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Press This Podcast:Creating Automated WordPress Growth Engines

Welcome to Press This, the WordPress community podcast from WMR. Here host David Vogelpohl sits down with guests from around the community to talk about the biggest issues facing WordPress developers. The following is a transcription of the original recording.

David Vogelpohl: Hello everyone and welcome to Press This the WordPress community podcasts on WMR. This is your host, David Vogel Paul, I support the WordPress community through my role at WP Engine, and I love to bring the best of the community to you hear every week on press this as a reminder, you can find me on Twitter @wpdavidv, or you can subscribe to press this on iTunes, iHeartRadio, Spotify, or download the latest episodes at We’re going to be talking about creating automated WordPress group engines. And joining us in this conversation is someone well versed in this I’d like to welcome to Press This Pat Ness. Welcome, Pat.

Pat Ness: Hey David, thanks so much for having me. I’m super excited to be here.

DV: Like that was a bit of a tongue twister Press This and Pat Ness. Yeah, Press This, Pat Ness. I like it. I like it. And for the listeners. In this episode of price this Pat who runs a business called SMB Master. We’ll talk about the approaches uses automate digital funnels with WordPress. And Pat is well known for this using these techniques to build self sustaining digital funnels with brands with millions of followers membership econ blog, and affiliate marketing industries exciting stuff at and wait to dive in. Before we get into this subject matter the podcast though, I’m just curious, what is your WordPress origin story? Tell me the story that about the first time you use WordPress.

PN: Alright, so yeah, basically, I went to George Brown College in Toronto, Canada, pre WordPress, back in 2000 2003, for digital media print production, and I was designing websites, HTML and flash, and it was taking so long and it was so crazy to make changes. I discovered WordPress when it first came out in 2003. But I think my first WordPress site was around 2007. And when I got deeper into WordPress, I realized, you know, what it was what the community was about the growth it was having. And from there, I decided to, you know, kill all the HTML sites, I was building flash and everything with WordPress, and my first sight, you know, first, say 510 sites were for clients, they weren’t for myself, they were, you know, developing out sites. That’s when you know, you had to set up like a database user and connect the config file. I think this was like pre, you know, installers and stuff like that. So I was in there pretty early. I knew WordPress was a beast. I think it it. It powers what 30% of the internet right now. 38% Yeah, like, it’s crazy. And you know, back then I just knew looking at the growth in the community that it was going to be a monster. And you know, I made the right call switching everything I was doing WordPress. And yeah, I’m super excited to see where it’s gonna go in the future.

DV: All right now, we’ve actually had similar origin stories that rooted in building flash sites, you’re actually not the first path, believe it or not. I’ve also you back in my day. It’s interesting to hear you tried it out back in 2003. At that very first iteration, then adopted in 2007. After plugins and themes were introduced, I’m sure that didn’t hurt your decision. I always like to connect as stories back to kind of what was happening in WordPress at the time. Now, earlier when I was introducing you are kind of mentioned you’re in this business called SMB Master. Yep. Can you help the audience understand, like what you do there?

PN: Yeah, sure. So SMB master is short for social media blog master and it’s my web development and design company where I specialize in building WordPress sites and, and building out automations so automations for collecting data, building out CRMs Facebook ads, audiences, email workflows, like you know, you name it, I use WordPress to somehow automate it. So the business consists of just me I don’t outsource anything, I’m the graphic designers strategic web developer, Facebook guy, SEO guy, you name it, I’ve pretty much taught myself all the different areas of digital marketing so that allows me to build you know WordPress sites hyper fast and build out a big funnel in automations for people typically turn around in one to two days for like the full website. If you want like a membership site or ecommerce store, everything all in one hooked into a CRM, I don’t have to outsource so that allows me to kind of build things super fast. I built a lot of sites, you know, that have hundreds of thousands of members and you know, not not on the email list, like actual members logging in, you know, to membership portals and things like that. And as you mentioned, I built a lot of brands that now have millions of followers. So I’ve had a lot of cool experience looking at, you know, big numbers and automating a lot of things, getting feedback, revamping the funnels, building out deeper automations based on customer feedback, you know, it’s In a never ending build for me, in my mind, and as you know, WordPress sites, they could be never ending with changes. But I do my best because to automate everything because I know people out there, you know, they don’t typically if they’re not a web developer go in and learn and try to build out things themselves. And I noticed that a lot of sites I built people would kind of leave the automations I built for them. And that was it, it didn’t have me kind of wasn’t, you know, moving forward in terms of, you know, adding things to the site. So, so really, I realized, man, I need to just build out all the automations for someone, so they have all the tools, they need to just kind of plug away at content, right? So SMB master is basically exactly that just help you build a site, build as many automations as possible for you. So you can just blast off into, you know, the social media marketing and ads and promos, and things like that. So for your website, sitting there and doing the work it needs to do for you.

