I’ve spent the past few weeks preparing for my talk at the TBEX travel blogging conference on how to build a loyal community through email marketing.
It is one of my favorite ways to communicate with our community and I can do so many fun and clever things with it thanks to my email marketing software.
Ontraport has been my email marketing automation software tool now for nearly five years.
It was a giant leap for me to move from the restrictive MailChimp over to Ontraport due to the large increase in my monthly subscription fee.
But, I knew I was in business, which means you invest in the right tools to help you maximize leverage and scale.
MailChimp couldn’t do it for me. If I was serious about email marketing and business growth, Ontraport was the marketing service that would help me get there.
It was time to perfect my email marketing strategy and use this powerful tool to stand out from the crowd and grow my business.
I had to make the expense justifiable by using it to bring good returns.
Since I am still here five years later you can say it was a worthy investment that has helped me create six figures through email marketing alone.
Would you spend $300 a month to automate and scale your business so you can create five or six or even seven figures in income? #nobrainer
Yes. It’s a risk because you could fail and not bring in any income making that a very expensive tool that drains your resources.
However, business growth does not come without risk, and whether that risk ends in a positive or negative result all depends on you.
Ontraport: A powerful all in one email marketing automation platform
I can’t even begin to explain all the features that Ontraport has that helps me build community, saves me time and money, and helps me create money.
I probably only use about 40% of what it can do.
Thanks to the exciting nature of my travel blog business, I’m required to travel a lot so I can only do so much.
I’m working on mastering the basics and adding in more complex things when I can.
Ontraport is not a perfect system. It can be at times, frustratingly buggy, but I’m still here because I can handle those bugs for everything else it does for me.
Most email marketing software companies are going to be a bit buggy as you are dealing with pretty complex automated actions and algorithms.
But what I love about Ontraport, is that they are constantly listening, improving, and adding in new features. I trust them to take care of me.
No matter your business, Ontraport will become like the fulcrum of it. It would be like having the snazziest retail space on the Magnificent Mile. The thing that brings in your peeps, keeps them there and makes you money.
Except there is only so much you can do in the retail space to funnel the visitors in.
With Ontraport you can keep them hanging around loving and buying from you for years. Ontraport allows you to automate your entire business on just one platform.
Preparing my talk has inspired me to write this Ontraport review.
Yes I am an affiliate of them. I only align with products I know, like and trust. And with Ontraport, it’s a long term love.
Ontraport email marketing automation features
If you are looking for an email marketing automation software, these are the features of Ontraport I think are the most outstanding for helping you leverage and scale.
1. Optin forms
I hated using Mailchimp because of their limitations when it came to creating optin forms (amongst other things I hated about it).
Mailchimp may have changed by now. It’s been a long time since I’ve used it, thank goodness.
Creating optin forms are so easy with Ontraport, and you can make them as simple or complex as you like.
I can create optin forms to embed in a post, a site wide pop up, or via a clickable link that opens up like a pop up.
Leadpages charges an obscene amount each month to do this. Use Ontraport and you’ve just wiped out that expense of around $60 a month.
You can see the optin form on our homepage and at the bottom of this post. They were custom designed, but they easily sync with Ontraport. So you can still custom design your own optins.
Here’s an example of a click to pop up lightbox.
You can get as fancy or as simple as you like with your optin forms. I prefer simple, quick and effective so my designs won’t be too elaborate.
And if you are new to our site, when you make an intent to leave (that is head towards the back button or X, an optin pop up asking for your email address will appear).
Again, you could pay other tools to create something that does that. With Ontraport you can do it in a matter of a couple of minutes.
2. Advance segmentation, targeting and rules
Before Ontraport, I used to send an email to everyone on my list, because I didn’t have any targeting or segmenting capabilities.
You can’t send out one message to an entire list and expect it will be relevant to all. What you end up doing is annoying people, who then unsubscribe.
I was making this huge mistake with our subscribers.
We have a wide range of readers, some who are interested in family travel, some in solo travel, and some digital nomad lifestyle.
If I keep sending digital lifestyle content to those who have no interest in it, they’ll pretty soon realize they are in the wrong room and leave.
It doesn’t have to be that way. You can embrace list diversity with tagging and segmentation.
Advanced segmentation allows me to place my contacts onto interest lists based upon:
- how they signed up
- what they signed up for
- how they click around in emails
- what information they’ve given me on a form.
You can then easily create rules which determines what list the new subscriber goes into and what email marketing campaign sequence I send them that relates to their tag or action within your emails.
For example, this rule tells the system that when someone selects they most need help with planning their trip from our homepage optin form, they will be be sent the welcome email series that provides them with useful tips and resources on travel planning.
