OptimizePress 2019 Year In Review

Like a whirlwind, last year came and went so quickly.

Just like any year in business, there is always lots to learn from and strategies to test and implement. Not everything you try is a success, and often it's the things that don't work you learn from the most.

At the start of every new year, we like to review the key takeaways we learnt so that we can continue to move forward.

It's commonplace for businesses to round up the past year reminding their customers of the top features added to their products. 

We thought that rather than share with you a list of features that we added to OptimizePress, it would be more useful for you if we openly shared the business changes we made, the challenges we faced and what we learned. 

Regardless of the type or size of your business, everything we share here will provide you with some key takeaways.  Takeaways that will save you from stress and also help you progress in the year ahead.

Migrating from ThriveCart to our own custom checkout & billing platform

Over the last 10 years we’ve tested and used a wide range of checkout and shopping cart solutions here at OptimizePress including Nanacast, WooCommerce, Infusionsoft and ThriveCart.  

All of these solutions have served us well and met the needs of our business at the time of their use.  As with most businesses, as our company has grown, our needs and requirements have evolved too. 

This has led us to seek out new solutions which help solve the challenges we have as a business and make the running of the business easier on a day to day basis.

ThriveCart has served us very well for the past 18 months and we still think very highly of the software and the team behind it - Josh is a personal friend of OptimizePress and we still highly recommend their solution.  

It’s important to note that our reason for migrating away from ThriveCart was not due to any issue with their platform, it was simply that we have very specific requirements as a business and our needs were not directly aligned with the core focus of the functionality of ThriveCart.

Let me explain…

ThriveCart is an excellent ‘out of the box’ solution for creating a checkout process to easily accept any kind of payment on your website for information products, physical products and even software.    

Their focus as a business is on providing a solution which is simple and easy to use, and will fit the majority of the use cases for their core audience.  It accomplishes this very well. 

Where we had challenges with using ThriveCart was in implementing a few key features as part of the development of our new members hub/account management platform which included:


We wanted to implement these features in order to make it easier and simpler for you, our customers, to manage your accounts, billing and maintain better control of your own OptimizePress accounts.  

We’re obviously also aware that if we can make it easier for you to see the products and services we have available to you, and provide easy ways to upgrade, then this will benefit us too in terms of greater numbers of account upgrades.

After some detailed investigation with our team (and with the help of the ThriveCart team) we determined that developing this functionality on top of ThriveCart was really pushing their platform outside of what it was designed to.  

This is completely understandable and we respect ThriveCart for this. With our focus being on simplicity, trying to stitch together various API functions together to make ThriveCart work for us was not the best solution.

Although it would take more investment (in terms of development time and expertise), we took the decision to build our own custom solution.  This solution now incorporates Stripe, Paypal, and our own customer management system for handling licensing of our products and services, delivery of product software updates and personal account management (you can manage all your accounts and billing inside one place).

The platform we developed, we internally call “the Hub” but you’ll know it as the members hub and it now forms the central platform within our business.  If you’ve purchased or migrated to our new OptimizePress, you’ll likely have logged into the customer facing side at 

If you’ve purchased from us you’ll also have seen our new checkout process.  Whilst this is a custom process which is specific to our internal use, we are also creating a brand new plugin called OptimizeCheckouts.  

This is designed with simplicity in mind - and to provide you with a simple way to accept payments on your own websites and funnels.

We’ll be sharing more about this new plugin very soon - so stay tuned to our blog and emails about this.

Key takeaway when developing your own products

Whether it be an information product, software solution or even consulting offer, always remember to define and market to your key audience (or avatar) and build your product for this audience.  

You should never try and make your solution “all things to all people” as this will lead you to have a weak marketing angle and your solution will likely not do one thing well (you'll have no unique selling point).  

In the example above, if ThriveCart had tried to include all the features we needed, this would probably have made their platform more complex to use for the majority of their users.

If we consider our own business, we regularly decide against features to add to OptimizePress if they do not fit with our core mission - to create tools for digital marketers and creators that help them create optimized marketing for their business.

Considerations when you switch tools

Whether your business focus changes, or your business evolves over time, you will likely find you need to switch solutions (whether it be checkout, support helpdesk, CRM) during the lifespan of your business.

With over 7,000 startups in the marketing technology industry alone, there's more choice than ever when it comes to selecting the right tools for your business.

