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What Technology I Currently Use To Sell Information Products Online

By Yaro Starak
29 Comments

Back in 2006 I began the process of researching which technology systems to use to sell an online teaching course.

I had originally planned to release an ebook and was looking at using Clickbank, or even just selling directly with a Paypal link. There were a few other dedicated ebook selling services around too.

Technology For Selling Products Online

Prior to this my technology requirements were primarily WordPress for content management and AWeber for email list management.

After 8 months I scrapped the ebook project and switched my focus to releasing a membership site. I gave myself a hard deadline this time and got busy working.

With a membership site I knew I would have to password protect my content and also have a way to take payments and automatically set up accounts for my new paying members.

At the time I looked closely at a few options, including -

1ShoppingCart (1SC)

I had previously played around with the 1SC software and loved how much of an all-in-one-system it was. It could handle payments, affiliates and also had an email autoresponder and broadcast tool.

Butterfly Marketing

Mike Filsaime had just released his Butterfly Marketing software, which could be used to take payments and protect membership content. It also had some cool built-in viral affiliate marketing tools that I was eager to use.

aMember

Amember was the default tool a lot of people were using at the time to host membership sites. It focused on protecting content and didn’t have many other features outside of this core function. You would have to add on an affiliate system and a payment system, while aMember would password protect the content and create member accounts.

Amember is still going strong today and have no doubt increased the capabilities of the software.

Back then I explored a few other options, but because many of my peers and mentors were using these three technologies, they were my lead contenders.

My Early Technology Setup

I decided Butterfly Marketing was the system to use, primarily because it had the simplest, and I believed, most effective affiliate system.

Bear in mind I do not use or recommend Butterfly Marketing anymore. In fact I don’t think you can even purchase it, although my original review of the software still ranks well in Google search.

Since I was planning my first ever product launch process, I liked that Butterfly Marketing encouraged people to share the free resources you release via the in-built and well structured affiliate system. Theoretically this would help you reach more people. Nothing motivates like the potential to make a commission, especially if all you have to do is share great content.

From the affiliate system point of view Butterfly Marketing worked well. Unfortunately much of the rest of the system was quite buggy, especially integration for re-billing, which with a membership site is obviously important.

To put a long story short, I did manage my first ever membership site launch with Butterfly Marketing, but it was a harrowing experience with lots of intervention from my tech people.

After that initial experience I switched to 1ShoppingCart, which was more stable software. However, because I was using AWeber for my email lists and not the integrated 1SC autoresponder, I didn’t get the seamless experience as if I was using all of the 1SC tools.

There were also some challenges regarding Paypal not working for recurring billing back then. Instead I had to set up my first ever merchant account, which I did with Eway, an Australian provider that still leads the way today.

I wasn’t 100% happy with 1SC re-billing or affiliate tracking, which resulted in quite a few hours put in to manually verify sales, make sure members were charged appropriately and affiliates were credited with their commission.

Due to these less than ideal experiences with 1SC I decided to once again change, this time over to Clickbank. I made the change because I was sick of the confusion and hassles and liked that Clickbank would pretty much handle everything and just pop the money into my bank account directly once a week.

While Clickbank isn’t the most comprehensive tool, and the interface is archaic, they do provide a good service.

I liked that I didn’t have to track affiliate sales and payout affiliates manually via Paypal – Clickbank handled this for me.

I used the software EasyClickMate with Clickbank to create a Butterfly Marketing style system for my affiliates and I was good to go.

For the remaining years that my training programs were available, my technology set-up was wonderfully simple. I used…

My Original Technology Setup

  • WordPress with password protection created via htaccess (so no need for membership software, not even something like Wishlist)
  • Aweber to deliver membership content in a drip release sequence just using an autoresponder
  • Clickbank to take payments with credit card and Paypal, and also to handle all affiliate sales and commission payments
  • EasyClickMate to give my affiliates lots of tools to promote my products with

And that was it!