Once you strategize and set it up, they system then automates everything for you. It’s like having multiple clones of yourself.
Email targeting helps me keep high open rates and click through rates, which is want everyone marketing via email likes to see.
One way I segment is with a simple survey form, which then lets me know the subscribers
- travel style
- destination interests.
That way I only send new posts to those who are actually interested in that destination.
That is being useful, which is a huge component of building a loyal community.
So for example, if they selected interested in Australia, my system tags them AustraliaInterest. Then when it’s time to send the email, I just select, send it to those with the AustraliaInterest tag.
My survey and rules also allows me to automatically send Happy Birthday messages as well which our subscribers love!
Tagging and segmentation capabilities makes Ontraport especially powerful and your communication becomes so much more than just sending out email newsletters.
3. Campaign mapping
Campaign mapping is relatively new to Ontraport.
It’s an example of how this company is always evolving and creating ways to stand out in the email marketing software industry.
Campaign mapping turns complex email marketing campaigns into simple sophistication. It gives you a birds eye visual overview of your strategy and how you are implementing it and puts in one easy to follow place your messages, tags, rules, and segments.
Instead of having rules and messages scattered in a million different places, which you can easily lose track of, this puts it all into one place and helps you become systemized and be become better at leverage and scaling with your email marketing automation.
It helps funnel your subscribers through an easy to follow system, which leads to more leads and sales.
It also provides handy stats showing you how people are moving through your campaigns and allowing you to see what needs tweaking.
When I first started using Ontraport, it was all over the place. Campaign Mapping was implemented last year and has been a lifesaver and a total gamechanger in the email marketing software world.
See more and book a demo here
4. Facebook customization
Ontraport integrates with Facebook audiences seamlessly.
It’s an easy set up to create your Facebook audiences based upon your email segmentation lists (however you want to do it).
With a simple trigger and an action rule added into your campaigns, every time a new subscriber is added to that group or list, it automatically updates them within your Facebook audience.
Now you can get super targeted and very clever with your Facebook ads going to your warm markets and funneling them through your system.
You do not have to manually update your email list into Facebook every couple of weeks or so to keep up with your email list growth.
You set it up once via Ontraport and Facebook API’s and then it’s all automated from then on.
This is MAJOR gold for those who sell their own products and enjoy remarketing advertising strategies on Facebook.
I just wish I had more time to dive deeply into this, as there is soooo much you can do with it.
The trick is to start somewhere and then to just do the best you can with what you have from where you are.
5. Ontraport Pages: landing pages made easy
Ontraport also comes with its own landing pages, called Ontrapages.
You can create an entire website using just Ontraport. I prefer to stick with the WordPress system.
Although I know Ontraport are getting ready to launch their new and drastically improved Ontrapages, which will make it even more of a standout and possibly a great option for people who don’t want to use WordPress.
I like the landing pages because they help me quickly whip up landing pages I need for various optins, order forms and thank you pages.
If I did them on my own site, I’d have to get it custom built which would be super expensive.
Here are two examples of landing pages that have taken me less than half an hour to create:
I can get a decent customized landing page using the Ontrapages – they have various templates you can copy and use or easily build your own look with their various blocks.
I can easily add videos, downloads, images and links to resources on my site.
The best thing is that I don’t have to build a landing page from scratch whenever I need one.
I can simply copy any landing page I have already created and liked. Then I slightly tweak it to suit whatever new landing page I need.
I can have a landing page up and published in a matter of 10 minutes sometimes.
You can host the landing pages using Ontraport servers or I can integrate it on your website, using the Ontrapages plugin.
So even though its designed and hosted through Ontraport it has the ytravelblog.com URL and looks like it belongs on our site.
It is not as sharp and clean as it would be if I had them custom designed on my site, because the branding and style is not exact to my style, but it is good enough considering it doesn’t cost me any extra, particularly in custom design.
As mentioned, the improvements (I’ve had a sneak peek) will make it that much better.
See more about Ontraport pages here.
6. Contact Management Automation
Ontraport is also a contact management system, which is handy for those who offer services and manage bookings and meetings etc.
Again, there are tools within Ontraport to automate all of that and keep you on track with the tasks required to follow up with your clients (potential or otherwise).
It’s not something I’ve needed to use just yet so can’t dive into that for you.
I definitely want to start using it more for our tourism clients and it is the next system for me to create instead of having them floating around in my gmail inbox.
I’ve met many Ontraport users who tell me it’s a life saver with the complex tasks it can do to help automation and follow up efficient and effective.
7. Tips and Tricks: How to eliminate inbox overwhelm?
Are you fed up with the amount of emails flooding your inbox?
So many of them are asking the same old questions and you can’t keep up with all your canned responses.
