there from Adam. Now, you need to go back and listen to that again, and probably again and again. We heard about A/B testing, so important. Let ActiveCampaign help you with that A/B testing. 

When you're trying to come up with the perfect wording, let the system help you with that. Let AI help you with that. Adam, thanks very much. That's really insightful, and yeah, listeners, go back and have a listen to that, because that's really useful information. 

ADAM: One other thing I would add is I would actually encourage people to even think about the colours of their buttons, test that out. That sounds really silly. Or like maybe the words on the button, right? 

I remember, this was quite some time - probably 10 years - ago, there was this author. He was very well known in the email space back in the day. His name was DJ Waldo, and he had a book about email marketing, 

He talked about how someone changed one word on their call-to-action button, so instead of saying sign up today, they said sign up now. I don't remember the exact phrasing, but it was something like that changed, and that led to about a 25% increase in the button clicks just by changing one word, and he saw similar results by changing colours. 

Everything should be on the table for experimentation, not just the text itself, but it could even be the images that are used, the button colours, the location of the button, all of those types of things. Everything's on the table. 

You don't have to try it all at once, right? This month we're trying our text. We're going to try the button colour next month. You can experiment with it in bite sized chunks. You don't need to get overwhelmed by it, but again, don't get so focused just purely on changing text, that you forget that there's a lot of different variables that can actually make a huge impact.

DAVID: When you say bite sized chunks, that's really an introduction for Tara to say something, because Tara's dog's name is Chunk. Beautiful dog. We're surprised you can't hear him in the background at the moment, but Tara, what do you think of that chunking of that work?

Tell us from your perspective, practically using ActiveCampaign in our clinical Pilates business. Some people come up with a lot of ideas, and then some people have to actually activate them. We won't say who's who but tell us a little bit about that. 

TARA: This is going to be another moment David, where we're looking like we haven't been doing things possibly the most optimal way, but I didn't do a lot of A/B testing on ActiveCampaign. I usually set it up and leave it to run.

DAVID: There you go, so that's something where we can possibly improve. Adam Tuttle is very subtle, and he's actually suggested that in, quite a useful way for us. 

We've said in the past, this podcast is about us learning as much about what we need to change and do, and A/B testing is one of those things that, quite frankly, you can ignore it if you want to. We have for a lot of time, but it's something that's certainly on our agenda. 

Is it on our agenda, Tara? 

TARA: I think it also really depends on the purpose of the automation, right? For this sort of automation, where we're trying to get a really high response rate, I think it could be really valuable.

Whereas, I talked about us having a lot of automations. We have an automation that sends an email to our clients the day after their first continuing session that lets them know about how to cancel their sessions, other information about how to interact with our studio, essentially. 

That one doesn't need so much A/B testing because the purpose of that automation is about providing the information to the client. Hopefully that they read, because it is helpful if they already know how to cancel their sessions and I don't have to tell them how to do that, but they might not be an email person. They might be a person who wants to talk to someone the first time they have to cancel. 

DAVID: Horses for Courses with A/B testing from Tara's point of view, having to do all this work for Pilates Can.

TARA: Look, if you had 20 people who are doing your marketing for you, you have a lot more resources to assign to that.

I'm doing marketing, but I'm also doing operations and sales and other things within the business. So, there's only so many things I can do at once. 

DAVID: That's the reality of a small business that we're all in. We've got so much resources and so much that we can focus on. 

ADAM: I think that's a really good point though, right? Even with companies like ActiveCampaign, we have 850 and plus employees right now. We have a huge marketing team, and they still struggle to build split test for some of our emails that go out.

What I would say is, you have to know what's driving your business. If you can identify an area that you would like to improve, like what you mentioned Tara where you're asking for the reviews. That's really high value for you, right? So maybe for the listeners, it's saying, 'hey, what's the automation that drives the most value for us? Is there room to experiment in there? We're going to change the button colour this month'. We're just going to do something like that. Hopefully it doesn't take us that long to set up. Your automations that are running, maybe they're just managing data. They’re important, but the call to actions aren't the things that are going to drive more business today. Let's not worry about that. 

You can drive yourself nuts trying to think about the thousand things that you can always test, and sometimes that gets very overwhelming for people. It's trying to think, ' oh my goodness, we've got 57, 000 emails it feels like we've got to try to test!'

No, no, no, no. Go back to, again, what makes you the most money? What drives the results for your business? What drives those actions that you need? Let's start picking out those bite sized chunks little bit by little bit. Maybe it's, hey, we're going to run our tests during these months when we're typically a little slower. On the other months when we're busier, we're not going to worry about it because the reality is that time is fleeting. Big or small teams, there's always so much to do, and so it just has to be an intentional part of the process. 

On the flip side of that, just play devil's advocate against myself, if your email to leave a review for the NPS score, whatever it is, has really high open rates. Really high click rates. All of the good things, it's running fantastic. Maybe you focus on that tier two or tier three email sequence that is valuable to you, and it's just not performing as high, the results aren't as good, and let's see, can we eke a little bit more out of that. 

You shouldn't throw too much on your shoulders. Take it one step at a time. 

DAVID: What a wonderfully useful conversation on A/B testing, which can be a dry subject, but not here on The Pilates Business Podcast. It's something that can be very useful to add to your bottom line, if you focus on the right things. 

We're going to stop this fourth episode of our series about CRMs and the customer experience, because we've given you a whole lot of extra information there. We've done a bit of a deep dive. 

In the next episode, we're going to deep dive further into that same automation, because there's still some other things that we can talk about. Please come back next week, and you need to subscribe so that you know that next episode is coming out. Please go ahead. 

Can you hear that music coming on, Tara? I think I can hear that music coming on, so that people have time to subscribe. We're going to be here next week. Adam's going to be here. Tara's going to be here. I'm going to be here, and we're going to go a little bit further into this particular automation and tell you exactly how you can go about doing this yourselves out there for your business.

Adam, would you like to add anything as a final comment for this particular episode? 

ADAM: I think that no matter how long you've been doing marketing automation, if you've just started or maybe a CRM system is brand new to you, or maybe you're a pro you've been doing this forever. Sometimes, it can be overwhelming. I think my encouragement would be to always look for three to five things that you can improve upon.

Sometimes it can be little, sometimes it can be big, but you don't have to try to fix 27 things at one time. It's not possible. It doesn't matter how big your team is, right? Big or small.

So, pick a few things and just take those bite sized chunks, and be honest with yourself. Maybe there's times where you say, you know what, everything's in a really good place. We don't need to worry about this right now, but we're going to revisit it in six months and just make sure that we're giving ourselves that honest feedback. 

Sometimes you might go through and say, hey, this has been working really well, but I think we can do a little bit more. We're going to test it out. We're going to see if we can, and if you just have that mindset of taking it again, one step at a time, being honest with where you're at, looking for real things that you can improve upon, I think that you're set to have huge success in this space. 

DAVID: Thank you very much, Adam. Thanks for all of your insights. I think we've had a couple of really good episodes already, and we're really looking forward to the next episode where we'll dive in a little bit further. 

Thank you also, Tara, for your insights from the Pilates Can marketing management side of things, and getting these things actually done in practice.

It's very useful to have that point of view as well. So, we'll be back next week, and until then, stay awesome. 

"Go back to, again, what makes you the most money? What drives the results for your business? What drives those actions that you need? Let's start picking out those bite sized chunks little bit by little bit."                                                      Adam Tuttle – Senior Director of Business Activation, ActiveCampaign

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