This combination served me well for many years and I still highly recommend it, especially if you only have one or two products. Although I missed out on the bells and whistles and advanced features of some of the newer tools that were coming out, I didn’t mind.

This system was delightfully simple and reasonably hands off. It meant we experienced fewer technological errors and it was closer to a passive solution.

If you want a more detailed breakdown of all of this, I encourage you to read or listen to my Membership Site Masterplan report.

Doing It All Again

As you may know, I recently switched away from AWeber as my email management tool and now use Office Auto Pilot (soon to be called Ontraport).

I closed down all my training programs in the last two years, which gave me the opportunity to reinvent my product delivery system and bring it up to date.

With the recent opening of EJ Insider, my new system was tested live for the first time. I’ll tell you more about that in a moment…

I have to admit I was very tempted to stick with the simplicity of my previous system for the release of my new products.

The reason I decided not to was because I have quite a few new products coming out and I want them to be integrated.

To create a proper Sales Funnel, you need to seamlessly move people from suspects (website visitors) to prospects (email subscribers) to warm leads (segmented subscribers), to customers (buyers) and then hyper-responsive customers (buyers of multiple products up to your high end products).

1ShopppingCart, from all those years ago when I first played with it, could have done many of the things I wanted. I haven’t looked at it recently, but I have no doubt they have upped their game since I used them.

However as is usually the case for me, I looked at what tools my peers and mentors were using, and the leading choices were Infusionsoft and Office Auto Pilot.

Having been scared away by all the talk of how confusing Infusionsoft is and how much easier Office Auto Pilot is, it made for an easy choice.

You can read my recent timeline update post for more on my research process to choose a new system.

I Still Love AWeber

The only thing I was concerned about was moving away from AWeber.

I really love AWeber. It has been a great system and I wholeheartedly endorse them as the place to go for your first email newsletter service (you can read my AWeber review here).

I used AWeber for eight years and they have helped me make hundreds of thousands of dollars online thanks to email newsletters.

AWeber is a list based email management tool. If you want to segment a subscriber, you need to either move them from one list to another based on an action, or add them to a new list, again based on action like opting in to a new web form.

You can also segment subscribers based on what emails they open or what links they click, as I did in this little case study –

How Email Segmentation Made My List Stronger AND $31,940 More Profitable

Of course Aweber is not a shopping cart, nor does it handle affiliate management. It’s a great email broadcast and autoresponder tool and that is its core function.

My current plan involves releasing a series of products and having a series of email autoresponder sequences. I want to integrate affiliates under the one system as well, and also have the power to trigger events based on all kinds of different actions, from clicking a link, to landing on a page.

To put it simply, I needed a more powerful contact management tool with integrated email follow-up, affiliate management, product delivery and payment processing.

I wanted everything to be under the one system so I could take full advantage of all the features, unlike my first experience when I combined AWeber with 1ShoppingCart, limiting the integrative features I could use.

Office Auto Pilot

I signed up with Office Auto Pilot (OAP) and started watching the training videos, which are unusually entertaining.

I quickly got my head around how the email system works, then followed the instructions to import my lists from AWeber to OAP. Everything went smoothly.

One of the key differences between a system like Office Auto Pilot or Infusionsoft and AWeber is the tag based contact management.

Instead of moving or adding a person from one list to another like AWeber does, you add tags to a contact. The tags can then be used to manipulate what happens to that contact.

I immediately began adding tags to my subscribers so I knew who signed up for what.

For example I have tags if you joined my newsletter from www.blogmastermind.com or www.membershipsitemastermind.com or www.entrepreneurs-journey.com.

I can then send specific information based on what that tag means. If you joined via MembershipSiteMastermind.com then I know you are interested in membership sites, and can add you to an email sequence that delivers information about that.

You can of course do all these things with a list based system like AWeber. However as you dig into what OAP can do, you start to see the real power behind the system.

You can set actions if a person buys a product, or clicks a link (or doesn’t), or goes to a certain webpage, or have been subscribed for a certain length of time, or visited a page a number of times, or spent a certain amount of money or countless other criteria.

