I’ve been getting some questions lately that remind me I don’t talk often enough about why we designed and built Ontraport the way we did.

Of course, Ontraport has a lot of tools built in, so it would be reasonable to imagine that this thing is simply a bigger tool kit. Perhaps you think, “Hey, I know I need a hammer and a saw and a drill. I could go get those separately but Ontraport is a tool box with the hammer, saw and drill all-in-one, and that’s convenient because I don’t have three bills to pay, and I don’t have three logins, and I have one support team to talk to … so that is why Ontraport is a good idea.” 

That is not why Ontraport is a good idea. 

Yes, it’s convenient to have a bunch of tools in one kit but what’s important and unique about this platform is the data.

What’s important about the data? Let’s think about this in two parts. Part one is “Why is data important in my business?” and part two is “Why is Ontraport the best tool to manage and use data in my business?”

Part One: Why is data important in my business? 

First of all, what do we mean by “data”? Specifically, I mean information about each individual customer or prospect on your list. Interest data, demographic data, data about the history of your relationship, and so on.

Why is this important? If we want to grow our businesses, and particularly if we want to do that using the internet as a source of new leads and customers, it’s important to appreciate a couple of things. 

First, we need to create a system to get customers. The internet isn’t a place to go fishing for customers. You don’t toss a line in the water a few days a week and hope to hook something. Instead, the internet is a place to create systems that draw customers to your business in a measurable, repeatable and scalable way. 

Second, you have to appreciate that it is wildly competitive out there. You’re not just competing with everyone who sells what you sell. That is, if you’re a plumber, you’re not just competing with other plumbers on the internet. You’re competing with every other business in the world who is vying for the attention of your audience! And that’s a really competitive landscape. 

People have a limited amount of attention and all the marketers in the world are competing to try to grab the attention of your prospects. Someone’s selling them clothes, and someone’s selling a skateboard, and someone’s selling a course on how to succeed with potted houseplants. And if someone’s willing to pay more than you are to grab that attention, they’re going to be the one who gets that attention — and you’re not. 

It’s not just a matter of competing with our direct competitors. It’s a matter of competing with every other ad that’s getting placed in front of your audience. 

And if you’re going to compete in a landscape like that, you’re going to have to be good. This is prime time. It’s real work, and it’s not easy. Anybody who tells you otherwise is lying to you. 

So the question then is: How do I succeed at this challenge? What works? What do I need to do to effectively compete and get attention from my audience online? 

If we just think about that for a second, we find that the answer is obvious. People pay attention to what’s interesting to them. It’s that simple. What’s interesting to anyone — apart from grumpy cat photos of course —  is solutions to their problems

And if people are only interested in their problems, it’s your job as a marketer to get in front of them with a message that specifically, directly and precisely answers how and why you are the best solution for solving their exact problem right now. 

Saying, “Hey, I’m a good plumber if you need anything” no longer works. It may have worked 10 years ago because it wasn’t so competitive on the internet yet, but today that message doesn’t fly. It will fail every time, and you’ll be wasting your ad dollars trying to promote that message. 

What does work is to say, “If your toilet is overflowing right now, I am your best choice because I specialize in overflowing toilets and here’s why I’m better and here’s proof.” 

That ad cuts through. That’s the person I’m calling because when I have a problem like an overflowing toilet, I don’t care about trenchless pipe replacement or installation of new bathrooms or any of that stuff. The guy I want is the guy who’s an expert in my particular problem. 

Now, none of this is to say that you need to limit your business to only solving one problem. Most plumbers offer all sorts of services. The goal is to demonstrate why you’re the very best choice for bathroom remodels to the folks who want to remodel their bathroom and why you’re the very best for drain-cleaning jobs to the folks with clogged drains.

If you doubt that this strategy is as important as I’m claiming that it is, think of this: two of the three most valuable companies in the world, Amazon and Google, owe a very large part of their success to doing this exact thing better than anyone else. 

Google runs the world’s biggest ad network, and they’re successful specifically because they put the most relevant ad in front of each user better than anyone else. Why? Because that’s what works. Similarly, Amazon figures out what you want to buy — often before you even know it — and puts it right in front of you, better than anyone else. They do it because delivering the right message to the right person at the right time just works, and they are successful because they’re great at it.

Part Two: Why is Ontraport the best tool for the job?

In order to deliver the right messages to the right people, you’ll first need to figure out what each individual’s problem is. How is that done? Well, it’s done using data. 

There are several ways that we can find out what prospects’ problems are or what’s going to be interesting to them, and Ontraport built this particular set of tools — this drill and this saw and this hammer — specifically because they’re the tools you need to gather the data to understand what problems your individual prospects have. 

How do you figure out what problem your prospects have? You figure it out just the way Google does, by looking at:

  • What ad they click on 
  • What pages they view 
  • Which ebook they download
  • What they’ve purchased in the past 
  • What their sales rep says they are interested in 
  • What they tell you in a form, in a dropdown
  • What links they click in an email 
  • And so on…

Ontraport is the tool that is best designed to gather, and store, and segment and then use that data so you can deliver the kind of relevant, targeted, specific communications that cut through the clutter of marketing messages that everybody is inundated with today.

