Episode 360

How to Increase Your Ability to Communicate Effectively Online with Brian Casel of ZipMessage

Learn how to increase your ability to communicate effectively online with Brian Casel of ZipMessage in this episode of the LMScast podcast hosted by Chris Badgett of LifterLMS. Brian is a serial entrepreneur who works primarily on a project called ZipMessage. In this episode, he shares insights into the world and possibilities you can unlock with asynchronous video communication.

In a lot of situations, you don’t have face-to-face interaction when people are learning content whether it be on YouTube, online courses, blog posts, or documentation. A lot of teams and remote workers have a ton of Zoom calls and live calendar meetings when talking to clients or talking to teammates. 

Brian shares insights into how some of the best conversations and collaborations happen asynchronously. And that’s really where the product began and the problem began. At Brian’s previous company that he recently sold, he had a team of 25 people and they almost never had live meetings. They used video messaging, email, and private messaging and group chat on Slack.

Similar to Loom, ZipMessage is a way for people to have conversations via video threads by recording videos to each other in their browser. The initial idea for ZipMessage was that Brian wanted to send somebody a link, just like a calendar link, but instead of booking a meeting he wanted to be able to have them just record. They can click the link, come to a webpage page, and record right into the browser. Then, they send that message back and forth via threads in the conversation down the page.

ZipMessage is pretty different from everything else that Brian has done before in that it’s a viral product. They currently have a free plan, not just a free trial, so you could actually use it forever for free and the thinking there was to get more people using it and sharing ZipMessage links with coworkers, clients, and customers.

It’s super easy and fast to sign up and create your first message and start recording it. So if you’re interested in checking out ZipMessage as a great form of asynchronous video communication be sure to head to ZipMessage.com. Brian also has a podcast called Bootstrapped Web, so if you’d like to get a behind the scenes view of what’s going on at ZipMessage, that’s a great place to go.And at LifterLMS.com you can learn more about new developments and how you can use LifterLMS to build online courses and membership sites. Subscribe to our newsletter for updates, developments, and future episodes of LMScast. Thank you for joining us!

EPISODE TRANSCRIPT
Chris Badgett:
You’ve come to the right place, if you’re looking to create, launch and scale a high value online training program. I’m your guide, Chris Badgett. I’m the co-founder of LifterLMS, the most powerful learning management system for WordPress. Stay to the end. I’ve got something special for you. Enjoy the show.

Chris Badgett:
Hello and welcome back to another episode of LMS Cast. My name is Chris Badgett and I’m joined by a special repeat guest. His name is Brian Casel. He’s a serial entrepreneur. His project called ZipMessage, I’m absolutely in love with. It’s what we’re going to talk about today. It’s the game changer of video messaging and asynchronous communication. I wanted to bring Brian on because this is a tool that can be really helpful to coaches or teachers, experts, and also anybody who really works in tech or manages a remote team like an agency. Before we go deeper, welcome to the show, Brian.

Brian Casel:
Hey, Chris. How’s it going? I’m just actually retweeting you now for this live stream. All right. We’re good to go.

Chris Badgett:
That’s awesome. So if you’re watching this today, you’re early, because this isn’t actually going to go live for a little bit. So consider this a sneak peak. My understanding of ZipMessage is that it’s kind of like if you could use video in email which is asynchronous or not happening at the same time, people can collaborate, but not necessarily be immediately together. You’d make that possible with video and you also remove all the friction that comes with that. You can’t put video in an email, but just at a high level, what problem does this solve?

Brian Casel:
Yeah. I mean, that’s a great way to put it. That’s definitely one of the ways that I think about it, right? Because we’ve all been doing async communication for many, many years. I mean, email is probably the one that really goes the furthest back, right? You got text messages.

Chris Badgett:
Email is not dead. Like it’s not dead.

Brian Casel:
Of course it’s not. No, no way at all.

Chris Badgett:
Right.

Brian Casel:
But the thing with email and in a lot of situations is you don’t have the fidelity, right? You don’t have the face to face interaction, the video like, “Let me show you what I’m seeing or let me give you my facial expressions, that sort of thing.” Right? So usually when you need that sort of fidelity and you don’t want to ask somebody to type out a long email or you don’t want to type… Usually people just resort to, “Okay, hey, let’s hop on a Zoom call. Let’s do a live synchronous call.” Right?

Chris Badgett:
Yeah.

Brian Casel:
But that’s where you break away from the async community. Right? So that’s what a lot of teams and remote workers, talking to clients, talking to teammates. Everyone has tons and tons of zoom calls and live calendar meetings and bookings and things like that. Those are good in certain situations like you do want to talk live sometimes, but more and more cases, and we’ve seen this for years, not even just during the pandemic, but working remotely as I’ve been. I know you have been for many years too.

