Learning is no simple task. And learning how to learn is no laughing matter
🤪 Although writing that line did make me chuckle a bit.
For the past 4 years, I have been on a constant journey of learning how to code.
Granted, I was no #codenewbie at the beginning of this process, but I quickly realized I didn't know as much as I thought I did either. When I initially learned to program, we were taught using tools that are no longer even relevant (☠️ RIP Flash).
In those days we built websites with more photoshop than I'd care to admit. Don't believe me?
Check out some of these articles from back in the interweb history, talking about why photoshop is no longer a relevant web design tool:
Still curious? Wondering how anyone ever built websites this way? Well, check out this tutorial on creating slices 🔪 from images using photoshop:
Anyway, the point is this wasn't my first foray into web development or scripting for that matter.
What changed this time around was my approach. In all my other attempts with web development, I did my damnedest to avoid using code. I used tools that abstracted away from the code layer as much as possible (🤨 I'm looking at you WordPress...).
I guess you could say I was #nocode before #nocode was a thing, 😔 — I wouldn't say it, but I'm sure you could.
For me, the web has always been a creative outlet, and as much as I stared at and played with code it never really clicked for me back then. I thought of coding as more of a supplemental utility, rather than the foundation of my application.
Eventually, my resistance to code and my need for better solutions came to an impasse. I'm sure that every #nocode afficiando even today can sympathize with this sentiment. Somehow this gave me the motivation to learn how to code and eventually started me off on this journey.
I'm no expert when it comes to coding or learning for that matter, but what happened along the way in the process of learning how to code is that I also ended up developing a framework to help myself learn and intake new data. After years of learning in literally the wrong way, I realized I needed to — learn how to learn — more efficiently.
So my process discussed below an amalgamation — pieced together from several different widely used learning frameworks and concepts. Personally, none of the frameworks fully addressed my needs. It took a bit of trial and error to lock down a process that worked for me.
So this is the story of how that process came to be and how using it in my daily learning activities it has helped me learn more efficiently.
Generally speaking, we as humans often approach learning as a stop in between where we are now and the destination (a.k.a. the skill or knowledge) we want to get to. So we treat it as a means to an end, and in doing so we tend to defeat the entire purpose before we even get started.
The other glaring issue with this approach is that it incentivizes the act of cramming, — here the destination is more like simply passing a test or just building out a partial feature of your application.
My theory is that this occurs because we were never actually committed to the act of learning.
Instead, we are focused on reaching that destination by passing that test or completing that feature. The act of learning, in this example, is like a fleeting pit stop along the way. Instead of retaining the knowledge or developing that skill we simply let it drift away as the moment passes.
And this is where we lose sight of the problem, we spent all that time learning something that will probably end up being a one-trick pony in our toolbelt at best! This is because we never internalized the knowledge to help develop that skill.
I suggest you start by reframing the context, in this approach learning can be a seen EVERY STOP along the way to our destination. Also for the sake of this example, let's imagine the destination is not just a single location, but instead — several locations along the way. And each stop - in between each destination - represents a skill or topic you acquire while traveling from destination to destination.
Learning, in this scenario, becomes an ongoing process, and depending on the topic it could even be looked at as a life-long journey.
In my opinion, this is a healthy starting point for attempting to learn a new topic. It's about the journey, and making the most out of it, not necessarily about the destination and how fast we can get to it.
There are many neurological reasons why this is the case and if you're interested I suggest looking into focused and diffused learning modes. I also posted an article recently that highlights some of the main lessons learned from the discovery of these different learning modes.
By reframing our intention to focus on the process rather than the result, we can now use several common techniques to help us fill in the blanks in our process.
We all have gaps in our knowledge, this is particularly noticeable when learning an entirely new topic, but even with topics we are already familiar with - we still have some gaps in our knowledge of that topic.
You can't know what you don't know, but now you know... that you don't know.
So how do we being to fill those gaps in our knowledge?
The first step in this approach is to identify 3 things about the subject matter:
- What you know.
- What you don't know.
- What you need to know.
That sounds silly when you say it out loud, but that's the first step, realizing the difference between what you already know, and all of the things you don't know.
One easy way to accomplish this is to pick up a book on the subject and turn to the table of contents. There you go. There's your outline! These are all the things you need to know about this topic (at least, according to this book you've chosen).
You could also look at online courses on the topic and run through their syllabus to achieve a similar outcome.
