First, please do your due diligence on anything you invest in your business. I’m sharing the following details to simply give some insight and possibilities of how you can run your online business without using systems like Ontraport or InfusionSoft.
Secondly, when I mention ConvertKit below, I’m including my affiliate link. You do not have to use the link below and can simply google the software that I mention below.
I’ve looked at many options including Click Funnels, Active Campaign, Mail Chimp, Aweber, in addition to several learning platforms to host my membership levels for my digital products.
For a few years, I was with InfusionSoft. I didn’t enjoy their vibe and really didn’t like their selling tactics – I don’t believe that “every business needs InfusionSoft.”
My experience with it was that it was complex and for super complex online businesses, I’m sure it made sense. I was also tired of paying a car payment for a system that I couldn’t use without a high-end VA (Virtual Assistant) or OBM (Online Business Manager). Lastly, I didn’t like the process of creating sequences.
AND I fully get that with any system, if you dedicate the time to know it inside and out, it works. So after spending three years using the system, I was ready for a change.
I made the switch to Ontraport.
I was in heaven – it was MUCH easier for me to use. It got off to a rough start when the OBM I hired lost 8,000 of my contacts and didn’t migrate things over correctly. That was really challenging.
And it was a great reboot of starting with a smaller more engagrd list, so perhaps not all was lost after all.
I used Ontraport for over two years and for the past several months, I didn’t like how I couldn’t do some of the functions without either hiring it out or doing even more training in the system. I also struggled with finding a VA whose business was in fact a VA business. The person I hired was amazing and her business was shifting to do more FB ads and FB ad campaigns and not so much the VA work that I required.
But more than that, energetically something just felt off. I desired a simple and easy-to-use system that I could use anytime without a VA.
I’ve been simplifying my business year after year and I desired to have streamlined technology to support it. So I asked some questions around it to tune into the energy and followed my intuition to simplify the technology in my business, that would still grow with me as my business grows.
To be clear, this was a BIG decision. Here is everything Ontraport was doing for me:
- Email (newsletters, follow-up sequences)
- Affiliate manager
- Membership site that linked with my WordPress site (how my customers and clients access my digital products)
- Automatically billed clients for programs and products
- Product creation and management
- Landing pages
- CRM – Customer Relationship Management (tracks all contacts, purchase and payment history, etc.)
The monthly cost was $297 per month = $3,564 per year.
My target for investments in my business is that what I invest results in a minimum of 3x my investment.
I wasn’t making that back from my Ontraport investment. I was basically using it to send newsletters and automatically bill a dozen+ clients each month. That was on ME. I was underutilizing what Ontraport could do.
While I’m an advocate for delegating, I also dislike HAVING to have a team member do things I needed. I don’t like HAVING to wait for someone else’s schedule if it’s something I want to move on quickly.
I wanted the ability to create stuff quickly when I got the inspiration at midnight, which is a frequent occurrence for me.
Most of my business has been built offline through hosting workshops, events, and speaking. I do some online marketing, but not the kind that brings in 5 figures or 6 figures a month strictly from email funnels like the online gurus talk about. 😉
The other thing I didn’t love was the learning center/membership site that delivered my digital products. I couldn’t track with customers finished the modules or not and this really bothered me because I didn’t want to be one more person online creating products but never knowing how it was really impacting the customers.
How could I interact with my customers? How could I streamline my technology to be easier and work at the level that I really use it?
My research began.
The first thing I needed to figure out is what I wanted to do even possible? Could I replace Ontraport with something that worked well and was easier for ME to use without having to hire team? I asked several people I trusted for their experience, including my web genius Jill Sessa at www.ultimatewphelp.com.
And I also had to let go of the fact that I’d been consistently referring people to Ontraport because I loved them.
The Email Manager:
I researched many different options for the email manager part and ultimately decided upon Convert Kit. I like the way the system works, it’s easy to use, and I like the vibe of the company.
I also like that you pay for the number of contacts you have. Some systems have you pay for each contact on each list they are in your system. So if you have one contact who is in three of your lists, then that counts as three contacts. Um, that’s just plain crazy.
I have a list less than 2,500 so ConvertKit costs me $49 per month.
The top two contenders were ActiveCampaign and Convert Kit for the email part. Why did I go with ConvertKit? It’s easier to use (the visual format of how to make sequences especially makes so much sense for the way my brain works). Plus, I like that Convert Kit has open office hours with live training if you need any help. Their team is awesome and their customer support has been amazing.
Convert Kit also has link triggers, which means if someone clicks a link in an email, you can do cool things like add a tag, or add the person to a sequence, etc.
And it’s an EASY system. I have a feeling that they will add even more features to their system. As a customer, I feel supported and listened to and not like just another number.
Side note: It was interesting to interact with Ontraport to go through the steps to close my account. After paying them close to $10,000 over the time I’ve been with them, not one thank-you or “what can we do better” conversation. Did I ever feel valued as a customer? No. I felt trapped because that is where all of my customer data was. I felt the same way with InfusionSoft.
The Shopping Cart:
I have a WordPress site and Woocommerce with the subscription extension, which allows you to run recurring payments, was the obvious choice. The WooCommerce Subscription add-on costs $129 per year, so $10.75 per month. So now we are up to $59.75 per month (Conver Kit + WooCommerce Subscription).
Creating products, including payment options for products and programs, is super easy in WooCommerce. And you can link it to PayPal and Stripe.
