Podio – Direct Mail Campaigns

Scott Costello All, Blog, Featured 25 Comments

A question I get asked a lot is how do I manage my mailing campaigns in Podio. Up until recently I never had my campaigns in Podio as I still used SI Lead Manager to do all of that on my own computer. It never bothered me not having access to it over the web.

The more and more I use Podio though, I realize that I’m missing out on not having a web based solution for my campaigns. One such drawback was not being able to keep track of responses as I got them. As you can imagine, remembering to do this when I got home was a challenge…I’d forget all the time!

So over the past two month, I set out to create a Direct Mail Campaign Manager in Podio. I really like how SI Lead Manager works, so I did my best to model that approach with in Podio. I think it came out quite well!

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What I Wanted to Accomplish

When creating a Podio App (or any project for the matter) it’s important to write down a list of wants.  That list gives you direction and a clear idea of what your apps will need.  Some people break that list up even further to Wants, Needs and Could live With Outs. I don’t worry about going into that much detail because I hate making those decisions…haha

Here is my list of Wants…

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    Import Lead Lists From Excel

    We typically get our lead lists in an Excel (or CSV) format. I want to be able to take that Excel file and import it directly into my Direct Mail Campaign Podio Workspace.

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    Assign Lead Lists to a Campaign

    For simplicity the system must allow me to assign a pre-existing campaign template to my leads and lead lists. Doing so will automatically create the mailing schedule for my new list.

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    Mark Leads as Responded (or Dead)

    I need to be able to tell the system that a lead has Responded or is Dead. Doing so will prevent future mailings in that campaign from being sent to that lead.

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    Auto Create Leads in my Funnel when Motivated

    When a lead is marked as Motivated, I would like to have a new App record created in my Podio Lead Funnel Workspace. Additionally I want that new item to reference back to this lead.

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    Have Letter Templates

    Some of my different campaigns use the same letters. I want to be able to store my letter templates with-in podio so I can reuse them in as many campaigns as I want.

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    Create Campaign Templates

    These templates should layout all the letters in a campaign and at what intervals to send them out. This is a critical feature! It will allow me to create and schedule an entire mailing campaign in one click.

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    Set Interval Between Mailings

    Related to the previous Want, I need to be able to set the intervals between when letters are sent for a mailing campaign. This must be specific to each campaign template.

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    Print Mailings With Once Click

    I always want to reduce the steps in any process. So being able to click a button and have my letters delivered would be ideal. But I'll settle for autocreating a PDF that contains all the letters for a campaign mailing.

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    Mail Merging

    Another MUST feature! I need to be able to mail merge my lead's information into my letter templates without having to use Microsoft Word. I want a one stop shop here :O)

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    Advancing Campaign

    Once I print a mailing for a campaign, I want the system to setup and schedule the next mailing. I don't want to have to think about this and manually do it.

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    Create Tasks to Keep me on Schedule

    Would be nice to have tasks auto-created for me and added to my calendar to let me know when I have mailings that need to go out.

Extensive list I know, but when you don’t have time it is important to systematize as much as you can. You’ll save hours each month for every button click you can eliminate. Plus it’ll be easier to hire out the tasks in the future.

Podio App Setup and Reasons

What Apps you will have and how they relate is the backbone of any good system. It has to be simple, allow for the minimal of data entry as well as be able to grow with your business.

A couple of weeks ago I wrote about property lead flow that really dives into the best way to setup a system. If you want to understand more about how I came up with my setup, definitely go back and read that article.

For my Direct Mail Campaign Podio system, I have setup 5 Apps. These Apps are Leads, Campaigns, Campaign Templates, Mailings and Letters. I will go over each’s reason for being and how they were setup below.

Leads App

The Leads App is where you import all your lead lists into.  It is also where you will keep track of leads that have responded and leads that you don’t want to mail to anymore.  I keep track of those two things in a Category field called Status.