DV: So I think like, you know, as I thought about, you know, when we met, and we were kind of nerding, out about visual access press site, past sites. And you know, and I heard you earlier, as you describe your business, and you’re like, Oh, yeah, I can turn these sites around and like one to two days. And normally what I hear that, Pat, I roll my eyes, I’m like, No, you don’t. But having gone through that prior experience would be you nerding out about data. And seeing your methods, I understand why you make statements like that i’m sure for some projects take more than a day or two. But it’s it was really palatable, your focus on automation. Now, you’ve thought about that in the sites you’re building. So let me ask you this question. As people think about this notion of automation, like, why is automating your funnel with WordPress worry at all? Like, why should I spend my time trying to automate parts of my phone?

PN: Well, here’s the thing. You know, for larger companies, it’s easy, like a lot of them might not even use WordPress, they can just hire people to kind of build systems and automations for them ongoing. But like, I serve a lot of solopreneurs. And people that don’t have resources to spend a ton of money or hire staff to do things. So it’s, for me, it’s very important to build a site for somebody that doesn’t have the budget or experience with WordPress, where again, they can just focus on sending traffic to the website, right. So once the website is built an automated You know, there’s the landing page, they collect emails, it goes into the CRM, people start getting emails, if someone purchases a product, you know, the CRM takes them as a customer now removes them off the email marketing list, like, you know, sales list, like I like to build out all the basics, basic automations, for people, so it’s there, it’s ready. And all they need to do is focus on content, right? So it’s super important, because if you’re like a solopreneur, and you have all these people reaching out to emailing you, for customer support, asking sales questions, it can become overwhelming, right. But if you build a proper site with all the automations, meaning, you know, maybe you have a little chat bot that has some pre built questions in it, or you have a quiz or something that can help people understand your product a little better, and deliver the right information to them as a result, right? Building in some of those automations, it’s so important because nobody is going to manually kind of service like one on one, right? A lot of people try to eventually get away with that, especially if it’s somebody that’s not a client yet. like nobody wants to spend time answering questions if they’re not getting paid, right, unless it’s, you know, in a group community support area or something like that. So it’s super important to automate everything. So it allows you to focus again, on the things that are important that you might have better skills that like social media, or, you know, going on podcasts, right, or webinars and, and stuff like that, right? You want your site automated, so you don’t have to work on, you know, any of that kind of stuff.

DV: That’s cool. Yeah, I think as I hear you describe that, I mean, certainly the notion of like, focus on your business, managing your website. These are really, of course, profound and compelling statements. But what I heard and how you described how you thought of a website, was as it’s this engine that’s running, it’s not a thing you stop by and look at. It’s something that you’re engaging with getting information from as a visitor, and then the business owner operator getting information from the better service those people using the site. And I think that’s kind of the shift in mindset, particularly for SMEs, small medium business businesses that don’t have time to invest in quality. Engineering requires gearing required for custom automations all super interesting. I have some follow up questions here. But we’re gonna take a quick break. We’ll be right back.

