Episode 298

How to Use LifterLMS to Grow Your B2B Software Leads, ARPU, Activation, and Retention with Groundhogg CEO Adrian Tobey

Learn how to use LifterLMS to grow your B2B software leads, ARPU, activation, and retention with Groundhogg CEO Adrian Tobey in this episode of LMScast hosted by Chris Badgett from LifterLMS. Adrian is a returning guest to the LMScast show. He’s the creator of Groundhogg, which is a plugin that allows you to create and manage your email list directly from the back end of WordPress.

Typically an email list tool is separate from your website. Companies like Mailchimp or ActiveCampaign will host your email list and allow you to send emails in a broadcast or automated format to your list, but Groundhogg takes that functionality and adds it right into WordPress.

As of the recording of this LMScast, Adrian has 3 courses available over on Academy.Groundhogg.io. He has a Quickstart Course that a vast majority of Groundhogg users take to get them to the point where they can be more successful with the Groundhogg products. The second course he has there is about how course creators can utilize Groundhogg to run their marketing automation. That’s the Course Creator’s Essentials. The third course is a course built around training his team of certified partners that are website developers who know how to work with Groundhogg and build sites for clients.

At Groundhogg.io, you can learn more about the revolutionary WordPress CRM tool that allows you to bring the power of email automation directly into the back end of WordPress. Also, be sure to also check out Academy.Groundhogg.io to see what Adrian and his team have been working on for making sure his users are successful.

How to do marketing automation, CRM, and more directly from your WordPress website with Groundhogg founder Adrian Tobey

As a SaaS business owner, Adrian shares some reasons you may want to consider courses for your product, such as the idea that documentation is necessary, but often much more suited for techie people. Courses are an approachable and visual way to learn for people who are not as tech-oriented. He also shares how community building his Facebook group, live Office Hours via Zoom, and running events have been the pillars to success in the SaaS space for Groundhogg. (We see much of the same at LifterLMS as well.)

Adrian is also super engaged on Facebook, so connect with him there in the Groundhogg User Group.

At LifterLMS.com you can learn more about new developments and how you can use LifterLMS to build online courses and membership sites. If you like this episode of LMScast, you can browse more episodes hereSubscribe 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 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 is Chris Badgett, and we’ve got a return guest on the show. His name’s Adrian Tobey. He’s the creator and CEO of Groundhogg, that’s Groundhogg with two Gs. What does Groundhogg do, Adrian?

Adrian Tobey:

So, Groundhogg is a marketing automation and CRM plugin for WordPress. If you need help with CRM marketing, sales and fulfillment, we have tools that will enable you to do that right from your WordPress dashboard.

Chris Badgett:

This is awesome because in the Lifter LMS community or the course creator membership site community in general, there’s a lot you can do within WordPress to basically build your entire education company. A lot of people go for a separate CRM or marketing automation tool like MailChimp, ConvertKit or ActiveCampaign.

Chris Badgett:

But what I love about Groundhogg is that people can actually keep it all on WordPress, and do all that stuff, the broadcast emails, the tagging the marketing automation, the CRM activities all with inside their central or WordPress website. So, that’s amazing. And if you haven’t checked out Groundhogg, go check it out. That’s at Groundhogg, with two Gs, .io.

Chris Badgett:

And Adrian also has something cool going on that we really wanted to focus on today as a software company. This is a WordPress-based business, but it’s really relevant to any software company. He’s using Lifter LMS to add courses to his website at a high level, as of this recording, we’re recording this in the middle of March. What are the three courses you have right now as of this recording?

Adrian Tobey:

So, as of this recording, we have three courses. The first one is our Quickstart Course. So, that’s the course where we send the vast majority of new users to go peruse through take, and hopefully that will get them to a point where their level of knowledge about marketing in general is a little bit heightened so they can be more successful with our products.

Adrian Tobey:

Following that, we have something that we call our Course Creator’s Essential course, which we actually developed specifically because I started hanging out with you. And we started getting a lot of people coming from the Lifter LMS community, the LearnDash community, the Tutor LMS community. So, we needed a way to show them, it’s like, “All right, here are all the cool things that you can do with an LMS and Groundhogg tied together.”

Adrian Tobey:

And the next one we have after that is our Certified Partner course, where we run people who apply to become certified partners through so that they can have a certain level of education so that they can better help their clients implement our stuff.

Chris Badgett:

So, what problem were you experiencing or challenges that… or opportunities that you want to take advantage of that led you to looking for a learning management system to add courses to your marketing or your customer success mix?