Brian Casel:
I think a lot of the best conversations, the best collaborations actually happen asynchronously. And that’s really where the product began and the problem began. I mean, my previous company, I just recently sold, but that was a team of 25 people. We almost never had live meetings. I mean, literally, we were just no meetings. I mean, everything was async. We used video messaging. We used a lot of email. We used chatting on slack. Those are all different forms of async.

Brian Casel:
But there is this gap when you either want to show someone something like record a video and show them. But the real gap that I found when I came into the idea of ZipMessage was it’s difficult to ask somebody else to send me back a video. Right?

Chris Badgett:
So you may send like a Loom, I remember I experimented once. But if the other person is not on Loom, they can’t just immediately jump in. Right? That’s what you’re talking about?

Brian Casel:
Exactly. Yeah, exactly. Things like Loom, I was using for years, but you record it and you send it off and it’s just one way, right?

Chris Badgett:
Yeah.

Brian Casel:
But if I’m talking to a client or if I’m talking to a customer or even a team member who I’m just starting to work with, maybe a freelancer or someone, all I want… The initial idea for ZipMessage was like I just want to send somebody a link. Just like I send a calendar link to someone, I want to be able to send my ZipMessage link so that they can just record… They click the link, they come to this page, they record right into the browser. Now, they send me back a message and we can go back and forth and it threads the conversation down the page.

Chris Badgett:
That’s awesome. I’m going to put my marketing kind of product brain on for a second. You mentioned a word fidelity, which I have a story about in a little bit, but when I look at a value proposition, I people are often just paying for one of three things. I mean, maybe all these, but one of these is primary. Speed, certainty, and insight. So if we have fidelity, what is like… I’m trying to isolate the core value of this product.

Chris Badgett:
If we can communicate better, what are we doing? Are we increasing speed? Are we increasing… What is this like? If you could only pick one, what is that core asset that you’re creating here?

Brian Casel:
Well, I like to think about it like quality of the finished product, the finished output. So if you and I are working together on something and we get into an async conversation… No, actually, let’s say we’re on a live Zoom call together. You and me were working on some marketing campaign project. We need to put it together. We need to be creative and think about how we’re going to create this thing and ship it and get it out and get it to work. Right?

Brian Casel:
So I might ask you something like, “Hey, what do you think we should do about this part of the campaign? How should we solve this problem?” Well, if we’re on a live Zoom call together, you have to come up with an answer for me right now. You’re on the spot. I asked you a question, you have to have something for me, an idea that’s just ready to go. You’re a smart guy. You’ll come up with something really good on the fly. But if we’re async, I can send the same question to you. You can receive it. You can think about it. You can go take a walk and process it a little bit. You can come back and jot down some notes, maybe do some research, and then you can prepare your response, right?

Brian Casel:
You can, again, jot down some notes or you can record a message back to me. Maybe you play it back and say, “You know what? I could communicate that a little bit tighter. Let me rerecord it and then send it off back to Brian.” Now, I just received a much better, higher value idea, higher value input that you were able to contribute.

Brian Casel:
And then I can do the same thing. I get your response and I come back with my ideas an hour later or the next morning. We go back and forth that way. So now we’re actually coming up with better ideas. We’re contributing better ideas because we have space to process them and build them. I’m seeing that every day when I talk to people I work with or people that I’m hiring or customers. These are just much more productive conversations, even though they’re spread out over the course of a day or a couple days instead of having to book a live call, especially when we’re across time zones.

Chris Badgett:
I love that. So it’s not just like kind of the velocity or the efficiency or the clarity of the conversation, the actual end result is the quality or basically the quality of whatever the purpose of that conversation was.

Brian Casel:
Yeah, exactly. I mean, that’s the thing that I keep talking about when I’m on a podcast like this. It’s like, yes, it’s more convenient, right? We don’t need to book time on each other’s calendars. We can be across time zones. I can be at night, you can be in the morning, whatever. That’s more convenient. But it’s the higher quality. It’s the space to think and contribute the best that we have to offer. And then of course you have video, screen sharing. You can show, you could do audio only. You could add attachments type.

Chris Badgett:
That’s awesome. I often like to look back in history because patterns repeat themselves or at least they’re similar. And when I think about the world before the printing press and then what the printing press did for communication and more recently, if you’re old enough, you remember a world before email where everything was a meeting or a phone call. And then maybe your grandparents knew what the world was like before phones or something.

Chris Badgett:
So we’ve been through this cycle before. And then there’s nuances. Well, email is different from chat like instant messenger or whatever. There’s a bunch of nuances at the detail level. But I love seeing video is just… I don’t know. I fell in love with video 10 years ago for so many different reasons. And we’re still just getting you used to it. You and I as power media creators, we’re used to video, but the whole world is still getting on this thing.

Brian Casel:
It’s true. We do see that. I mean, when I got into doing this as a product, there are people who are… Especially people who’ve been working remotely, they’ve been using tools like Loom. Or you see a lot of people resorting to recording a YouTube video and making it unlisted so I could share it with someone. So these patterns have been around or you drop a video into Dropbox so that you can send somebody the link. Right?