DV: This the WordPress community podcast on WMR. This is your host David Vogelpohl interviewing Pat Ness about automating your WordPress growth engine. And right before the break, you shared kind of your view of the components of the funnel within a WordPress site now automating those allow site owners and brands kind of focus on their message focus on their traffic, and not on kind of manually operating their funnel. So as people like listen to this, and they think like, Okay, that sounds cool. How do I do these things? What are like the top three areas of automated WordPress funnel optimization? They think most site owners ignore like, what are the things people are not doing right now that she’s just in these three things, get them a lot of the way there.

PN: All right. So definitely the first thing that comes to mind is collecting as much data as possible. A lot of people, you know, blast off their WordPress site, but they might forget to put in their CRM tracking pixels and Facebook pixels. And any kind of service or software you’re using that can send tags to your CRM or data to your CRM based on actions and events, people are taking on the website, it’s very important to kind of set a lot of that up at the beginning. So as people come into your lead generation system, you have tags on them, so you can deliver relevant content and your emails and things like that. A lot of people that come to me for rebuilds or brand new sites, like a lot of people don’t even know about that kind of thing. Right? Even you know, I’ve had businesses come to me that have had a website up for like five years, and they still don’t have like CRM, automations and things like that. They don’t know how to collect data. And nowadays, I think because of the amount of plugins and software’s available to us, it’s become a lot easier to kind of just plug something in and have all of that working for you. So I think it’s just a matter of, you know, getting the word out there a little more about how the CRM can collect data from your website. And that can help you down the road humongous. You can trigger all kinds of automations to start happening if you have relevant information on your on your visitors. Another thing I would say, definitely is split testing, no split testing, everything I like to split to sales pages was split test pop ups, opt in forms on the page, all that. And again, there are some plugins that make it very easy to split test things these days, depending on what builder software you’re using, you know, give it a Google and see what works for you. But, you know, split testing definitely helps increase conversions huge. And the last, I would say, probably actually, even more important than data is the blog. A lot of people underestimate like posts and the power of adding posts to your website. Right? posts are great for, you know, SEO power for social sharing power. It’s a huge automation for WordPress, because, you know, think about everything happening, SEO is happening, engagement and relationship building is happening. pixel tracking, Google Analytics sharing is happening comments for for community growth is happening brand recognition, you know, links to other places like maybe affiliate links or banners to products, monetization is happening, right? CRM tracking is happening. There’s so many things happening on a post that the more real estate you build, the more posts you add, you know, I find always helps people in the long run. If you’re planning to build a business, online business, longevity, very important to you know, focus on the blog and add a lot of great educational content that’s going to help your reader develop a good relationship for you and look at you as kind of a leader in your industry.

DV: Yeah that’s interesting. So thinking about the three areas you basically are recommending, start with collecting data, almost like the script of the relationship you’ll have with your customer over time. Meaning that the data that they provide you and how they use your content or your products or your list This where you’re any other part of your site would inform what you might delivered and future to drive value for them and drive value in the business. I also, yeah, I started, you kind of mentioned things like pixels, and of course, CRM integration. But it sounded like these were kind of points of grabbing data that would then inform more complex strategy. So my question was, of course, centered around like, well, would it most likely corner defenders ignored? And it sounds like you didn’t get like into the deep, deep tactics of segmentation messaging strategy and that strategy, really, like you really need a good baseline to collect data. So as I’m about right, yeah, exactly. Definitely, definitely read rings true for people I know that are trying to grow. Yeah, ever done that. And then the blog, which I know is a popular area for a lot of foods, but one they probably don’t invest in in terms of good content or thinking about it, their overall funnel utilizations? Because so these are the things like, Okay, I need to focus on data collection, I need to focus on split testing, and I need to treat my blog with or give my blog a little bit more investment and treat it more like part of the funnel. How do you approach those top three areas in terms of like tools and implementation, I don’t want to screw it up every step of time for that just from the high level, like, what’s the first place you would go to start thinking about data collections, but testing and blogging.

