Episode 273

How to Offer Online Training Into a Business or Any Other Type of Group

Learn how to offer online training into a business or any other type of group with the release of LifterLMS Groups. Chris Badgett and Ali Mathis of the LifterLMS team dive into the latest add-on release from LifterLMS and how it can help you deliver your course to a wider audience, and the opportunities it opens up for selling to companies.

How to offer online training into a business or any other type of group

Groups for LifterLMS has been a popularly requested feature and was added to the roadmap in 2019, and it is now available for you to use on your LifterLMS website. Chris and Ali talk about where the idea for Groups came from, and why LifterLMS decided to develop the add-on.

At the time of recording the podcast, LifterLMS is five and a half years old, and we’ve developed 22 different add-ons for the core software. LifterLMS has always wanted to create Groups, but Chris shares the fundamentals that need to be in place before scaling the platform, such as establishing an easy to use quiz builder, having the ability to do assessments, and having a grading system in place, along with social learning components and private coaching.

One demographic that is very interested in LifterLMS Groups functionality are the course creators who offer training to companies, such as human resources training, technical training, industry standards training, and operations training. Those companies had previously relied on the LifterLMS voucher system to enroll students in courses, but now they can give companies that buy from them their own dashboard that shows reporting for students and has the functionality for branding built-in as well.

Ali and Chris break down the different types of groups that exist in learning, and how LifterLMS Groups can be used to deliver eLearning content in those situations. Groups in learning can exist for families, interest groups, spiritual communities, government agencies, corporations, and many more. When you think about online courses as a textbook 2.0 for the classroom, you can also utilize LifterLMS Groups for live learning.

Chris also shares some of what is to come for LifterLMS Groups in future releases. Currently groups need to be manually set up by the website admin, but an ecommerce engine is currently being developed to allow you to sell groups with bulk discounts, so if someone purchased X seats they would get a 10% discount applied to the price, for example.

Be sure to head to our website to view the new Groups add-on and test it out for your website. If you’re an Infinity Bundle subscriber, you’ll already have access to that plugin and can download it directly from your LifterLMS.com account.

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 cofounder of the most powerful tool for building, selling, and protecting engaging online courses called LifterLMS. Enjoy the show.

Chris Badgett:

Welcome back to another episode of LMScast. My name’s Chris Badgett, and I’m joined by a repeat guest, most repeat guest on the podcast, Ali Mathis from the LifterLMS team. How are you doing Ali?

Ali Mathis:

Great, Chris, how are you?

Chris Badgett:

Doing excellent. Ali’s here to facilitate a conversation around Groups which rolled out very recently. I’m super excited. How we going to do this? Where do we want to start?

Ali Mathis:

I’m super excited about this too because we’ve been talking about this for a long time as a team, so I thought we could start by talking about the history of Groups and why we decided to develop it, where the idea came from.

Chris Badgett:

Well as of this recording LifterLMS, the product is about five and a half years old and the LifterLMS ecosystem is made up of the core Lifter LMS software and then 22 different add-ons I believe. Groups, the most recent, which is amazing. We’ve always wanted it. But the way I always thought about it is before we can scale the learning experience, there’s a lot of fundamentals we need to get in place. Like having an easy to use quiz builder, having the ability for it to do quizzing and assessments and grading and reporting and having our own social learning components, having private coaching components.

Chris Badgett:

And once we get the one on one experience down, then it makes sense to start scaling into groups. So I call that moving slow to move fast later. So I’ve wanted it for a long time. I know lots of community members wanted it for a long time, especially if they sell training into companies and institutions, so that they could do it in an easier way at scale. But that’s what took us so long. That’s what took us five and a half years. Here we are and I’m so stoked that it’s out.

Ali Mathis:

Yeah, that’s really exciting. I guess we should also start by talking about different, like what is a group, what are sort of like the different type of groups that exist out there? Who might this product appeal to?