This App is very straight forward and can be expanded to include more information if needed.  These are the required fields for my Podio Setup.

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    Address (text)

    This is the property's address field. So 123 Main St

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    City (text)

    Property's City/Town name. Trenton

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    State (text)

    Property's State name. NJ

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    Zip Code (text)

    Property's Zip Code. 07601

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    Status (category)

    This is the Lead's Status. I use Mail, Responded and Dead as my options. This status will be used to determine if my process prints a letter for this lead or not.

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    Map (map)

    Populate this field with the full property address (123 Main St, Trenton NJ 07601) and Podio will show the location of the property on a map.

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    Last Name (text)

    Contact's Last Name. Costello

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    First Name (text)

    Contact's First Name. Scott

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    Phone (phone)

    Contact's Phone Number. (999) 555-1000

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    Email (email)

    Contact's Email Address. scott@email.com

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    Mailing Address (text)

    Contact's Mailing Address. 51 Mailtome St

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    Mailing City (text)

    Contact's Mailing City. Bronx

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    Mailing State (text)

    Contact's Mailing State. NY

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    Mailing Zip Code (text)

    Contact's Mailing Zip Code. 00000

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    Campaign Relationship (relationship)

    This field is used to select the campaign that the lead belongs too. Probate Mailing #1

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    List Relationship (relationship)

    This field is used to assign the lead to a list. You'll use the list so you can later pull refer back to all the leads in a particular list. Probate List #1.

Like I said, you can add more fields if you want. Podio automatically tacks on a Files (upload and attach files) and Tasks (create item related tasks) to the App Template as well.

Campaigns App

The Campaigns App is where everything comes together.  It controls the campaign by associating the leads to the template; says when the campaign will start; when the next mailing is; and handles the printing of the letters.

What makes this all work are the Globiflow Processes behind it.  Those processes are in charge of setting the mailing dates and sequence number; assigning the template; and printing out the letters.

Here is a look at the fields in this App…

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    Name (text)

    This is Name that you give the Campaign. You can put anything you want here, but it's a good idea to come up with some naming methodology to help you keep things organized. Yankees #1

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    Campaign Template to Use (text)

    This field holds the Name of the Campaign Template that you want to use. Globiflow will use this value to look up which Template to attach to the campaign.

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    Campaign Template (Relationship Field)

    This is the actual link to what Template is being used for the campaign. It controls what letters are to be sent out and at what interval they will be sent.

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    Status (Category Field)

    Status of the Campaign. My process uses the statuses Not Started, Active, Paused, Finished.

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    Print (Category Field)

    Here are your Action Buttons so to speak. In Podio you can use Category Fields as buttons to trigger Globiflow Processes. Here I have options to Print Letters,Print Envelopes plus resting place option called Do Nothing. My process flips the value of this field back to Do Nothing after printing is complete.

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    Start Date (date)

    The date I have set to start this campaign. Each Mailing has a value called Days From Start and combining that with the Start Date the process can determine when the next mailing should be sent.

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    Next Mailing Date (date)

    The date the next mailing should go out. The value is determined by the Globiflow process that takes the start date and adds the next mailings Days From Start value to get this date.

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    Next Mailing Seq (number)

    This is the Mailing Sequence number of when letter will be going out next. Globiflow uses this value to determine which letter to print and what the next mailing will be.

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    Files

    Stores the Mail Merged Letters that Globflow created for a mailing.

Campaign Templates App

The Campaign Template App is the top level of the template. This is where I group my mailings together in one package to keep things organized.  There are only 3 fields in this app, but it makes it possible for you to quickly schedule your campaigns.

You can add as many or as few templates as you want.  There are no Globiflow processes behind this, you just set it and forget it.

Here are the fields…

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    Name (text)

    The name of the template. Nothing special about this field, just give it a simple name to help you tell what it is for. Probate Template #1

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    Mailings (relationship)

    This is a relationship field where you will select which Mailings are to be included in this campaign. You can have 1 mailing or you can link 10 mailings.

