While my loyal readers and newsletter subscribers are probably aware that I have spent a great deal of the past 6 months working on a website/product/startup called Knowledge Land, it may be new to some of you. The vision behind Knowledge Land is to provide experience, training, coaching and inspiration to anyone who is interested in becoming a more valuable in their digital marketing career.
The website is a natural extension of the classroom teaching that I have been offering for the past several years, only in a format that is more accessible to my global audience of interested marketers (believe it or not, it’s not easy for most of my readers to attend courses spread out over the course of several weeks in the state of Minnesota).
Because I want to keep the business expenses manageable for now, I have placed much of the responsibility for web development, product development, content strategy/execution, technology selection and just about everything in between on my own shoulders.
There is a nice benefit to having the skill set necessary to build websites and produce content, but it is also a huge limiting factor to getting the website launched in a reasonable timeframe, because it takes a different side of the brain to develop a website than it does to produce content. Those of you who maintain their own websites can surely feel my pain. You either focus on creating great content on an ugly website, or you have a pretty website with no updates.
Or, like me, you fall somewhere in the middle. Letting a quest for perfection get in the way of speedy delivery.
While it’s easy to tell myself that people will want to grow their skills whenever I get the site ready, eventually you start to realize that you continue to hit a wall if you don’t seek help.
Hitting a wall developing pages on my own
About two weeks ago I was banging my head against the wall, trying to figure out the best method for setting up a landing page where attendees to my speech in Copenhagen, Denmark could download the materials for my presentation.
Here I was, sitting in a hotel room in one of the most beautiful cities in the world, trying to figure out the best way to develop a landing page for the downloadable content. I was probably wearing a t-shirt and athletic shorts. You know, the glamorous side of business travel.
I didn’t want to be sitting in a hotel; I wanted to be out exploring. But first work needed to be done. I told myself that I could not go outside until the landing page was up and running, and budgeted 6 hours to get the job done.
Why so much time? Because at first I thought I would be developing the landing page from scratch, since as I have the skills needed to develop a landing page from top to bottom, why not use them?
Giving in to exploring alternatives
You can probably see where this is going by now. I budgeted 6 hours in a hotel room to write code and produce what would probably be a mediocre landing page. I wanted those 6 hours back, so I started looking for some ways to get it done quickly.
The first place I looked was at LeadPages, a software company that I have come to respect immensely over the past year as I have gotten to know the Co-Founder Clay Collins. It’s tough to go anywhere without hearing about the greatness of the LeadPages software. Literally. (When I was in Hungary this January and mentioned that I was from Minnesota, the first question I received was “do you know Clay at LeadPages?”).
I am also a customer of LeadPages, although I have not used the software to its fullest during my subscription period. This was the perfect opportunity to get involved with the software, so I started looking at the templates available and saw many viable options for the book I was giving away.
After creating some content to fit the templates, the page was starting to come together. The next step was looking at integrations for the product to make sure that when someone entered their email address that it could be captured by my email and membership systems.
Email was not a problem, because LeadPages integrates with just about everyone you could imagine, including AWeber, which I use for my auto responder software at the moment.
The other step was integrating with MemberMouse, the membership software that I use to power Knowledge Land. MemberMouse is a software that works directly within WordPress, my platform of choice for building websites.
There is no official integration between LeadPages and MemberMouse, and frankly there are very few search results of the two products mentioned together on Google. While I’m sure I could have figured out the integration had I worked at it long enough, it was looking like this was a deal breaker with using LeadPages for this landing page.
So it was back to the drawing board looking for an option for developing a landing page. I had already killed 1 of my 6 hours looking by this point, so I was starting to get desperate.
Finding zen with OptimizePress for WordPress
A weird thing happened when I was searching for LeadPages and MemberMouse integrations. Almost every search result mentioned LeadPages and something called OptimizePress in the same sentence.
While I had heard of OptimizePress in the past (and I have been on their website at least 5 times at various points in my journey), I never really considered them as an option for my website. The pages seemed to be too salesy for my blog based website, and I remember hearing a few friends say they were frustrated with the product.
After looking around through their website and doing some searches to see how well their tool integrated with WordPress and AWeber, I decided to give it a shot, figuring the worst I can lose is a one-time fee of $97.
Installation was as easy as downloading the plugin zip file and uploading to WordPress. While I was worried about the software “taking over” my WordPress dashboard, it was a subtle integration. Once I authenticated my account, I started to build a landing page.
