Episode 277

How Membership Site Owners Can Go Beyond the Simple Contact Form to Unlock Incredible Powers with Zack Katz of GravityView

In this LMScast episode, learn how membership site owners can go beyond the simple contact form to unlock incredible powers with Zack Katz of GravityView. 

GravityView is a tool that allows you to display Gravity Forms submissions on the front end of your WordPress website. For example, if you have a testimonial form on your website at the end of your course, you can have a place on your website to display those testimonials once people submit the form. This setup makes the whole process a lot easier than having to manually build that out yourself with form submissions.

How membership site owners can go beyond the simple contact form to unlock incredible powers with Zack Katz of GravityView

The GravityView tool can be used in many other ways as Zack shares in this episode, but allowing you to have user submitted forms display on the front end opens up a world of possibilities for your website.

Chris talks with Zack about the course plus concept where you offer coaching or other interaction with your site other than just the course itself. Another use case for GravityView would be to have data displayed on a map when a user submits a form, so students on your site can fill out a form with their interests and location, and the map will display other users in their area with the same interests. This setup would allow you to create something like an antique marketplace where people can purchase products from others through your site. With displaying forms on the front end of your site, your imagination is really the limit with so many options for things to set up.

Creating directories is a great use of Gravity Forms + GravityView as well. Craigslist and Yahoo are directory tools, and that is a similar setup to what you can create with GravityView if you’d like for your students. If you are teaching a cooking course, you could have a directory where you have recipes posted by students in your membership.

For an animal shelter, GravityView could also make the interface super easy for people who work at the shelter to post animals that are up for adoption. They just have to fill out a form with a picture and a bio, and then people could call the shelter and a staff member at the shelter could take the post down if someone decided to adopt the pet.

To learn more about Zack Katz and the amazing things you can create for your online course website, be sure to check out GravityView.co.

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. If you like this episode of LMScast, you can browse more episodes here. Thank you for joining us!

This episode was sponsored by WP Tonic Managed WordPress LMS hosting. Click here to learn more, and use coupon code wptonichosting50 to save 50% on any annual plan.

EPISODE TRANSCRIPT

Chris Badgett:

You’ve come to the right place if you’re a course creator looking to build more impact, income, and freedom. LMScast is the number one podcast for course creators just like you. I’m your guide, Chris Badgett. I’m the co-founder of the most powerful tool for building, selling, and protecting engaging online courses called LifterLMS. Enjoy the show.

Chris Badgett:

Hello and welcome back to another episode of LMScast. My name’s Chris Badgett, and I’m joined by a special guest, Zack Katz, from GravityView.co. Welcome to the show, Zack.

Zack Katz:

Hi, Chris, thanks for having me.

Chris Badgett:

I’m really excited to have you here with the course building community, and the people who build websites for course builders, because every website needs a contact form. That’s where it kind of starts. Gravity Forms is a great option and you come in with GravityView. What’s your quick explainer of what is it? We have a Gravity Form to process contact forms, but what does GravityView open up people who build websites to be able to do?

Zack Katz:

You have a contact form, but you probably also have a testimonial form that gathers testimonials. So what happens when somebody submits the testimonial? It goes into the backend and then you have to maybe copy and paste it or you have a custom post type called Testimonial and you have to format that. Well, with GravityView it takes the GravityView data itself and displays it on the front end of your site with a drag and drop builder. You don’t need to do anything after the customer submits the testimonial other than approving it.

Zack Katz:

So every time you have a form and you might want to use that data on the front end degree site, that’s where GravityView comes in and you could do really amazing stuff with it. We have a bunch of different layouts that do different functionalities. For example, we just came up with a new calendar add-on for Gravity Forms. If you ever have an event or you need to show somebody’s schedule or days off, that’s a form that is then displayed on the site using GravityView.

Chris Badgett:

Wow, that’s a great way to think about it. So you’re taking form submissions and you’re automatically publishing it somewhere else, formatting it in a certain way. Maybe there’s a review process where someone needs to moderate it before it goes live. And, just for those of you listening, a pro tip for course is if you really want to get testimonials, what you can do is you can put that testimonial collection form on the last lesson or next-to-last lesson so that before they can actually complete the course and get a certificate, they have an opportunity to leave a review or a testimonial.