Gathering data about your prospects and customers

When you use Ontraport, there’s a lot of data that you can gather about your prospects and customers that is very challenging, if not impossible, to get when you use disparate tools to perform the same jobs in your business.

For example, Ontraport automatically tracks your contacts’ visit history, page by page, across all your websites. In order to gather that information, your web servers need to be able to identify specifically who your visitors are, and this can’t be done unless your web forms and email systems are tightly connected … which they are not if you’re using separate hosting, email systems and form builders. 

Ontraport also automatically tracks each contact’s click history, purchase history, ad click history, any forms they’ve ever filled out, anything your sales rep ever says about them and any messages they send you. All this data comes into Ontraport, and it’s stored in that system for you automatically so that you can use that data in the future to deliver more relevant experiences and communications to each individual customer.

Storing data about your prospects and customers

Ontraport is also a better tool for storing your data in a couple of important ways. 

First, it’s all in one place. If you have Mailchimp and Shopify and WordPress and Pipedrive, for example, you’re going to have different chunks of data in all those various tools. For those of you who have been through that situation, you know that’s just not workable, because you can’t realistically take data from six different tools and put it together in a way that allows you to turn around and use it.

Second, Ontraport is extremely configurable, and you can store your data in ways that make sense for how your business actually works but are impossible using other tools.

Of course, Ontraport allows you to create fields and sections and tabs to organize your data and, with the Permissions system, you can make sure everyone sees the data they should be able to see, and nothing more. 

While there are lots of CRM tools that allow you to create custom fields and dump a bunch of data in there, one of the things that sets Ontraport apart from all of those tools is Custom Objects. This functionality gives you the ability to create different types of data and relate them together in a way that reflects how your business actually works. 

For example, most CRM systems will have three different types of data that you can store. They’ll have contacts, deals and companies. That’s very typical for a CRM system and it’s what you’ll find in Salesforce or just about any CRM system out there.

But if you have any other type of data, it’s basically impossible to store that data in a way that makes any kind of sense unless you’re using an enterprise-grade tool. 

The reason every enterprise system allows you to do this is because it’s crucial to be able to organize your data in a way that makes it useful. The reason no other small business CRM platform enables you to do this is because it’s hard to build and a little confusing to set up, and they don’t trust you to deal with it. But that doesn’t mean it’s not important.

Segmenting your prospects and customers

There are two main ways we segment our data using Ontraport. 

First, we have a very powerful tool called Groups which allows you to manually slice and dice your database in endless ways. This gives you the ability to see and communicate with a highly targeted group. For example, maybe you want to send a particular promotion to “everybody who has visited my website in the last 30 days but doesn’t own this product and has this particular problem.” If your data lives in several different tools, that project becomes overwhelmingly challenging to the point that you won’t do it. In Ontraport, it’s a piece of cake.

Of course, the second way to segment your data in Ontraport is to do it automatically using Campaigns.

Triggers, conditions and goals are all designed to allow you to segment your list as they move through an automated process so that you can target them with communication that is directly relevant to their problems or their stage in your customer lifecycle.

So, we’ve now figured out that Ontraport is the best tool for gathering the data, for storing the data, for segmenting the data; the last thing we need is to be able to use your data to create more relevant and targeted communications. 

Using your data to create relevant communications

It turns out that Ontraport was designed to leverage the data you have better than any other toolset you could use. Why? Because you’ve got email, SMS and a task management system for your sales team built in. You’ve got the landing pages built in which allow you to take the data in your records and deliver conditional, targeted content to each individual contact. You’ve got membership functionality built in so you can show each contact just what is relevant to them. These tools are all designed specifically to take the data you’ve got and use it to create and deliver more targeted, more relevant communication.

That is why Ontraport was designed and built the way it was. That’s why we have these tools instead of other tools, and that’s how you should be thinking about leveraging this platform. I know that a lot of our customers are using Ontraport as a glorified email system, or they’re using Ontraport as just a CRM system, or they’re using Ontraport as simply a replacement for three or four tools that you would otherwise buy separately. And don’t get me wrong, we love every client just as you are. But if you’re thinking about Ontraport in these ways, you’re missing the biggest opportunity that using a system like this provides to your business. 

I can imagine you might be thinking, “Ok yeah, Landon, I’m picking up what you’re putting down, but how do I actually get this job done? I don’t have the data that I need. What data do I need? How do I actually organize my business to make this happen?”

I get it. You’ll need to learn about segmentation, specifically what data you should gather, how to get that data, and how to effectively segment your contacts and prospects into usable groups. It will help to understand how to use those groups to deliver more relevant, more effective communications.

Ultimately, that is the goal, because one-size-fits-all messaging does not work anymore. If you’re struggling with marketing, this is the path for you: to break your audience apart into segments and to communicate with them about specifically what they’re interested in. This is what works today.

Fortunately, you have the perfect toolset to make that happen.

About Landon Ray
Ontraport Founder and CEO Landon Ray is a serial entrepreneur whose personal mission is to educate, motivate, and enable others to realize their goals of starting and growing their own business. At the age of 25, Ray transformed himself from a street-corner flower vendor into one of the nation’s top securities day traders in only twelve months. After beating the odds on Wall Street and again during the great recession, Ray has taken his research and personal experience and created Ontraport, a small business automation platform and related family of services, which reflect his passion for educating and supporting entrepreneurs.