Brian Casel:
But then you’re doing like customer support. They’re not necessarily that comfortable with recording themselves on video quite yet. Right? So you do see a mix of comfort level with communicating on video. But I think the whole world has gone remote working now. So I think people are… You know what, what I’m thinking about with remote work, I’m curious, your thoughts on it. Remote work is not new either, right? Like sure a lot more-

Chris Badgett:
People wrote books from their home.

Brian Casel:
Yeah, totally. And especially in our industry, we’ve been working remotely for years, way before the pandemic. Right? But I think now it’s at this phase where it’s like people are starting to optimize how they work remotely. Right? They’re just being a little bit more aware, like, “Okay, well, we all work remotely, but how do we communicate? What is the best cadence for actually having meetings versus not having meetings? When are my teammates supposed to be working or not working?” I think these lines are getting blurred and routines in the workplace are really starting to change now. It’s pretty Interesting.

Chris Badgett:
Yeah. It’s definitely a very interesting time and it’s not all done yet. I think about that with the webcam. The idea that you got to use to do like a high quality video with a blurred background or whatever that’s like high definition, you got to get a regular point and shoot digital camera that has a video function, pipe it through this cam link thing and figure it out. And I’m like, “We don’t even have a regular affordable webcam that doesn’t look like bad like the stock Zoom blur your background thing.” It’ll get there. I think I saw something like Kickstarter coming up recently, something like that.

Brian Casel:
I think I just saw that same thing. Yeah. I mean, it does amaze me like how crappy Apple’s webcam built into the MacBook has been. But I’ve got a little Logitech sort of does the job.

Chris Badgett:
I do too. I wonder if we have the same one. This one is like a $300 one or something like that, but I can’t remember what it was called.

Brian Casel:
I can’t remember. Yeah, something.

Chris Badgett:
I mentioned that-

Brian Casel:
You know what, I think the more important thing is the audio. Get a decent mic so that we can hear what you’re saying.

Chris Badgett:
That does matter. That does matter. I mentioned fidelity. I have a friend, his name is Dev Basu. He’s a brilliant SEO guy and marketer. He’s got an agency called Powered by Search. I think-

Brian Casel:
Yeah. I know, Dev.

Chris Badgett:
Oh you do? I think I learned that speed, certainty, and insight framework from him, but I asked on Twitter one time, what’s the difference between $100 course and a $10,000 course or membership or whatever? And he just popped up out of the internet and said in one word, fidelity. So my next question is, “What’s fidelity?” Basically my takeaway was that the reason people pay $15 a month for a masterclass, which is like an online learning thing where you learn from the best in the world about hostage negotiation or comedy from Steve Martin or whatever, it’s only 15 or 30 bucks or whatever because Steve Martin isn’t going to help you with your jokes.

Chris Badgett:
But if you go into a coaching program that’s high fidelity, you’re going to get access to the leader or the coaches or some kind of support system that’s more than just the content. So let’s talk about ZipMessage and the concept in that kind of high fidelity environment. What could a coach do with it in addition to have self-study, self-paced courses and things like that?

Brian Casel:
Yeah. I really like this question and the idea of thinking about fidelity when it comes to coaching and teaching on online. I mean, we see a lot of coaches using ZipMessage for this sort of thing. And it’s actually, a lot of them are using… It’s additive or it’s a supplement to whatever direct coaching they’re already doing. Right? So some coaches will have a live one-on-one coaching session and then they use that message to have follow-up questions in between sessions without booking another call, but you can still ask a quick question the coach can respond on video. Maybe go back and forth or maybe a coaching and a student gets a dedicated conversation that might last months.

Brian Casel:
I mean, I actually have long-term conversations with friends and advisors that last months flowing down the page just back and forth. So we see a lot of that. The other thing that I see is a little bit more like a scalable coaching model where a coach can… We have this thing called intake forms or intake pages where you can send out your zipmessage.com/coaching name or your brand name or whatever, and then that’s where others can submit new messages or new questions into you. Each of those starts off like breaks out a new one to one conversation. So we see some of that.

Chris Badgett:
And that’s public or private? Or you have the option?

Brian Casel:
You have the option. By default, we give you a public link. So you could tweet it out and do like an ask me anything. But we see a lot of coaches just sharing that within their private community, their private forums. We just launched the ability to embed that in all ZipMessage stuff like on your own website. So if you have like a LifterLMS, if you’re using that, you can embed it in a WordPress page.

Chris Badgett:
Real quick is that like a piece of code or is there a WordPress plugin? Or how do you get it into a WordPress site?

Brian Casel:
Yeah, I mean, right now it’s an iframe piece of code. It works with a basic HTML block on any page in WordPress. But yeah, we plan to have a WordPress plugin to wrap that up and make it easy to pop in. But right now it’s cut and paste, drop it into any page.

