Time to change my email list recommendation?
The Blog Marketing Tech Stack (Part 1)
A blog – alone – is really a pretty crappy tool for generating business. In order to really do it’s job, it has to work in conjunction with other tools, all working together in unison.
We’ll call this collection of tools your blog marketing stack.
It starts, of course, with Wordpress. Wordpress acts as the hub of the whole tech stack. And yes, this means that any of you guys who are using something like Wix, Squarespace, or Drupal are at a bit of a disadvantage. Those platforms are either loaded with limitations (due to their proprietary natures) or are overly complicated. Plus, Wordpress plug-ins just make life easier.
Starting from Wordpress, then, we begin to branch out to various components of an online business that are necessary.
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First up, we have to have the ability to create landing pages and sales pages. Essentially, we need to have the ability to create pages to drive our business without being confined by the usual look of a blog theme.
Wordpress was never designed to make such pages. I fully expected Wordpress 5.0 and the Gutenburg editor to begin to change that as Wordpress begins to move into page structure and less about just blog posts. I think it will be awhile before there’s enough third-party support to make Gutenburg into a powerful landing page creator, but I expect some cool things will be happening.
For now, you’ll need some kind of dedicated solution for creating landing pages. You can either go with a Wordpress plug-in… or a third-party tool. Let’s look at options.
These are some of the popular landing page creators for Wordpress that work as a plug-in:
- Thrive Architect (my preferred solution)
- Beaver Builder
Then there are some of the third-party tools that work separately from Wordpress:
I’m generally not a fan of the third-party solutions. I mean, they look nice. However, I never want to recommend that you guys get into an expensive monthly bill like that just for the purposes of landing pages. I think an in-house solution on Wordpress works just fine.
My personal favorite is definitely Thrive Architect and that is what I use in my own business. I will say, however, that I recently came across Elementor and it looks very similar to Thrive Architect and starts out as a free download. One would almost think one is a copy of the other, although I do see differences. Clearly, however, these two solutions “borrow” from each other. 😉
So, with one of those solutions tacked onto Wordpress, you now have the ability to mold any page on your site to your will. That’s important.
As we go, I’m compiling a diagram of our marketing stack and here’s where we stand so far…
Next up, we absolutely MUST talk about our email list. You absolutely MUST be attracting and collecting new leads all the time, 24/7. Your blog will serve as a big piece of digital flypaper (so to speak), but you have to have a place to put them. Plus, your email list is your primary way of reaching out and directing people’s attention proactively (rather than reactively).
In the past, I have defaulted to recommending Aweber as my go-to email list host. Although, starting with this issue of The Edge, I’m going to issue a revision to my defacto recommendation.
See, I personally use Drip Email Marketing here at the Blog Marketing Academy. I really do like Drip alot, however the truth is that the tool isn’t really geared toward bloggers. Plus, the price point of Drip can be a bit steep when you’re first starting out. For this reason, I very rarely recommend Drip to my readers despite the fact that it is what I am using.
Last week, there was some drama in the Drip world because of a botched announcement of a price increase. I can totally see why they are increasing their prices, but the WAY they did it was rather dumb. Perhaps I’ll discuss that another time, but during this drama a lot of Drip users were suddenly checking out ConvertKit. I also checked out ConvertKit as a potential solution.
Now, to be clear, I decided NOT to switch my business to ConvertKit. It doesn’t really suit my needs. However, I will say that I was quite impressed with the tool. And, for the first time, I may just need to begin recommending ConvertKit as my standard go-to for my readers rather than Aweber.
Why is that?
As a user of marketing automation for awhile (first with Ontraport and now with Drip), I could personally never go back to a list-centric approach like Aweber. With Aweber, you would need to have a separate email list for every lead magnet, for every product, etc. It just gets messy and you’ll have subscriber overlap among different lists.
ConvertKit is like simple marketing automation… designed for bloggers. It uses a tag-based approach (which is MUCH better) and it actually employs basic marketing automation. This means you can set up automated sequences that will add/remove tags, change custom fields, perform if/then logic, etc. Take the Workflows of Drip, remove some of the pro features, and you’ve got ConvertKit. Simply put, Aweber isn’t there yet.
I’ll do up a writeup about ConvertKit on the blog a little later… and it isn’t important right now if you understand the in’s and out’s of tagging and all that. But, trust me, the setup of ConvertKit can make things easier as you move forward into monetization and sales.
I know there are a LOT of email service providers out there. I know many people use Mailchimp, or Constant Contact, or any number of services. In the end, you use what is right for you. I can only recommend what I have used myself in order to maintain the integrity of my recommendations. I have also used Mailchimp, but I just don’t really like it very much. But, the solutions I DO recommend… I have used them and think highly enough of them to pass them onto you.
So, let’s expand out stack out a level here then we’ll end off for today…
So far, these components of our marketing stack are pretty predictable. But, we have more to cover. And we’ll also be talking later about how all these things hook up to each other and work together.