AskPat 576 Episode Transcript
Pat Flynn: Hey what's up everybody? Pat Flynn here and welcome to Episode 576 of AskPat. Thank you so much for joining me today. As always, I'm here to help you answer your online business questions five days a week.
All right, here's today's question from Alexia.
Alexia: Hi Pat. My name is Alexia and I run Capitalize Social. We do social media marketing for our clients. I have a question about email marketing and which programs to use. Now I've heard you have an episode on ConvertKit and that looks really great, but I also looked back and listened to SPI 159 and thought about looking at Active Campaign as well.
Do you recommend, if you have a small mailing list, that you start with just the cheaper service? Why spend so much more for a product even if it does a lot, if it won't really convert that much for me right now? Is it easy to switch later? Or, should I just go ahead and choose the service that has the most bang and start it now and just continue to build my email list?
I also have a second follow up question. I have a big list of email users, but they're not people who opted in. I have a very, very small opt-in list because we just started collecting email addresses. Is it okay to send an overall email to that huge list I already have, even though they didn't opt in? Is that interruptive and should I go about doing it?
Thank you so much, Pat. I appreciate everything you do and I look forward to your answer.
Pat Flynn: Hey Alexia. Thank you so much for the question. This is a great question because it's kind of split into two. First, I want to talk about the differences between something like ConvertKit versus something like Active Campaign or Infusionsoft. Active Campaign and Infusionsoft kind of go hand-in-hand in terms of being the more upper level, has all the bells and whistles for automation, that type of thing, kind of email service providers. I've used Infusionsoft. I have yet to use or explore Active Campaign, but I've heard they're very similar. So I'm going to comment on that, and then I'm going to talk about this email list you have and the implications of what would happen if you were to send an email out. I actually got the help from my attorney, Richard, to answer that question and, of course, the best way to do it is to ask your own professional or your attorney, too, for your particular situation, but I do have some advise to share with you from that point of view.
Okay, first of all, Active Campaign versus ConvertKit. Active Campaign, Infusionsoft, there's others like Ontraport. These are high level email service providers that are much more than just email. They are action based, triggered based email service automation services essentially, that allow you to really hone in the automation across your entire business. I would only recommend using those if you have products to sell. I would only recommend using those if you have products to sell because that's really where the power comes in. You're able to then place people into all these different funnels and based on what they buy, they can buy more things or you can follow up with them. You can have certain triggers and automations such as if somebody purchases something, you could set it up to have it another third party company send a postcard to them, thanking them for their purchase and all these kinds of things. All three of those, Infusionsoft, Active Campaign, and Ontraport are higher level in the sense that it's a little bit harder to use from the get go.
If you're just starting out, I actually wouldn't recommend using those. Even if you know that that's eventually where you want to go. The most important thing when you're just starting out is to get started and by far the easiest email service provider to use is ConvertKit. This is above AWeber above MailChimp, above Constant Contact. ConvertKit is a company that I am know an advisor for officially and I'm an advisor because it's just such a great solution for email service, something that I wish was around when I first started. The cool thing is you can switch email service providers. You could start on something like ConvertKit, begin to start implementing these automation processes. What's nice about ConvertKit is because it's designed by Nathan Barry from NathanBarry.com, who is originally a UX or user experience designer, he built this email service provider really to scratch his own itch because he was just not satisfied with what was out there. It was built in a way that's very easy and intuitive to use.
In terms of getting of started it can get you on your feet right away, but it's going to be a lot more powerful than MailChimp or AWeber in the automation that's involved. It's not nearly as complicated as Infusionsoft or Active Campaign. It's essentially if people do this action, this other action happens, so you're creating triggers. It's literally you select from the menu, if this happens et cetera, purchases a product, subscribes to this email list, whatever, this next thing happens. Gets sent an additional email, gets tagged in a particular interest and then you can have all these tags for your particular email list subscribers and it just becomes an easier way to manage your lists. Definitely I would start out with ConvertKit and my affiliate link for that is AskPat.com/ConvertKit if you want to check it out. It's very economical, very much in the same range as AWeber and MailChimp, too.
Let's get on to the second part of the question, which is this list that you have built, which seems like it's fairly large. What do you do or how can you utilize that list? Basically the answer is you shouldn't; because people haven't opted into that list it's going to be very, very scary to potentially email that list because of the CAN-SPAM act. Not just the ones in the US, but there's ones in other countries too, that have major, major legal implications. A few countries like Canada, you can't even individually email these people because they haven't asked for it. It's pretty crazy how strict a Canadian anti-spam laws are, but they come with definitely super high fees. Even in the US, some of the fines, depending on what you do, can be up to $16,000 per email and criminal prosecution. I don't say this just to scare you, but this is just the truth because this is what's out there and what could potentially happen.
Obviously people abuse these powers and sell lists and buy lists all the time and trade lists and just email them and spam them no matter what. I don't know what exactly ends up happening with those people, but it's always safer just to make sure that you, when you build a list, have people opt into it, meaning they have given you permission to then send them further emails down the road. There's a lot that goes along with this.
I asked Richard, my attorney, some other potential solutions. For example, can I send them all one email and just any of those people who say, “Yes, I'd like to be on this list,” they get to go in. If not, then I don't contact them ever. He said that taking this step doesn't actually change the equation because in opt-in jurisdictions such as Canada, sending that email itself is a violation and the recipient can only opt-in if certain disclosures are made and the person affirmatively indicates their acceptance by checking a box or some other mechanism. Having like a passive statement at the end of this message wouldn't meet this requirement, at least for Canada.
Should one reach out one-by-one to them and try to get them to opt-in from there? Again, this would still be considered spamming. Canada, for example, in opt-out countries like the US, you would still face issues related to harvesting. I don't know what that means exactly. Mailing people on the list one-by-one would also be time and resource intensive with most large email systems filtering out your messages as spam. Basically I would just stay away from it. However you got that list, I would just say, you know what? Let it go. Focus on your building your list the proper way and then go from there.
If you have any follow up comments on this, anybody, use the hashtag #AskPat576.
Again, better safe than sorry, for sure, especially in this online world where there's a lot of rules that we don't even know about sometimes. It's better to play it safe. Have people opt into your email list and go from there.
Alexia, thank you so much for the question. I really appreciate it. We're going to send you an AskPat t-shirt for having your question featured here on the show. For everybody else out there listening, if you have a question that you'd potentially like featured here on the show, too, just head on over to AskPat.com. You can ask right there on that page.
Thank you so much. I appreciate you.
All right, and finally here's a quote to finish off the day and this is by Stephen Covey. He said, “I am not a product of my circumstances. I am a product of my decisions.” Cheers, take care and I'll see you in the next episode of AskPat. Again, if you want that ConvertKit affiliate link, that's AskPat.com/ConvertKit. Bye.