Hey, did you know that there are two different types of email platforms you can choose from when selecting a system to run your email for your business? There’s a tag-based and a list-based system. These are the two core systems that you can choose from. Today, I’m going to break down some differences and tell you why I think the tag-based system is the better way to go.
Way back in 2002, 2003, when I started my first email list for my remodeling company, I honestly had no idea that there were different types of platforms I could choose. I just picked one and went with it and, really, I think it was all based on price. Just, “Hey, this one sounds good, sounds easy.” I didn’t know there were different types. Back then, there might not have been different types, at least none that I could afford because back then the technology we have today now is so much more advanced and affordable than what it was 10, 15 years ago. Every day, it’s just getting less and less expensive to get some of these really cool automations and programming things that we can get today. They’re getting less and less expensive. There’s more competition. There’s better software out there.
Back in 2002, 2003, I didn’t have a lot of choices. I didn’t ask a lot of questions. I just picked one and went. Even over the years as I moved from system to system, I didn’t really understand that there were these two core different types of platforms. Even when I moved to Office Autopilot, which is now Ontraport, even when I moved to that, I didn’t really understand that it was different than the other platforms I had been on previously. Again, I just looked at it and said, “Oh, it can do all these cool things. I want that,” and I moved to it, not really understanding its core difference.
What is that core difference that I’m alluding to here? The core difference being we have two different types of platforms. We have the list-based system and we have the tag-based system or database system. A list-based system is the more popular, more introductory platform that most people are probably on. It’s on AWeber, MailChimp, Constant Contact, all these types. These are all lists because when you go into your application there, when you go into your software and you look, you have all these lists of people. I’ve got the list that opted in for this. I’ve got the list that bought this product. I got the list that was interested in this. I’ve got all these lists, but when I log into an Ontraport account or Infusionsoft or ActiveCampaign, these are database driven systems. Therefore, I don’t have lists. I have one list of people, one list of contacts, and that list of contacts can be put into different sequences, automations that would send them different messages, but they’re only in my system once.
Today, I want to talk about three things that I like about the tag-based, database driven system where I’m only in there once. The first thing is I’m only in there once. Your contact is only in your system once. If I’m in AWeber or MailChimp and I’m interested in … I got to your list and I’m interested in dogs and I sign up for your dog list, but then later I decide I’m also interested in cats and I sign up for your cat list, my contact is now in your system twice, my email address. Even if I use the same email address, I’m in the system twice, and your system looks at me as two different Neils and says that we have a Neil that likes dogs and we have a Neil that likes cats and doesn’t really recognize that I’m the same person.
Why is that important? Depending and the platform you’re on, and they all do it differently, so your results may vary as I like to say, check with your platform, but on some of these platforms, you could be paying for me twice. If I’m on list A and list B, you’re paying for me twice. They consider that two unique users. In a database system, I’m only in there once. I can tell you I like dogs, I can tell you I like cats, but I’m only in there once. You’re only paying for me once.
The other reason, besides the cost, and not every list-based system will charge you twice for the same email address. Some do, some don’t, so again, check with yours, but the other nice thing about only being in there once, it’s really easy to see your contact’s history if you only have one record for them.
If I have them on list A, B, C, D, and E, and I’m trying to see what they’ve done over the years or even in the last couple weeks, it’s hard for me to do that because they’re in all these different places and you would have to go into … In a lot of systems, it’s going to treat them, again, completely separate like they’re completely separate people and so the dots are not connected, whereas if I’m in a tag-based, database driven system and I want to see what I did in there, I can go in and see the entire history of a contact and say, “Oh, they came in because they were interested in dogs. Two weeks later, they said they were also interested in cats, and they got this email, this email, and this email, and they opened that one. They clicked this one.”
You can see all that history really easily, which is, especially if you’re running a service-based business where you’re doing phone sales and things like this, it’s important before you get on the phone with someone to see what they did. You want it to be a CRM, not just an email platform. A database system allows you to treat it more like a CRM, Customer Relationship Management System, which will allow you to go in and see all the history and then I know when I get on the phone with somebody that, “Hey, you like dogs and then you said you like cats, so maybe you’d be interested in this.” I can get the history of the person really easily. That’s point number one that I like. I’m only in the system once.
The second thing I like about the database driven system is it makes segmenting so much easier, so much easier because, again, I can look at each contact record individually and I can look at all the attributes that make up that contact record and I can segment based on anything from within that person’s contact record. If you remember back to episode two, I think it was, we talked to Tyler Garnes. He talks a lot about segmenting. He talked about pulling out people that bought product A, but didn’t buy product B. In the database system, that’s really easy to do. I can set up a filter. I can pull these people out and I can run everyone through and say, “I want to look for people that did this, but didn’t do that.”