Adrian Tobey:

So, I mean, one of my fatal flaws is that I think things are easy. And because I mean, I’m a developer and I built a lot of this tool along with a couple other people. And I think that implementing it is relatively easy because I’ve done it, I can do it in my sleep. And then what happens is, I expect other small businesses to be able to do the same, people who have never worked with a marketing automation tool before, may have never even written an email as far as I’m concerned.

Adrian Tobey:

So, I started, after running this company for about a year, without any formal education in place, I started getting lots of emails being like, “I can’t get it to work. I don’t know what to do.” It’s like, “What are my first steps?” And I’m like, “Well, there’s templates and stuff in there, you should be able to figure out.” And of course, that is just like… that was very naive of me.

Adrian Tobey:

So, it became very apparent that there needed to be some level of formal education in order to ensure the long-term success of our customers. And if we didn’t have that, Groundhogg is what I would call a very high touch product. There’re two kinds of software.

Adrian Tobey:

There are low-touch utility programs and low-touch utility software, where it’s like you install it, you set it and you… it does its thing and you don’t really need a whole lot of education in order to make it work. And then there’s high touch software, stuff that requires a significant amount of knowledge and configuration in order to get it to work properly. When I started-

Chris Badgett:

I don’t want to park on that point. I think it is a really important point. I have the same issue at Lifter LMS. It’s an entire platform to create, launch, and sale, and scale an online education company, that’s courses, membership site, coaching programs, expert businesses, internal training platforms for companies, it’s huge. It’s a complex product. Sometimes I see these products that do like one thing really well, which is not better or worse.

Chris Badgett:

It’s just like it gets an opt-in, or it hides desktop notifications when you’re doing a virtual meeting so you don’t accidentally share something. These are more like one trick done really well programs. But if you have a complex software product, then education becomes more valuable. In your mind, what is the difference between going towards courses versus documentation? How are they different? Why did you need courses?

Adrian Tobey:

Well, first of all, I think both are incredibly important. Documentation fills a hole for a certain kind of audience, right? Documentation is for a lot more techie people, and people who don’t mind doing a whole lot of reading, and we have a very robust set of documentation, and we’re trying to do our best to add to it every single day. And then courses are for a different kind of audience.

Adrian Tobey:

And these people qualify as less educated in the field of instruction is a nice word that I’m going to put it. They’re coming into the community, they have nothing. Their level of education is they listen to someone on a podcast, tell them that they need marketing automation, like I need marketing automation. Or in your case, I need an LMS in order to grow my business, right?

Adrian Tobey:

And that’s the level of education and they show up. And they’re like, “Okay, I bought this thing, now what? That’s where they’re at. So, our courses are geared towards those people who are not at a higher level of education in terms of how all of this stuff is supposed to work together, and then bring them to a point where they can understand some of the documentation that we have in order to get them through the rest of the implementation process.

Adrian Tobey:

That’s where our courses fit into the customer lifecycle. It’s at that early moment, so we can bring them up to a certain level of education where our other educational resources, documentation, office hours and stuff will start to make sense to them.

Chris Badgett:

What other education-based solutions or content solutions did you try once you had this realization that it’s easy for you? But of course, it is. You’re the CEO and founder of the company. What else have you tried? You’ve mentioned the office hours, documentation, what else have you done?

Adrian Tobey:

Yeah. So, we have office hours, we have documentation. We have our Facebook group. We have our Facebook group, which is a continuing source of help and guidance for new people, the conversations happen in there. One of the issues that we’re actually currently facing with our Facebook group is people in there at different levels of education.

Adrian Tobey:

So, some of the conversations are extremely high level and then some people at the lower level of the education spectrum are looking at that and be like, “Oh, wow, this seems really complicated,” and they get frightened. And so, that’s something that we’re currently trying to come up with a process in order to mitigate that, and provide more useful conversation topics and stuff.

Adrian Tobey:

Beyond that, we tried to make our product as low touch as possible. We’re talking about high-touch, low-touch products. When I initially started Groundhogg, I wanted it to be a low-touch product-

Chris Badgett:

Passive income.

Adrian Tobey:

… [inaudible] because it came from Infusionsoft and other CRM companies, which are extremely high touch. And I’m like, “Well, I can make this simpler.” And it turns out, “No, I can’t.” I tried as much as I could, but at the end of the day, it’s still a high-touch product. But we templatize as much as everything is possible. And we’d actually, in some of our funnel templates, so they can click a button.

