The Only Online Tools You'll Ever Need To Generate More Leads, Attract More Sales, Or Make More Money...
From The Desk of Richard Matthews
You know how daunting it can be when you look online at all of the tools that are out there for you to use in your business?
I’m gonna solve that problem for you today. These 6 tools are the only tools you need to grow your business and turn clicks into profits. I don’t care what type of business you are in either.
I have successfully used this simple set of tools to build and grow a couple physical product e-commerce businesses with an Amazon components, a subscription box business, several information based and e-course businesses, and even local professional services business.
This is it. This is all you need.
Don’t try to over complicate your life by trying and using every tool on the market. I’ve already spent years and thousands upon thousands of dollars doing that and these are the tools I’ve come to rely on for every business I have personally and every one of my coaching clients businesses.
1 - WordPress (Free)
You must have a website. Everyone knows that. I’m not trying to insult your intelligence or anything, I just want to make sure you pick the right tools when you go to put your website together.
There are lots of options in this space, Joomla, Drupal, Rainmaker, ClickFunnels, Squarespace, Shopify (for ecommerce only), TheGrid.io, and so many more. I’ve used them all and always come back to the powerhouse that is self-hosted WordPress.
As a content management platform this system has evolved into a behemoth of power and customizability and is soon to be releasing a powerful standards based REST API that will really rocket this system into the next decade online web apps, website and mobile usage.
You can build anything you want and the available developer and premium community around this system means that you can get any help you might ever need and the functionality you need has probably already been built by someone else and can be had for just a few bucks.
Not only that, but when setup properly WordPress can be wicked fast and mobile responsive (even for complex ecommerce setups) both of which Google now counts extremely highly for search engine relevance.
So, build your website with WordPress. You won’t regret it. Next I’m gonna show you the tools you need to make WordPress nearly invincible, super fast, mobile responsive, and incredibly beautiful with just a few clicks.
2- WPEngine ($29/mth)
WordPress may be a great piece of software for building websites or mobile apps or web apps or ecommerce stores or anything else you may want to do with it... but all by itself the software is useless. To bring WordPress to life you need to have a place for it to live and breathe and thrive.
Finding a place for your WordPress install to live is quite simple since nearly 25% of the internet is powered by WordPress. There are literally thousands and thousands of web hosts that will let you host your WordPress website. The problem is that most of them just provide a place for it to live... they don’t provide a place where it can breathe and thrive. A place for the software to really flex it’s muscle as the powerful web platform that it is. Most places are simple shared servers with limited resources, poor security, and general server setting designed to host any type of software.
What you want... what you need for your WordPress install is a hosting environment that’s designed specifically for the platform. A place where every setting is specifically honed to make WordPress scream like a Formula 1 Dragster. A place where every security measure feasible is in place to keep your install as solid and secure as a grizzly cub being protected by its mother.
If you are going to use WordPress as a platform to run and grow your business online, then finding a place like this for your install to live is imperative. It also takes your options for where to install from thousands down to maybe two or three places.
Of those places, WPEngine.com is easily the best.
Their support staff is phenomenal. Their interface is simple and intuitive (they even install and configure WordPress for you - super nice). Their servers are wicked fast. Their SLL certificates are fairly priced and they install and configure them for you - which is great if you need to take payments on your site.
All in all, WPEngine is a great place for you to host your business site.
At this point, you have decided to use WordPress to build your online presence (or perhaps you decided that a while ago and your site is already built on WordPress). You have decided to host your site on WPEngine so you have all the power, speed, flexibility, and support you need to have peace of mind with the site that powers your business. Your next step is the actual look and feel of your site and it’s content.
On WordPress the look and feel of your content is controlled by what is known as a Theme. A theme is nothing more than a set of templates that tell WordPress how it should show your content to your viewers. What colors the text and headings should be. What size the fonts should be. How the images should be laid out. How the content should change on devices with different screen sizes.
Just like the hosting, the market for themes on WordPress is gigantic. There are again thousands upon thousands of options. Everything ranging from free themes to paid stand alone themes to powerful theme frameworks that will let you build anything you can imagine.