In this migration, I also let go of DirectPay and Authorize.net as my merchant services provider, which is the system that actually charges the credit cards and deposits those payments into your bank. I changed to Stripe because of their interest rates and it accepts all credit cards, including American Express, without having to apply for a separate Amex account to process payments.
With Stripe, I have no annual or monthly fee like I was getting with DirectPay, which was an average of $220 per year in addition to the higher interest rates they were charging me when people used a rewards credit card or what they refer to as a non-standard card.
The other payment processor that is lined to WooCommerce is PayPal.
The Membership Site:
Ontraport has this really great WordPress Plugin that links contacts to specific levels of products. It worked great. The only thing is I couldn’t track which modules were being completed in a digital product and I wanted to have more interaction with my customers.
I learned about LearnDash, which is a WordPress Plugin and with the ProPanel addition (like a really cool dashboard that runs reports on each user and/or program) I can see every single person and which modules they’ve completed. I can give people certificates of completion for completing modules or an entire program. I can create quizzes in the programs as well so people can submit things to me. I can make it so that people have to complete module 1 before they go onto module two, which is another feature I was looking for.
LearnDash for one site is $129-$159 per year depending on if you get it on a special or not. So let’s assume it’s $159 per year, which is $13.25 per month. So now, we are at $73 per month. (Convert Kit + WooCommerce Subscription + Learndash)
The cost wasn’t the concern, it was the ease of use and usability, which is now managed and easy. But the cost savings is nice.
But what about affiliates? I didn’t want a totally separate system for my affiliates, which are something I use frequently for my events and other launches.
My web genius recommended AffiliateWP. It’s all done through my website, including payouts, tracking, and creating affiliate links. It’s WAY easier than creating and managing affiliates in either InfusionSoft or Ontraport.
This WordPress Plugin is $49 per year, which is $4.08 per month. Now, we are up to $77.08 per month (Convert Kit + WooCommerce Subscription + Learndash + AffiliatesWP).
I paid someone a one-time $500 to migrate contacts, forms, and sequences from Ontraport to ConvertKit. I would have easily paid someone double (or triple) had I known there was a better solution to avoid the glitches I experienced. The majority of the problems was with migrating the hundreds of customers who had access to various programs into Learndash.
There were several hiccups and it was not a smooth transition, which was the hardest part of the entire process and the reason I avoided making the switch for months.
The new systems were activated and linked to each other quite easily, but migrating thousands of contacts and hundreds of customers who all had different access to different programs was an adventure.
Thanks to my clients and customers for their patience with this migration.
The good news is that now, my systems are easier to manage and easier to interact with. I’m not over-paying for a system that is bigger than what I need. Plus, the energy feels good and that’s important to me.
The final bonus is my new VA has willingly learned LearnDash with me, which has been the biggest learning curve, but still small compared to anything I did in InfusionSoft or Ontraport.
Convert Kit, LearnDash, WooCommerce, Stripe, WP Affiliate, and my website all connect to each other seamlessly. I do log into two systems now instead of one. Convert Kit links to Learndash, which links to WooCommerce. Creating products, adding affiliates, and running sales reports are all plugins on my WordPress website. Creating the actual emails is done through logging into Convert Kit.
So when people buy a product, it’s linked to the program they have access to in Learndash. And Learndash connects to ConvertKit so emails are automatically sent to the customer with their product information. It’s EASY.
The overall breakdown is this:
I was paying:
- $3,564 annually for Ontraport
- Approximately $1,200 annually for the VA support to do things I couldn’t do
- $210 for merchant services fees, NOT including higher interest rate in some instances
= $4,974 a year
For a lot of businesses, this isn’t a big deal. I’ve been paying that since 2010 and was used to it.
But I finally just had it with overpaying for things I really didn’t need and wasn’t using in my business. And the inability to do the things I wanted to do EASILY was the thing I was done tolerating.
However, for most small service-based businesses this is a big deal and completely unnecessary. (In my opinion.)
I talk to a LOT of business owners who don’t like InfusionSoft of Ontraport but the thought of migrating things to another system is daunting – they feel trapped.
I get it.
Now, I pay $77.08 x 12 for the actual software, which is $924.96 per year.
I can now invest that amount I’ve been paying in a team member, my retirement, humanitarian projects, or active marketing costs like sponsoring events or even hosting one of my own.
I’ll end this with, this is just ONE way to do this. Do your due diligence and follow your gut. And please, if you aren’t happy with the technology that is supporting your business, change things sooner than later and choose something that is going to grow with your business.
The flip side of this is I see a lot of business owners choosing what’s free or really low cost, but it won’t allow them to grow as their business grows. Don’t over-invest, but don’t under-invest either.
I’m happy to answer any questions you have in a comment below or in my private Facebook group here.
Part 2: Updated on January 3, 2018
I’ve been using all of the systems that I mentioned above for almost a year now and I’m in love.
ConvertKit is awesome. Their service continues to be amazing if I have questions and I love the features they have rolled out. LOVE them. I now pay $79 a month for this service as my email list has grown and I just started using their platform for opt in pages and I love it too!
LearnDash is awesome. I love using it. It’s easy and I have over 30 online courses and programs built in it. The two things I wish it had was an easier interface for my new customers to login for the first time. The automatic email that goes out when someone buys a course isn’t very customizable so my workaround with that is in the confirmation email for the purchase from ConvertKit, it has the login details that make more sense to a new user.
The other thing I love is I can add and remove programs for a user very easily.
WP Affiliates works great too! It’s simple and not as complex as InfusionSoft or OntraPort and it works great for what I use it for.