The action might be to subscribe or unsubscribe the person from a follow-up sequence, or send a postcard, or give them access to a membership site, or remove a tag or add a tag, or all kinds of different things.

OAP also provide a plugin for WordPress called PilotPress, which gives you the power to use WordPress as a membership site. This is exactly what I have done for the EJ Insider program.

The plugin connects OAP with WordPress, so you can set membership levels to grant access to resources inside your WordPress area that are controlled by all the actions and tags available inside OAP.

For the moment I am using OAP for email newsletters (broadcasts), follow-up email sequences, and as a content delivery (drip release) and membership protection system for my products.

As I roll out more products I will begin to use more of the features OAP provides. I look forward to telling you about all of this as I test things and see what impact it has.

What System Should You Use?

AWeber starts at $19 a month. Office Auto Pilot is $300 a month. Clearly they are not targeted at the same level of customer.

I still recommend you start with AWeber for your first email newsletter when you are just beginning. You can also use it as an advanced marketer comfortably, just as I have done and thousands of other businesses do.

If you have the funds and more importantly, are at a stage where you can take advantage of the features Office Auto Pilot provides, I can say so far that I highly recommend it too. I’m loving using tags and my eyes are continually opening to the potential inside the system.

I should mention that it’s worth also looking into 1ShoppingCart as a middle level option between AWeber and Office Auto Pilot.

To give you a rough outline, this is how my new system currently looks -

My Current Technology Setup

  • Office Auto Pilot for email and contact management, shopping cart, affiliate management and membership protection via the PilotPress plugin.
  • WordPress to deliver membership content, which thanks to PilotPress allows me to protect different pages and posts based on membership levels I define within Office Auto Pilot, and then apply to customers based on actions they take. All of this is automated, the technology does it for me once setup.
  • Paypal and Eway with the Commonwealth Bank in Australia to take payments. Paypal “mass pay” to pay affiliates.

I have recently set up Paypal Pro, so I can charge different currencies, in particular USD, as at the moment with Eway and my bank, only AUD is permitted. Paypal Pro is a merchant account that basically allows you to take payments via Paypal without the person needing to go to Paypal.com.

This system is what I use right now to sell the first product I released so far this year – the EJ Insider Interviews Club.

The interviews are all inside the EJInsider.com WordPress content management system, protected by PilotPress. Membership levels controlled by Office Auto Pilot determine what people get access to after they take an action. In this case the action is making a purchase.

New interviews are drip released via an email sequence I have set up. There are also actions as part of the drip release sequence that “reveal” the new interviews inside the membership area as each week passes.

It took a while to set all of this up. Carly, the new head of tech at EJ Insider, and I have worked some long hours to make everything work as it should.

Now that the system is set up, it’s easier to release new products because they can all go inside the one membership area. I can do a lot fun things going forward thanks to OAP, which I am looking forward to playing with.

More Updates Coming Soon

I hope you have enjoyed this little look behind the scenes at the technology I am currently combining to deliver my training products.

There are a few other tools I will reveal once I have used them more and can explain how well they did or did not work. I also have a whole lot to test and then report back to you with results in regards to what Office Auto Pilot can do. It’s a beast.

For now, I have to get back to working on product number two for this year.

Talk to you soon, and keep up the good work on your business!

Yaro Starak
Technologist

About Yaro Starak

Yaro Starak is the author of the Blog Profits Blueprint, a report you can download instantly to learn how to make $10,000 a month, from only blogging 2 hours per day. You can find Yaro on Facebook, Twitter and .

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29 Comments

  • I gave up on Infusionsoft a while back; too much for my needs at the moment. Right now I’m mostly working with Paypal and using Wishlist to protect things, although one of my clients is a big fan of nanacast so I’ve gotten very familiar integrating them with WordPress (and lately, WLM).