Some of these options are really great. Some are really terrible. Some are really coded well. Some not so much. Some are super easy to use. Some are really tough to figure out.
Over the last 6 years, I’ve spend many thousands of dollars testing and building websites with WordPress for clients all over the world as well as many of my own businesses. Along the way, I’ve tested every powerful theme framework available for wordpress looking for the perfect combination of simplicity, power, and flexibility.
I’m happy to tell you that I’ve found that perfect combination in the form of a simple Plugin and Theme combination from the team over at WPBeaverBuilder. After building my first site with their plugin and enhancing my page layouts with their plugin... I was hooked. I have since converted every site I personally own and many of my clients sites over to their framework.
It’s extremely well coded. It’s light weight so it loads really fast (many sites I switched to their theme saw 50%+ improvements in site loading time). It’s built with WordPress best-practices in mind which means that all of the customizations you could want to make to your content are very easy to make using WordPress’s built in tools. I could go on, but instead, I’ll just give you some links to some personal sites of mine or my clients that are built using this theme that don’t have any custom code written for them (other than some css styling) just so you can see the flexibility that you’ll have with this powerful tool.
Okay, now that you have a beautiful well-coded website with awesome page layout flexibility thanks to Beaver Builder and a wicked fast place for your site to live thanks to WPEngine, your next step is to start actually collecting leads from your website, content building, and marketing efforts.
In the case of most web marketing, the leads you are looking for are email addresses so you can follow up with powerful behaviorally dynamic automated marketing messages that are strategically designed to make you more sales or close more appointments. We will talk about the tool you will use to build those types of follow up messages in a minute, but in order to send someone through a follow up system, you need to collect their email information in the form of an opt-in (meaning that someone willingly give your their email address in exchange for some form of value from you).
Just like every piece we have talked about so far, the number of options you have in this arena are vast. There are so many options for collecting email address on your site that it would make your head spin. Some of great. Some aren’t (some aren’t even legal). Any system you choose should be fast, legal, mobile ready, and offer you powerful technologies like dynamic split testing, exit intent, 2-step popovers, and analytics to track the effectiveness of the offers on your site. Oh, and the system should easily integrate with the follow-up system you plan to use (that’s kinda a duh, though - sorry for stating more obvious stuff).
When you take these requirements into account, you have slim pickings for your options of how to collect leads on your site. The best system I have found that offers me all of the above (and is easy to use and well coded so it doesn’t slow down my sites) is Gravity Forms. The platform is extremely flexible. It’s easy to use. The price is great for someone running a business and making money. What more could you ask for? Well, I'll tell you...
Gravity Forms is more than an optin system. It's a full-fledged form builder for WordPress. You can use it to build simple contact forms for your website or you can use it to build powerful order forms that use their API to tie into multiple systems that automatically place people on your auto responders and into your online courses and co-registers people onto your partner's lists. Then you can do just about anything in between. Polls, Surveys, Quizzes, User registration, Content submission. You name it, you can build it with Gravity forms. Almost any form of front end user interaction you might need on your site is possible. Very cool system. I actually have it auto-installed on every site I build (whether I plan to use it at the start or not).
Let’s talk followup. According to marketing legend Dan Kennedy, “We Don’t Have A Bad Economy, What We Have Is Really Bad Follow Up”. He’s referring of course to how terribly most business are at actually following up with customers and leads. The more you learn about business, the more you learn that nearly all of the money a business is capable of making is tied directly to the way in which that business follows up with leads and customers.
I mentioned in the last section that you want to follow up with powerful behaviorally dynamic automated marketing messages that are strategically designed to make you more sales or close more appointments.
Now, a lot of what will make your follow up successful is the structure and content of said follow up. Unfortunately, that’s much too deep a subject for this short article, but before you can even build the structure and content of this type of follow up system, you need a system that’s capable of building these types of behaviorally dynamic automated campaigns (that’s just a fancy way of saying that the system and the marketing experience changes based on the actions your leads or customers do or don’t take when presented with marketing messages).