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    Type (category)

    A category field where you can select what type of campaign this will be. Typical options would be Yellow Letter, Email, Text, Postcards. Just another informational field in the end.

Mailings

The Mailings App is sorta your middle man app.  You’ll use it to define each of the separate mailings withing a campaign template. I’ll create a mailing record for each mailing I want to have in my template.

For each mailing, I’ll set the Letter to use, the Sequence Number in which this letter will go out and finally when (Days From Start) this letter will be sent.

Here are the fields…

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    Description (text)

    The name of the mailing. Nothing special about this field, just give it a simple name to help you tell what it is for. Probate Mailing #2

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    Letter (relationship)

    With this field I select the Letter that I want to send out for this particular mailing. I can select any letter that I want, even use the same letter for all mailings.

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    Sequence Number (number)

    This is where I will set the order in which this mailing will go out. If this is going to be the second mailing in my template, then I'll put a 2 here.

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    Days From Start (number)

    Here will be where I set when this mailing will be sent. All I have to do is enter in the Number of Days from the start of the campaign that I want to send this letter. If I'm sending a letter every 30 days and have 3 mailings, the value in this field for each mailing will be 0, 30 & 60 respectively.

Letters App

The Letters App is where I put all my letter templates.  The reason I have this as a separate app then my mailings is that it gives me the opportunity to reuse the same letter in different campaigns.

I like this setup because If I want to update the content of a letter I only have to do it in one spot for all my campaigns.

Taking a look at the fields…

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    Name (text)

    The name of the letter. Nothing special about this field, just give it a simple name to help you tell what it is for. Probate Letter #1

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    Type (category)

    I like to have a field where I can categorize the letter. Gives me an easy to way group and filter to see all my Probate letters or my Absentee letters. Typical options would be Probate, Absentee, Foreclosure, Other.

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    Content (text)

    The Letter's Content. This holds the entire letters content and formatting. You can use basic HTML tags like < b >, < i >,< p > and more. The HTML will be read by Globiflow when it converts the content to a PDF. Additionally you place your merge markers here as well...##first name##

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    Notes (text)

    Just a place to add any additional notes or comments about this letter. Say you have another version, you can refer to it here.

Linking the Apps

Breaking the Apps up into Leads, Campaigns, Templates, Mailings and Letters is just the base for this app.  What really brings it all together is being able to link each of the apps to another.  The Linking creates a complete system and reduces the need for having to repeat the same data in multiple places.

Leads App -> Campaigns App -> Templates App -> Mailings App -> Letters App

Setting Up Campaigns with Globiflow

As part of my efforts to make this process as automated as possible I setup a GlobiFlow process to run when a new campaign has been created. This is not a complex process at all. What it does is the following….

Assigns the Campaign Template to Use.  When I import leads from Excel, I’m only able to populate the Campaign Template to Use field.  So what GlobiFlow does is, takes the value in that field, finds the Template with the matching name and links it to the Campaign that was just created.

Sets the Next Mailing Sequence value to 1. Nothing special going on here, just telling the campaign we want to start with the first mailing.

Sets the Next Mailing Date to Start Date + Days from Start of first Mailing.  Basically, GlobiFlow will take a look at the first Mailing to get the Days From Start value then adds it to the Campaign’s Start Date that you set.

Sets the Status value to Not Started. Just the initial status of a campaign.  Once the start date comes, or you print your first mailing, it will be changed to Acitve.

Sets the Print value to Do Nothing.  Do Nothing is the resting value for this Action field.  When it’s time to print a mailing you’ll click Print Letters.

 

Printing Mailings with Globiflow

They toughest Globiflow process I have created so far hands down! There are 36 steps to this process flow. While GlobiFlow is powerful, it took me a while to figure out what each type of Action can do and how it does it.

I learned how to use variables to store info, iterate (loop) through multiple app relationships and then come up with a way to mail merge. It took me a good 2 weeks to figure it all out.