PN: So I mainly use drip and Active Campaign You know, I’ve used MailChimp, GetResponse Infusionsoft, AWeber groundhog you know, shout out Adrian and groundhog they have a pretty cool WordPress plugin, actually, that that’s, you know, save some money, I guess on on on using a CRM, but currently drip in Active Campaign like before, even build a website, I get the account set up for the CRM, I activated, I add the tracking pixel and all that. So as I’m building the WordPress site, I start to develop all the automations and the data that’s going to feed the CRM as I’m building out forms and things like that. So then that way, I don’t have to go back and kind of do it and remember where everything’s going to be, as I’m building out the pages in the site, I kind of, you know, start connecting all that data, I think could be an example. For example, I build a lot of fitness sites, you know, most of the clients that have millions of followers whose websites are built, you know, some of them have vegan plans, and somehow regular meat eating, you know, nutrition plan, so, so we want to use a CRM to collect tags of people show interest, say in in, you know, their vegetarian or their vegan, if they visit, you know, five blogs in the vegan category, then they’re going to get tagged as you know, vegan or vegetarian, and they’re gonna get excluded from emails that include, you know, chicken pictures or pictures of recipes about me and stuff like that, right? So again, everyone’s business is different. For me, like I teach people how to make money online. So I try to collect data on like, How much money do you have to invest? What’s your technical ability? Are you not savvy? Can you watch a video and learn? Are you like super ninja with building out watching videos and building things out? Right? I want to know those so I can speak to you differently in the CRM when an email goes out. Right?

DV: What about split testing? What’s your guess you could drip inactive is kind of your go to collecting data, but also building out that funnel? What about on the AV testing side? What’s your favorite tool for that?

PN: So I use a few different tools. The main one for testing that I’m using for the funnels is cart flows. Our flows Pro has a really cool split testing feature now for like sales funnels built completely built into WordPress, which is awesome. You know, I did the whole Click Funnels thing, lead pages, all that, but I really enjoy having everything in WordPress, if possible, and carpo solve that problem for me. I also use Thrive Themes thrive architect and excuse me, and Thrive Leads Thrive Leads is a great, you know, split testing form builder, if you want to do you know, full page takeover pop up slide ins in the post opt ins, it has a really easy, you know, split testing feature there. And then of course, there’s for, you know, depending on your page builder, the type of site you have, you might need another plugin that allows you to just split test your sales pages if you don’t use one of those software’s, or again, use Google Analytics and set up as like, you know, doing the kind of the manual way versus using a plugin and quick quick boom and split test is running. Right. But yeah, I’d say Thrive Themes is awesome. I probably use them the most and then cart closes more recent addition to the software tools I use. Alright, good deal.

DV: And then for the blog side, I don’t know if this is a tool or strategy. But what would you recommend? Start thinking about taking the blog more seriously?

PN: Well, definitely like I use a theme builders, right. So so I could design that allows me to design a custom post kind of template, where you know, it already includes social share buttons and opt ins and all that good stuff. So if you don’t have a page builder that where all of that is kind of built in, then yeah, you might need separate plugins for each of those components like a social share, plugin, and, you know, author feature plugin comments plugin, whatever. Again, the page builder solves all of that for me. And so I don’t have to add more plugins to the site. And it’s better if you do have, you know, all these components built into the page builder that you’re using versus having to install more plugins.

DV: Yes, yes, yes, installing a plugin for social share buttons can be a daunting task to get your head around these buttons. I need this plugin. Right. Yeah. Right. So this is all really interesting. So thank you for sharing this taxsaver. definitely appreciate that. I think as I think about this, and I started to think about like, the data side, like, okay, fine, I read these funnels, I’m gonna spend time on some of them and not others and think about if they’re successful or not really want to dig into the data side. We’re gonna take a quick break, we’ll be right back.

DV: Hello, everyone. Welcome back to press this WordPress community podcast on w Mr. This is your host favorite global poll. And I’m here with our guest Pat ness. Pat, before the break, you explain your tactics for taking advantage of the top three areas brands usually overlooked by automating the WordPress funnel. Now we’re going to kind of dig into the data side. How does data and analytics play a role in how you develop and execute your strategies for customers?

