I recently moved all of my mailing lists from Aweber to Ontraport. This was a big decision. I had been with Aweber for almost 12 years, and my lists are the lifeblood of my business.
After all, if you can’t communicate with customers and prospective customers you are out of business.
Before I begin let me say that Aweber is an excellent company. The provide a valuable service and provide excellent customer support. I have known their owner for many years and respect what Tom and his team have accomplished.
But the needs of my readers have evolved and it was time for me to make a change.
Here are the reasons I made the move, including major changes in the market that you need to know about.
Email Marketing Has Changed
For many years, decades in fact, email marketing has remained pretty much the same. A person came to your site and expressed interest by filling in a form.
Once they did that you would send them a series of messages extolling the virtues of your product. This is called a follow-up system or sequence. Some would buy. The better your messages, the more people bought.
Your marketing was automated and life was good.
I call that the “old style” of email marketing, and wrote about it recently in this article.
While that method still works, it does not work nearly as well as it did in 2002 or 2010.
In fact, the changes in doing business online are so great that I predict this style of marketing will be completely ineffective within 2 years.
Today we need to adopt a new style of email marketing. That style of email marketing nurtures prospective customers with content on a regular basis. It offers readers value before asking them to consider buying anything.
And it only offers them “selling” messages when they have specifically asked to know more about a particular product.
Plus, and this is a big plus, the new style of email marketing does not continue sending messages if the subscriber is not engaged.
In other words, today’s smart autoresponders know when a person has opened and email or clicked and link and will only keep sending information if they have taken an action.
This is a huge shift in thinking and practice. It is 100% in line with the Seth Godin school of “extreme permission” and respects the prospective customer in ways they value and respect.
I believe so strongly in this new style of email marketing that I am changing my entire business to use it, and re-creating my email marketing course (Follow Up Selling Systems) to teach this new, more effective, method.
By far, this is reason #1 for me moving from Aweber to Ontraport.
Count The Cost
While being able to use “smart” email marketing was a major factor, cost was another big consideration.
I have long objected to Aweber’s practice of charging customers by the subscriber and not by the unique user. While they have a right to price their product any way they want, the impact to the bottom line was considerable.
You see, with Aweber I was being charged for each person on each list, even if the same person was on multiple lists.
And it turned out, I had many people in that category. We had some subscribers who were on over seven lists! And they had been on my lists for years.
That created too much cost for me and too much email for them.
And that is exactly how my Aweber bill ballooned to over $650 per month.
Another complaint I had was that people who unsubscribed were not removed from my account automatically. That meant I had to pay for them even though I could not email to them.
Yes, I could remove them one by one. But that was time-consuming. And I did discover that Aweber support, which is outstanding, would remove them all if I asked. But it could not be automated.
I tried solutions like AW Pro Tools but they did not work well for me.
So be sure and count the costs wherever you are and make sure you are not paying for more than you actually need or use.
Less Email = Happier Customers
One of the best features of the new way of email marketing is that you end up sending less email, which creates happier customers and readers.
Here are a few of the things that a smart autoresponder can do that older autoresponders either can’t do or, if they can, it becomes a logistical nightmare.
- Not sending sales messages for product A to buyers of product A.
- Not sending more messages about a particular product or topic unless the subscriber has opened or clicked the previous message.
- Pausing a sequence of messages when a person takes a specific action.
- Sending messages only on certain days and never on other days.
- Moving a person from one series of messages to another when they finish the first series. (Good for adding subscribers to your ezine once your “welcome” series is over).
There are many more reasons why a smart autoresponder is must, but these alone make the pain of change pale in comparison to the benefits to your reader. And to you.
Content Really Is King
As I said in the beginning, the new style of email marketing depends heavily on nurturing your readers with high-quality content before asking them to buy. Only a smart autoresponder can do that well.
This is the old “ask a girl to marry you on the first date” analogy in practice. Ask a girl to marry you on the first date and you will likely get a big fat no. Or slapped.
Ask her to marry you after you have dated for two years and have a real connection, and real history and the outcome could be much better!
Consider this example.
Jane comes to your site and fills in a form to get a free report about one of your products. On your form you mention she will also receive your fun and informative ezine (newsletter).
Because Jane is totally new to your company and has never been on your list before (your smart autoresponder knows the difference between first-time subscribers and returning subscribers) you want to send her your welcome series.
A Welcome Series is a short series of three emails that let her know who you are, how you can help and how she can engage with you.
Jane reads your welcome message, reads the free report, and decides she wants to know more about you and your company. This is a good thing!
Now she goes to your site and sees offers for other lead magnets, and gets them all!
Believe me, this happens more than you may know.
Now let’s look at all of this from Jane’s point of view.
If you are using an old-style autoresponder how many messages will Jane get from you every day?
In the beginning, she will get SEVEN messages from you a day.
- Your welcome series.
- Your ezine series.
- One email each for all five of your products.
No matter how excited Jane is about you and your company, or how sincere you are in wanting to help Jane succeed, she will switch from fan to unfriendly very quickly.
She just can’t keep up with that many emails!
But if you were using a smart autoresponder here is what could happen. These are all options that I would choose, but can be set in any way you want.
- You could be notified that someone joined all those list in a short time so you could choose to take an action.
- Jane would receive an email (based on her action of joining multiple lists) thanking her for her interest and offering personal contact.
- Your ezine could be paused until the Welcome series is over so she gets less email.
- If Jane does not open a message or click a link in any one of the five follow-up series that series is paused until she opens the email or clicks a link. Once she opens a message or clicks a link the series continues.
There are many more things a smart autoresponder could do than these things, but that gives you a feel for how customized the experience can be for the reader.
Your Subscribers Matter Most
Few people truly understand the value of every subscriber on a list.
Because I once made a full-time living with a list of only 12,000 people, I have experienced it first hand. And believe me, it’s fun! You are SO connected to your readers.
I even wrote a book about my experiences called Big Profits from a Small List.
When handled right, your mailing list can be the key to your success. When handled wrong, it can damage your reputation and cost a small fortune.
It is vital we all adjust to the new reality of nurturing our subscribers with content and doing our very best to help them achieve their goals.
I will say again, I respect Aweber and am happy for my time there. But, for me, email marketing has changed dramatically and these changes require new thinking, new strategies, new commitments and, for me, a new autoresponder company.
I will write more about the new way of email marketing if you like. If you want that, just leave a reply and let me know.
Email marketing and automation can set you free. But it is vital we keep up with the times, even if you are 60 like me! 🙂
Evaluate your email marketing in this way – if you were your most active subscriber what would that feel like, and would it be something you want?
If, like me, you discover the answer is no take whatever action is needed to better serve the people on your list. When you do you will see their satisfaction increase, your own costs decrease and your automation rise to new levels.
Reader satisfaction PLUS more sales PLUS more free time?
Now those are beautiful things indeed!