For general purposes, here are the steps that need to be done in order to print a batch of letters…

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    Access the Mailings for a Campaign Template

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    Find the Mailing that is the Current Mailing

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    Get the Letter That is Associated with the Current Mailing

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    Loop Through the Linked Leads and manually Mail Merge

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    Create a PDF of the Letters

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    Create a Task to print the next Mailing

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    Update the Campaign to Reflect when the next Mailing Is

At the end of the day (or at least the tutorial) you will have a good feel for the capabilities of GlobiFlow. Regardless of whether you can actually do something or not, knowing that a tool can do something can be just as valuable. This Flow will definitely help you there.

Automating the Entire Campaign!

How does it get even better you may ask? How about the fact that you can easily automate the entire campaign printing process for all your campaigns!

GlobiFlow has a feature where you can setup a flow that is triggered by a date field. The flow runs everyday and checks a specified date field in the Campaigns’ App. If the date is equal to the current date, you can trigger the Print Mailings Flow. INSTANT AUTOMATION!

I show you how to do this in the Tutorial and it’s dead simple once you have everything else set up.  Just imagine having a system with a dozen campaigns running and you don’t have to do a thing once you import your lead lists.

Excel Import Files

The final piece to the puzzle is the Excel Import File. This is nothing special, but by adding a few fields and some information to your leads you can setup, schedule and print a campaign in under 4 minutes (see the video below!). I just want to say that Podio has some smart developers working for them.

For my Direct Mail Campaign Podio setup, my excel file has these below fields. It pretty much matches my Leads App with a few key additions.

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    Address

    This is the property's address field. So 123 Main St

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    City

    Property's City/Town name. Trenton

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    State

    Property's State name. NJ

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    Zip Code

    Property's Zip Code. 07601

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    Last Name

    Contact's Last Name. Costello

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    First Name

    Contact's First Name. Scott

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    Phone

    Contact's Phone Number. (999) 555-1000

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    Email

    Contact's Email Address. scott@email.com

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    Mailing Address

    Contact's Mailing Address. 51 Mailtome St

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    Mailing City

    Contact's Mailing City. Bronx

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    Mailing State

    Contact's Mailing State. NY

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    Mailing Zip Code

    Contact's Mailing Zip Code. 00000

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    Lead Status

    Add this Column and give the lead a status of Mail

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    Map

    Since you can't combine fields or use a field twice during the import process, you'll need to create a new column in Excel for the Full Address.

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    Campaign Name

    This will be the Name of the Campaign that you want to create. Podio will create a new Campaign based off this name. If a campaign already exists with this name, Podio will add the leads to that Campaign.

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    Campaign Template to Use

    This will be the Template that the newly created campaign will use.

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    Campaign Start Date

    Create a Column for the Campaign Start Date.

The great part about Podio’s import process is that it allows you to assign values to a relationship field. This means that it’s possible to upload your leads and create the campaign at the same time! That saves you a ton of time. Combine this will a GlobiFlow process and the campaign can be started up with no extra work.

Additional Thoughts

With any system I setup there are a TON of features I’d like to include. Unfortunately it’s too easy to get trapped by adding to many features in the beginning. You need to get your core perfected before adding new features.

With that said I wanted to list a few features that I wanted to add but deemed them to be “future features” instead.

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    Automatically Sending Mailings to a Printer

    Doing this would completely automate the entire process. Letters being mailed all in the background. All you do is take phone calls and status your leads. How much time would that save me??

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    Link my Podio CRM

    My idea is that if I click on a category field that has an option Send to CRM, GlobiFlow would grab the lead information and create a new record in my Property's App in my CRM Workspace.

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    Move Leads to a Followup System

    There are many times were a lead isn't motivated enough yet but has responded. Sending them the mailers from the original campaign might not work. But it would be great to send these leads into an forever follow up campaign.

Want This System for Yourself?