Adrian Tobey:

And then they could have like a lead magnet download funnel, like set up in 30 seconds. And it would actually have instructions. As they go through the steps, there’d be instructions embedded into the email templates that they would have to edit. And it’s like, “Hey, listen. So, this is the email where you have to send the confirmation link. The confirmation link is already there for you, just delete this text, add a little bit of personalization, and you’re good to go.”

Adrian Tobey:

And we tried doing that as well. And that, again, has a level of success associated with it, although I can’t really attach any specific number to it. But that’s something else that we did. But at the end of the day, it was just apparent that we needed some form of higher-level education in order to help these people succeed.

Chris Badgett:

Yeah. And one of the cool things about courses too, is unlike a blog post or documentation, courses have progress tracking. So, if you’re going through an issue, people can’t necessarily get to the learning outcome in one sitting. So, they can complete lessons as they go. When they come back, they can see the parts that they haven’t finished, and then they can keep going. And that’s just one of the big differences. It’s a more curated personalized experience.

Adrian Tobey:

So, most successful course, the Quickstart Course has it’s… only takes about an hour to go through. And then what we did is we bundled it with our lead magnet download template, which I had just mentioned, and this is meant… I mean, every marketer who has been in the industry for at least day knows this strategy. It’s like you stick an opt-in form on a web page, on a landing page somewhere. And then you get an email and says, “Confirm your email.”

Adrian Tobey:

You confirm your email address, and then you send them, whatever the thing that they opted in for PDF, free core, a free lesson, or a video, or whatever it is that your lead magnet was, and then you upsell from there. And that’s what the Quickstart Course. The Quickstart Course is you are going to set this up in less than an hour, and here are the exact following instruction/steps that you need to do in order to complete and implement that and actually start collecting leads.

Chris Badgett:

That’s awesome. I just want to ask a question there. So, a traditional lead magnet is often a small consumable, like a video checklist, a small eBook. So, when you say bundling, you mean you’re offering the traditional small consumable lead magnet, but also giving them access to this free Quickstart Course, is that correct?

Adrian Tobey:

So, I mean, when I say bundling, I mean, the purpose of the course is we’re providing them the template to set up the course, is what I mean. So, they go through these steps. And by the end of the Quickstart Course, they should have this lead magnet download funnel in-

Chris Badgett:

Oh, I see. Yeah. So, it’s a specific result. And one of the ways I… this is what I recommend for what I call free course lead magnets, which is how do we show somebody the 5% of our software to get them to a huge value point. So, in your case, it’s like, “I’m going to show them the essential steps to start building their email list,” right?

Adrian Tobey:

Yeah, pretty much.

Chris Badgett:

Using your tool?

Adrian Tobey:

Yeah. So, we get them to a point so the received value at the end of the course, is that they can now send a broadcast email. So, the final step of the course is you send a broadcast email to whatever email addresses you have on your list at the moment, to the landing page, where they can enter their additional information or whatever in order to receive the lead magnet that was promised to them. And so, they receive two value points.

Adrian Tobey:

First of all, they’re able to now send a broadcast email, which is your typical newsletter, Mailchimp type stuff. And then you can see people, and how this actual funnel, and the reporting, and all that stuff works. So, you can see, is my stuff actually valuable? So, we validated on two different areas there. So, they can see the open rate, and the stats, and all of that good stuff from the broadcast. They can see people opting in, and the system working in delivering the emails, and stuff, and everybody’s happy.

Chris Badgett:

That is awesome. So, we’re essentially getting in software, what we call we’re getting our customer the core value, which helps them activating the product, or if they’re already using your product, or if they’re a prospect, and they’re interested in your software, and they’re just checking it out. They can literally see instead of like a marketer telling them like, “It’s amazing, check out these features and benefits. Let’s just show you how to use our tool so that you can start building your email list, and get your own lead magnet funnel going.” And then the purchase becomes a foregone conclusion.

Adrian Tobey:

Yeah. Well, one of the things that we struggle with continuously, and I think a lot of software companies struggle with, is the fact that their customers purchase this software with the expectation of having it all set up before selling anything, or actually launching their business, or showing it to somebody or-

Chris Badgett:

Instead of the blank canvas they actually-

Adrian Tobey:

Instead of yeah, so they purchase software with the idea that, “Okay, I need to have the website or the project in this state before I can launch it.” The Quickstart Course foregoes that, and tries to break that expectation by having them set up just this one funnel with nothing else set up on their site, whatsoever.

Adrian Tobey:

No other funnels, no other anything because a lot of times, we get customers who come in, and they say, “Well, I need to have an abandonment funnel, or a refund funnel, or the super complex sales funnel for all of my people.” And I’m like, “Let’s, all right, bite size pieces here. Let’s build your lead magnet download funnel, and let’s launch it to somebody.”