Chris Badgett:

I hear a lot of course creators, they’re wondering, “How do I get more on my website?” And you can do it this the hard way, like you’re talking about and create a new page on your site called Testimonial or Review or whatever, put a Gravity Form on there, collect some data and some pictures, or you can just have it pop that form right inside of the lesson and have it ready to go. I love that testimonial example.

Zack Katz:

Yeah, and if you’re doing a net promoter score, even, you can do those surveys with Gravity Forms and you can have an email that gets sent to your customer or somebody automatically and asks, “How likely are you to refer company, which is incorporated?” And they rate zero to 10 and that can automatically pre-fill a Gravity Forms for them. And then you can use our math add-on to display a live net promoter score on your website saying, “Our customers love us,” and you can use conditional logic to make sure to hide it if it’s not a good score. That’s all built into GravityView, as well, using our built-in logic short code.

Chris Badgett:

Well, that is awesome. I’m going to come back to that one towards the end of the episode where I selfishly get free consulting. But, as software companies, we look a lot at net promoter score. But one of the other things you do is with the map, which I find really cool. One of the things we talk about a lot on this podcast is a concept that I call course plus. So for people to be successful with online training, I like to say the information age is over. Yes, they need information, but they need a lot of other things to get results, like coaching, like community, other services, other materials, maybe other products. You basically surround your learner with all kinds of things to help them be successful.

Chris Badgett:

But one of those things is community, where people have a sense of finding the “others.” So if you’re building a membership site in a particular niche, whether it’s about anything from supporting veterans’ spouses that are at home or entrepreneurs or of a certain kind or some people going through some kind of health and fitness transformation and they have courses, but they may also want to have this community.

Chris Badgett:

And then what happens in really active membership sites, especially when they reach a certain velocity of user base, is the users start realizing that there might even be people in their same town or close by within driving distance that they could meet up with and continue the relationship offline or have a meetup or a party or something like that. So if we have a membership site and we have all our users in there and we give them the opportunity to drop a pin on a map of where they are, how would that work with GravityView? Can you talk us through that process?

Zack Katz:

Sure. You’d have a form where people could submit their own information, and it can include interests, for example. And interests could be a dropdown form field, for example. You would enter your bio and you’d click Submit and you’d show up on a map and then you could filter by interest and only the people who share the same interest but also show up on that map. That’d be a real quick, easy way to do that. But you can also take it to the next level and say you have a community that loves antiques and they wanted to share that they have antiques for sale. You can have a little antiques market using GravityView, posting what people have to sell and even having a Buy Now button or embedded Gravity Forms for “Buy the antique directly from the person.”

Zack Katz:

GravityView allows you to kind of take an idea and build out an MVP app where, if you think that you are interested in building something out but you don’t want to invest in a bunch of different plugins to make it happen, GravityView can be a proof of concept that can then build out your community page or site further.

Chris Badgett:

That’s awesome. And I can tell where we’re going to go with this episode because I can just keep seeing all these things course creators and membership site builders are trying to do that is possible to do without a developer with GravityView. But, if you’re listening to this and it sounds technical, things like conditional logic or something with the data or whatever, just hang in there because if you’re keeping up with the tech, great, if not, you may want to work with a website person, a WordPress person, that could just implement this for you.

Chris Badgett:

So if you hear something that’s interesting and it sounds a little scary for somebody who regularly builds WordPress sites and works with plugins like Gravity Forms and LifterLMS and other plugins, they’ll know how to put this together. I want to just go into a vocabulary word. There’s this word that I’m starting to hear more and more when people are talking about building sites intelligently and working with data and all this, they use the word “Structured data.” What does that mean to you or how do you help somebody understand the idea of structured data?

Zack Katz:

Structured data involves a lot of thinking about something. So when you’re trying to describe and when you’re learning how to code, often people talk about a car as an object that is described in the real world. You look at a car, you say it has four wheels, it has a steering wheel, it has maybe two or three different types of engines, it has different number of seats and you try to describe using code what that car would look like if it were written as a program.