You can hire a VA to take care of it, or you can simply automate it.
My favorite system I have managed to put together using Ontraport has saved me hours of email inbox time and and reduced my need to hire a VA.
I was STOKED when I figured out how I could use Ontraport to automate my inbox!
I’ve simply created an optin form through Ontraport with specific fields related to why they are contacting me.
I have a series of rules that connect to what their selection is, which then sends an automated response that is related to that reason for contacting me.
The automated reply gives them all relevant information related to their question and they are advised of the next steps in contacting me.
If it is people asking for travel or blogging advice, I send them directly to all the information on our site, letting them know that we don’t give personal advice and inviting them to also join our VIP email list.
If they are contacting me in regards to advertising or partnership they get the automated email with our media kits and case studies.
I get a notification of each new contact request. I can quickly scan it to see if it is relevant.
I delete 90% of them straight away. I don’t have to attend to it as my automated email has already taken care of that.
The 10% are the ones I respond to.
It has given me back so much time, eliminated frustration, and removed the need for a VA to handle my emails. All of which saves me money and helps me make more money.
A brilliant ROI!
Do you want the automated inbox formula?
SPECIAL OFFER:Note, if you decide Ontraport is for you, and sign up using my affiliate link, I will give you video instructions on how to set up this contact form automation to save you from inbox hell.
It’s best that you clear your cache and click this link to sign up when you are ready.
That way I can be sure you’ll be assigned to my link and you won’t miss out.
Just send me an email when you have done that (cazcraig [at] ytravelblog.com), and I’ll get the instructions to you.
It is a bonus thank you for those who sign up via this affiliate link though. If you aren’t linked to my name, I can’t do it, so please cleared the cache first and then join immediately.
8. Some other incredible features of the Ontraport email marketing software
- The data analysis capabilities with Ontraport are off the chart. You can see exactly what
- your subscribers are doing in real time
- what campaigns are working
- where they tend to fail
- how you can fix it.
You can also peer into the future and see how certain changes may affect your subscriber and conversion rates.
You can easily score your leads depending on how hot and cold they are.
- Ontraport easily integrates with Stripe and PayPal, making it a full ecommerce suite featuring
- secure order forms,
- flexible payment options
- coupon codes and more.
- If you sell products and have affiliates for that program, you can easily use Ontraport to manage your affiliates. I am affiliates for a lot of different companies, and I use the OP affiliate area myself. It is way better than anything I’ve used before.
- You can get people onto your email list through text sign up. You can then utilize the powerful SMS marketing through it.
It’s ridiculous how much you get with the Ontraport software. Other marketing software platforms just don’t compare and are way more expensive when you consider how many software tools are really included in this one Ontraport platform.
Ontraport Subscription things to note
- There are various subscription plans that grow with your business
- Ontraport offers a free demo of the product before joining
- There is a great onboarding experience which will help you learn the tool when you first start
- There are no long term contracts required.
- There is a 90 day Money-Back guarantee.
- You can get discounts if you pay annually, which I do. It is a big upfront payment but it will save you 18% each year. It helped me save a lot of money when I was paying in Australian dollars and dealing with currency fluctuation and fees.
Excellent Customer Service
The customer service with Ontraport is second to none.
They greet you by your name, they spend time with you, they help you troubleshoot and set up systems. I adore their customer service team.
They’ve been so great with calming me down when I’ve been frustrated and annoyed, which will happen when you are dealing with technology and software.
It doesn’t always work the way you want it to.
I was so frustrated at one point a couple of years ago that I was going to leave Ontraport. One of the managers, Brendan was amazing on the phone to me with how he managed me and calmed me down.
It completely changed my perspective.
He then organized a call with me for the next week to go over my strategy and see what the issue was. We figured it out.
That was the point where I said,
I’m going to quit wasting time and money not understanding this tool and go to thier Bootcamp to learn how to do I properly.
OMG. Total gamechanger. I am now a devout and loyal Ontraport user.
Unless this company goes bankrupt, which I doubt, I will never leave them!
I highly recommend you attend a bootcamp as soon as you sign up.
When I first joined Ontraport, I used a VA to set everything up and take care of implementing my strategy.
While she was great, I realized that this was a mistake, as I am the head of my business, only I know how to strategize and plan for it.
Ontraport is a huge tool that can easily help you implement your strategy for leverage and automation. You must know and understand the tool correctly so you know exactly what you can do with it.
As soon as I saw the power of the tool, ideas started firing off in my head like firecrackers on New Years Eve. I could easily see what I could do with it to help grow my business.
Before that I was just walking around in the dark.
In fact, I love it so much, I am attending Bootcamp again at the end of September.
Because I bought my Ontrapalooza tickets for this year at last years conference, I got bonus free tickets to bootcamp.