NOTE: For technical learning, you can usually modify this approach and use the documentation as a reference instead of a book.
As you're going thru each item in the table of contents — make a list, or if you have a physical copy of a book make some marks in the margins. I like to call this process identifying knowledge gaps.
Sometimes you'll approach a topic and there's a prerequisite that you're also unfamiliar with, make a note of this as a blocking topic. You'll need to learn these items first before proceeding to the content you wanted to learn.
For example, you want to learn how to multiply, but you've never be taught how to add. In this scenario, "addition" would be your knowledge gap, you'll need to focus on that first to progress onto the multiplication tables.
Without the fundamental concept of addition, how could you possibly internalize that multiplication is like the shorthand notation for complex repetitive addition tasks?
I'm not saying it isn't possible to learn one without the other, but I will say that you're very likely stacking the deck against you by attempting to do it that way.
As developers we can even utilize larger road maps to help us learn complex interconnected subjects:
Now that we have an outline in the form of our knowledge gaps, we can take that one step further, and dig back into the book (or reference material) we used to make our outline.
This time around we're going to take each topic we identified as a gap in our knowledge in the last step as and we'll flip to the chapter that discusses it. Now we're going to first flip to the back of that chapter, and see if there are any review questions or a summary there. If we have both, then we're going to read through the summary and attempt to answer the review questions. If it's just a summary read through it and make highlights of important topics.
Several learning frameworks that suggest this approach and it's by far one of my most effective methods of learning.
If we currently lack the knowledge to answer a particular review question, we'll make a note of that, again if you're using a physical book, it makes a lot of sense to highlight the question so that you can refer back to it later.
The last step is to make a quick bullet list in your own words of any topics that you just learned from doing this exercise.
phrase your bullet points as questions, and write this answer below, this will allow you to turn this new bit of knowledge into flashcards or a quick review tool, later on.
Now you can repeat this step for each item on your knowledge gap list. Iterate through the list and you'll have learned a whole new topic.
You can take as many or as few notes as you feel you need to. I take notes profusely. I record each and every step in the process as a reference.
This helps me create a searchable index of every topic I've attempted to learn. This same data is then available to me no matter what device I am on, it's like having my own mini-wiki.
Consume content from multiple sources, take note of the different approaches.
If you used a physical book as a reference in the previous examples, it makes complete sense to look to other sources to fill in some of your more complicated knowledge gaps. This is where a good quick google search will take you a long way. For more complex topics you can try StackOverflow or Reddit.
Dive into some blog posts on specific topics you've identified as your knowledge gaps. Take notes along the way, be sure to constantly summarize everything you learn in your own words. This is the secret sauce.
The act of summarizing alone won't help you remember the content any better, but it will provide you will relatable explanations that you can use as a review. The fact that they were written in your own words means that it will take less processing power on your part the next time you review this material.
In my experience, I learn well through video, so at this stage, I'll usually hop on youtube, and try and see if I can find a video about the specific topic. I don't want an entire course (at least not yet), instead I'm looking for a brief video with a quick overview and an example. I'll take notes through the video and often even follow along if it's something technical.
fireship.io videos are particularly great for this.
Practice makes permanent
Make the reviewing of your notes a daily process, block off a small chunk of time for this once in the morning and once at the end of your day. Be sure to keep adding new material you've learned into the rotation as you progress.
If you phrased your summary bullet points as questions then you can use this free online tool to create flashcards out of that material:
If you come across any difficult topics that you're having trouble wrapping your head around I suggest opening a discussion somewhere relevant and when in doubt you can ask people on Reddit or Twitter. Be sure to preface the question in the context of "Hey I'm just learning, and I have a few questions...", I find this wards off most internet trolls and invites responses from individuals who understand where you are in your journey.
This part should go without saying, but so many people don't put this into practice, including me. You should build early and often — is a programming sentiment usually expressed about deploying your application, although here it means that we should tinker with the new knowledge we gain along our learning journey at regular intervals.
Did you learn a new way of fetching data? Awesome! Now go back to an older project and implement what you learned again. Do this sooner rather than later, and do it as often as you deem necessary and you will soon begin to experience the effects of those some new neural connections being formed.
I think one of the keys here is to not be afraid to break things in the process and also be open to reaching out for help when you're absolutely stuck.
This last part is a new addition to my repertoire. I'm genuinely a very introverted person. I tend to be able to get out of my own way - long enough to do what needs to be done, - but choosing to post in a public forum about my learnings and struggles is the last thing I want to do.