Chris Badgett:

Well, there’s a lot of different types of groups. If you think about it, it’s kind of one of the things that makes us human is we get into like these little groups. Those could be families, those could be interest groups, could be Facebook groups, could be spiritual communities, could be government, could be businesses, could be corporations, could be some kind of club, could be a bunch of friends, could be like a partner/couple. Groups of people come in all different flavors, so a group can really be anything. I think the classic use case for online courses is to think about selling training into another company where like an HR manager then has a group of employees that go through a course. That’s kind of the classic example. You can also look at traditional education where the college professor as an example would use a textbook that they didn’t write to facilitate learning in the classroom. So if you think about the online course is like the text book 2.0 for the college classroom. It’s another way to think about groups. So there’s lots of different ways to slice and dice it.

Ali Mathis:

But like on the most basic level though, groups allows you, excuse me, groups allows you to offer training sort of like from one to many, is that correct?

Chris Badgett:

Yeah. So instead of doing a one off enrollment, somebody would get access for a certain number of seats and that could be like two seats. It could be 20 seats, could be 2000, could be 20,000 seats.

Ali Mathis:

Is there any limit? It doesn’t sound like there is, but I just want to clarify that.

Chris Badgett:

There’s literally no limit, which is what makes the opportunity so big, which we can talk a little bit about in a bit. But yeah, groups come in all kinds of sizes.

Ali Mathis:

So if there’s no limit though on the LifterLMS plug-in side, I might be throwing you a curve ball with this question, but is there anything on the technical side that you would recommend in terms of server, if you are going to try to sell a course to 20,000 people in a group?

Chris Badgett:

Well batter up to your curve ball. There is if when the online training platform is like your business, it’s important and we talk about a lot in this community, in our Facebook group and the Office Hours Mastermind call in all kinds of places, over email. People ask which hosting should I get for my WordPress LMS? The main thing, the general recommendation, we have a page which we’ll link up in the show notes below. It’s at LifterLMS.com forward slash recommended dash resources. We recommend some hosts, web hosts there that can scale with you. So there’s quality hosting providers out there that can scale. Like if you land a giant client and like 20,000 people drop into your course and one second you’re going to need some more horsepower on your hosting account. So quality managed WordPress hosts, that’ll be no problem.

Ali Mathis:

Cool. So I guess as a business owner there’s a big potential benefit to being able to sell to groups economically speaking. Right?

Chris Badgett:

Absolutely.

Ali Mathis:

Yeah. Could you talk a little bit more about like when you’re offering training one-to-many what that could do to your business or your business model?

Chris Badgett:

Yeah, I mean if you look at it, like a really simple example is, if you had a relatively cheap course in terms of courses, cheap meaning like $100, let’s say it was some kind of workplace compliance training around company policies or like safety in the workplace or something like that. You could sell that to a thousand people, each individual transactions, or you could sell one company that has a thousand people that need the training and in one transaction move the same amount of seats. And that’s kind of mind blowing when you think about it. So that’s really the power of it. It doesn’t mean that group sales is better or worse it’s definitely a lot more efficient and you also don’t have to choose. You may be able to take your same course and sell it to one person, one off, but it may be a perfect fit for a company that needs 20,000 seats of access. So you can still do, but you can have your cake and eat it too.

Ali Mathis:

Well talk to me a little bit about the pricing structure for a group course then as a business owner. Where do you even start in trying to figure out what the value of your course is and how you should price it for salesmen in that manner?

Chris Badgett:

Well one of the things we’re looking at in the phase two of the Groups rollout, which depending upon the time when you’re listening to it may or may not be already be out, is we’re developing a pricing engine so that you can set thresholds based on number of seats that have a certain type of discount. So, for example, after five seats, say you could apply a 10% discount to the price, after a hundred maybe they’re 50% off, maybe after a thousand they’re 80% off or something, just to incentivize. Typically, there’s a bulk deal, but I don’t think we had bulk deals. I know when I was in college, I paid a lot of money for my classroom textbooks and you can pass some savings along to a group buyer. It’s definitely a thing that you can do and also you can still do a sale manually.