Adrian Tobey:

And that way, they actually get a taste of what it feels like in order to start collecting leads, and even potentially revenue, if they’ve gotten that far. And that way, they can start actually being successful with the product in bite size chunks, and start building more, and more, and more, and more on top of it instead of trying to build it all-out beforehand, and then launching it, and of course, something doesn’t work, because it never works entirely the first time.

Adrian Tobey:

I’ve learned that a few times. And then end up being super frustrated, and complaining, and they end up in our support queue with all of these different problems. And like, “Well, you tried to take on more than you were educationally capable of at this time. So, let’s start you out, and we’ll get you with this one portion launched, ready to go so you can experience that success and then move on forward from there.”

Adrian Tobey:

And so, the Quickstart Course kills two birds with one stone in that sense, gets them onboard the program, and also breaks the expectation that they have to get it all done before launching, which is one of the biggest problems that we faced in our earlier days.

Chris Badgett:

I love it because this is a course, your Quickstart Course for Groundhogg and you can check this out at academy.groundhogg, with two Gs, .io, is that you’re providing a solution not just suggestions. Because some courses are just general ideas and stuff, but you’re getting into like, you’re going to get this result if you watch this content, follow my lead, implement what I’m doing.

Chris Badgett:

It’s like a solution, like leads done for you, done with you funnel, it’s I’m going to show you how to build it so you can actually do it yourself, DIY. There’s like a specific outcome. It’s not just general pontification about lead generation or whatever, which I love. It’s super, super specific. Before we get into some of your other use cases, one of the things, one of the reasons I wanted to interview you as a Lifter LMS user is we were talking.

Chris Badgett:

I think I mentioned that our free Quickstart Course is the number one driver of email list growth for us. We’ve had about 20,000 people go through that course. And we had that conversation, and then a week later, I saw Groundhogg Academy was live, your ability to execute, and run with the idea was super-fast. Tell us about that speed to market.

Adrian Tobey:

Yeah. Typically, whenever I hear a good idea from someone that I trust, I try to implement it as quickly as possible because it usually comes from a solid source. And that is certainly the case here. You told me that the Quickstart Course, and we were already playing with the idea of getting something together, and putting something together. And your suggestion about go through our Quickstart Course.

Adrian Tobey:

Because I, at that point, decided that I was going to build some sort of academy Lifter LMS stuff. That was decided, and I just didn’t really know how I was going to do it. And you’re like, “Well, you need to go through the Quickstart Course or got an email or something, go through the lifter, LMS Quickstart Course and that’ll get you set up with [inaudible 00:17:11].” So, I went through it, I’m like, “Well, this is great.”

Adrian Tobey:

And then you told me about 20,000 people, and I’m going through this course. And I’m like, “Well, that sounds even better.” That was just the aha moment for me. So, I’ve been working with WordPress for a very long time, and I was able to… I spun up a website on my hosting platform, created subdomain, academy.groundhogg, installed all my stuff in there.

Adrian Tobey:

And then I shamelessly followed the exact steps that the Lifter LMS Quickstart Course walked me through, and replicated that as best I could in order to provide a solid foundation for implementing Groundhogg. I did a little bit differently. I used slides. A lot of people are… one of the things that our audiences, a lot of them they read, and they don’t… they’re not as audible learners, but they like visual stuff.

Adrian Tobey:

So, I incorporated a lot of visuals with it as well. In addition to obviously all the screen capture and stuff, but just slide decks that walks me through, and put all the important talking points on the screen in addition to me, obviously reiterating that in voice for anybody who’s listening on another tab or whatever, but I have both. And I did what you’re not supposed to do, and I sat down, and shut all my notifications off for three days, and just banged it out.

Chris Badgett:

Why do you say not supposed to do?

Adrian Tobey:

I mean, because-

Chris Badgett:

Because it requires deep work, you have to you have to make a sacrifice to build an education product, right?

Adrian Tobey:

No, that’s absolutely true. That’s absolutely true. I locked myself down and I basically recorded this course, which takes about an hour to go through in three days. And I launched it without any other content on it. And one of the things that I believe in is that a product should not be finished before you launch it. And I think a lot of a lot of small business owners make a mistake of making sure something is perfect before launching it.

Adrian Tobey:

Because the true fact of the matter is, your business, or your website, or your product will never reach a state of completion, or perfection. And that is a human condition that we believe that we’re strong enough, and we’re capable enough to create a perfect product. And that’s just not true. At least I don’t think that’s true.