So this article is my way of starting on this next part of this journey, by starting a discourse about things I am interested in and things that are most relevant to me.
Going forward, I want to make it a point to post about things I've learned and distill them down in ways people can relate and learn from. Hopefully, this helps someone else out there who is struggling with the topic as I did.
Teaching has long been considered a great way of solidifying the concepts we're still learning. It helps us put the learning into action by forcing us to clarify the concepts in our own minds to help others reach the same understanding.
I hope this post has helped get you pumped up about applying a learning framework to your learning goals. If you find this information useful, please do feel free to pass it on to someone else who needs it.
Let's just wrap things up with a brief rundown of what we learned in this post:
- Learn new things by identifying your knowledge gaps and scoping the problem
- Look for supplemental sources of information to help clarify complex topics.
- Take quick notes along the way and review those notes daily.
- Build things, break them, and ask questions.
- Teach, knowledge is meant to be shared - don't be a hoarder.
For rapidly growing businesses, even the smallest details of a process can add up to make an impact.
Sure, it’s not always easy to spot the potential gains. A process that takes a couple hours may seem perfectly acceptable when you only have to do it once a week.
However, when you find yourself running through the process every day to meet increased demand, that two-hour procedure becomes a waste of time. This kind of situation involving busy work is also one of the earliest signs that you need workflow automation.
Using automation to refine business processes helps growth by creating more time and capacity for teams. And yes, most of the time, the logic behind automation is that simple.
Even the smallest businesses can scale their processes with automation, and reduce the time spent on repetitive, non-rewarding tasks.
In this case study, we’ll show you how a single automation helped Verb - a quickly-growing fitness and wellness company - reclaim several hours each week.
Verb is an SMS-based fitness and wellness coaching service that provides one-on-one instruction through their app. The app encourages users to identify their goals and reflect on their progress and struggles each day.
Additionally, Verb users can find coaches through the app and sign up for additional training on the coach’s dedicated page.
This last process represented a challenge for Verb.
Creating these pages manually for each coach was feasible as the company was starting out. But as they began onboarding more coaches, the process started to eat up a significant amount of time each week.
This led to an essential question: Can the web creation process be automated? Let’s take a look at what the Verb team did.
Personalized wellness: Creating a unique page for every Verb coach
Updating a website CMS regularly can be a hassle under any circumstances.
When the task involves creating Stripe products and coordinating with a new team member for every update, it can become a critical hurdle to a company’s growth.
This is the problem that Verb faced.
Because every coach has their own distinct skill set, Verb has to create a profile page for each of them and show their unique qualifications and services. The standard coach page includes:
- The coach’s bio
- Offered services
- A payment integration through Stripe that lets users book and pay for coaching sessions
Before automation kicked in, a series of manual steps were required to create and upload the pages. These were:
- A Verb team member interacted with coaches over email until all the text and data for the page was gathered
- All the information was then copy pasted into a massive “mother” Google Doc containing the data for every coach
- Text was reviewed for errors
- The information was then copied from the Google Doc to the Webflow CMS
- Stripe products associated with the coach’s services were created
- The profile page of the coach was published
Verb was dedicating about two hours every week to the task of gathering information and publishing coach pages.
As a growing company, they knew that the amount of time they spent on this process was only going to increase. Naturally, they needed a solution that would be faster, more scalable, and less prone to error.
With this in mind, Verb reached out to XRay - a certified Integromat partner - to develop a simpler and more scalable process for creating pages and Stripe products.
Automated web page creation? Custom Stripe integrations? These are things Integromat can always help with.
XRay is an automation consultancy that specializes in building no-code and low-code automations to save time for humans.
The company offers a variety of memberships and automation packages to help businesses of any size build an automated infrastructure.
Their mission is to save a 1bn+ hours of human work by eliminating robotic tasks from their workflows.
After carefully analyzing Verb’s existing workflow, XRay designed and implemented an Integromat automation to simplify the process and speed things up.
Let’s take a look at it.
Building Web Pages and Stripe Products with a Simple Form
After taking a look at the problem and the tools involved, XRay built an Integromat automation to compile the content and publish the pages.
This required a series of changes, which allowed to cut down the time spent on the task by 90%.
The first aspect that changed was the data collection method.
Rather than asking for each data over email exchanges, Verb now kicks off the process by sending over a simple Typeform survey to new coaches.