Chris Badgett:

Like if you’re going to do a high touch sale and you’re going to get on a plane and you’re going to go to a corporate office and you’re going to get to a board room and you’re going to pitch the training and there’s like 20,000, 100,000, 500,000 seats on the line, that buyer, that enterprise buyer is not going to check out on your website. More than likely you’re going to work out a deal. There’s going to be contracts. You’re going to get a paper check or a wire transfer and you’re going to like set up the group and grant the HR manager or the head of ops, the group admin account and kind of set up that first part manually and then let them do their thing. So there’s all kinds of different ways to approach those volume seats and making the deal happen.

Ali Mathis:

Gotcha. Well, so I was going to ask this one later on but since you brought it up, I know Groups is rolling out in a couple of different phases. So can we back up and first of all talk about, because at the time of this recording we’re still, Groups is still in beta. So what the sort of beta process is like and what you see along the lines in terms of milestone for the Groups add-on development.

Chris Badgett:

So sort of like we were talking about in the beginning, first we had to nail the single enrollment. Now what we have to nail first with Groups is the group experience on the website. That’s really phase one. So that’s the experience of the different roles, which we’ll talk about in a little bit and basically people, the website owner, can create a new group, invite a group administrator to take the account and then start inviting people in and stuff like that. That’s phase one. Phase two is creating the e-commerce engine that’s going to allow group enrollments fully automated through the LifterLMS access plan system and all our e-commerce methods. That’s phase two and then phase three is moving over into where does it make sense to integrate groups with our other ad-ons. As an example, we have a Social Learning add-on, so it would make sense to have an integration between those two add-ons so that you can have a group social learning area of the website.

Ali Mathis:

That’s cool. Since you brought up social learning, can you talk a little bit about the difference between Groups and Social Learning? I know they’re both advanced ad-ons that are part of the Infinity Bundle. Is there any crossover between the two as of right now?

Chris Badgett:

Not until we integrate them. I think the main thing to think about is language is important in groups. When you say the word groups it means different things to different people. For us at LifterLMS groups is about group enrollment, group management, like inviting members and promoting people to be the leaders of the group or admins of the group. And then group reporting, which we’ve also brought to the front end of the website, which is a pretty amazing accomplishment.

Chris Badgett:

Social learning is more about the students being on the platform, learning, having profiles, being able to go check out other students, have public kind of social media style timelines. Having a more social network experience as what we see as social learning. And then cohorts is a word we use to describe groups that are moving through… Groups of people that move through a course, like in a particular time block, much like a fall or spring semester in a course. Same course, different cohort, Fall, Spring, that kind of thing. So once we use-

Ali Mathis:

A lot of different lingo.

Chris Badgett:

Yeah, once we start using those three words, we can kind of sort through and get on the same page easier when we’re having a conversation.

Ali Mathis:

So while we’re talking about words and roles right now, could you talk about specifically like the different group roles and then my followup question to that is going to be how does this work with the other user roles that already exist in LifterLMS in terms of like instructor, administrator, et cetera.

Chris Badgett:

So for Groups we have three roles. There’s the group administrator, the group leader and then the group member.

Ali Mathis:

Okay.

Chris Badgett:

So if you’re setting up a group manually as an example, which you can do today, you just create the group and then you invite a group admin to be the primary admin on the account. That person is then able to invite other group admins and group leaders, which we’ll talk about in a second, and group members. And you can invite multiple members at once. And we also have a link they can share if you just want to like post a link so people can come on to the group. So group admins can view the reporting of their group, they can manage the seats, which means they can invite the people until they reached their limit. And once our e-commerce integration piece is complete, they’ll be able to upgrade the account if they want to buy more seats later and that kind of thing. A group leader can do all that except for the e-commerce components.

Ali Mathis:

Okay.

Chris Badgett:

And then the group member really just experiences participating in the group but they can’t really invite other members and that sort of thing.

Ali Mathis:

And all this is different. So if you are a group leader that does not automatically make you like a site administrator for the entire website, is that correct or incorrect?

