Over the years, I've been known to specialize in a few different platforms, Ruby on Rails, PHP, WordPress, WooCommerce (and a few other plugins), and Drip. Anytime I switch from one to the next, I get asked a lot of questions.
"Why did you switch?"
"What happened with X that made the decision for you?"
"Did you switch because of Y?"
For myself and my clients, I try and look at platforms as a tool.
A means to solving a problem and whether this is a new problem I'm looking for a solution to or when an existing tool isn't doing the best it could, I will go exploring.
This is my experience, my honest thoughts and how I evaluated this decision. It certainly was not a knee-jerk one at that either.
I'm not suggesting anyone is a bad person or that Drip is a terrible product either. In fact, I still use it every single day for some clients.
You agree with me, you may not, you may hate on me and you may jump on board. I'm simply sharing my experience and my thoughts around the question, just like any other question I would be asked.
Why I started with Drip
4 years ago, Drip was the best option for me and my clients to handle email subscriber data and be the engine to automate parts of the business in a personalized way.
In short, I help online businesses be more personal with their marketing and website so that their customers feel more connected to their brand. What that does for my clients is create connections with their customers and potential customers in a way that allows for opportunities to raise their hands and signal to the brand that they are ready to buy for the first time, buy again, or share their experiences with that brand naturally and alongside the more strategic and intentional marketing.
In order for me to create a better, more personalized experience for my clients' customers, I looked for a tool that allowed me to marry email, website, and behavioral data. Drip popped on my radar. Its API is robust and exposed the app in a way that Infusionsoft (at that time) didn't. The other factors were price and ease-of-use.
They built a team of like-minded, amazing people who were there to help their customers in any way possible and if they didn't have the answer, they would connect you with someone who did.
It was this sense of a small community that had a purpose to help online businesses be better with their communication to their customers in smart, interesting, and accessible ways that at the time seemed only doable if you built it yourself or by spending a ton of money and having someone else build it.
A week later, I came across ConvertKit. Equally interesting from both a feature set and a culture perspective. Nathan Barry was a designer who I had been familiar with because of his blog and design skills.
Had I seen ConvertKit first, maybe I would've started there first because from where I sat, I saw a very similar feature set to that of Drip. Only at the time, the API of Drip is what allowed me to solve the problem for my clients. And I can't be certain that ConvertKit's API at that time could do all the things that I was looking for.
I jumped all in and did some awesome work for clients to make an impact on their businesses. Being able to create personalized journeys based around user behavior to make the selling process more natural, shortened the time to first purchase, increased repeat buyers, and created raving fans.
I jumped so far in that I was a part of the first cohort of certified consultants, and started selling services on the Drip platform to my leads and customers. In fact within 6 months of deciding to do that on the back of getting certified, half my revenue was Drip services.
Drip sold to Leadpages
When Drip sold to Leadpages, I'll be honest, I took a step back for a little bit. Being that I had been through acquisitions on both sides of the fence during my career, I wasn't too sure what would happen.
The only thing that I could be sure of was that there would be changes coming.
Once Rob and Derek had left, Drip had already re-branded, added new features, added resources, and held virtual summits that positioned them as experts in automation and marketing. All good things.
With that growth they encountered issues within the app, with support requests, deliverability issues, features added weren't all that helpful for my clients and I, and in my opinion, left us certified consultants holding the bag trying to answer questions from clients that we had no answers to about some of the issues and decisions being made.
Leadpages was taking Drip in a very new direction, to a new audience. Drip's target market now is e-commerce, not all online businesses.
Showing signs of a different path
The roadmap of features being release seemingly has a specific platform as its priority within e-commerce as well, that my business is not on, nor are any of my customers.
They've increased and changed their pricing as well.
Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying that any of that is bad or not within their rights to do so. In fact, what do I know of their strategy and market fit for their new direction?
Just like you and I have the freedom to choose what our businesses look like, so does Leadpages for Drip.
My thoughts at a personal level
If you've heard me for any amount of time, I'm all about the personal connections and getting to know the "why" of someone.
So as I reflect on this decision, and what I help my clients do, any of the tools I use, I'm more likely to choose those that I have a personal connection with. You can say that's the purpose of my business.
Both of my podcasts, for example, are hosted on Transistor.fm who I've known Justin Jackson for a number of years now.
The personal connections that I made to those within Drip seemed to fizzle out for one reason or another. Whether they've moved on to other companies or moved into other roles. Even when reaching out to support, there seems to be a revolving door of folks when you get a response. And even then, those folks don't understand the accounts that I manage and their history like they did in the past.
Since that personal connection, the culture is important to me as someone who values that in my own business, Drip seemed very different than what it once was.
My thoughts at a professional level
For my leads and clients, I have to look at Drip as if it is a new company. I have to forget all the things that it once was and what attracted me to it feature-wise because it has changed its target market and objectives.
I've always said that the technology needs to fit the business and not the other way around. For my clients, I have to remove my own biases and feelings around culture especially if the solution fits. I may share it with my clients to give them a full picture, but I don't use them in the decision-making process as a solution unless it is something that is asked of me to do so.
Some of my clients are still within that market, maybe not fully, but Drip serves them well.
For other clients though, Drip was no longer the best option for them.
This includes my own business, which I have to luxury to add to the decision-making process, my feelings around culture.
So I can't say that any one thing was the tipping point for me to move my business and some clients off of Drip. It certainly was a build up over time.
Was I happy that I found out about the pricing changes from my clients because some were on monthly plans and I was annual? No.
Did I think the pricing was handled the best way? Nope.
Did I find issues within the app that other friends and colleagues encountered? Sometimes, but not always.
Do I recommend Drip? Yes, for those specifically in the e-commerce space.
Do I use Drip? Yes, for my clients now and into the future. I provide services that help online businesses increase revenue, and a good portion of my clients are e-commerce.
Have I experienced deliverability issues? Yes, and for me, above all else, that's the point of all this.
If there was one thing that tipped the scales the most for me, it may have been this.
Ultimately we are using email to communicate. That's the primary use case here. If the subscriber is not getting the email, then all the other bells and whistles do not matter.
I've seen some clients have open and click-through rates dramatically increase on other platforms.
Now I understand that these metrics is not an exact science.
So when I ran some tests myself, I've had customers who have bought from me in the past say "Wow, haven't seen an email from you in months" with screenshots showing me their inbox of my emails.
For me, that's just not cool.
In the next episode, I'll share with you why ConvertKit was the easy choice, what I like about it, what I'd love to see, and some things to be aware of.
Marketing for Freelancers
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Finding Clients Lesson #1: Targeted Referrals
Finding Clients Lesson #2: Zero Line Item
Finding Clients Lesson #3: The Client Sandwich
Finding Clients Lesson #4: The Sneak Peek
Finding Clients Lesson #5: Buy a cup of coffee
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Finding Clients Lesson #10: Who do you hang with?
Finding Clients Lesson #11: Group Coaching for Leads
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S03 Bonus - Tom McFarlin on Blogging, Balancing Work and Family, and Building a Business that Lasts
S09 E11 - Differentiation, Reputation, and Pivoting From the Top-Down with Peep Laja
S01 E11 - Kai Davis helping freelancers get more clients with outreach