Chris Badgett:
That’s cool. One of the big gaps I see in the market with courses and coaching and learning is that people spend a lot of time focus on the content, and maybe being strategic about it, but the idea of community design or conversation design people just don’t think… It’s almost like an afterthought. At the very end, they’re getting ready to launch, they’re building their pricing table, and it includes like group coaching, Facebook group, blah, blah, blah. And they’re like, “Well, let’s consciously design those things.” What do you want the conversation flow to feel like?

Chris Badgett:
If you were a client of your dream coach and they were communicating with you, what if you couldn’t make the time? How would you want it to work? People don’t think about this stuff.

Brian Casel:
You’re totally right. The community is like an afterthought, but it’s the most valuable piece in so many of these programs and courses, right? I mean, I’m a member of some courses and programs mainly for the community aspect. Even if I’m no longer very active or actively going through the course material, I’ll remain subscribed just to have access to the leaders, especially the community at large.

Brian Casel:
In my experience, that’s my favorite way to learn. I’ll learn a couple like the theory if you from books and courses, but I’ve always been a visual learner and a learn by doing. And the next best thing besides trying to hack it together myself would be to watch somebody do the thing or talk to somebody and be involved in collaborating with them and learning their approach to being creative and building something. Right?

Brian Casel:
That to me is the best way. So whether it’s to directly with a coach or in a community… I learned full stack web development over the last couple of years and in the early parts of those years, I joined… One is really valuable to me, the GoRails community for learning Ruby on Rails. But there’ve been a few others. And I’ll just hop in there just to see like, “Well, what do the professionals do in these situations and learn and ask questions?”

Chris Badgett:
Yeah. And then another aspect to that is what I call the support system. So when you put together a learning opportunity, what are they going to get? Are they going to get a contact form or like an email address? Are they going to get a community thing like a Facebook group or a proprietary thing? Is there going to be a schedule of calls? But also the support.

Chris Badgett:
When I first saw and learned about ZipMessage I was like, “That is the kind for my particular learning style.” I’m like you, a visual communicator and whatnot. I would prefer to both ask for help and receive feedback or assistance via the video medium. I was like, “Genius.” Now, what you have to do, your job, Brian is just to remove all the friction to make that not hurt.

Brian Casel:
I mean, that’s what I try to work on every single day. Literally right before this call, I was reworking our like onboarding flow like, “How can I make this less friction for a brand new user?” Right? One of my favorite things to do right now is to send… I send ZipMessages to our new ZipMessage users. So they’re like a day or two into their free account on ZipMessage, and then I’ll be one of the very first people to send to them a message through their intake page and say like, “Hey, how’s it going?” And then I’ve had some incredible back and forth conversations with customers and learnings about what brought them here, what problem are they trying to solve? What are they doing in their business where they want to do a little bit more async communication and video and stuff like that.

Chris Badgett:
This is a challenge of software to make like the hard, easy. I mean, I think we all saw this especially in recent times with… Zoom solved this quite well where somebody who wasn’t really used to Zoom or anything, they just click on a link and now they’re in a meeting. That’s it. But all the complexity of making that possible, they’ve just really done a good job there focusing on removing the friction.

Brian Casel:
Yeah, for sure.

Chris Badgett:
What do you see as some of the key things? In software, we talk about a customer becoming activated, onboarded. You’re actually using your own product to kind of get them experiencing the other side and trying to get them into a point where they understand it, they know what to do, and they’re successful with it. What does successful ZipMessages do in the first seven days of using the product?

Brian Casel:
Yeah. So ZipMessage is actually a pretty different product from everything else that I’ve done before in that it’s a viral product. So we came out with free plan. It’s not just a free trial. You could actually use it forever for free on the free plan. And the thinking there is to just get more people using it and sharing ZipMessage links with their coworkers, with their clients with their customers and we’re seeing it spread that way.

Brian Casel:
So what we try to do is, number one, make it super easy and fast to sign up and then create your first message and start recording it. And then you finish that up and you can share the link right off with someone else. That’s the goal number one in our product onboarding. But the very next thing is we want them to be able to easily share it with someone that they’re working with. And then the nice thing there is you see a lot of these software apps that… I always think that this is a little bit of a weird pattern. You know how every SaaS app has an onboarding experience, like a wizard, a one-two step-

Chris Badgett:
Setup wizard.

Brian Casel:
Setup wizard. Right? And usually step two is like, “Hey, send an invite to your team member so that they can and accept an invite and become team members in your account right now before I’m even in the product yet. Right?

Chris Badgett:
Right. Which is a wrong time.

Brian Casel:
It’s definitely the wrong time, like, “I need to get situated. I need to figure out is this-“

Chris Badgett:
I need to trust you. I need to know if this is going to hurt.