Chris Badgett:

Correct. These are all just user roles of word… Well, WordPress has user roles. The WP admin or the site administrator is like the ultimate role with the most power or privileges on the website. Like if you build a WordPress website from scratch, you’re operating as a WordPress administrator.

Ali Mathis:

Right.

Chris Badgett:

The group administrator is really just somebody who has control over that group. And that’s really it. And they actually never see the back end of WordPress.

Ali Mathis:

Oh, yeah. So tell me more about that because you mentioned earlier there’s some front end reporting with this new add-on.

Chris Badgett:

Yeah. So part of the design process is we did not want the group leader or administrator to need to have ever experienced WordPress, know what WordPress is. They don’t even need to realize what’s powering the technology behind the group experience. So we wanted them to be able to experience the website all from the front end without going into the back end of WordPress, which for somebody who’s never done it before, sometimes people don’t know where stuff is and it takes a bit to learn. But everybody knows how to click on links and buttons and navigate the front of a website.

Chris Badgett:

So we were able to port the LifterLMS reporting to the front end of the website on the group admin and group leaders account pages. They can essentially view all the reporting but not of everybody on the site, just the people in their group.

Ali Mathis:

Okay.

Chris Badgett:

And that’s a pretty cool accomplishment. Same with inviting members. They’re doing all that from the front of the website. They’re not going to the WordPress user screen or anything like that. It’s all front end. And we were actually inspired by a company called Trello, if you’ve ever used that for project management, how they were to allow people to invite people onto boards. We kind of took some inspiration from them in our design process.

Ali Mathis:

Yeah. So if, I guess like the front end look and feel though is controlled by your theme. Correct? And you can still customize that to look how you want it to look to match your branding like with any other?

Chris Badgett:

Totally, totally. And some of the group page, like think of it this way, each group has a homepage that has a place where they can, the group can personalize it, they can change the logo, they can change the little header image. So they can interject some of their own branding into the group experience themselves. And then that all sits inside the overall website. So it’s going to inherit like the typography and the general navigation and just the general look and feel of the website itself. So you get the best of both worlds there. And to your question earlier about the different roles-

Ali Mathis:

Yeah because I could see how that could be, maybe not confusing, but, I could almost use it in infograph.

Chris Badgett:

Mm-hmm (affirmative) So another way that’s confusing about groups is like you might think of like there’s an instructor who has a course that has a group of students and that is true that is a group of people that are inside of a course.

Ali Mathis:

Right.

Chris Badgett:

But a group leader and a group administrator is not an instructor. So like if I sell a safety training course to a company, I may have actually created the safety training course and I sell that to a company. I’m the instructor, but it’s that HR department, the buyer and the group leaders that are the manager of their people in the course. Whereas I may have like 50 companies, different groups of students that are all taking my course. I’m still the instructor. So that’s like the teacher and the group manager or the group administrator and group leader aren’t really the same thing.

Ali Mathis:

Mm-hmm (affirmative) and then does groups integrate with memberships as well as courses or just courses?

Chris Badgett:

Yeah, it integrates with both. It actually integrates with them down to, where we’re going with it is down to the access plan level. So if you have a membership that let’s say has two access plans and maybe one of them includes more stuff or whatever, or more benefits that group buyer could then choose which one they want. So yeah, you can do group enrollment in courses as well as memberships down to the access plan level.

Ali Mathis:

So when you say more benefits, for example, could one membership include like private coaching possibly? Does it integrate with private areas as well?

Chris Badgett:

That’s an example of what we’re looking at for phase three.

Ali Mathis:

Okay.

Chris Badgett:

So if you have a course that’s like, okay, we have a self study course, it’s 500 bucks, we have a course with group coaching, that’s the same course with 1000 bucks with group coaching and then a third access plan with private coaching. When we look at private areas we’re going to look at like how can we make private areas work with groups.

Ali Mathis:

Yeah, yeah. That’s really cool. It’s exciting.

Chris Badgett:

Yeah.