Super simple because, again, because I’m only in the system once, but if I wanted to do that in a MailChimp system where I would be in the system twice, now I have to try to put the pieces together and I probably am going to have to create a third list just to find the people that are in the two lists that match my perimeter. Then I’m just creating lists after lists after lists and then it starts to get really messy. I’ve been in some AWeber accounts where they’ve had 60, 70 different lists and can’t remember why people are on each one and what’s going on. That means that their contacts are spread across all these different lists. It’s really messy. It makes segmenting so much easier.
The third thing I like about the database driven system is… I don’t know about you, but I’m on a lot MailChimp lists as a user, so I got a lot of emails from MailChimp. It’s not unusual for me to get four emails all at the same time to the same email address because they’ve sent it out to four different lists. Again, your results may vary because different email platforms do this differently, but if I were to send out an email to multiple lists and that person was on multiple lists, in some platforms, they’re going to get that email three, four times. Other platforms, they’re only going to get it once with the list systems.
In a database system, you’re only ever going to get it once. I’m going to find that segment that I want to send it to and that segment could be everybody, so I guess that wouldn’t be a segment. It would just be everybody. I could get my entire list. I could send it out to everyone, and everyone would only get the email once because they’re only in there once, whereas if I did that in MailChimp and I wanted to send it to everyone and I had four lists, maybe I could get that email four times. As a user, when you’re getting the email from somebody, you’re like, “Why are you sending this to me multiple times?” Not every system does that that way, but that’s a problem that’s only happens with a list-based system. You don’t have that issue with a tag-based, database driven system.
Those are probably the top three things I like about the tag-based system. Plus, if you’ve noticed, these systems that I talked about, probably the three most popular would be Infusionsoft, Ontraport, and ActiveCampaign. Those are the ones I’m most familiar with and certainly probably the most familiar to the rest of you, but those three platforms also do a lot of other cool things, and those other cool things can happen because it is a database driven system because the contact record is only in there once. Then I can rules and do automations and find people and segment. I can do so much more with those type of platforms than I can do with a list-based system.
Cost. Cost is probably the biggest reason why most people don’t want to go to a database type system because historically those have been much more expensive because there’s a lot more development involved in those. They’re much more complicated to create in the back end, but ActiveCampaign has come out and they are very competitive with the list-based systems. They give you a lot of the features of some of the big, heavy hitters, but allow you to pay less, like you’re on a list-based system. That’s why I recommend ActiveCampaign for a lot of my brick and mortar clients who aren’t going to be doing online sales. It’s a great introductory … Even could go beyond introductory. It really depends on your needs and what you’re trying to accomplish, but it’s a great platform for full-on automation without the cost of full-on automation. If you’re interested in that, you could check it out more at http://beyondtheoptin.com/activecampain, all one word, got more info about it there for you.
My intent here today wasn’t really to talk about ActiveCampaign. It’s just, hey, there is a platform out there that does all this that is not as expensive as all these database driven systems have historically been, but again, my top three reasons why I like tag-based, database systems over the list-based system is contact record is only in there once. I’m only paying for them once. I can easily see their history. Two, segmenting, so much easier when they’re in a database. Three, they won’t get multiple emails when I send out to every list. When I send out to my entire group of contacts, they won’t get multiple emails. Those are the three things I like.
If you want to learn more about getting started with email and marketing automation, head on over to beyondtheoptin.com/quiz where you can take a short quiz that tell me what you’re doing with email, what you want to do with email and automation, and I will recommend which email platform I think is right for you, one of which might be ActiveCampaign. You never know.
The other thing, if this whole list versus tag thing, you want to get a little deeper on that, I also have a video that I will put in the show notes for this episode. I have a video that I’ve made about this, so visually, it gets a little easier to understand what I’m talking about. When it’s audio, hey, sometimes the audio, it’s hard to paint the picture. I can do it probably a little easier in video, so head on over to the show notes for this episode, which you will find at beyondtheoptin.com/9 because this is episode 9, so just the number 9, will take you to this episode where you can see that video.
All right. That is it for today. I’ve got some interviews coming up soon with some really cool people, so stay tuned. You’re going to want to come back for some cool automation tips and tricks that we’re going to talk about in the next two episodes.
Until then, I am Neil Kristianson.