There probably isn’t anything in the world of online business that causes as many discussions, confusions and opinions than talking about different platforms. Which cart do we use? Which email service should we use? Which plug-ins do we use?
It is easy to get so focused on the software that we become paralyzed by the decision. And, it is easy to assume that because some people you look up to are using a particular tool, then it must be the thing to use.
But, then you see other people using other tools and swearing by them.
Conflicting opinions brings on paralysis by analysis.
I’ve Been With Aweber For Years…
We all need an email marketing platform of some kind. I have been using Aweber for years, and I’ve been recommending them for years. A lot of others you may subscribe to are also using Aweber. They’re quite well known and popular.
Aweber is a great company with a great culture. They’re very good at what they do. The very first chink in their armor (in my eyes) was the introduction of their new message editor. As I’ve already written before, their current message editor is… well, horrible. I imagine once you’re used to it and you’ve never known any better, you’d probably get along OK with it. But, I just want a nice simple message editor to create nice, simple emails. And, after many months, I have yet to talk to one online business owner who likes the new Aweber editor. Most despise it. (Read: New Aweber Message Editor = Disappointment.)
But, am I switching because of their editor? Of course not. 🙂
I actually still very much recommend Aweber – and will continue to. But, there comes a certain point where you begin to run up against the limitations of Aweber.
I Kept Hitting The Ceiling With Aweber
It gets to a certain point in your business where you need and want more than what a normal email list service can provide.
For instance, when you have multiple things for people to buy, you want to have an easy way to keep track of that on your customer list. You don’t want to promote something to somebody who has already bought it. With Aweber, you can add people to customer lists (I usually have one list per product), but then that leads to one person being on multiple lists.
Also, at a certain point, you’re going to want a CRM for your business. An email service like Aweber is not a CRM. It is mainly for names and emails. You can have custom fields with Aweber, but they are unwieldy and not super useful. Having a customer database where I can track ALL of the activity of a single customer in one place is very valuable. (Read: The Search For A Good Small Business CRM.)
But, the real power that you’re going to want as your business grows is more fine-tuned, automated followup. This allows you to put the right message in front of the right person at the right time – and ONLY send people messages they’re more likely to be interested in.
With Aweber, each list has a single followup sequence. And, it is all too easy for subscribers to end up receiving emails that aren’t meant for them, or to be getting duplicate or conflicting messages. And, this is because people end up being on multiple lists.
Switching To Ontraport, Office AutoPilot
Switching to a system like Office Autopilot isn’t a light decision. Their accounts begin at $297/month. So, I’m in no way recommending OAP to everybody reading this post. Aweber is a MUCH better place to enroll if you’re not yet ready for something like OAP. And, you’ll likely know when you’ve reached that point. You’ll be running up against the limitations in your own business and be looking for solutions. If you’re not yet there, don’t worry about it. 🙂
Also, the other big elephant in the room in this space right now is Infusionsoft. I was toying around with the idea of Infusionsoft for awhile. But, I never went with it. The primary reason for that was the reputation it had for being confusing. And, interestingly, those people I know who really dig Infusionsoft typically have somebody on their staff running it for them and don’t personally use it. That’s HUGE for me. Now, I’m a pretty techie guy and have little doubt I could learn Infusionsoft on my own, but the fact that so many people I knew who liked it didn’t use it personally and many who had tried it personally found it too confusing… that’s a warning to me.
But, as with all things regarding online platforms and tools, opinions are like a**holes. 🙂 You can find somebody to give you almost any opinion you want to hear.
In the end, after talking to a lot of people, Office Autopilot seemed to be the way to go.
Why I’m Switching To Office Autopilot
Well, here are a few primary reasons:
- Customer Database. My list now turns into a full-blown database. I can pull up one person’s record and see everything they’ve bought, what they’ve been doing with my emails, their message history, etc. Everything.
- Powerful “rules”. I can set almost an infinite number of automated actions to take place depending on any action a person takes. As a simple example, when a person buys one product, I can add them to a customer list, remove them from a prospect list, send them a whole new followup sequence, send them a “thank you” card, assign my VA a task to follow up, etc etc… and it all happens automatically. And, that’s a simple example. Once you see the available options, your entrepreneurial imagination starts going wild with all the automations and systems you can create in your business.
- Powerful, combined tracking. OAP tracks everything. So, for instance, it will track what your customers are doing on your website. If one of my subscribers visits the consulting page, I can track that and trigger a rule to automatically add the person to a sequence designed to send them more information about my consulting services. This can begin to turn your business into something like Amazon, where you visit certain products then begin to magically get followup information about those products via email. Very powerful.
But, in the end, this isn’t all about just me and my marketing. It is also about my subscribers. For instance:
- I can ensure my subscribers don’t get duplicate emails from me.
- I can ensure I don’t send irrelevant emails to them because I can more accurately keep track of their interests.
In the end, none of us likes getting emails we couldn’t care less about. And, with a more fine-tuned system like what can be set up with Office Autopilot, it is much easier to ensure my emails are more interesting and relevant to everybody on my list.
So, What About Aweber?
I will still be using Aweber for my tech site (PCMech.com). I just don’t need the fancier capabilities of OAP for a simple weekly newsletter. Perhaps I’ll change my mind at some point – we’ll see. 🙂
As I said above, you have to evaluate your business and see if you actually require the kind of capabilities something like Office Autopilot gives.
If you’re first starting out, OAP is absolute overkill.
If you only have one product, then OAP is overkill.
If you just send a weekly newsletter and don’t do a lot more than that, then OAP is absolutely overkill.
In all those cases, go with Aweber. Aweber is damn good at what they do and there’s a reason so many people use them. (Video: Why I Use And Recommend Aweber).
Never sign up with the likes of Infusionsoft or Office Autopilot just because you see other people doing it. In my opinion, you’ll KNOW when you need something like that. You’ll find yourself getting frustrated with the likes of Aweber, feeling limited by what it can provide.
Plus, it also depends on the size of your list. I was already spending about $300/month on Aweber. Once you’re in that range, the $297 price point for Office Autopilot is just a replacement cost.
If You’re On My List…
You won’t have to do anything. Everything will work exactly the same way.
So, there it is. I’ll likely make some followup posts about this, as well as some “how to’s” regarding Office Autopilot. I know there are people curious about it. Plus, I know just how much people are fascinated with the different platforms out there and which they should be using.
If you think your business is at a point where it needs a CRM, a more fine-tuned followup capability, and more automation, then check out Office Autopilot for yourself.