Brian Casel:
Yeah. I’m not about to blast emails out to my coworkers on this. So I always found that a little bit strange. One of the, again, the core idea, core problem that I wanted to solve with this is make it just super frictionless. Yes, we do have the concept of inviting team members into your account to be able to manage things. But you could just send a link to anyone like a customer, a client, a freelancer, a new hire.

Brian Casel:
They don’t need to accept an invite. They don’t need to log into anything. They can just click and they can be in a conversation with you. And that’s a big concept for us is just make it frictionless and easy. As easy to off an email, basically.

Chris Badgett:
I’m putting you into sales mode here. How do you handle the… An objection I would have whenever I’m doing anything related to video is like bandwidth and storage. I see this a lot in the LMS space with video hosting where people are like, “Okay, it’s this price. But if you pass this limit…” and then people get all worried. But first, they need to understand like, “Oh, well, when am I going to hit this? Is it going to be next month? Or am I going to have to upgrade? Is this something I don’t even have to worry about for years because I’m just started.”

Chris Badgett:
And just as some previous examples, I think we’ve all confronted this perhaps with file storage with systems like Dropbox and Google Drive or whatever where it feels like a fair deal. In fact, it feels like a very generous deal. I know people might be watching this later and you’re pricing might change or whatever, but how do you think about this challenge of storage that’s fair for both the company and the customer, and even feels like a no-brainer to the customer?

Brian Casel:
Yeah, that’s a good question. It was one of the very earliest learnings when I was talking to the very first few people about ZipMessage and and I heard that again and again come up like, “Will I run out of storage or will the pricing be based on how much video I record?” So it was pretty obvious that we had to go with a model that is unlimited like even-

Chris Badgett:
That’s music to a customer’s ear or prospect?

Brian Casel:
Exactly. It’s unlimited in terms of the number of messages, number of recordings you can make. If you’re on the free plan, obviously, it’s video hosting, so we need to limit the free plan. It’s limited in terms of the length of each recording. So as we’re recording this right now, it’s one minute length of each individual message on the free plan. But you can have multiple messages.

Chris Badgett:
The thread can go forever?

Brian Casel:
Yeah, thread can go forever. I mean, once you upgrade to our first paid plan, that limit is lifted and then you could have 20 minute, 30 minute messages if you want to. And then the only other limit that we have on the free is the history. So you can have as many conversations going and messages going right now as you want. But once they’re 30 days or older, they basically expire in your free account.

Chris Badgett:
That sounds fair. And how do you think about that?

Brian Casel:
Once you upgrade, paying get gets unlimited history. Especially if you’re going to publish videos on your website, you want them available. We always make videos downloadable, even on the free, so could record once, get the MP4 and put it somewhere else if you want. But once you’re on a paid plan, we host it for you and serve it up for you as long as your account is going,

Chris Badgett:
Sounds like a fair deal to me. See, this is the thing is a lot of this has been figured out in software before that history thing when you’re describing that, I was like, “Oh, yeah, that’s how Slack works.” These challenges, I often like to think when thinking about things like product or customer success, what do you love that you use? I love that Slack pretty much free, and then it even downgrades your account when somebody’s been inactive for a paid user. Whatever. It takes care of you. That is freaking cool. That’s sticky.

Brian Casel:
Totally. I’m sure you’ve seen this where you get lots of feature requests and you’re not quite sure how to make sense of it all, where it’s like, “Should we go this way or that way?” That pricing thing I heard just again and again.

Chris Badgett:
I just wanted to ask, man.

Brian Casel:
I don’t want to see limits and like, “Oh, good.” I was like, “Well, that makes my job easy.”

Chris Badgett:
Yeah. I remember when we did that, we did like an unlimited website for our highest plan. It felt scary at the time, but now several years past that, totally the right thing to do.

Brian Casel:
I just think it’s so much more important toto get people using it right yearly and make it like a no-brainer. Basically, the thing that people were saying with that, they just never want to think about should I use a ZipMessage right now? Is this ZipMessage worthy? Am I going to burn through my ZipMessage account? I don’t ever want people thinking about that. When in doubt, just say like, “Yeah, let me fire up a ZipMessage.” I don’t ever want to see hesitation with that basically.

Chris Badgett:
That makes total sense. And you’re definitely inside the mind of your customer there. Is this more for like one on one communication or can it be group like?

Brian Casel:
Yeah. So it can be group like. You can share a conversation, bring in three, five, 10 people into a single thread and everyone can contribute messages. Again, conversations can be public or private. So you have that option to either lock it down to members only, or public in that anybody who you give the link to can have access.

Chris Badgett:
Well, before we go to the agencies I want to talk about, is this like a replacement for video hosting or do you see it as more of something you would have? Let’s say you have a site that has some marketing videos, or maybe you have an LMS site that has course videos, do you see this as being the also kind of taken that video hosting job or is that really left for…

Brian Casel:
I’m not sure. I don’t think so. I think there’s definitely still a place for things like YouTube and Wistia and…

Chris Badgett:
Vimeo.