Luckily for you and me there are very few options in this arena. You may have hear of InfusionSoft - it is kinda the king in this space. I’ve used them for years, but they are clunky, old, and expensive. The other option you may have heard of is Office Auto Pilot. They have a great reputation too, but again, they are clunky and expensive - though they are newer).
The best option though, is neither of those. It’s a new player on the block called Active Campaign. Their system is beautiful. It’s simple. It’s powerful. I have successfully built every type of behaviourally dynamic campaign I had previously built with InfusionSoft with Active Campaign. I was able to do it faster and with less headache (and with more options too). Pretty sweet.
Oh, and to top it off, their system is super cheap by comparison with either of the other systems (we’re talking $9/mth to start - amazing). If that wasn’t enough, their api works beautifully with a system called Zapier that lets you connect it to 300+ other web apps so you can make your automations extremely powerful if need be.
I hope you are excited by this point. You now have almost all of the tools you need to build or grow almost any type of business you want. Online or offline. I have used the tools we have talked about so far to build or grow subscription boxes, ecommerce, information marketing, brick & mortar, authors, professional services, and more. It’s a powerful set of tools.
This last tool is fantastic, but it’s only going to be useful if your business takes payment online for goods or services. If that’s not your business, then you can safely skip this tool. It’s also why I’ve included it last, but that doesn’t mean I don’t love this tool. It’s one of my favorite tools in my tool box.
Stripe is a payment processor that was born on the internet. It gets the internet. It is simple, powerful, and super fast to setup. It also integrates with nearly every other system on the internet. But for our use case here, what it’s going to let you do is take payments via web forms or shopping carts on your website and take nearly every credit card imaginable from nearly any country.
All you need is a simple SSL certificate (which WPEngine will gladly install and configure on your site) so you can take payments data securely. Stripe handles the rest. One time payments, subscriptions, refunds, bank disputes, chargebacks, automatic fund depositing, remembering customer card details, PCI Federal compliance, and more. They handle it all. Plus, they do it cheaply. 2.7% + 30¢ per transaction. Doesn’t get much better than that with the type of ease that Stripe offers. So go set up your account now. It’ll take you less than a minute. I promise.
You now have the 6 tools you need to go out and build or grow nearly any type of business you want using the immense power of the internet. You don’t need to spend years and thousands of dollars testing everything to try and find the right combination of tools that will work for your business. You don’t need to get bogged down with “Tool Overwhelm” when looking at the thousands and thousands of options that are out there who promise to help you with your business. Many of them are great, but chances are you don’t need them. I have used these tools with small information publishers and helped grow their business to hundreds of thousands of dollars of revenue per year and I’ve used this same set of tools with huge multi-million dollar corporations to dramatically improve their lead flow and customer acquisition costs. So I know these tools will work for you.
In Your Service,
Founder of Richard Matthews Coaching
Ohpana Naturals, Resourceful Entrepreneur Academy
I know what you're probably thinking...
“6 tools? Yeah Right! - You’ve got to use more than just 6 tools to do everything you do.”
You’d be right. I do use more than these six tools. But if I only got to have 6, the ones above would be it. I can do 95% of everything I need to do with those tools. However, in certain situations, some more specialized tools may be in order. So, I’ll include some of the other tools I use here. I hope they help you if you are looking to for something specific.
When it comes to building an ecommerce store with a tradition cart and selling multiple products (whether they are all from one brand or shopping destination site with multiple brands and sku’s) there are only two options I would even consider today. The first is WooCommerce, which is a plugin for WordPress. The second is Shopify, which is a stand alone platform designed specifically for building ecommerce stores. They are both fantastic systems. They both have fantastic support. You can build the store you need with either one.
I personally choose WooCommerce for all of my ecommerce needs. Here’s why: First, it’s built on WordPress and ties in easily with every other tool I’ve talked about here. Not to mention that I’m extremely familiar with WordPress, so I know how to modify it and make it do exactly what I want. I’d have to learn these skills on Shopify. Also, WooCommerce was just acquired by the parent company who develops WordPress, so the features and support are sure to continue getting better. Oh... and nearly 25% of all ecommerce stores on the planet run WooCommerce, so you’re in good company.