The survey asks each coach for all of the required information, and stores the responses into an Airtable database.
Once a new entry pops up in the database, the Integromat scenario automatically generates Stripe products and a Webflow page complete with testimonials, tags, and more.
Integromat also sends automatic notifications to the relevant stakeholders, so everyone can quickly confirm that everything on the page is correct.
Verb’s Integromat automation leverages an operational database in Airtable to create, read, and edit data. The database also features an activity log, which updates every time the automation runs.
Verb’s team and XRay technicians can easily check the activity log to ensure that the automation is running as intended, or to address any errors as they crop up.
The result speaks for itself: Verb now only spends about five minutes a week making new web pages for their coaches. By eliminating the chance of human error while copying and pasting, the automation also ensures a more reliable output.
Verb has benefitted from over 7.5 hours of time saved during the automation’s first month of use, and it will only save more time as the company scales.
“Verb has been growing fast, and XRay’s Integromat automation has been a lifesaver. It’s so much faster now to make pages for all of our coaches, and we don’t need to waste time messing around in Webflow or Stripe. It all just happens with one survey.”
- Vincent Miceli, CEO of Verb
Automation isn’t just a tool for enterprise; it’s a vital asset for any entrepreneur or small business owner who’s looking to scale up their company.
By finding the repetitive tasks in workflows, anyone can find opportunities for more meaningful work and focus on building a more successful company.
Happy automating!This article was written by Matt Jasinski and first appeared here: https://www.integromat.com/en/blog/fitness-app-success-story
Picture this: You jump on a demo call with a potential customer. Five minutes into the call, you find out that the prospect is not a good fit for your product.
Frustrating? Sure. Commonplace? Absolutely.
When working in sales, situations like this often happen due to poor lead generation and nurturing practices.
Most of the time, the problem can be attributed to a misalignment between sales and marketing departments.
The lack of clear processes and guidelines leads to annoying consequences for both the employee and the business, such as:
- Lack of a proper handoff: Leads get left behind, buried in your CRM
- Flawed targeting: Requirements were not set properly, leads are not qualified
- Poor messaging: Expectations are off, leads have been promised too much
- Lack of planning: Not enough leads, or too many leads coming in at once
These issues affect every organization at one point or another. But they can be alleviated with lead automation solutions.
Implementing automation in the lead generation process will not only reduce mishaps, but also produce visible gains in the short term.
What is lead automation?
Lead automation is a way to manage your lead generation efforts so key processes run without human intervention. We can illustrate this with a funnel, a popular way to picture the customer journey:
Usually, prospective customers progress through these stages via the various campaigns a company has in place.
This is where the risk for disconnect typically occurs, due to misalignment between teams and the lack of clear processes. The following questions can help you identify the weaknesses of a lead generation process:
- Where are the leads coming from?
- Whose job is it to hand off marketing leads to sales?
- Where can salespeople find information about these leads?
- Are both teams relaying data and feedback to each other?
- What content and materials have these leads been exposed to?
By automating processes throughout the funnel, you’ll be able to streamline your operations and improve efficiency.
Before getting started, it’s important to learn the three main options to automate lead generation. These are:
- Using native integrations available in tools you already use
- Working with developers to code a custom API calls
- Using automation tools like Integromat to connect apps without code
Each approach has its perks. Needless to say, we believe that our product is the golden standard for all-things automation, but that shouldn’t stop you from exploring other options.
Now, let’s go over actual examples of lead automation solutions you can implement today to facilitate how you generate, nurture, and handle leads.
How to streamline your sales funnel with lead automation
To provide some structure, we’ve broken down solutions based on lead generation channels.
This way, you will be able to see where automation can jump in and help. The channels are:
- Landing pages
- Content marketing
- Phone calls
- Advertising campaigns
- Email marketing
- Cold emails
- Social media
Let’s dive in!
Website: Receiving notifications as soon as a lead interacts with a chatbot
People frequently compare a company website to the storefront of a physical business. The comparison is simple, but also appropriate.
Driving traffic to your website is most likely at the center of your lead generation efforts, leveraging strategies such as:
- Content Marketing
- Landing pages
- Live chat support
Research shows that only about 4% of website visitors are ready to buy. With this in mind, it’s paramount to be especially attentive when handling visitors that show interest.
Timing is critical. As Intercom has observed, responding within 5 minutes generates 9x more meaningful conversations.