Zack Katz:

I think the structured data comes in as the same kind of questions that you should ask when you’re looking at the of data that you’re collecting, which is, “Well, is this always going to be a number? Is it an integer? Is it something that Google cares about and, if so, how does it care about it? Is it a category that Google has pre-done and you should reference one of their pre-done categories or is it something more free form?” So when I’m designing a form, I think of the data structure as in trying to catch all the edge cases that could happen and make sure that everything is covered.

Chris Badgett:

Yeah, that’s what I love about working with Thomas over at LifterLMS is he identifies all these edge cases that I just… it’s a gap. But we’re great together because together we can actually create the car and help other people drive their own versions of it. I want to go back to some other use cases for course creators and membership site builders. Sometimes, if we’re building a certification site, so there’s courses to become certified in a skill. Sometimes it’s something that somebody’s doing to better their career or to hang their shingle as being an expert in something.

Chris Badgett:

So part of the offer is not only are there courses available here and you can get a certificate, but we’ll also list you in our directory so when people are looking for professionals like you they can more easily find you. It’s another benefit to somebody joining this type of professional development platform. How would we build a directory? First of all, can you explain what a directory is, how people use them and how they could use your tools to build it out?

Zack Katz:

Sure. A directory is a listing of, well it’s a page of listings that include information. I’ve never been asked what a directory is before, so thank you for helping me clarify. It’s a searchable, sortable, using a metaphor, Yellow Pages or White Pages, depending on how you structure your directory.

Chris Badgett:

Yeah. Let me just throw an example out there. Somebody’s, let’s say, teaching about social media marketing and then you get listed in the directory of like, “I’m certified in social media marketing by Badgett Marketing Incorporated,” and, let’s say, a business is looking for somebody to help hire as a contractor or something for social media marketing in New York City and they want to find somebody that’s actually local to them that they could actually meet with in person or something. That’s kind of the Yellow Pages you’re talking about, right?

Zack Katz:

Yes. And then you can filter it by a skill, for example. You can list skills and say, “I’m good at SEO, I’m good at Facebook and social media marketing. I’m good at website design.” Ane then you can filter down-

Chris Badgett:

Or location.

Zack Katz:

By location, by skill, by any of the fields in the form, you can search by.

Chris Badgett:

Like my project minimum, that’s another one.

Zack Katz:

Exactly. Yes. Yep.

Chris Badgett:

That’s super cool. Is there other directories that you’ve seen people do? You mentioned classified ads. That’s kind of like a listing. It’s a different way. It’s still kind of a directory. It’s a listing, but it happens to be a product, not a person that has certain expertise. So it’s very flexible, right?

Zack Katz:

I would say that Craigslist is a directory, but so was Yahoo Directory back in the day. So a directory, I’d say it’s the display of a database on the front end is kind of a catch all description. But that might be a little codey. So here’s some examples that people do with GravityView. There’s a rescue site for dogs and cats and there’s a pound that gets all the strays. When a new animal comes in, they take a picture of the animal and they submit a Gravity Forms form as “This animal’s up for adoption.”

Zack Katz:

And then it automatically displays on their site using GravityView And then people can easily say, “I want to check out this dog or this cat because I have fallen in love with this little animal.” So that’s where the question is, “Well, how do we show this data that gets updated all the time? And when an animal gets adopted, how do we remove it from the website?” Well, you don’t have to go in and edit custom code or edit HTML, you just un-approve it from the backend and it no longer shows up on the front end. So that’s a directory of pets that are up for adoption powered by Gravity Forms and display views in GravityView.

Chris Badgett:

That is an awesome example. I just want to highlight that point specifically because one of the things that we do at Lifter is we help people create, launch and scale their online training programs. Part of scaling is automating and what a lot of people do with forms, myself included, is we create this hole for data to come through, but then it just ends up in a pile and then I’ve got to do something with it.

Chris Badgett:

But, like in your animal adoption rescue scenario, that business or nonprofit or whatever it is, is automating that whole process and they’ve streamlined a process that helps get that animal adopted quicker. The employees have to be even less and less technical to make it happen. They just have to take the picture and do this stuff, and the review process is also streamlined. So that’s a huge automation win, which is super special.