Adrian Tobey:

I’ve certainly never seen a perfect product. If you have, you can show me. But I was really rough when I first launched it. The site was rough. The course was rough. And I just had the expectation that I’m going to come back to this after a significant number of people go through it. I’m going to collect all the feedback that those people have, and then I’m going to make it better.

Adrian Tobey:

And then over the next couple weeks, the site got better, the lessons got better, added comments, and stuff like that, and people started interacting a little bit more, and we’ve been able to improve upon it greatly. Then inevitably, we added additional courses to the site as well in order to complement the Quickstart Course.

Chris Badgett:

Well, let’s get into those other courses in a second. But first, just a quick technical question, because I get asked this a million times, and I’d love to hear your answer. You decided to install the Lifter LMS plugin on a subdomain. So, it’s at academy.groundhogg, with two Gs, .io, why’d you choose to do it on a subdomain and not your main software sales site?

Adrian Tobey:

Legacy reasons.

Chris Badgett:

What?

Adrian Tobey:

Just legacy reasons. So, our main site is incredibly customized at this point. There’s a lot of software stuff going on the back end for licensing distribution. There’s a lot of custom stuff just baked in, and it’s just out of simplicity. I didn’t want to have to do any debugging with adding additional software at that point.

Adrian Tobey:

So, the easiest way in order to create an MVP for this course was just to spin up a new WordPress website, and slap some software in there, and that was the fastest way in order to get it. Maybe not the cleanest way. Certainly, not the easiest way in terms of actually connecting the billing to the courses, to the CRM, and all of that stuff.

Adrian Tobey:

That was considered after the fact, but the fastest way in order to get any amount of educational resources, I’m usually a fastest path to resolution type guy, not really what the best one, but whatever gets us there fastest then we can fix up the kinks later is let’s go down that route, and then we’ll solve everything after the fact.

Adrian Tobey:

And the fastest way was just spin up new WordPress website, get Lifter LMS in there, record the courses, put them up, and then send out a broadcast email to the thousand or so people on our list, and tell them, “Go take this course.”

Chris Badgett:

That is awesome. Well, let’s talk about your Certified Partner program, which you have education component that is powered by Lifter LMS. First, if software companies may know what this is, but in case somebody is listening who hasn’t heard of a partner program, or if you’re learning from this episode, and you’re not a software creator yourself, you’re more of a regular course creator. What is a certified partner program for a software company? What’s it designed to do?

Adrian Tobey:

So, I used to be a certified partner for Infusionsoft. And as a certified partner, our job was twofold, to sell Infusionsoft as an affiliate partner, just a general affiliate partner, although we got better commissions than regular affiliate partners. And the second part of our job was to implement or help those businesses implement Infusionsoft in some capacity.

Chris Badgett:

For money?

Adrian Tobey:

For money. Yes. So, we would receive a commission, and they would pay Infusionsoft for the software, and then the customer would pay us to implement it, and actually make it work somehow for their business so that they will receive some return on their investment.

Chris Badgett:

So, here you go again, modeling something that’s already working for another company. I’m just recognizing a pattern here.

Adrian Tobey:

I do that a lot. I’d like to think that I have a few original ideas every something, and maybe I do, but a lot… I mean, I’m going to just do what already is working.

Chris Badgett:

What’s that quote, like good artist invent, great artist steal or something like that? I don’t know. It’s an old quote, but go ahead, so what’s the Certified Partner program?

Adrian Tobey:

So, from that experience, and that worked quite well for us for a very, very long period of time. I was a certified partner for three, four years, and we did well. And I figured, “Well, now I’m doing this, I have essentially what is a competing product to this company.”

Adrian Tobey:

And so, I see no reason why we can’t have our own certified partner program because people, there are always going to be a number of business owners who are like, “Okay, I’m a DIY person, I’m going to do it myself.” And there are going to be a number of people, who’s like, “I don’t want to touch it. I don’t want to know what it does. I don’t want to think about it. I just want it to work, and I want someone to do it for me.”

Chris Badgett:

And as a software salesperson myself, I get that all the time, and the inbound request is like, “This is awesome. Can you do it for me? Or do you know somebody? If your company doesn’t do it? Do you have any people who really know your tool that I can pay to implement?”

Adrian Tobey:

That group of people will always exist as much as you want them to self-succeed. But we’re a new platform, we have a limited reach, we have a limited subscriber base, but those people exist. So, we needed to create a group of people to satisfy the group of people. We needed to creep in another group of people, our partners in order to satisfy this group of people who didn’t want to work with it.