If you have a chatbot in your site, automation can make sure it doesn’t perform like a glorified email form.
By connecting your live chat platform with your internal communication tool, your team can be notified instantly when a lead is reaching out.
This will help you solve timing issues in minutes. From then on, it will be up to your team to turn that lead into a customer.
Landing pages: Automatically move lead data into your CRM
Landing pages are standalone pages created for mainly two purposes:
- Converting visitors into customers
- Collecting email sign-ups
Marketing teams use landing pages to target specific segments of users.
In turn, users tend to land on these pages after clicking an online ad, or after searching for a specific keyword on Google and clicking one of the search results.
Landing pages stand out as an effective lead generation method, and are particularly popular among B2B businesses.
If your marketing team is busy (hopefully!), landing pages will help you get leads 24/7.
While this is great news for your sales teams, it can also present you with a number of challenges. Again, it’s time to ask the important questions:
- What type of information are the landing pages collecting?
- Are your salespeople aware of the content of your landing pages?
- What happens after a lead registers? Who moves the data around?
- How are new leads being distributed among the sales team?
Each of these questions can be seen as a process in itself, namely:
- Data classification
- Lead awareness
- Data entry
- Lead distribution
By automating these processes, teams can avoid missing out on converting these landing page leads.
This can be implemented either by using a native integration (where available), or by connecting your apps with Integromat.
Content Marketing: Promoting company content while boosting your exposure
Creating content is most likely another essential part of your company’s lead generation efforts. Given that it costs less than half as traditional marketing and generates about 3x as many leads, content is a logical investment.
In addition, content can also help sales professionals gain exposure and grow their own network and personal brand. According to LinkedIn, 62% of B2B customers respond to salespeople who share content and insights that are relevant to them.
Where can you start as a sales professional? There are two ways you can go about this:
- Writing articles and blog posts yourself
- Sharing and commenting valuable content
While you should ideally implement a mix of the two, time is not always on your side. Both content creation and curation takes time and energy.
Automation can help here. Since your company is most likely publishing content, why not automatically share that?
Using Integromat, you can set up an automated scenario that will automatically share new blog posts from your company directly to your LinkedIn profile.
Hint: If your company doesn’t feature a WP blog, you can still repost content from multiple sources automatically using Integromat’s RSS module.
Phone calls: Providing your agents with data on the spot
Being on the phone is still a huge part of many sales professionals’ day.
Phone calls might seem pretty straightforward, but things get challenging when trying to hold a conversation while:
- Juggling with open tabs and notes about the prospect
- Looking up information on the CRM while talking
- Remembering what’s been discussed last time
They allow agents to give and receive phone calls using a clean interface, and providing information at a glance.
These tools offer integrations to pull information directly from CRMs and customer support platforms.
As usual, Integromat can help as well, and help sales agents shine over the phone without any hassle.
Advertising campaigns: Nurturing leads until they’re ready to buy
From display and pay-per-click (PPC) to video, advertising is a main lead generation channel for companies.
However, only a small percentage of leads are ready to buy after clicking on an ad.
This exactly is what puts marketers and salespeople on a tough territory. For example, imagine signing up for an ebook and getting a call from a salesperson shortly afterwards. That’d be a bit too much, right?
If you agree, good instincts! Generating a sales lead takes 6 to 8 touches according to the available research.
To bridge the gap, nothing beats lead nurturing. Well, something does: automated lead nurturing.
Using a simple Integromat template will allow you to:
- Automatically gather leads that have interacted with an online ad
- Add them to your CRM
- Enroll them into an email nurturing sequence
This will increase your odds to close the deal, and also provide a smoother experience to your subscribers.
Email Marketing: Keeping CRM records updated with automation
As a direct follow-up to the previous channel, email marketing is a go-to method for nurturing and converting leads.
Email marketing offers the highest return on investment for small businesses. In addition, it’s flexible enough to serve different purposes, including:
- Building brand awareness
- Nurturing prospects and active customers
- Delivering custom messages to specific user segments
- Running A/B tests to improve messaging
- Communicating on company achievements and offers
However, it’s not always easy to succeed at email marketing. As a company grows, so does its subscriber list, and managing a large volume of emails can be a bit of a challenge.
People change jobs, email addresses go cold, or (heaven forbid), subscribers can tag your emails as spam.
Well, unless you automate it.
Using Integromat, you can automatically run these processes at a regular interval. A good example would be to run a monthly check on your entire list.