Chiefmartec track the marketing technology landscape every year with this impressive infographic

Switching any of the core tools within your business can be a costly and time consuming process.  We’ve prepared this list of questions to think about when considering any platform migration in your business:

Feature Set
Ease of migration
Future Growth Capacity
Impact on connected services/existing services
Compliance Requirements
Pricing

Hopefully this list gives you an initial idea of some factors to consider when making any switch.  We would highly recommend considering putting together a full list of questions to evaluate your potential solutions against, to ensure that you do not have to switch again in the near-term.

New Members Hub & Site Licensing System

Hopefully this list gives you an initial idea of some factors to consider when making any switch.  We would highly recommend considering putting together a full list of questions to evaluate your potential solutions against, to ensure that you do not have to switch again in the near-term.

While this worked for many years, this technical debt meant we exchanged a lot of data between a wide range of different services.

It's common for a business that has been running as long as we have to get to a stage where you have added more and more tools to help manage your growing needs. 

And while there are some fantastic business tools on the market, there are a few downsides to consider:

What we did

We invested in developing a custom data system, centred around our new members' hub. This new hub serves as one central location for customer services and management of our business data.  

Customers now don't need to copy and paste site license keys or download plugins and templates. Product access is authenticated seamlessly through our licensing system. 

As a business, we now have fewer tools to manage, and there is much less chance of data inconsistency as all of our data is processed from one location.

Key Takeaway - Establish one true source for your business data

The real value in your business is in the data. While your product, brand and reputation all make up your business it's beating heart is the information you process on website visitors, subscribers and customers. 

Information on what adverts prospects click, your traffic sources, what emails subscribers read, what products customers buy.  

From the smallest to the largest businesses online, this information is spread across Google analytics, email autoresponders like Aweber, affiliate programs like Clickbank, shopping carts like ThriveCart.

No matter the size of your business, if you want to future proof and be in the best position to alleviate headaches, you need to identify which systems hold the true source of your data. Is that your CRM, such as Infusionsoft or Active Campaign, or is it your shopping cart provider such as WooCommerce?

The transition from Infusionsoft to Drip

Email marketing remains a core method for maintaining a relationship with your subscribers and customers.

We were using Infusionsoft for our email sending and also to control other aspects of our business, such as affiliates and customer management. 

We had thousands of Infusionsoft tags segmenting customers and action sets firing automation. It was all very clever stuff, but it was complex to oversee, and while it was impressive, did it make a difference to the customer experience?

Some of the services we used with Infusionsoft did not integrate directly together, so this meant using third-party services to make the connection and introducing a potential point of failure and also increased management time.

What we did

As we had invested in simplifying the services we used and moved the bulk of our business actions into our new simple server hub, we decided to start with a new platform for sending our email. 

A clean, fresh start, it was like unboxing a new pair of training shoes...

Moving to a new platform is a serious consideration, here are a few factors you need to take into action:

After testing a range of various autoresponders, we decided to switch to Drip. Drip is simple to use and means we can communicate with our customers easily without overcomplication.

Key Takeaway

Use the tools and services that allow you to achieve the actions you need most easily. 

It can be tempting to use all the features a service offers but be careful not to build a complex web of tools that is time-consuming to manage. While it can be helpful to know every action your subscriber has taken, it's useless information and clutter if you do not intend to use any of the data. 

A minefield of data can stop you from focussing on the key metrics of your business that make you money. 

If the complexity is more than the result is worth, focus on something else.

TOP TIP: Where possible limit third party services that act between you and the primary services you use, as this just introduces further services to manage.

New affiliate platform

As part of our migration to our own custom checkout and customer management solution, we needed a new solution for managing our affiliate referral program.  We could no longer use ThriveCart of this as the affiliate platform relies on the use of their checkout process. So a dedicated affiliate platform was required.

Our key factors influencing our choice of new affiliate platform included:

We considered a range of solutions including:

After evaluating the leading solutions on the market, we settled on using FirstPromoter.  The team from FirstPromoter offered excellent support in answering our early questions, a great looking and simple to use interface, and the connectivity we needed to create existing users in the new platform.  The developer API also allowed our team to build the tracking we needed to track all referred sales via Stripe and Paypal accounts. 

Important Note: if you are an existing affiliate without a link in our new FirstPromoter system, please reach out to our team so we can provide your new affiliate account information

Our migration to FirstPromoter completed our transition to our own custom managed solutions for checkout, customer management and affiliate referral program.  We have removed a significant amount of unnecessary tools which were previously used to duct-tape many solutions we were using together, and we now have 3 core platforms for managing our business:

Key Takeaway

Using an affiliate program can be a great way to create a new traffic source for your business.  When considering a platform for your affiliate program - you should choose something which gives you a simple way to manage your affiliates, affiliate payouts and can easily integrate with the solutions you use for your checkout and payments

Our affiliate platform recommendations are:

ThriveCart  - if you need an all in one solution for your checkout, upsells and affiliate program.  The only downside of the ThriveCart system is that the signup process can be slightly confusing if an affiliate is already part of another thrivecart program as they must use the same affiliate information

AffiliateWP - if you are managing your own program and using WordPress, AffiliateWP gives you full control and integrates well with many solutions on the market. 