To go along with this blog post, I put together a 12 module Video Tutorial on how to create this exact system. It’s totally FREE and all I ask is that you share this post on Twitter, Facebook and any where else you can think of.

Watch the Video below to see the Podio Direct Mail Manager in action.  Then Click the Button Below to get access to the tutorial.

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FREE Step by Step Video Tutorial

Podio – Direct Mail Campaign Manager

Not only did I develop this Podio Direct Mail Campaign Manager for myself to use, but I documented every step of the setup for you! I put together a FREE 10 part Video Tutorial on creating my exact setup. Just click the button below to get access.

FREE Video Tutorial – Podio Direct Mail System

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Scott Costello

Scott is a part time wholesaler, but full time real estate investing addict! As his family grows and his free time shrinks,He has been slowing building his wholesaling business over the past 7 years in between life events.Drive, dedication and never giving up are his strengths.
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Comments 25

  1. Hey, Scott. Your email completely intrigues me. I will be studying it. Admittedly, I haven’t done more than skimmed it yet. But at the very bottom under “Additional thoughts” you list automating the printing. That’s what we do. We make using the USPS drag-and-drop simple. Is there a potential here for us to partner on your efforts?

    Also, I need to implement a scheduling system into Postalocity. I don’t yet know the format you’re using, and if it’s able to be built in. But if what you’ve done can shorten my I.T. guys’ efforts, I’m all over it.

    We should talk soon.

    –Bryan Pulliam
    316-247-5361 direct

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      Author

      Your service would definitely be what is need to complete the full automation of this process. So basically how would it work? If I had my process send you a PDF of all the letters that need to go out, would that work? Additionally how would it work if the letters are specific to each lead? Could the process also send you a list of the mailing addresses in the same order as the letters where in and you’d be able to match them up? Lot’s of questions LOL

      Shoot me an email sometime and we can setup a time to talk. scott@strugglinginvestor.com

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  2. Scott, this looks like it would save a lot of time and I’ll definitely give it a shot. One question I have, what do you do for envelopes with this system? Does your printer handle those or do you hand-address them?

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      Author

      In the past I always printed envelopes myself using my laser printer…complete pain in the As*! The services(lob.com, Clic2Mail and Postalocity) I’m looking at to completely automate this process would handle the envelopes. The only downside is that the mailings will look more bill/junk mailish. Not sure how that will affect response rate but is worth testing. You have to weigh the balance of time/money/effectiveness.

  3. Yeah, the idea of having it look more bill-looking is the one thing I’m concerned about. I do mostly probate properties and so I already print the “Personal representative of the estate of {Deceased}” on the envelope, I’m worried that losing that and the “real” stamp may adversely affect my open/response rate. That being said, having it look more official might actually increase the rate. Might be worth a shot, just for one mailing. Also, (TECHNICAL LANGUAGE ALERT) It might be possible to find or build a web service to generate a PDF of envelopes that you can send a request to through Globiflow to generate the envelopes.
    Kyle Critchnau’s last blog post ..Foreclosure notice of default in Oklahoma– what is it?My Profile

  4. Great stuff as usual Scott! I really appreciate the attention-to-detail, and time you spent to set this up! Is there a way to send this to the already established Mailhouse within Podio?

    Cheers,
    Arnell

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      There are a number of possible solutions like trypaper.com and lob.com. Also you then have the options like YellowLetters.com and MarketLikeAWholesaler.com. I’ve experimented with a couple of them and came way with some hurdles that need to be overcome before it would actually work. It’s not as easy as I once thought it would be. I do plan on coming back to this at some point in the future as it’s something I want as well.

  5. Hello Scott! Amazing website! Thank you very much for all your hard work. I have a question regarding the Direct Mail Campaign System. I followed your step-by-step setup and even did a test print on a small list. The PDF printout did work. The one issue I have is that the name of the seller shows up, but the remaining list items do not, i.e. ##address##, ##city##,##my-name##, etc.