You can also connect your email platform with your CRM, so everything stays in sync at all times!
Cold emails: Putting your lead generation operations on autopilot
Cold email has a bad reputation, we know.
Perhaps deservedly so, as some companies don’t know the difference between cold email and spam.
As long as your cold emails are business-relevant, personalized, and offer the chance to opt-out, you will be relatively safe from being tagged as a spammer.
If you’ve ever run cold email campaigns, you know that things can get quite messy.
Between the incoming data, email cadences and A/B testing, it can be hard to keep track of everything.
All that data should be going directly to your CRM. In other words, your sales team will have all the necessary data to reach out as soon as the lead becomes hot.
Events: Leveraging webinars to advertise your product
Webinars can divide opinions, but they are super effective for generating leads.
More than half of marketers qualify them as the top-of-the-funnel format generating the most high-quality leads.
Of course, there’s a lot of data to sustain this, as webinars have grown significantly because of the reasons we all know about.
On the other hand, webinars involve a lot of work. Beyond the challenges associated with creating valuable content, you have to consider practical steps that take time:
- Distributing the webinar ahead of the event
- Keeping track of everyone interested
- Adding them as attendees
- Sending reminders and follow-ups
By implementing campaigns to promote webinars and automatically register signees as attendees, you’re getting rid of some of these few extra steps.
Social media: Enriching CRM data with LinkedIn data
We’ve covered the topic of social selling in our recent sales automation article.
While social selling is a great addition to sales arsenals, social media can also be leveraged to automate internal processes in every team.
We know how little time salespeople spend selling due to the administrative tasks they take care of during the day. One of them is to research companies online, which is usually followed by copying and pasting information into the company CRM.
A mind-numbing activity, copying and pasting is also a great fit for automation.
Using Integromat, you can easily connect your CRM to LinkedIn, and automatically gather information on new companies or leads.
Automated lead generation do’s and don’ts
By now, you should have a better understanding of the options to automate your sales processes. But don’t run off to implement everything straight away just yet!
You should be mindful of your automation efforts. Keep these best practice tips in mind to make the most out of them:
- Take a step back and map out internal sales processes before automating
- Automate the menial, low-stakes processes first
- Increase the number of automated processes as you get comfortable with automation
- Aim to build a cross-functional team by involving everyone in your automation efforts (i.e. let anyone know how to automate)
- Try to automate relationships - you can’t
- Marry a tool. Test them all, get a feel of the product with trials or free accounts
- Automate and leave, you have to review processes every once in a while
Sales is a demanding area. It requires a proactive personality and a clear mind. It can get exhausting.
Lead automation is about facilitating the task by improving the most draining processes.
By reducing menial tasks that don’t really need your input, you’re able to work smarter, and focus on developing deeper customer relationships.
To conclude, don’t be afraid to take the automation road. It will improve your work while increasing performance - better results in less time is always the goal.
Happy automating!This article was written by Thierry Maout and first appeared here: https://www.integromat.com/en/blog/lead-automation
One of the prevalent myths about automation platforms is that they aren’t powerful enough to build a fully-functional product.
The narrative tends to limit the capacity of these tools to automating discrete tasks and building minimum viable products (MVPs).
This may stand true for a number of solutions, but not for Integromat.
We started to debunk this myth a few months ago when we published the story of finn.auto. By using Integromat to build its digital infrastructure, this car subscription company posted a 17% increase in process efficiency and a 75% increase in time savings.
Most importantly, their strategy paid off. Less than two years after launch, the company raised a staggering $24.2M in Series A funding.
Before anyone screams “black swan!”, we are here to share another success story that produced amazing results in record time.
In this case study, we will show you how a bright entrepreneur with an idea and no time to waste helped thousands of people during the worst of the COVID-19 pandemic.
This is the story of Dare to Care Packages.
A platform for helping others
Dare to Care Packages was launched in 2020 to tackle two key problems provoked by the advent of the pandemic:
- Personal protective equipment (PPE) shortages
- Assistance to self-isolated individuals
To address these challenges, an online platform was launched. Through it, people could donate resources, purchase “care packs”, or apply to volunteer.
At the same time, the platform allowed hospitals and general practitioner offices to either request PPE items, and donate them as well.
In addition, the platform offers full, real-time transparency regarding its operations. Anyone can see:
- How many packages and items have been delivered
- The destination and time of deliveries
- The amount of money donated
On top of the accountability factor, the decision to publicly display this data is instrumental to let everyone know the actual impact of their actions.
