In most of the tribes I’m affiliated with I’ve become the defacto technology expert. I’m not sure why, but it might be because although I’m not part of the “digital native” generation with the millenials, I did have exposure to computers and gadgets early in my childhood (anyone remember the TI-99 or Commodore64?) So I’m pretty quick to adopt new ways of doing things using technology if it makes me more effective.
As you might imagine, I get asked a ton of questions about the technology I use to market my businesses online and the methods I use to automate many of the routine tasks. Unfortunately, most of the questions revolve around the newest shiny object that is useless without a marketing strategy and foundation. Periscope is worthless if you aren’t doing something specific with any attention you are getting there. Twitter can be a tangled up bundle of uselessness if you aren’t specific about what you are doing on there. No one cares that you have a Facebook business page, and they certainly won’t “Like” it if it isn’t providing them any value. Coming up with a cute hashtag is meaningless if you aren’t going to do something with the traffic you generate with it. #wastingyourtime
So what IS important? You’ve gotta get a few things locked on before any of that other stuff maters. You should be focused on building a responsive email list. Period. Later you can layer on the social media stuff, but without an email list your social media presence is the equivalent of buying television advertising on prime time TV to run commercials for a product that doesn’t exist. That would be a huge waste of resources, right?!
Where should you start? First, find a decent email provider. If you are going to build a big list you won’t be able to send your emails through your Gmail account, so start getting used to how email marketing works. I’ve gone through a progression of email services as my skills developed and my needs evolved (MailChimp, AWeber, Ontraport). For most people just starting out, I recommend MailChimp. Why? Because you can start with a free account, learn the basics, and it integrates with almost every other service you’ll eventually be using for your marketing. Once you learn how to ride with the training wheels, you can take them off, pay for the more robust services, and then you’ll be cruising. But start here. Seriously. Do this before you even get a website.
Next, invest in a service that helps you build landing pages. My favorites are Leadpages, ClickFunnels, and Ontrapages. What is a landing page? It’s simply an easy way to create a webpage to collect email addresses. Remember, the key here is to build your list so you want an easy way to capture those names and emails. Here’s an example of a landing page I created 4 years ago that still generates leads for me everyday (I’ve updated the resource list in the last few days, so if you don’t already have it you might want to get it). It follows the simple format of providing something of value (lead/opt-in magnet) in return for a name and email address. Don’t overthink this. Lots of data from successful campaigns tell us that simple is best here.
I use Leadpages mostly because it was the first on the scene when I was building my business, but I also have paid accounts for ClickFunnels and Ontraport (which includes Ontrapages). Both ClickFunnels and Ontraport do some other, more-advanced things and also combine some elements of online marketing you’ll appreciate later, so if you are tech-savvy check them out. For example, they both have some elements of email services, landing pages, and shopping carts in an all-in-one solution If you want to focus on building awesome landing pages and launch sequence pages, stick with with Leadpages.
Once you’ve got your email service and landing page system in place, now you might consider getting a domain name and website. Honestly, if you are using some of the other services we’ve already discussed then you might not even need this step, but eventually you’ll want your own firstname.lastname@example.org email address. But if your budget is limited, I’d make this third on your list of priorities. I use and recommend Bluehost mostly because it’s inexpensive, simple to use, reliable, and works really well with WordPress.
Only after you have all of these things in place should you consider cranking up your social media presence. Maybe I’ll get into this later in another post, but generally you want to follow my 6C’s of social media: Consistently Curate and Create Content, Connect, and Call-to-action. I go into this much deeper in my Simplified Social Media System course which also includes an hour-long bonus training on some more of the details of building your email list. The key here though is most of my calls-to-action on social media are for people to opt-in to my email list. Why? Because I can control the conversation via email and there’s a much greater chance they’ll actually see my message. So if I don’t have an opt-in/landing page to collect email address, I can’t do this. See how this works now?
So, now that you know what to do, there’s no excuse to not do it. Go setup accounts with an email service and landing page provider, build a landing page, and start building your list today. Now. Go do it. Seriously. What are you waiting for?