Chris Badgett:

So, you needed to cultivate your own service provider specialist in your tool community.

Adrian Tobey:

Exactly.

Chris Badgett:

And it looks like they can’t just buy the partner training program to become a certified partner. They have to apply, is correct?

Adrian Tobey:

They have to apply.

Chris Badgett:

Why do you do that and how does that work?

Adrian Tobey:

Well, I mean, so typically, the same reason you talked to me about your onboarding process for applicants for your CSR job. If they go through the process, and they answer all the questions, and they go through that application process, they’re serious. And if they don’t, then they’re not, and what-

Chris Badgett:

It is a brand risk to open yourself up like these third-party partners-

Adrian Tobey:

They are now representing our company, we’re giving them a badge, we’re giving them a certificate. And they have a listing on our website on our certified partner listening, and that we are essentially now attaching our brand. So, we have to make sure that they’re serious, that they’re qualified, that they’re… I mean, they’re still third-party distributors and implementers.

Adrian Tobey:

So, we mitigate our risk by disclaiming that upfront. But if they have a bad experience… if a customer comes to us, and we recommend them to a partner that has a bad experience, that reflects badly on us. So, we make them go through a rigorous application process.

Adrian Tobey:

They go through our application process, then they go through the training process, and they’re not allowed to call themselves a certified partner until they go through the training course, then they actually have a one-on-one with me. And then we continue their education through a biweekly mastermind call.

Chris Badgett:

Wow, that is amazing. So, which parts of Lifter LMS Do you use for that?

Adrian Tobey:

So, on the Academy, I pay, we bought the Infinity bundle. And if you’re listening to this, and you don’t have it, you should. But we actually use pretty much core Lifter LMS for the most part, for a lot of us. We handle all of our billing on our main site through Easy Digital Downloads. And it just makes it really easy for our bookkeeper and accounting-

Chris Badgett:

All in one place.

Adrian Tobey:

All in one place.

Chris Badgett:

So, you can fold Lifter LMS into your existing e-commerce engine. You don’t have to have a separate system running in tandem even though you could.

Adrian Tobey:

Yeah. So, through Groundhogg, and web hooks, and custom dev, and all that stuff, we’re able to, if someone pays for the certified partner training on Easy Digital Downloads, we add them to the course remotely and all of that stuff. So, all of that’s hooked up separately, and it’s a joy to work with Lifter LMS for the most part, for developers listening, by the way. So, we have all set up.

Adrian Tobey:

And we use mostly just like core Lifter LMS, and it’s able to do a significant amount of stuff for our needs. We tweaked a couple of things, and we actually have a pending poll request for this, where we force people to complete lessons sequentially. You can do that, you can manually set that up, but we did a little bit of custom dev in order to just do that automatically.

Adrian Tobey:

So, people have to go through our certified partner training sequentially. So, they do step one, step two, step three, step four, and they go through that. But for the most part, core Lifter LMS, and we’re incredibly happy with it, and the reporting, and all that stuff.

Chris Badgett:

So, why, and what’s the strategy behind charging for your partner program?

Adrian Tobey:

Again, it’s just about qualifying people. There has to be an element of risk associated with any level of success. If we make it free, we’re going to spend a significant amount of resources on trading, on guidance, on these mastermind calls, and they’re not going to have any skin in the game besides their time in order to actually help people, and wants them succeed.

Adrian Tobey:

So, our fee, which is $750 US upfront, and then $500 a year renewal fee is essentially our fee to have their skin in the game. They make that back however many times over through commission sales, our partners get 20% instead of the regular 10%, in terms of affiliate commissions, and of course their actual fees for helping their customers.

Chris Badgett:

Yeah. Close one project, you’re like they could just cover the partner-

Adrian Tobey:

Close one project, it’s eight, four, three times over already, probably five times over. So, but our fee is so that they have skin in the game to complete the course, to come the mastermind calls, to seek the help that they need in order to help their customers succeed.

Chris Badgett:

Well, let’s talk about your third type of course, which is a Course Creator’s Essential course. I would call this a use case course, how this particular use case can get into your tool, and get the value out of your tool. What’s the thinking behind this one?

Adrian Tobey:

So, we built this specifically because people started coming from your community, from other LMS communities as well. And we were seeing low success rates for people trying to like, “Now, that I have both of these tools, and I have the integration, what the hell do I do with it?” So, we created a course that ran them… that runs people through three different strategies that you can use Groundhogg with your LMS tool of choice.

Chris Badgett:

So, what do course creators need from your tool?

Adrian Tobey:

So, they need the list creation. So, the list generation being able to-

Chris Badgett:

Build the email list.