Lob actually has nothing to do with WordPress. It’s just a simple service that sends Postcards or Letters. You might be thinking that this systems sounds pretty boring or vanilla, but that’s where you’d be wrong... because LOB is the first mailing service to be build with the web and programing interfaces in mind from the beginning.
I know that might not make a lot of sense, so let me tell you how you might choose to use a system like LOB in your marketing follow up system.
Let’s say that you go to networking events or meeting with some regularity. You always meet new prospects at these events. It would be a boon to your business if you could easily follow up with all of them individually in a personal way, but that just isn’t feasible with your current workload.
That’s where LOB and some of the other tools we’ve talked about already come into play.
Here’s what you do, before you even leave for the event, go into your ActiveCampaign account and setup a simple automation with an email that says something like “Hey it was nice to meet you at such-and-such event today. Here’s my contact information in case you want to follow up. Oh and here’s a cool piece of content I know you will find valuable”. Then after that email is set to send out, set up the next step in the automation to send the contact details over to LOB so they can send a postcard out to the people you meet on your behalf. Setup the same message as in your email to be put on the back of the postcard. You’ll setup the picture on the front later.
Then, when you arrive at the event, take a picture of yourself standing in front of the event building with your phone. Then just go about your networking as usual, meeting, mingling, collecting business cards.
When you get home later that day, upload your picture to LOB for the front of the postcard. Turn your ActiveCampaign automation to live.
Now, just pull out your phone and install an app called Full Contact. It’ll let you take pictures of your business cards and will optically recognize all of the data and then human verify it. Then you can set it up to send all of the cards you snap to Active Campaign into that automation you setup.
Now all you have to do is take pictures of every card you collected and every person you met will get followed up automatically with a personal touch from you via email. The people who have their address on their card will also get a second follow up in another modality via the Postcard. This is super powerful.
That’s just one simple example of how you could use LOB and physical postcard or letters in your dynamic automated follow up campaign. The possibilities are endless. Here’s another quick one... if you run an ecommerce store with WooCommerce, you could send every order over to ActiveCampaign and set LOB to send only new customers a Thank You Postcard signed by you, the CEO, with a discount code they can use when they return to purchase again. Take a wild guess how many of your competitors are doing these kind of things with their automations (if they even have automation built into their business)... I’ll give you a hint... it’s 0.
Zapier is a tool that you actually already have in your arsenal. When you signed up for Active Campaign to build powerful automations and follow up for your business, you got a complementary Zapier account. This is a sweet system that does nothing but connect one online service to another so you can send data from one system into another system (those systems don’t have to build their own integrations). Very cool. You might use this if you want to send orders from WooCommerce over to Active Campaign. Or if you want to send contact details over to LOB for physical mail follow up. Or you might just want to create a spreadsheet of customer data that you can share with office staff. Or maybe you’re totally nuts and you want the Philips Hue connected light bulbs in your office to flash green every time you make a sale on your site... you could accomplish that with Zapier.
At this point you have a myriad of online systems that you are driving traffic and visitors to. You are collecting leads and making sales and following up like a pro. Now all you need to do is track everything so you can see what’s working and what isn’t. That’s where Google analytics comes in. It’ll tell you where visitors are coming from, what devices they use, how long they spend on your pages, which pages they visit, how much they spend, and so much more. Every site and property I control online has Google analytics installed. You can improve what you can’t measure and online Google Analytics makes it super easy to measure all of your important metrics. So go ahead and set this up on everything you do.
FTC Disclaimer - When applicable links on this page are affiliate links. That means that the company or tools I'm recommending may send me a small commission as a thank you for recommending their product. The availability of these commissions in no way impacts my recommendation of these tools. I use every one of them in my business and my client's businesses every day and would recommend them with or without the commissions. If you are uncomfortable with me receiving a commission in this manner please just visit the vendor's site without going through the links on this page.