One of the key criteria for this landing page was that the site needed to load seamlessly on a mobile browser for the attendees looking to download the paper while in the room (there were 10+ signups on the spot) and also look good on a full screen laptop or tablet device for those who wrote their notes in analog form (even more signups the next day). OptimizePress claimed provides responsive templates, which I was able to experiment with and verify on my phone.
Within 10 minutes, this page was developed:
It took me about another 30 minutes to figure out how to hook the web form into MemberMouse, but eventually I was able to get that to work as well (a slight bug in OptimizePress working with custom forms). Then another 30 minutes to get my thank you page to properly display a link to download the PDF guide. The whole process took about 90 minutes to complete.
Future landing pages will take about 10 minutes!
If you want to see the page or download the free Strategic Web Analytics guide, please do feel free to go to the page and check it out.
Sometimes you should trust a professional, even when you are a professional
The truth is that I am a very stubborn person. I am a do-it-yourselfer with most aspects of life, because I value my self-sustainability. I am so stubborn that I would have wasted 6 hours on this project if i weren't so set on exploring Copenhagen, and I would have spent 60 or 600 more hours developing mediocre landing pages if I did not have the time crunch to deliver the first landing page.
By finding a technology solution that allowed me to save time, I was able to explore Copenhagen on one of the most beautiful days of the entire year. Here are some of the sights:
The time value of money (and the build or buy parable)
When you think about the concept of the time value of money, I was able to save myself 3+ hours of work by using a product that has a one time cost of $97.
That is a great return on investment for one days work, but the investment keeps on getting better as I start to dig into the features of the product. It turns out that I can do a lot more with OptimizePress than just create landing pages. I can also create pages for my training program that I just launched on Knowledge Land.
Again, I had been banging my head against the wall as I tried to find a proper format for distributing the training videos that I have recorded, edited and uploaded for our premium users. There are 20+ videos to see and over 12 hours of programming, so I needed a format that showcased the videos as customers watched them, but also allowed them to easily navigate between videos and discover all that was available.
I found a template that I liked in OptimizePress and within 15 minutes I had a page that looked like this:
While this may not be the most perfect design, it is a tremendous improvement over coding the page myself. This will probably save me another 20 hours in the end.
Add it all up and we are talking about a tremendous time savings given to an already reasonably priced tool. It will probably cost me about $1 for every hour saved.
Should I just go all OptimizePress?
Now my newest debate is whether I should just convert my entire website to OptimizePress and forego a traditional WordPress theme entirely. As I mentioned at the beginning of this post, I installed OptimizePress as a plugin, which allowed me to keep my current theme in place for non-OP pages.
What I did not mention is that the tool can also be installed as the primary theme on your WordPress website. This can allow you to create pages even more rapidly and have them seamlessly integrated into your entire site.
After seeing how much progress I have been able to make in the two weeks since since purchasing OptimzePress, I am starting to think that even more progress can be made by just eliminating the need to write code entirely. That would allow me to focus on creating high quality content and lessons for the site.
It seems inevitable that I will make the full switch at some point in the future.
OptimizePress vs. LeadPages: Which one is for you?
The last point I wanted to touch on in this post is my understanding of when it might be best to use OptimizePress and when it might be best to use LeadPages. By and large, both of these companies are very successful and create software that is tremendously valuable to their customers. In many cases, you can’t find one software mentioned without the other being noted as well. From my experience, here is when you should use each software.
Use OptimizePress when
- Your website is developed on WordPress
- You would like to integrate your landing pages with other plugins/elements of your WordPress site
- You would like to create simple landing pages, sales pages, membership pages, etc. on one platform
- You have a membership site or training program
Use LeadPages when
- You want pages that can be stored outside of your content management system (especially if you’re not on WordPress)
- You want to get people on to your email opt in lists as soon as possible
- You want to sell your digital/physical products using landing pages
- You want great technology, but without having to worry about integrations
The answer became pretty obvious to me based on my website configuration, but I can see many cases where LeadPages is the clear solution for users. It really all depends on your current technology setup and where you see yourself going in the future.
Either way, I think you are in good hands if you choose one of these platforms!
Sign Up for OptimizePress
If this article helped you during your decision process, please consider using my referral link when signing up for OptimizePress. These links give me a small amount of compensation that helps me keep writing these types of guides for free. Thanks!
Do you like posts like this? Since developing an online business is a big piece of what I am doing right now, I could post more often about these topics if you find it helpful. Otherwise, we can stick with sporadic posts on Google Analytics, SEO and PPC. Let me know!