Adrian Tobey:

Build an email list, they need to be able to communicate with that email list in some easy, effective manner. They want to be able to… one of the use cases is course upselling.

Chris Badgett:

Yeah. Expansion revenue.

Adrian Tobey:

Exactly. So, if they go through one course, how do I then prompt this person over a series of weeks, or days, or months, or however long you want it to be to take the course be, right? How do I facilitate them moving up the next level? Because typically without any sort of marketing automation, your chance to upsell someone relies in the last lesson of your course, where you do the close, the pitch of the upsell, or whatever you want, and I have that in our Quickstart Course.

Adrian Tobey:

But after, if they don’t communicate with that pitch, or they don’t listen to it, or whatever, they just abandon it. Now, what? You’re stuck. So, one of the lessons in the Course Creator’s Essentials course, that’s a mouthful, is the process of all right, so to complete course A, you want to move them to course B, here is the funnel that you need to do that. And one of the unique things that we do is Groundhogg is fully portable.

Adrian Tobey:

You can export funnels and campaigns from Groundhogg and import them in any other Groundhogg installation on any other website. So, I built all of these funnels, and what I do is I export them. And then I provide the download file in the course, in the lesson. And then they go ahead, and they import that, and they walk them through the process of configuring it for their site.

Chris Badgett:

Done-For-You Templates, ready to roll.

Adrian Tobey:

Done-For-You Templates. I don’t even explain what the template does. I mean, I get into that a little bit. But mostly it’s just all right, here are the things you need to change in order for this to work for your business. And then I just walk them through the changes, and it takes maybe 15 minutes at most.

Chris Badgett:

And if you’re watching this, and you’re a Lifter LMS user, just to be clear, Adrian and his team have built Lifter LMS integration directly into Groundhogg. So, as people enroll in courses or memberships, you can apply a tag and do all this stuff on your WordPress website, trigger funnels, do broadcast emails, all this from your website without a separate CRM, and there’s Lifter LMS specific integration built-in, no Zapier required. It’s a great way to get going.

Chris Badgett:

And having literally, an all-in-one solution where your WordPress website is at the center of your online business. Wow, this is super cool. And you’re considering building other use cases and as of this recording, some or all of these may be built out, what are some other ways that other use cases people might build, use Groundhogg that you might build training around besides the course creator?

Adrian Tobey:

So, we started with the Course Creator’s Essentials because that’s where the… or that seems to be the largest segment that we could immediately help. Smaller segments are growing, of course. The next biggest one would probably be the consultant’s course. So, we would create strategies, and funnel templates for people who are typically in the consulting business.

Adrian Tobey:

They’re doing calls, and stuff like that, and we have software and tools for those people. After that, definitely an e-commerce essentials course. We see a growing number of e commerce businesses, and we have lots of e-commerce-focused tools, our WooCommerce, and Easy Digital Downloads integrations. And then after that, the sky is the limit.

Chris Badgett:

Yeah. That’s awesome. A couple more questions before we wrap up. What are the biggest specific results or benefits that you’ve gotten from using Lifter LMS with your software company?

Adrian Tobey:

Retention. So, customer success and retention. So, we send all traffic, all new users three different touch points to get themselves in the Quickstart Course. Through, we have a guided setup process. So, if they go to the WordPress repo page first, and they download our plugin there, then they go through an onboarding process in the plugin. And then the last step, they end up on the welcome screen, and there’s four different links to get them to the course.

Adrian Tobey:

There’s a big page with a big call to action. It’s in the menu. It’s in the sidebar. It’s literally everywhere. And we try to get as many people to go into that course as humanly possible because we know if they go to that course, their chances of buying something go way up, and their chances of requesting a refund after that go way down.

Chris Badgett:

That’s awesome. So, customer success and retention, keep going. What were you going to say?

Adrian Tobey:

Customer success and retention. And then the other thing is just people like to know that real people are behind products. So, the other thing is, I mean, I try to be a face of our product as much as possible as you do by doing office hours and just being present for the most part. And the Quickstart Course is usually their first introduction to myself and our team.

Adrian Tobey:

We go through the introductions, and all of that stuff, and like, “Hi, my name is Adrian. I’m the CEO and founder of Groundhogg. I’m going to be your trainer for this course. And if you ever need help from me directly, here are the ways you can get in touch with me.” So, people will immediately connect with that. And we’ll make the… it definitely has a certain level of trust factor to our business and to our company so people will feel okay committing to us long term.