Zack Katz:

And for nonprofits, we have a lot of nonprofits that use GravityView, one of the use cases is fundraising, and one of the tools people use for fundraising is the Gravity Forms form. They donate using the form. And showing your latest donors is a manual process, normally. You would have to thank them on the page somehow, you copy and paste their name. Or using GravityView, you can automate that and the latest donors show up on your website automatically. And that’s only if they opt in with a checkbox. So you can do these kinds of limitations that are built into our plugin where it makes sure that only people’s data is shown them that they want shown.

Chris Badgett:

I like that point. I think that’s a really important point. And you mentioned that earlier, too, I think about testimonials. It’s not a one-and-done thing. If you have like edge cases like, “Well, I need people to consent to having their name displayed publicly. I need them to have that choice. They can do that.” I need the ability to review the testimonial before it goes live on my website in case it’s a spammer or somebody’s, whatever. You would need moderation, no problem. You can do that. Or somebody needs to review directory listings of professionals before they go live to make sure there’s no spelling errors or something like that. It’s not like a one size, you can still put your checks and balances in there, is what I’m saying.

Zack Katz:

Right. And we’ve Gravity Forms and with any solution, really, if you are thinking, “Well, can I do this?” First of all, probably, yes. And second of all, look at the different solutions and find out which one. Ask everybody if you can do something and find out which ones are the most competent in the different areas. Because GravityView can do a lot of things that even LifterLMS can do. LifterLMS is a way better solution for what you’re doing. But GravityView, you could build that out, and some of the functionality.

Zack Katz:

But when you’re looking at any business that’s trying to scale and grow and enhance their business practices, when you ask the question, “Can I make this simpler?” The answer is almost always, “Yes.” Always look for a solution. Or ping Chris or ping me or ping anybody and say, “What would you recommend doing this with?” and we will tell you.

Chris Badgett:

And the question is also, “Can I do this without custom code?” And the answer is still, most of the time, “Yes.”

Zack Katz:

Most of the time, “Yes.” I just found another plugin that does stuff that GravityView does, but it does it better. And now I’m going to recommend that instead. Because there are so many ways that you can use GravityView and there’s so many ways you can use LifterLMS and there’s so many ways… It’s always possible, especially with WordPress. That’s the nice thing about WordPress. That’s the great thing about Gravity Forms as an ecosystem, is that Gravity Forms connects to Lifter and you can display that same data using GravityView in different ways and combine this all. Really, you generally don’t get a custom coder. At most, you probably need a consultant.

Chris Badgett:

Keep listening. This podcast is not over. This is just a special message about this episode sponsor WP-Tonic Managed WordPress LMS Hosting. Think of it as everything you need to have a professional online course training platform right out of the box, ready to go. Find out more about WP-Tonics Managed WordPress LMS Hosting by going to Lifterlikes.com/tonic. Now, back to the show.

Zack Katz:

Most of the time.

Chris Badgett:

Yeah, or a podcast episode like this, even though it’s possible.

Zack Katz:

My customers [crosstalk 00:18:53].

Chris Badgett:

There’s something else that I want to get into, another use case, or really just an idea, which is user-generated content. A testimonial is user-generated content, but let’s say I’m using an LMS and part of it is, let’s say it’s like a school of some kind, an online school, and part of it is the students. It’s some kind of writing thing or there’s like a public journaling element where people are essentially posting to the blog of this website, but the website owner wants to do it where they don’t have to go into the backend of WordPress and do it like… Can they publish blog posts from the front end of the website? I’m just thinking of user-generated content. Talk to us about that.

Zack Katz:

Yeah, so for user-generated content, GravityView does have a front end approval feature where somebody doesn’t have to go into the backend. If you’re logged in as an administrator, you can just approve or reject entries from the front end while you’re just browsing the submitted entries. I found a really cool thing that involves crowdsourced data today when I was preparing for this talk. It’s a crowdsource list of female ancient historians. So this is historians that they’re ancient historians and they’re female and it shows everybody on a map and it’s just crowdsourced. So whenever anybody wants to add their name to it, they add it. I assume they have a moderation process. I love things like that because-

Chris Badgett:

It’s kind of like Wikipedia, right?

Zack Katz:

Right. Wikipedia has the crowd editing functionality that we don’t have it. We have a single editor, but it’s the same kind of situation.

Chris Badgett:

Yeah, that’s super cool.