Brian Casel:
Yeah, Vimeo for like these… Especially if you’re going to do a lot of editing, you’ll use something locally like a screen flow or something to really make a professional video. And then with ZipMessage, you could upload a video like that into ZipMessage. You don’t have to use our browser recorder. So if you have something more prepared, you could upload it in. But hosting on a website, yes, you could embed a ZipMessage player, but if it’s on YouTube or a Vimeo or something, that works too.

Brian Casel:
I think it’s more of a replacement for what you might use for messaging and conversations. So if you’re using one of these one way like record a… Whatever solutions you’re using to record a video and send somebody a link to it like a Dropbox link or a Loom or something that’s where ZipMessage plays in that space a little bit.

Chris Badgett:
I think that would be… It just popped in my head like, I always like to try to get video testimonials and they’re really hard to get from people, but using this-

Brian Casel:
Yeah, I see a lot of that too.

Chris Badgett:
This would be great for that. There’s this idea of portable content where there’s a lot of competition at the desk and the laptop or in the computer, but then when you go mobile, if we look at audio content, there’s just music, podcasts, and books. It’s not as competitive when you’re portable. Can you do ZipMessage on a mobile device? If I’m inspired and I want to hit somebody like, “Oh, yeah. That thing that client is struggling with,” and I’m on top of the mountain on my hike and I’m going to just send them that idea right in the inspiration moment, can I do it from the phone?

Brian Casel:
Yep. Yeah, everything is mobile-friendly, mobile-optimized. You can do it from any mobile browser, iPhone, Android. It all works. You could record. You could watch back videos. Every everything that I’ve ever really built, and it’s always been web-based, so web apps and web design websites, I’ve always been a strong proponent of responsive web design, mobile first design. And that’s certainly what I did with ZipMessage.

Brian Casel:
That’s another little like pet peeve with a lot of SaaS products these days. Less so these days, but I still see a lot of this where they treat the mobile experience like an afterthought, and they either don’t build for mobile at all. I mean, they bolt on some like half built mobile experience later. You can design a website that is mobile friendly and works with the mobile browser, and that’s what we did. I like to save the web app to my home screen. It basically works like an iPhone app.

Chris Badgett:
What if I make a mistake in my recording or whatever?

Brian Casel:
Somebody actually just asked me that this morning. The way that it works is you record and then it finishes, but it doesn’t actually post yet. And then you have a chance to watch it back and you can click a button that says discard and rerecord. Then you’re finally ready to recording and you click send the message. So we give you that option.

Chris Badgett:
That’s awesome. Well, let’s dig into the agency model a little bit. If somebody let’s say is running a web design business and they bill WordPress sites for clients, either in a bunch of niches or in a focused niche, how could they… There’s two angles here. There’s like working with my team and then there’s also communicating with the client.

Chris Badgett:
You’re right. A lot of people hate meetings and a lot of meetings are done poorly. If you were to give somebody a piece of advice and be like, “I really think you could run that whole client communication thing, asynchronously with ZipMessage,” what advice do you have to get them moving in that direction instead of having constant scheduling or recurring meetings, update meetings and things like that?

Brian Casel:
Yeah. I see async in general and ZipMessage being used in, I would say three big areas in the agency world. Right. So one is like you said, definitely with clients. You’re you’re going to have like a live call with a client, maybe like a kickoff call and whatnot. But once you start working together, so delivering work to a client and getting the client’s feedback on the design or the writing work, or whatever it is that you did for the client, that can, and probably should be done asynchronously.

Brian Casel:
Again, it’s one of those things that I think is better because you can log their feedback. You can link back to the thing that they said. Because you’ll get into an hour long phone call with a client and then they gave you some key feedback on minute 23. How are you going to find that later? Right? And then of course, nobody wants to sit on constant calls. [crosstalk 00:34:30]

Chris Badgett:
I’m totally guilty of that. I remember presenting websites to clients on a call and you’re forcing them to look at it, give you feedback live. And then maybe later they give you some more whatever. But if I’m going to review like a design or some like online business that somebody just built for me on my website, I want to kind of sit with it a little bit before I get my feedback, not have people staring at me like, “What do you like? What do you don’t like?”

Brian Casel:
Yeah, exactly. I mean, back in the day we would do a design presentation. We’re going to present to you our deliverables. Right?

Chris Badgett:
Yeah.

Brian Casel:
It’s so much pressure. Especially like web design agencies and clients going back and forth on design feedback, and also with like marketing agencies. So I’m a client of a couple of freelancers and what I like to do, especially people who are working on marketing stuff is send me like a weekly report. They’ll send me some metrics and things like that, but I like to see them walk through. Walk through my Google Analytics account and give me five minutes on your analysis on what you’re seeing like patterns, trends what’s up, what’s down this week and what can we do?