FirstPromoter - if you need a more custom, enterprise level solution for handling Stripe checkout processes, and have some technical skills for implementation, FirstPromoter provides an excellent solution

Key Product Updates You May Have Missed

Our biggest update of 2019 was the launch of our brand new OptimizePress 3.0 builder, also known as the Lightning Page Builder.  This release was the first in our range of new tools that form the new OptimizePress Suite, our marketing tools suite for digital marketers, entrepreneurs and creators.

The Lightning Builder was the result of over 2 years of research and development by our team.  We were focused on building a unique page builder that was fast and easy to use, and also incorporated powerful marketing features to give novice as well as advanced users the power they needed.

The feedback on our new builder has been incredible, and we're now regularly releasing new features and elements to the platform to further enhance the power of this amazing tool.

Here are just some of the awesome features we’ve rolled out in 2019.

Lightning Page Builder

When developing the page builder, our focus was on page speed and easy editing. That’s both the speed of the final page when it loads but also the speed in which the user can make edits.

We've made this super easy with our 100% visual editor.  Drag to adjust column widths, drag to adjust top and bottom padding, and margin options are in easy reach too. 

You can of course point and click anything on the page to edit it live with zero popup options.

Dashboard Plugin

As part of our new OptimizePress Suite, we wanted to make an easy way for you to access all of the OptimizePress products you have access to.  

We created the Dashboard plugin to form a central hub on your WordPress site where you can check your license status and install, activate and update your plugins from our tools suite.

Once installed, you do not need to visit the members hub looking for downloads. The dashboard also forms a hub for accessing primary settings which take effect across the tools you have active from OptimizePress.

Templates & Sections Cloud

The new editor makes building templates a breeze. We rebuilt many of the old legacy templates and also created hundreds of new styles.


With advanced layout capabilities we can push our designs ideas much further making modern layouts that look complex and advance but easy to create. 



We also have saved sections to speed up the building process. New a hero section or CTA? Just use a pre-built section and in two clicks it’s done.

OptimizeFunnels

Knowing our customers want to make marketing funnels we had to make this even easier to do.

There’s no other WordPress funnel builder on the marketing that works like this. You can choose a funnel and design and all the pages are linked together in a few clicks. Landing page, thank you page, upsell page, sales page all built ready to and linked together.

Add and remove any pages in a funnel. Add you own pages or edit any of the existing pages inside a funnel.

Template Collections

As well as our funnel builder we have made some collections of pages. These are a set of pre-built pages that maintain the same design throughout. They could be used for any type of marketing sequence or funnel if you used a third party to run a campaign.

These collections could also be used to build a mini website if you weren't using OptimizePress just for marketing pages.

WP Menu Element

Use your existing WordPress menus on any marketing page you build. Even have different menu for different pages and locations of the page. This feature brings the ability to create beautiful custom designs and mini website with easy navigation.

This menu element is also mobile responsive so your design with look great on any device.

Use your existing WordPress menus on any marketing page you build. Even have different menu for different pages and locations of the page. This feature brings the ability to create beautiful custom designs and mini website with easy navigation.

This menu element is also mobile responsive so your design with look great on any device.

Global Elements

This feature is an absolute dream for those building multiple pages and making regular updates. Any element on the page can be locked to become a global element. Once a global element it can be stored and used on any other page. If you make any changes to a global element those changes are reflected globally on your site wherever that element has been added.

Personal Cloud Library

We’ve built new editor to make sharing templates and sections easier than ever before. We wanted customers to be able to store templates and sections that they can use later. Rather than storing them on the local site the templates get pushed to the users cloud account that they can view and manage inside the hub. Once a template is in the cloud the user can share it with other customers or download it to any other site they have licensed.

Simplify Your Business

Our overall takeaway from the year was, simplify!

Simplify the systems in your business, the way you operate, the tools you use and also simplify your products.
 
Albert Einstein said:

"Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler."

We've made this our business mantra and it's reflected not only in the internal business systems we now use to operate much more efficiently on a day to day basis but also in our core product - OptimizePress. From the way you manage your sites to the way you build pages, we have simplified the entire process.