Zack Katz:

But we also, for a lot of professors who use GravityView for students to submit their final essays, for example, or their end-of-term art projects, and the professors can, or even a panel of professors, can leave comments on each of the submitted artworks and kind of vote on what they think that the grade should be. So a lot of use cases in education for, I would say, kind of crowdsourced-student data that’s coming in that’s not generated by the professors themselves.

Chris Badgett:

That’s super cool. I had a question, too, and this comes directly, I’ve heard this question many times in many different ways, but first, before I asked that, can you edit something or can you update something that you’ve already posted? For example, whatever, if I posted to the map that I live in New York City and I moved to Los Angeles, can I update my listing later?

Zack Katz:

Yep. Users can update their own entries, as long as they’re logged into WordPress, and then you can have it in GravityView to either be approved, still, after editing, if you trust the person who’s editing or after editing, it can go back into the review process for moderation.

Chris Badgett:

That’s cool. So the context of the question I usually get this in, it goes something like this. “My course helps people. We work on this project and it’s some kind of writing project. For example, like a business plan. So over the course of six weeks I’m going to take some new entrepreneurs or would-be business owners, teach them what a business plan is, consult with them along the way, do group coaching. And by the end of the course you will have a good solid business plan. How could I do that where I’m I’m working on parts of it but not all of it at once?”

Zack Katz:

Right. There are lots of different ways that that could work in GravityView. It could even be different forms, different Gravity Forms forms for each step.

Chris Badgett:

Oh, that’s awesome. Yeah.

Zack Katz:

Or different pages of the same form you, because you can do it different ways. But GravityView does allow you to combine data from multiple forms where the same field matches each other. So if you have student ID or, I don’t know if you’d call it a student, but student ID, and it’s the same for each form, you can say, “Combine all these and show one record.”

Chris Badgett:

Wow. That’s pretty cool. Calendars. What can we do with calendars? For membership sites, sometimes there’s a need to have a calendar for, “Okay we have all these courses and stuff, but we have our group coaching call on this day. We have our live in Spain on this date,” so people can plan, and maybe multiple stakeholders are involved as to who can put stuff on the calendar or whatever. How does Gravity Forms and calendars in GravityView work together?

Zack Katz:

Yeah. So with our calendar functionality, you can select a start date, end date, start time, end time, all based on the fields of the form itself. And you can also select for it to go to a website that has a URL field in the form. So, just like everything else at GravityView, it really depends on how you need to use it. People said that they wanted to display, for example, the time off that their team members have requested. So if you know Joe and Jane are asking for time off at the same time, it’ll appear on the calendar and you can drag and drop and rearrange the timing of their vacation times.

Zack Katz:

We have lots of events functionality that if you want a simple way to display an event listing on your website, you could have a calendar above an embedded GravityView so that you can have a listing of the GravityView events that have pictures, summaries, details, categories, and then you can just see easily on a calendar what the timing of those events might be.

Zack Katz:

So in terms of the use case that you described, I’m not sure that that’s the best use case for a calendar, but there are many different, and it’s a new plugin so I’m looking forward to finding out all the amazing ways that people use it, because I don’t really know all the ways that people are going to use it, but I know it’s going to be used by a lot of different people.

Chris Badgett:

Yeah, that’s cool. I think in the course building community… And, by the way, I appreciate that. This audience here really appreciates when software creators, plugin creators, do active listening and want to hear what people want. So thank you for saying that. In this and this scenario with course builders, it really goes back to that concept of course plus, and if there’s course plus coaching or live events or virtual events, those are all things that need to get organized on a calendar so people can plan accordingly.

Zack Katz:

Right. If your community wanted to display all the things that they were doing and all the different places they were presenting about LifterLMS at different meetups at different Word camps, they could submit using a form and you could have a calendar of LifterLMS talks in the public.

Chris Badgett:

Wow, that’s cool.

Zack Katz:

And then you could click on each entry and it would go directly to the website of the talk. That’s an example for a community could create a user-generated calendar and not just display things that are generated by the company itself.

Chris Badgett:

Like a crowdsourced event, like presentation. Because, yeah, when things take on a life of their own, that’s what goes back to user journey-generated content. What type of content are we talking about here? We’re talking about events or educational opportunities. This is kind of outside of the scope of your product, I think, but I know people are wondering, because I talked to them all the time, and people do it to me all the time, so I’m going to put you on the spot. Course creators, they want to make sure they have a good amount of their data in the CRM. Like, let’s say active campaign.

