So you’ve finally decided you’re going to start an online business and after doing a little research you see an article or watch a video that shares the foundational mantra “The money’s in the list”.
Imagine: you’ve literally just started on this adventure and already you’ve figured out a major part of the puzzle. This calls for a celebration but, being the captain of productivity that you clearly are, you decide to dive a little deeper take a look at what this whole listbuilding thing will take to pull off.
And that’s when the crying starts…
As it turns out there are a number of things you need to do well in order to build and profit from an email list and if you’re not careful it could end up costing you quite the pretty penny to pull everything together.. or does it?
So for those of you who are brand new here’s what you need to have in place so you can build a list:
- A lead capture page (a simple webpage to collect email addresses)
- A hosting service to store the lead capture page
- An email autoresponder service to store the emails and allow you to contact your newly built list
Sounds simple enough right? And if you have the right tools it actually is quite simple. The problem however, is that the tools that make this process easy can come with some pretty hefty price tags in the beginning and on an ongoing basis. You can see what I mean below:
Lead Capture Pages
- LeadPages currently starts at $37/month although if you pay for the entire year up front you can cut that down to $25/month. So to get the discount you’d need to plop down $300 😳
- ClickFunnels currently starts at $97/month with a 16% discount id pay a year in advance but they limit the number of visits you can have on this “cheaper” plan
I’ve never used any of these services but, from what I’ve seen, the reviews seem to be pretty good. They appear to provide an excellent service on tools that are easy to use and if you have the budget they may well be worth the investment.
In fact many big marketers will host their sales pages on one of these services because they’re already set up to handle large surges in traffic usually associated with a product launch and it can be very useful to have a dedicated support team standing by to make sure your sites stays up and live when potential customers swarm it.
Here’s a screenshot of one of my own lead capture pages which took about 30 minutes to create (mostly because I’m indecisive) and didn’t cost me anywhere near what the above-mentioned services charge:
If your budget is tight, these premium services may be out of your reach. This is especially true if you’re just starting out and don’t even understand what you need much less how to use it. fear not. There are MUCH cheaper options which I’ll share as you read on.
Website Hosting Services
Services like LeadPages and ClickFunnels eliminate the need to use hosting for your landing pages and sales pages but neither service is really designed to be used for blogging. This means that if you want to have your own blog or website you’ll still need to set up a separate website which will of course need to be hosted somewhere.
The list of hosting providers is almost endless so I won’t even pretend that I’ve tried everything and found the best one out of all of them. Some popular options in no particular order are:
- A2 Hosting
- etc etc…
While many of these services start out pretty cheap and reliable you may find (like I have) that once you start to get some consistent traffic to your site (I’m talking 100+ visitors a day) the site will start to struggle and your hosting provider may actually shut your site down because you’re using too many resources on the shared platform. This happened to me and it was no fun at all.
The solution will then be to upgrade your cheap hosting to a premium service that they offer at a much higher price. Noticing a trend here?
In order to collect email addresses on your new lead capture page you’ll need an autoresponder service. This will provide a little bit of code to drop into your lead capture page so that when a visitor fills in the form and hits submit, their information is stored and they’re taken to the page you promised or an email is sent with the information requested. Or both.
Some popular options especially for those just starting out include:
I’ve used all four of these and they all work well but there are some quirks you need to be aware of.
First of all they all have monthly fees that increase with the number of subscribers. This may seem fair since those of who email our lists regularly are using server resources each time we send emails out. However, if your list is small and you only email occasionally, your paying monthly to have this data stored. Not a good use of your hard earned funds.
Mailchimp does offer a very generous free account but of course once you hit the free subscriber limit you’ll need to start paying monthly.
The other, much bigger problem is the lack of control over YOUR asset. The list you built is yours. You worked hard to build it and you may have paid a lot of money in traffic costs to get visitors to your lead capture page. In spite of this autoresponder companies can decide at any moment that they don’t like your business practices and suspend your account. B the way this means you’ll lose access to the email database you built.
When I was first starting out I had this happen to me. I reached out to the support team and they told me I had violated some term of service. I apologetically responded and offered to remove the offending email or make whatever change was necessary to get back into compliance with their terms but they simply gave me the cold shoulder.
Not being one to just let this go I pressed a little further and it turns out they didn’t like that I sent an email offering a product for sale with an affiliate link pointing straight to a sales page so they kicked me out and I lost my list. The list I built was small but it was mine and they wouldn’t let me have it. Does that seem right to you?
What I Use Now
Thankfully after much trial and error I’m happy to say that I’ve found a simple, reliable and much cheaper way to get this al set up and the next few paragraphs lay it out for you below.
I build all of my websites using the free WordPress platform mainly because it’s what I’m familiar with and there’s an absolute ton of support and supporting products that make it super easy to use.
As great as WordPress is, it isn’t really designed to create lead capture pages and sales pages. To do this you’ll need to buy a page builder. Again the options abound and I’ve tried many of them but my favorite by an extremely high margin is a tool called Thrive Architect.
I’ve been using it from it first came out and was called Thrive Content Builder and I couldn’t be happier. I’m no web designer but with this plugin I’m still able to whip up professional looking lead capture pages in a few minutes using the built in templates that it comes with.
The tutorials are excellent and instead of being stuck with a monthly fee you make a one time purchase and the page builder is yours for life with lifetime updates. So when they totally revamped the plugin and changed it’s name to Thrive Architect it didn’t cost me a dime to get the upgrade. Can I get an “Amen!”?
I’m starting with website hosting because it kills two birds with one stone. First of all the Interserver Hosting site speed is excellent and an account with unlimited websites is only $5/month. When your traffic needs increase you can switch over to their VPS hosting which starts at a whopping $6/month.
This is the cheapest option I’ve seen that doesn’t require you to pay for a year of hosting in advance just to get a good price. I can attest to the quality of service here since I’ve been a happy customer for a while now.
This is definitely worth checking out (or moving to). The support staff is amazing, the service is excellent and the price is great. This one’s a no-brainer people.
Mautic Marketing Automation
Yes and no. Mautic is what I use as my email autoresponder and it’s way more powerful that services like Aweber and GetResponse since it has the ability to add tags and do a bunch of cool things that those other tools simply weren’t designed to do.
Here’s the kicker though. It’s included in the Softaculous installer which comes with Interserver so there’s no additional cost. I don’t really want to say it’s free because the software has to be hosted on a server, which you’d need to pay for, but since you’re going to need a server to host your landing pages anyway it kinda is.
The installation is a little bit “techie” but with some patience you can get it done. I used the instructions in the video below to set it up on my server.
I currently send and receive my emails with the interserver hosting service but once my list gets bigger I will need to add an SMTP service like Amazon SES or SparkPost. I haven’t tried this yet but Amazon SES is a pay as you go service so you don’t pay anything if you don’t use it. Sparkpost starts you out with an even more generous free account than Mailchimp and then moves up to $0.75/100 emails sent. Sounds great to me.
Once I take that plunge I’ll be sure to add another blog post here to explain how it’s done and how it’s working out for me.
So what do you think? Did you have some options you’d like to share. Be sure to let me know in the comments below.