The results of this initiative have been quite encouraging.
So far, Dare to Care Packages has served 500,000+ people during the height of COVID lockdowns in the United Kingdom.
In the first few months of the pandemic, they shipped ~30,000 PPE items and ~20,000 meals to medical staff and isolated people.
Perhaps most importantly, it also brought thousands of donors and companies together for the greater good.
Now, let’s take a closer look at how this was achieved.
Lo and behold
Dare to Care Packages is the brainchild of Jon Lo, an entrepreneur with plenty of experience in building and scaling online businesses.
As the pandemic unfolded, Lo - who is also a developer - understood that COVID lockdowns were putting extra pressure on two key sectors:
- Self-isolated individuals
- Medical staff
The idea of a platform where people could donate and purchase “care packs” looked promising enough. However, and given the circumstances, time to market had to be lightning fast.
After considering his options, Lo decided to power every aspect of the business with Integromat.
“No other tool on the market - code or no-code - combined the required power, flexibility, and ease of making changes that Integromat provided. I have full-stack development expertise myself, and I still chose to use Integromat.”
Jon Lo - Founder, Dare to Care Packages
Overall, there are three reasons why Integromat was the better choice when compared to any other tool on the market:
First, Integromat allows for the creation of complex logical chains, an aspect none of its competitors can match. This was crucial, as the goal was not just to automate the mundane, but to power an entire platform.
Secondly, it’s easy to implement changes to automated Integromat scenarios. The dynamic of the pandemic forced Lo to design (and redesign) solutions from the ground up in hourly timeframes. Once again, Integromat showed its strength.
Lastly, time to market. By building the key digital infrastructure with Integromat, Lo was able to go from idea to launch in a week. That’s “god mode”, quite literally.
Now, let’s take a look at how Mr. Lo used Integromat in Dare to Care Packages.
Dare to automate
Integromat was used in three main areas:
- Product and operations
- Data collection
Lo relied on Integromat to automate dozens of processes, but for the sake of simplicity, we’ll only stop at the most interesting ones.
1. Automated route planning, notifications, and sharing order data
On top of raising funds and selling “care packages”, Dare to Care Packages also handles delivery.
Delivering thousands of packages is quite the challenge for a small organization, and automation made the whole process easier.
- Coordinate dozens of drivers on a daily basis
- Deliver around the country
- Send hundreds of items at once, multiple times a week
In addition, Lo turned to Mailgun and Twilio to send an automatic email and SMS notifications regarding deliveries.
To conclude, he used Integromat to automate orders that required the involvement of a third-party supplier.
Whenever an order for a third-party supplier was placed, Integromat automatically duplicated the order in the supplier’s ecommerce system.
The supplier would then prepare and send the order on its own, avoiding unnecessary bottlenecks and centralization.
2. Accelerating growth and impact with automated ads and content
Integromat was also applied to programmatically control Google Ads and to automatically create content via BannerBear.
This boosted the company’s notoriety and helped them raise £100,000 in the first few months.
The initiative gained them the support of hundreds of donors, venture capital firms, and financial and academic institutions.
3. Automatic data gathering for increased productivity and transparency
Dare to Care Packages publicly displays its impact data on its website.
However, a lot of the data that they were dealing with was confidential in nature. Integromat helped filter this data and display it in real-time, effectively enabling an automated privacy layer.
On top of this, Lo used Integromat to create integrations for Clearbit and Monkeylearn, which allowed the team to qualify leads and classify support tickets, respectively.
Results that matter
On top of helping thousands of people and medical professionals during the pandemic, Jon Lo achieved two important milestones with Dare to Care Packages.
First, he demonstrated that powering a business with Integromat is not only possible but also a cost-effective way to deploy and scale.
“Integromat was super reliable. In a crisis like COVID where lives were on the line, Integromat never let us down”, he said.
The final milestone is a heartwarming one: For all these efforts, Lo was recognized with the Forbes 30 under 30 award.
As if launching a product in “normal” conditions weren’t hard enough, Lo did it in a few days, offering a first-class exhibit of strategic thinking and product development along the way.
Hopefully, this story will serve as a gentle reminder that limitations are, more often than not, self-imposed.
Let’s keep building amazing products, and happy automating!This article was written by Martin Etchegaray and first appeared here: https://www.integromat.com/en/blog/build-a-product-in-a-week-case-study