Chris Badgett:

Because course creditors are often thinking about that. You got the LMS, you got the WordPress, you got the hosting, you got the website. But then they have this CRM over here that they use for broadcast emails and other various activities where they’re applying tags based on things. For example, whether it’s Active Campaign or MailChimp or ConvertKit or whatever it is, how do you recommend, when we’re talking about structured data like connecting Gravity Forms to the… Let’s say we create a testimonial form and we want to know in our CRM who has submitted a testimonial and who has not based on the fact that the tag is present or not. Can they do that?

Zack Katz:

Absolutely. And Gravity Forms makes it really easy to connect with any service, essentially. And if your service doesn’t exist on Gravity Forms’ ecosystem yet, just tell somebody and they’ll make it, essentially. But Gravity Forms connects to places like Drip, places like HubSpot, Salesforce, everything that you can imagine, they have an integration for. So when a form is submitted, in your case a testimonial form, you can tag, “Left a testimonial.” And you can even tag your customer with their influencer rating score and the NPS score, for example.

Zack Katz:

And if you think that somebody is going to be a good promoter of your company and your business or your product or your services, then you can tag them specially. That’s all configured in Gravity Forms itself. So Gravity Forms really is a great way to connect all these things. They have a deeper connection. Recently they partnered with HubSpot, and I know HubSpot’s a really big marketing CRM that a lot of people use.

Chris Badgett:

Yeah, that’s really cool. When I was, earlier, into building websites and WordPress and everything, somebody helped me understand that the form is really fundamental into how the web works and websites. Lots of things are form submissions. Once you kind of get that, then you see how powerful forms are and then all of the different ways you can use forms and the data that flows through them. It’s really [crosstalk 00:30:07]

Zack Katz:

Yeah. And Gravity Forms, when you think of it, the post editor, now it’s the Gutenberg editor, it’s just one big form to submit an entry and the entry is your blog post or your page. It’s user-submitted content but it happens to be in the backend and built in. But Gravity Forms actually can submit forms from the front end, so you don’t even need to use the back end because everything is a form.

Chris Badgett:

Right. Right, right. Well, Zack, this has been a lot of fun and I would encourage, if you’ve got some interest in certain of these use cases we talked about, to go back and re-listen to this, because we packed a lot in here. What you can do with forms and what you can do with the data with GravityView is one of those things where the options are literally limitless.

Chris Badgett:

So, yeah, just keep thinking about it. And, really, before going to the tool, think about what do you want? What’s the goal? What do you want your community to be like? What kind of information do you want your website to contain? How do you want help from your users to create content and make the website more useful or more accurate about whatever. Pick that, figure out what problem you want to solve for and then go to the tools and see how you can do it with Gravity Forms and GravityView. Zack, I want to thank you for coming on the show. He’s at Gravityview.co. Do you have any final words for the people of LifterLMS?

Zack Katz:

Well, with your final advice, I was thinking if your form that you’re building seems like it’s unwieldy and isn’t quite right, it’s probably not. So take a second to think about your data structure again and really figure out, “Well, could this be split into two forms or multiple pages?” Or ask somebody. You know, you can always ask us at GravityView and we’re happy to give you any answers to any questions you have. Gravity Forms has a great support team. LifterLMS, excellent support. Anybody. Just pause and ask before you keep on down a road that you’re uncertain with and I think that you’ll come out with a better solution.

Chris Badgett:

That’s great. Well, thanks so much, Zack.

Zack Katz:

Thank you, Chris.

Chris Badgett:

And that’s a wrap for this episode of LMScast. I’m your guide, Chris Badgett. I hope you enjoyed the show. This show was brought to you by LifterLMS, the number one tool for creating, selling, and protecting engaging online courses to help you get more revenue, freedom, and impact in your life. Head on over to LifterLMS.com and get the best gear for your course creator journey. Let’s build the most engaging, results getting courses on the internet.

Exclusive Download: 2020 WordPress LMS Buyer’s Guide – Stop wasting time and money researching online course and membership site tech.

Share

Subscribe

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top