Ali Mathis:

And so private areas, groups, some of the other products you mentioned, these are all part of the Infinity Bundle, is that right? So if I’m an Infinity Bundle customer, do I need to do anything to be able to try out Groups?

Chris Badgett:

All you need it to go is to go to your account on LifterLMS.com and open up your downloads tab and it’s right there. You can just add it to your website.

Ali Mathis:

That’s [crosstalk 00:20:11] sorry.

Chris Badgett:

If you have a single product or the Universe Bundle, you can either upgrade to the Infinity Bundle or you could just get the Groups add-on individually if you wanted to.

Ali Mathis:

Okay.

Chris Badgett:

And then the other option is if you want to try before you buy or upgrade, you could just sign up for the LifterLMS Dollar Trial, the 30 day demo we call it, where we give you a temporary website for 30 days. The Groups add-on is inside there so you can activate it and then just try it out if you’d prefer to take it for a test drive that way.

Ali Mathis:

That’s cool.

Chris Badgett:

Yeah, it was cool.

Ali Mathis:

Yeah. Is there anything else about Groups you feel like we haven’t talked about that you think our audience should know about? Or anything like you’re super excited about in regards to Groups?

Chris Badgett:

I just think it has a lot of potential for different… I think if we look at the offline world and how learning happens, whether it’s science related, political related, history related, social science related, business related, sustainable development related, mental health related, whatever. There’s so many categories of our society where learning happens in groups where there’s a layer of leadership involved in facilitating that learning, whether that’s an HR manager, some leader in a community, some leader on the internet. Whatever it is, I think this is just a big opportunity if we set our sights and our goals high that we can… We may, we may not, I think I would just encourage you the listener or if you’re watching this on YouTube to consider how your course might be relevant to Groups and we’ll put a link below this podcast episode to the release blog posts which lists off like 50 different types of groups and I stopped intentionally. I could’ve gone on for like 100 or whatever but it was, it’s just amazing how many different types of groups are out there and how your course might be relevant to some of those.

Ali Mathis:

Yeah, it’s really exciting. And then like within the Groups, will there ever be like a gamification aspect that can be included?

Chris Badgett:

I mean we’re looking at that in terms of achievements and that sort of thing. And we’ve been looking at the, like LifterLMS, our background is in the… Like a long time ago is in the marketing automation world, which means you have a behavior like a trigger and then an action. So the way Lifter’s designed is we’ve taken a lot of the best thinking around marketing automation and turned that over into behavior based triggers in an educational platform like inside courses or training based memberships.

Ali Mathis:

Okay.

Chris Badgett:

So when we can hook into things like the group activities that happen are triggered on the site and LifterLMS, we have things like text messaging, emails that can fire, achievement badges, certificates and so on. So we’re looking at how might we consider integrating those things in the group experience down the road as well. So yeah, more on that to come.

Ali Mathis:

Yeah, that’s exciting. Well thanks so much Chris. I always love talking to you about LifterLMS world and new products and I’m really excited for Groups because we’ve been talking about it for so long.

Chris Badgett:

Yeah, I know, it’s definitely-

Ali Mathis:

I’m happy it’s here.

Chris Badgett:

It’s finally here. It’s so popular. Well, thank you for interviewing me and facilitating this conversation. You are a valuable part of the LifterLMS team and you’ve seen it, you’ve been on the front lines seeing people like asking for this every other kind of conversation or at least a third of the time it seems like to me. So it’s here.

Ali Mathis:

Yeah, I’m happy. I’m happy to be able to point people in that direction now.

Chris Badgett:

Yeah, it’s not like a it’s coming. It’s a it’s here thing.

Ali Mathis:

Yeah, it’s here.

Chris Badgett:

Awesome.

Ali Mathis:

Yeah, it’s great.

Chris Badgett:

Well thanks Ali.

Ali Mathis:

Yeah, anytime.

Chris Badgett:

And for you the listener, go check out Groups and if you have any questions at all about it, just hit us up and hope you have an amazing day.

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.

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