Adrian Tobey:

That’s when you’re committing to a CRM and marketing automation tool, it’s usually a lifetime commitment. CRM and marketing automation migration is one of the most painful things that a business owner can ever go through with. An LMS migration is probably only seconded by that, right? And it’s just so incredibly painful. And a company has to do something really bad in order to make someone move.

Adrian Tobey:

And so, establishing that trust early lets people know who may be in that situation currently leaving another provider, and establishing that trust early is super important for us. So, those would be the two big things that I would say is first of all, customer success and retention is definitely the number one benefit from having the Quickstart Course, and those other resources available. And then after that, just establishing trust early, so people aren’t afraid to make that long-term commitment.

Chris Badgett:

That is awesome. And what do you find as the big benefits if you’re an Lifter LMS infinity bundle customer, which means you have access not only to our full suite of tools, but also the Lifter LMS Office Hours Mastermind, which is a weekly call that I run with various power users, both WordPress LMS consultants, software vendors like yourself who are in our ecosystem, and users themselves who are building high value online courses or training-based membership sites. What is your biggest takeaway or benefits from participating on a regular basis in the weekly Lifter LMS Office Hours Mastermind?

Adrian Tobey:

So, the biggest benefit would… okay, so I’ll be facetious first. 50% of the people on your call now we’re now Groundhogg customers. So, showing up has certainly been helpful to-

Chris Badgett:

And just to be clear, Adrian’s not on there, pitching, pitching, pitching. He’s helping, helping.

Adrian Tobey:

I’m not. I’m just there to help.

Chris Badgett:

Yeah.

Adrian Tobey:

But a lot of them-

Chris Badgett:

And also, outside of the outside of his tool, just general WordPress, or marketing things that Chris isn’t or other people don’t have the answer to. So, you’re very giving, which I just want to throw out there.

Adrian Tobey:

And I’m super grateful that I’ve actually able to be part of the mastermind, first of all. I was invited free actually being an [inaudible] customer. And I have been able to receive an infinitesimal amount of value. I was on there the other day with you asking about remote work. I run a non-remote company as of this moment, and we’re actually going remote now because of all of this COVID stuff, and working remotely.

Adrian Tobey:

And I was actually, “Well, how do I hire remotely?” And you gave me a significant number of great tips, so it’s not just LMS, but business in general, and scaling, and all that stuff. And I’ve been able to receive indistinguishable amount of value from the mastermind. Is indistinguishable the right word? Just infinitesimal value. I’ll use that word instead. And I’ve also learned a couple other things. I’ve actually been forming a hypothesis, which we’re coming to the hour now.

Adrian Tobey:

So, I’ll try to get through this quickly. I’m forming a hypothesis of what actually, what are the pillars of a successful education business? And not beyond education, but software business as well, because I’m a software business with an education component. And I think some of the pillars of that are, first of all, you have to have a community which you and I now both have.

Adrian Tobey:

So, we have our Facebook communities, which are very active, and I think that’s pillar number one for people who are looking to build some online brand, or a software company, or an education membership company. So, community gathering space is I think something that would be more akin to that. So, a gathering space for your people. So, Facebook, or Slack, or whatever. The next one of those is FaceTime, and that’s something that I learned from participating the mastermind.

Adrian Tobey:

Is that FaceTime is super, super important. So, I do Office Hours on my Facebook group, we do Office Hours in Zoom. And that’s something that I learned from participating on the call is that Office Hours is a super, super, super, super big component. The third pillar is events, which we’re trying to figure out how to do successfully, but an event. So, like a onetime gathering space, a little bit more difficult these days to execute on.

Adrian Tobey:

But that’s the third pillar that I’m seeing a lot of other software companies be successful with. And those are the three things that I’ve learned by participating in the Lifter LMS community is that you have to have those three pillars in some way shape or form in order to encourage the continued growth, and consumption of information from your list, and from your customers.

Chris Badgett:

Awesome. Well, Adrian is over at groundhogg.io. Check out his academy at academy.groundhogg.io.

Adrian Tobey:

With two Gs.

Chris Badgett:

With two Gs. Thank you for being a shining example of a company that puts its customer at the center and not your product. Because when we put the customer at the center of our software business and we surround them with software, partners, courses, community events, this is the new way. The old way is putting our product at the center and trying to push, push, push.

Chris Badgett:

So, I think you have a great example of being the new wave of software education entrepreneur, and you’re doing a great job. Thanks for sharing your story with us today. And it’s great to be with you on the journey.

Adrian Tobey:

Thanks for the opportunity to come on. And I hope that I shared some valuable information today, and that’s all I can hope.

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

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