So I’m going to go for a refresher and I have booked an extra two days to do the certification course, which means I can be a certified consultant for Ontraport.
I don’t really want this to be another arm of my business, I just want to attend to learn more about the complex things you can do with the system.
I consider Ontraport to be my CEO, so I better get on board with its power and make it get to work!
Bootcamp is held several times a year at Ontraport headquarters in Santa Barbara, and once in Sydney. The bootcamp I am attending is right before Ontrapalooza which makes it easier for me to go.
Ontrapalooza conference for small business owners
I attend and speak at a lot of conferences. My favorite by far is Ontrapalooza held every year in October by the Ontraport company.
It’s one of the only conferences where I’ve learned insider secrets and completely new strategies and techniques that were actionable and have given me immediate growth and ROI.
What I love about it, is that it is a conference for small business owners run by an email marketing software platform and start ups.
It’s so different to typical travel blogging, or blogging social media conferences I go to, where the mindset is usually of hobbyists, people wanting free stuff, or people not knowing what they are doing.
This is okay by the way. I don’t say this to be judgmental and critical. I feel like I don’t know what I’m doing every day.
But startups and small business owners have business plans and a very strategic and professional outlook from the beginning.
They are focused on monetization, scaling, leverage and growth. These are higher level business skills and it’s what I want to learn about.
What also made Ontrapalooza outstanding is that you learn techniques and strategies that you can instantly implement through the software.
Often I leave conferences with a huge pile of notes and action steps, but end up feeling lost and confused as to how to make it happen.
Not at Ontrapalooza.
There are workshops to show you how to do it, so you can implement immediately.
Only a few months after the conference, I had a Facebook ad strategy in place (that works), I had a separate travel writers group set up through my system, and I had a new self segmenting email series implemented as well as a few other tweaks and refinements.
My ROI automatically went up as a result.
We also won the Modern Ontrapreneur award for the excellence in the field of Publishing. (Move over Lonely Planet)
I also met Landon Ray, the founder of Ontraport at the conference, and he is one lovely down to earth person.
Here’s a story that showcases how caring he is to his community.
At the awards party, he was chatting with a new friend of mine. He noticed a gentleman standing by his side for some time.
He excused himself from my friend, saying, “I see that man standing on his own. I’m going to go and talk to him.”
I saw him leave my friend and walk over with a big smile, shook the man’s hand and talked to him for some time. That’s quality treatment and rare to see from CEOs.
He is also very active in the Ontraport Facebook group sharing his wisdom and answering questions and taking on board people’s feedback to help improve the product.
I purchased a ticket for this year’s Ontrapalooza (next month) at the conference, which Craig and I will attend.
With my uncertain lifestyle, booking anything more than six weeks in advance is very rare for me. Ontrapalooza is the only conference I’ll make that commitment to.
I’ll be there in a month and next year too. Will I see you there?
Some things I don’t like about Ontraport
It’s hard to come up with a list like this when you love a product so much.
Of course it is not perfect, but I tend to see things on a whole, emotional level, so if I love a product and it transforms my life and helps me scale and grow and gives me ORI then I’m like, “who cares if it’s not perfect?”
- As mentioned it can be buggy, which can be annoying when writing emails and cursors jump and styling changes, but you work out how to get around it.
- Sometimes it doesn’t integrate with other software tools, but I find it integrates with everything I need to use. Zapier can often help create a connection between two apps.
- It’s expensive, but honestly, for what it can do, it really isn’t.
- There is a huge learning curve with it. Be patient and learn it. It’s totally worth it.
- I don’t like the current landing pages too well. Even OP have admitted it’s not brilliant, BUT are working on making it so. They’ll be releasing the new look and capabilities at this year’s Ontrapalooza.
- I just don’t have enough time to use it to its full capacity. This is my issue however, not Ontraport. It’s an all in one system that saves you paying for multiple other tools. I still get immense value from it only use a third of what it can do.
- There is a membership site capabilities which I use, in part, for my 30 Days to Money Mindfulness course. It’s excellent at helping you set up drip emails and membership site technical things. However, I also had to purchase OptimizePress to help me design something that looked good to use with it. I couldn’t get anything to look nice or sync up well using Ontraport membership plug in and Ontrapages. It was also a nightmare to sync up the OptimizePress with Ontraport. They are making huge improvements to landing pages so I’m hoping this will work better with membership sites.
So you can see from the features I mentioned above, Ontraport can help you effortlessly target, segment and automate optin forms, tagging, email campaigns (sequences), landing pages, Facebook advertising, data analysis,and content management.
It is a very powerful all in one tool that will help you leverage and scale so you and build a profitable business and a loyal following.