Brian Casel:
So I like to receive those kinds of reports via ZipMessage just to get like their read on things every week. And then I can go back with some questions. So that’s like the client interaction stuff. The other one of course is just working with the team, collaborating these days. It’s across time zones a lot. So whether it’s daily stand-ups or weekly check-ins. Instead of hopping on as Zoom call, you can just get that back and forth.

Brian Casel:
We have, again, a mix of different tools, right? So we have a Slack integration so that you can connect ZipMessage and thread those video conversations into your Slack workspace. And then sort of the third one ,maybe mixed in with that is hiring. This is an area that I love going async.

Chris Badgett:
Oh, wow. I know where you’re going. This is awesome. One of my secret hiring tricks is I ask people to record a five-minute video about why they want the job, why they think they’re a fit. But it communicates volumes about all the other stuff. But keep going. I totally see the value here.

Brian Casel:
And there’s actually two sides on the hiring part. Right?

Chris Badgett:
Yeah.

Brian Casel:
One, you could use the intake form. Say you put your job posting up somewhere and you say like, “Respond to this job, and if you could send me a two-minute message, just go to this link and record yourself. “That way you can get a lot higher fidelity applications. Right? But then what I like to do is I’ll probably do like a live Zoom call just a meet and greet and see if there’s like personality fit here with the person. But that’s not enough to know if they’re actually right for the job.

Brian Casel:
So if that goes, well, then I’ll do like a week or a two-week long async interview with a candidate. So usually like a freelancer that I’m going to be working with. Not quite ready to invite them into my Slack workspace yet, but I do want to do a deep dive asynchronously. “Show me your screen. Show me some recent projects that you worked on. Let’s hash those out or let’s hash out what I want to work on, what we will be working on together. Let’s get into the details. And then I’ll know.”

Brian Casel:
It’s almost like we’ve started to work together a little bit and you start to see how do they prepare their responses? What is the best that they can contribute in response? What is their response time? Are they taken all week to get back to you or do they get back in a business day? You learn so much. And if I could do that with three or four candidates, I end up with a much better hire and a much better relationship going forward.

Chris Badgett:
Super smart and super efficient. Since you’re like kind of an anti-meeting guy, I mean, that with mad love. I think it’s super cool. When do you think that a meeting is important? Like asynchronous, let’s say, Zoom. If you were only going to do absolutely essential meetings, what are some ideas of those?

Brian Casel:
Yeah, that’s a good question. One is like I was just saying, I like live calls for just personality fit. And if we’ve been working together a while, I like having a live Zoom call. Call it like team culture. We’re not here on the call to do any real work together, we’re just here to hang out for an hour and talk about our kids for the weekend.

Chris Badgett:
It’s rapport building.

Brian Casel:
Yeah, rapport building. That kind of stuff. I have done that asynchronously too, but you want to just get to know someone, especially if they live across the world from you. So that’s one, but generally, when you’re getting into more productive work, like creative work, I actually do prefer async rather-

Chris Badgett:
Like projects.

Brian Casel:
Yeah, like project work. I like to keep that stuff async, again, because of the quality of the interaction, but also because it’s like easy to log that stuff and refer back to it and that kind of stuff. But live calls is more like rapport building, culture, meeting people, podcasts. I always love to hop on the mics and talk on air. I think that’s important.

Chris Badgett:
I have seen you create some kind of a podcast-like content with ZipMessage message.

Brian Casel:
Yeah.

Chris Badgett:
With people. Was it Chris Lema? Somebody you were talking to, or maybe there’s a group of people. And I thought that was cool just experimenting in that content creation.

Brian Casel:
Totally. I started experimenting that earlier this year. I want to do more of that. The idea is to basically create a podcast asynchronously. Also what we’re starting to do right now, we’re developing some articles for our blog and getting quotes from people, sending them a ZipMessage. “Hey, can you contribute to this? We’re doing an article all about Zoom fatigue. Can you tell me about your experience with that on video?” And then we can embed the video on the page.

Chris Badgett:
I love that. I mean, for anybody, who’s trying to create some content marketing, doing a round-up post like this can be for very powerful. When I’ve done round-up posts in the past, I always try to frame the ask and like, “Hey, if you could just take a minute, just one or two sentence response, I’m not trying to get somebody to write a guest post, I’m just asking for a little bit of attention.” But I could totally see… And people sometimes wouldn’t even send me the thing. They would actually create a video and send it to me in Dropbox like, “Here’s my…” And they actually gave a lot more value because they could just speak and they’re not trying to type paragraphs and stuff.

Brian Casel:
Totally. I mean, one of the other sort of like objection or question that I hear a lot about ZipMessage is like, “Well, what am I going to do with all these videos that I received. Now, I got to sit and watch all these videos.” Right?

Chris Badgett:
Yeah.

Brian Casel:
For me, one of the very first features we had to build into the thing was have a speed control be able to like 2X the speed when you listen back.