    • Yeah I looked at nanacast and also digital access pass. They both are well regarded, although I found the interfaces tough to get my head around.

      Once I decided to go with an all in one solution, since nanacast and DAP are not full blown email/affiliate/CRM solutions it made sense to use Office Auto Pilot.

  • Joe

    Nice article. I guess with an email management system deliverability is of utmost importance. Did you look into this with OAP?

    • Yeah, I did look into it and they are well regarded. Since some people I really admire, like Eben Pagan and Marie Forleo both use it that makes me even more assured.

  • Hi Yaro

    Sounds like you’ve quite a bit on your hands, but things are looking pretty positive and cheery, despite the heavy load. Thank you so much for sharing on the tech you use to sell info products, and it seems like you’ve simplified it by so much (from requiring 5 tech to 2 only).

    Is it very challenging to integrate everything onto the new OAP platform?

    • Yes it is funny that it looks like I made my very simple previous system even simpler, however that’s not entirely true. The complexity comes in a bit when it comes to controlling all the things that OAP can manage, which does a whole lot more than Clickbank+WordPress+Aweber, so even if I am combining fewer systems, I am using a more complex main system.

      OAP is challenging, but not beyond someone who got comfortable with AWeber. It took me about three days to learn the email functionality, the areas I got more stuck where the membership site management.

      You get a welcome coaching call on how to use OAP, so I just used that time to ask questions about the membership management functionality.

      Yaro

  • Yaro! Thanks for the update on the technology you’re currently using for your information business. Your insight is helpful as I begin to build out my information business. I especially enjoyed reading about you leaving Aweber and how much of a hard time you had due to the good service you received. For so long I have battled over which autoresponder to use. Aweber comes with affordable quality for someone starting out.

    I also wanted to thank you for your interviews, they are very informative and educating as well!

    Thanks Yaro!

    • You are welcome Steven!

      Aweber is great and they meet a need well so I don’t think they have to change to compete against OAP etc, it’s a different market.

  • Sounds like a simple and effective system, thanks for the info!

  • I just registered with GetResponse for my auto responder, but I am wondering if I did the right thing and should have gone with AWeber instead, as you suggest. For a start I am having lots of issues using the GetResponse webform interface in Safari and Firefox, and some of my scheduled mails magically got deleted from the system without me touching them !

    Thanks,

    Simon.

    • Hi Simon,

      I’ve not used GetResponse before, but they have been around for a very long time so I suspect they have a service lots of people use. They were around back when I first went with AWeber.

      Yaro

  • [...] recent comment on¬†entrepreneurs journey. ¬†I am comment no. [...]

  • Another good alternative if you are willing to include your infoproduct as an affiliate product is JVZoo (www.jvzoo.com).

  • What about the hardware you use?

  • I have been using 1SC for several years and it does a good job for me. However, to my way of looking at things it still has some bugs and can be slow at times, perhaps due to the amount of traffic it has.

    I lived in Melbourne for 2 years, a lifetime ago, and loved it.

    • I suspect 1SC has a lot of customers. They have been in business for years, even back when I went with AWeber they were around. Good to hear you have been happy with them for a couple of years Gary. Every system has bugs, but if you stick with it for that long you must be getting results.

  • Hey Yaro,

    Awesome timing on this post. I literally just signed up to Office AutoPilot yesterday as outgrowing what Aweber can do for me.

    I needed a system that could move people off a list and onto another one if they purchased a product.

    The problem I was having was I had an initial followup sequence promoting one of my courses, and if someone purchased it at the beginning/middle of the sequence, they would still receive the remaining sequence offering a free trial and scarcity etc…

    At least with OAP I can take them off the initial followup list when they buy and move them into the next part of the sequence.

    Still setting it up but will hopefully have it live this weekend.

    • Hi Paul,

      I do believe AWeber could still have handled your need to move someone from a prospect list to a buyers list. You would just make a rule that says when they join the buyers list they are unsubscribed from the prospects list.