PN: But data, it’s like the main role, you know, it’s all a numbers game. It’s the whole you know, if you can spend a buck and make five, you know, that’s the goal. I think everyone has these days with an online business. And data helps you know, like when you have the data, you can find out faster, what’s working what’s not, right. So if someone’s coming to your site, and they’re going to your landing page, and there was only like a 5% conversion on it, well, you know that, you know, maybe your landing page needs some work, right, you got to make a little more juicy. Maybe you have a 50% opt in rate, but only 1% purchase conversion for your for your product, well, maybe you got to work on your sales page, right. So if you don’t have the right data to let you know where in the funnel and which step someone’s at, and what’s working and what’s not, it’s impossible to really scale and optimize an automated WordPress site, right? You got to kind of have all the pieces in play and kind of be able to track that. I use this cool software called funnel etics. It allows you to kind of build out a visual drag and drop kind of funnel and you can click a button and it’ll analyze kind of the flow between all the pages. So you can kind of visually see what’s working and what’s not versus having to go into a dashboard and looking at like all these numbers and trying to figure out what’s what I found that helped huge because that took a lot of time away from me having to figure out a system to track analytics. Now I just use analytics and it’s the man one click. It’s all right there. I could analyze everything within a couple minutes.

DV: That makes sense Now you mentioned that a lot of the people you work with are not technical Don’t have their own development teams. So I’m going to go out on a limb and guess they don’t have their own data. So do you feel like you are successful in democratizing data to inform your clients when optimizing their own funnels? Or do you feel like it’s a mix of them relying on you and having data they feel confident in looking at me analyze?

PN: You know, it’s it’s definitely a mix, like the bigger ones the clients have with millions of followers, like, I pretty much take that role because I partner with them. So typically, you know, I’m not, I don’t trade time for money anymore, really, except for the one day builds. So with the partners, the big followings Yes, I’m a partner. So it’s in my best interest to make sure it’s converting as high as possible, right? So I do leave that up to me, because I don’t expect them to do it. Because, again, we’re sending sometimes, you know, 20 3040 50,000 people a day to the sales pages in the funnels, and, you know, so things are happening super fast. So they need someone that there to like, change things quick, if something’s not working, versus them trying to figure it out. And maybe action, decide who knows, right? Like, making an error. So there are if you’re tech savvy, some people like to dig in and do it themselves. But the non tech savvy is, typically I don’t see them getting too much into like, you know, deep sales, funnel optimization, because they just don’t have the either budget or the, you know, the technical ability to learn and do it themselves. So yeah, some people are kind of left there with the site as I built it, and they don’t do much to it. And then others do take initiative to kind of build it out and learn and use all these tools to build out the automations.

DV: Right, that pay for performance. WordPress development. I feel like we could do a whole episode on that. Yeah. But to keep us on topic here. In this one, you need to be a quick answer. I don’t know if you have any good horror stories. But when you were here, and I guess that month of Halloween, when people try WordPress optimization on their own, what mistakes do they usually make? Like you talked about what they overbook like, what do they like?

PN: Do like, you know, based on your own, I would say the worst thing I see is like, I like to build very clean, like simple fast loading pages. The biggest mistake I see people do is like, put way too many crazy designs on the sales pages or all over the place. They want a button that does this and a button that does this and something that links over here and a banner for this. And I was trying to tell people keep things very simple. Like if you have a sales page, there should only be one link going to the next step. There should be no other links leaving the page, you know, so a lot of people I find they butcher it by just making it too complicated.

DV: You know, so many offers are to me, I said less is more.

PN: Yeah, less is more, you know, and I’m guilty of, you know, building up some pretty dizzy sites. But again, if a client wants a fancy busier looking site, like Hey, I’ll build it for you. But yeah, clean and simple is always the best way to go. I like that.

DV: I think that’s a great point to end on. Pat, thank you so much for joining me today.

PN: Yeah, thank you so much for having me. It’s I was looking forward for this for months. It’s so exciting to share some of my knowledge with the community.

DV: I always enjoyed the conversation. If you’d like to learn more about what how does that too, please visit Thanks, everyone listening to press this WordPress community podcast on WMR. Again, this has been your host, David Vogelpohl. I support the WordPress community through my role at WP Engine. And I love to bring the best in the community to here every week on Press This.

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