    Where are these items defined so that I may correct this issue?

    Thanks again!

    Michael

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      Hi Michael,

      There is an error in the video tutorial where I put the wrong variable name into the “merge” fields.

      There are 8 Variable Actions (7 Body & 1 Letter). The 7 Body variables are used to build (mail merge) the letter content. The first Body Variable is correct…

      Body = str_replace(“##address##”, [(ref Lead) Property Address],[(Variable) LetterContent])

      Now each subsequent Body variable must build off the previous one so instead of using the [(Variable) LetterContent], you need to use the Body variable [(Variable) Body] or you are just ignoring the previous step.

      So this is how each of the Body Variables should look like…

      Body = str_replace(“##address##”, [(ref Lead) Property Address],[(Variable) LetterContent])
      Body = str_replace(“##city##”, [(ref Lead) Property City],[(Variable) Body])
      Body = str_replace(“##state##”, [(ref Lead) Property State],[(Variable) Body])
      Body = str_replace(“##zip##”, [(ref Lead) Property Zip],[(Variable) Body])
      Body = str_replace(“##my-name##”, “Daniel Fisher”,[(Variable) Body])
      Body = str_replace(“##my-phone##”, “(484)367-4995”,[(Variable) Body])
      Body = str_replace(“##name##”, [(ref Lead) First Name],[(Variable) Body])
      Letter = [(Variable) Letter].”

      “.[(Variable) Body].”

      Make those changes and everything should work.

  6. I’m just getting started with Podio, and the tutorials/articles you put out have been incredibly helpful! One question I have is since you listed “link my Podio CRM” as an additional thought, how are you currently taking the info from your mailing lists and creating the item in the properties app if you have someone who responds to your mailing? Is this a manual process right now?

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      Linda,

      I have a globiflow process that transfers the lead information over to my Leadflow(CRM) Workspace. Basically I have a category field that says “Transfer to CRM”. When I click that on a lead, it pushes all the information over to a Lead App in the LeadFlow workspace. The Leads App has a relationship field that links back to the Direct Mail Lead table Item where it originated from.

      -Scott

  7. Hey Scott,

    Phenomenal work! You’re a huge help!

    Wanted to see where you stand with click2mail integration? … I was thanking a great way to do it would be to change the output from a single mail merged document to multiple PDFs which are then individually emailed to click2mail with their required subject headers and the PDF attached to the email. All automated of course.

    Is this something that you think is possible?

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      Hey Mark,

      I’m currently working on another project (Podio CRM), but will get back to the Direct Mail system after that and I will be digging into some integrations for lob and click2mail.

  8. Hi Scott,

    I am just getting started with podio and your writeup is fantastic! Unfortunately I was not one of the early adopters of globiflow and am kicking myself now.
    As I have seen in your other posts you mentioned fusion mint, but after trying this it seems very limited. Have you looked at cloudpipes? I started a trial and it seems to have the options that are needed, however it works very different and I am having a hard time setting this up. Do you have any experience with cloudpipes?

    Thanks!

    Ed

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      Author

      Hi Ed,

      I took a look at what Cloudpipes was all about. It looks to be a competitor to Zapier and IFTT. Those services are quite different the Globiflow because they basically just take information from one place and put them some place else. You can hook into many different services using them. Globiflow on the other hand is strictly for Podio. You can setup automations to manipulate the data within Podio, move it around and much much more.

      I haven’t tried Fusion Mint myself, but I will in the future just to see what it can do. There was someone who sent me an email saying they were able to get my Direct Mail Campaign working with FusionMint, but I’m not sure what he did to make it work. Though he did say it wasn’t easy.

  9. Scott, thank you so much for providing this info! Dude you are a genius.

    Have you made any progress towards linking it with click2mail or Lob?

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  10. Hi Scott! Thank you SO much for such a great tutorial! The attention to detail is superb and it has been so very helpful to us!

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