      However OAP does have a huge amount of features beyond just the ability to do what you said, so I’m sure you will not regret the swap.

      Good luck learning the ropes and enjoy the ninja training videos :-)

      Yaro

      • The Ninja Training was a good laugh.

        In addition to the if-then rules, I also wanted tagging as well. In my autorepsonder I run dripped, evergreen sales. With the tagging I can get it to check if they’re already a customer of that course, and if so, then bypass that sequence and add them into the next one.

        I want to have a number of sequences (mini campaigns) which have x amount of emails with a single goal of promoting a specific product. If they already have that product, there is no point in my opinion of them going through that campaign.

  • Ty

    Hi Yaro,

    So far I am really impressed with how you leverage your content and detail! Your membership guide in which i have just read is fantasic and I’m on the early bird list.

    Cant wait to get started :)

    Ty

    • Glad you liked it Ty – I’ll be updating it later in the year before I reopen the membership site mastermind training program. It should be even better then :)

      Yaro

  • WOW , interesting post , thanks ..
    I’m thinking about using AWeber for my Email marketing .

  • Peter Gjersoe

    Hi Yaro,
    Thank you for all your great content.
    Quick question re Domain Registrar; I recall you mentioning you, for good reasons have moved away from GoDaddy. Who are you recommending?
    Thank you, Peter

    • Hi Peter,

      I’m pretty much using namecheap for domain rego at the moment, however most of my domains are with dotster, but that is because I started using them 10 years ago and haven’t bothered moving my old domains away.

      Hope that helps!

      Yaro

      • Peter Gjersoe

        Thank you,
        I have switched to http://www.namecheap.com for domain name registration. Just for the record; my experience with GoDaddy is identical to the comments you make.
        Regards, Peter

  • Teej

    Yaro I’ve been waiting a few weeks for this post! Thank you.

    I want to move from eJunkie to 1shopping cart as I’ve multiple products and eJunkie doesn’t serve an Add To Cart button that is easily used by my customers.

    I chose eJunkie because they can stamp digital products, whereas Clickbank does NOT help protect your digital products from theft.

    I also love Clickbank because they PAY your affiliates! I assume with 1SC you have to pay your affiliates w/o assistance. How hard is it to manually pay out affiliates with mass pay?

    I need something like eJunkie that stamps digital products, but makes shopping for multiple products easier for customers and am wondering if 1SC or OAP will do it.

    Another thing, its noted that aWeber is only $19 per month, but that’s for if you have a teeny little subscriber base. I have amassed over 40,000 to my email list and have done NOTHING with it because I can’t segment with the current email/newsletter program I’m using. Moving that list to aWeber may cost MORE than just going ahead with OAP. ??

    Hope this rambling made sense.
    I’ve been with you since 2004, so maybe it will make some sense to you. :-)

    Thank you again!

    • Hi Teej,

      2004 – whoa! that is literally right at the start of this blog, that’s a long journey.

      Mass pay, assuming the mass pay file that the system generates is accurate, is quite easy to use. You just upload it to Paypal and click pay and the money goes to everyone on the list paid out form your Paypal balance.

      That’s how I did it with 1SC when I used them, and how I will be doing it with OAP as well now.

      As for the digital stamp, that’s not something I have sought out to be honest because I figure if someone is going to steal your product they will find a way. I try to focus on the people who want to pay for my teaching because they deserve my support, rather than hunting down those who would probably never pay anyway. I kind of think of it as like a form of marketing – at least I am reaching new people.

      And yes you are quite right with AWeber and large lists. I had 80K subscribers at one point in there and it I was paying more then what I pay for OAP, so it can certainly add up, especially if you don’t have a way to make money from your list.

      Keep up the good work!

      Yaro

  • Robin Williams

    Hi Yaro,

    Thanks alot for updating the technology you are using for your business. I got some great information about the latest technology from your blog.

  • Hannah Rose

    Thanks for all this information. It’s a very useful analysis when one is confused by all the opinions going around. Great topic!

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