Chris Badgett:
Because people can read faster than they can listen. Right?

Brian Casel:
Yeah.

Chris Badgett:
I mean, people are… What am I trying to say here? Video can be slower than like reading, right?

Brian Casel:
Yeah. I think it’s interesting like I tend to-

Chris Badgett:
Communicate… Go ahead, sorry.

Brian Casel:
Yeah. I do 2X on most messages through ZipMessage. I just like to 2X just to get through the message. I can hear it and process it pretty quickly, but it’s still spoken so there’s still like more information being shared than just the words themselves. Right? I mean, we have the automatic transcription feature too. If you’re in a quiet place somewhere [crosstalk 00:42:55].

Chris Badgett:
Oh, you could just read it?

Brian Casel:
You could read it, yeah. When you just read it, you miss the body language and the emphasis and things like that. Or if they’re showing something on the screen.

Chris Badgett:
That’s awesome. I want to close it out, just going back to this idea of conversation design. One of the things that I think about when I think about conversions is it’s a quote I have is that I optimize for conversations, not conversions. And the reason I do that is because conversions come from conversations. So we have a phone number on our website. We have a contact form. We have live chat.

Brian Casel:
Love it.

Chris Badgett:
We’re on social media. We’ll meet people where the conversation is. I know people have different communication styles. Some people prefer to just the written word. Some people prefer visual communication. Some people are auditory, some people visual, all that kind of stuff. And there’s all the different personality types and how people are… And what format are they the most comfortable. If there’s somebody who’s creating an online learning platform, what’s kind of your final words about how to use that message the fullest to create that kind of pathway for support and communication that way either for pre-sales to get people to buy or even after in the actual product delivery.

Brian Casel:
Yeah. I like the way you put that like optimizing for conversations., I’m the same way. Almost every message that I… I’m if I’m writing an email or something or a chat, I almost always respond with like, “Let me know what questions you have or feature requests.” I’m always hungry for questions. I want them to ask questions because that’s what they… When somebody asks me a question, it’s something that they need or that they’re trying to build or they’re trying to achieve or something like that.

Brian Casel:
So that gives me an insight into what their end goal is. And that’s what I’m here to do is to try to solve for that. So the more I can learn about that, the better. I mean, in my email signature and in Gmail, it’s my name and then it says like, “Respond to me on video with a to zipmessage.com/brian. That’s my intake page.

Brian Casel:
I’m always trying to gather information. Especially if you’re a coach or course creator, you’ve probably already connected to some audience and you probably have some insight into a common goal that that audience is trying to achieve. They’re trying to improve their sales team or they’re trying to learn web design or whatever it is that you teach.

Brian Casel:
The deeper understanding of what their end goal is, like, “Why are they trying to learn web design? Why are they trying to learn web development?” It’s because they want to pursue a career in that, or they want to build a product with that. And you get that through conversations, through talking to more and more and seeing the same questions come up 10, 20, 50 times.

Chris Badgett:
I love how you’ve really focused this product on the problem. And I want to encourage everybody to go to zipmessage.com and check it out. And you have a free plan, which makes it easy for people to try it out. There’s a lot of video tools out there like we mentioned Loom, we mentioned Bonjoro. There’s this like testimonial asking thing called VideoAsk. You don’t need all these like desperate video communication tools, you just need ZipMessage to have asynchronous video communication.

Chris Badgett:
I think that’s the beauty of design, really focusing on this problem and let people use it in different ways and really just be the best at solving that problem.

Brian Casel:
Yeah, I appreciate that. I mean, we are seeing that mix. It’s really good for intakes, but then the thing that almost surprised me in the early days was like, “Yeah, they do it for intakes, but then they’re hungry for async back and forth conversation and making it frictionless. I know your audience is on WordPress. We do now integrate pretty closely with WordPress. We’ll be coming out with a plugin pretty soon, but today you could already embed it into any page. So I’m really excited to start working with people building community sites and things like that to get it really integrated.

Chris Badgett:
Yeah. That’s awesome. Well, that’s Brian Casel. He’s over at zipmessage.com. I also really like Brian’s podcast. It’s called Bootstrapped Web. So if you want to get a behind the scenes view of what’s going on at ZipMessage, that’s a great place to go. So go to zipmessage.com. Brian, thanks for coming back on the show. We really appreciate it.

Brian Casel:
Yeah, Chris. This was fun. Anytime.

Chris Badgett:
And that’s a wrap for this episode of LMS Cast. Did you enjoy that episode? Tell your friends and be sure to subscribe so you don’t miss the next episode. And I’ve got a gift for you over at lifterlms.com/gift. Go to lifterlms.com/gift. Keep learning, keep taking action, and I’ll see you in the next episode.

Exclusive Download: 2021 WordPress LMS Buyer’s Guide – Stop wasting time and money researching online course and membership site tech.

Share

Subscribe

Scroll to Top