Using our simplify methodology, we focussed on building additional tools into OptimizePress so that you can reduce the tools you use in your business. The fewer tools you have to use to run and operate your business, the more clarity you have. You also reduce your operating costs, and you save time having to manage multiple tools. 

There are also fewer headaches as we have designed everything to work seamlessly together, so you are not stuck trying to get one system to work with another. With the recent release of OptimizeFunnels and OptimizeCheckouts and OptimizeCourses coming soon, you can create landing pages, build marketing funnels, sell digital products and deliver protected content all within our one solution. 

To help you get an understanding of how you can apply the "simple" methodology to your business, let's look at a standard tool you use in your online business your autoresponder.

Your Autoresponder For Your Business:

Your Autoresponder - Customer Experience

The key takeaway here is to get the fundamentals in your business and your products right, keep them simple to manage and collect only the data that you intend to use. 

Remember simple does not mean basic. The simpler your business systems are to run the less time you spend managing them and then more time you spend on marketing and growing your business.

Here's to a simplified, profitable year ahead!

We'd love to hear from you!  Let us know what you found most useful and how you plan to simplify your business in 2020

    10 replies to "OptimizePress 2019 Year In Review"

    • Joan Orr

      I’ve been a customer for a long time as well. I’ve appreciated your top notch support and I really love the new OP3 page builder! It’s just incredible!

      • Ian Bass

        Thank you for your continued support of OptimizePress it means so much to us. Please do share with us any ideas you have for new features you would like to see. 🤓

    • Ben

      Fantastic post, thanks so much for sharing this guys.

      I’ve been with you a long time now, and seen you grow and transition, and noted the changes in systems, tools used etc.
      The big hole missing in my business (subcription and info product based) is this ‘hub’, front facing for customers to view and manage their accounts and billing. Currently using infusionsoft for CRM, emails and most billing, but don’t like not being in 100% control of all this data ourselves. Because it’s the most important of all.

      If you could create this ‘hub’ aspect as your next development after the checkouts, this would be of great interest.
      Then also the managing of the data, CRM of sorts, would come next.

      I think your biggest point of difference with all your products is you give the customer the ability to control their own data on their own platform. This hub and billing/CRM would be the holy grail. 🙂 :).

      Just some feedback and ideas from a happy customer.
      Interested to hear your thoughts.

      • James Dyson

        Ben thanks for your comment – great to hear you found the post useful. I completely agree that being in control of your own data is very important in business, especially as we all operate in a more competitive environment now.

        Regarding the hub development – we have considered building something like this in the future – right now this would require a lot of work as building something for our specific requirements it’s significantly different to building a production software tool for mass users – but we’ll certainly take all feedback on board and even if we can add some management features to the checkouts solution in future, this will be something we’ll consider.

        We have lots more exciting developments and features in the meantime which should hopefully make running your business and integrating with the tools you use even easier.

        Appreciate your feedback and great to hear you’re enjoying OP!

    • Rene Remington

      I really liked that you did not push your own system onto him and rather invited him to explore. That is impressive to me as novice.

    • Kleber Ferreira

      Hello, I am a client of yours recently and I am really enjoying this top tools.

      I just have to thank you for the great work and I believe my project growing more and more, I will improve my license with you.

      SUCCESS!

    • Dr. Bette Daoust

      I have been with Optimize Press for a number of years and am so impressed by the progression of features in these past years. Each year there is more than I ever could have imagined! This platform has certainly made my life easier when it comes to making a new website, adding membership options, and now the global features. Thank you for all your hard work – to me it is the best software platform available.

      • James Dyson

        Thanks Dr. Bette. We have lots more exciting developments coming soon – we appreciate you being part of the community

    • Oli

      Interesting you moved to Drip,
      while Andre Chaperon moved away from Drip to the improved convertkit.
      Although i understand both of you have very different needs.

      • James Dyson

        Hi Oli. It was a close call between Drip, ConvertKit and ActiveCampaign. All those solutions have very similar feature sets (ActiveCampaign has a few more advanced features).

        For an information product business like Andre’s – I completely see a benefit to a solution like ConvertKit. They didn’t quite have everything we needed at the time of switch, and their API was less developed or documented than Drip’s – which was something we needed for some of the tracking and backend functionality we’ve developed around our billing system.

        I would definitely say ConvertKit is worth a look though – I think Nathan is an excellent founder and is guiding the company in the right direction for creators, info marketers and those people looking for a more intuitive system that focuses on simplicity

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