Episode 65

How to Use Online Courses for Customer Onboarding Success

Whatever your product or service, your customers will benefit from online training. In this LMScast Chris Badgett and Joshua Millage talk with Kim Albee, founder and president of WP Marketing Engine, about how to use online courses for user instruction and support.

Kim discovered the LifterLMS online course development platform while researching tools to create training, user guides, and community discussion forums for the WP Marketing Engine marketing automation platform. She was so excited about the capabilities LifterLMS offered that she contacted Chris Badgett to show him what her business had accomplished using the LifterLMS platform.

When a customer subscribes to WP Marketing Engine they create an account, and LifterLMS assigns them to a membership level with access to their learning community. WP Marketing Engine’s user guides are open web content pages, and basic introductory courses are also accessible to all users. The next level up is fee-based Pro Classes, and Conversion Pro members get priority technical support. WP Marketing Engine also offers forums built with bbPress and BuddyPress, which allow support team members to receive notice of user questions through Teamwork Desk and respond quickly with answers.

Kim’s team has really streamlined the process of onboarding new users with training, user guides, and access to support. Instead of giving users pages of dense technical documentation to crawl through when they need help, WP Marketing Engine offers training courses in short, clean segments that are easy to find and use.

Kim is also impressed with the LifterLMS marketing and activity monitoring capabilities. Onboarded customers who have taken the beginning training courses are logged by LifterLMS, which then triggers WP Marketing Engine to send specific communications and offerings to those customers according to their membership and training levels.

Yet another benefit of offering training courses for your products and services is that it implies a level of transparency and communication that builds goodwill and trust with your customers. As your tools help them grow their business, they will want to scale those capabilities by pursuing higher levels of training and participating in your user community.

Kim Albee says learning how to use online courses added real value to their products, and integrating with LifterLMS has really helped WP Marketing Engine accomplish their goal of supporting their users. You can try a demo of LifterLMS and see for yourself what it can do for you.

Remember that you can post comments and also subscribe to our newsletter for updates, developments, and future episodes of LMScast. Thank you for joining us.

And if you’re an already successful expert, teacher or entrepreneur looking to grow, check out the LifterLMS team’s signature service called Boost. It’s a complete done for you set up service where your learning platform goes live in just 5 days.

EPISODE TRANSCRIPT

Chris Badgett: Hello and welcome to this episode of LMScast. I’m Chris Badgett with my co-host Joshua Millage.

Joshua Millage: Hello.

Chris Badgett: We’re joined by Kim Albee of a company called Genoo with a product called WP Marketing Engine. We’re going to get into that in a little bit, but this episode is all about how to support your product or your service business with online training. Perhaps your main business isn’t necessarily selling courses, but rather they’re a value add to some other kind of product or service. Kim has done an exceptional job with that. We wanted to pick her brain and share her experience with you all. To kick it off, Kim, I’ll hand it over to you. Tell us a little bit about yourself. Who are you? What do you do?

Kim Albee: Sure. My company’s called Genoo, and we’ve been around for a number of years, and we are just now launching a new product called WP Marketing Engine. We’ll talk about that more. What we wanted to do was support that product through a full user community and have really good training that was accessible for people. Not only just about the product, but also about all domain of online marketing and things like that. We started looking at how do we want to offer this training?
Initially I thought maybe a membership site, because I’d heard so much about membership plugins and stuff. But then we started looking at the whole LMS world, and we did a lot of research, and we landed on LifterLMS.

We decided we’re going to use Lifter, and we’re going to offer training, but we want to do it in a way that isn’t necessarily people pay for a course. Instead we needed the training, but then we also had user guides that we needed to populate out, and we also wanted to have discussion forums. We had a whole way to support our user community and let them interact with each other even. We came up with WP Marketing Engine user community and our membership site. We then started looking at the APIs that Lifter has, and we love your API set, you guys. It is really nicely done.

Chris Badgett: That’s a hat tip to Mark Nelson, by the way.

Joshua Millage: Big time. Thank you for saying that. That means a lot to us.

Kim Albee: We could literally start to look at how we wanted to integrate. When somebody subscribes to WP Marketing Engine, which we’re just now going through our launch. When they subscribe, they will automatically be created as a member within our member community, automatically with the same user name and the same password. We disabled the change password function in our community, so that it has to happen from within their WP Marketing Engine subscription. It’s always kept the same.

Chris Badgett: That’s awesome. They buy the product, and then they get access to the learning community or the community of which learning is a part of.

Kim Albee: Right. Exactly. Your getting started training and that getting started training is a whole class. That’s all inside of Lifter. We can create our classes. What’s really cool is that we found out with some early users that we needed to order things a little bit differently in the getting started, so we could just go into the lessons and reorder them really easily within Lifter, and it was done. We didn’t have to worry about it. It was like, “Okay. We’ll just put that one up here, and it won’t matter.” We were able to do that.

The other thing that blew people away is the ability to say, “Hey. I’m done with this lesson,” and have it do a little check mark over on the right side so that a user can see how far down they’ve gone. They don’t have to remember. It just shows up for them that way when they’re in the site. It’s really pretty neat and slick in terms of them being able to see where they are in their training. I think that that’s not what’s available a lot of places.

We also pulled out the audio from our video in our training, and we put it up on our SoundCloud account. Then we pull it through. It’s there available for you to listen to just as audio, or you can watch the video. If people just want to listen, they can do that. Then we also have some downloads every now and then. In some of the classes we have downloads, and those are right underneath the audio so that people see it, and it’s all right there.

What we did was we said we don’t want to sell a class at a time. What we want is we have a set of classes that should just be available to everybody. Then we have a set of classes that we’re calling our Pro Classes. Those have a value. With our first launch, we’re going to offer them as a bonus, but then after that people have to buy them. We’ve got two now. We have one in the works that will be there shortly, and then by the end of the week we have another one that will be in our Pro Level training. But basically, it’s really good stuff, personally. Anyways, but you have to buy that. We didn’t want to buy per class. We just wanted to unlock it at a level of training, so we can even come out with Platinum Level training if we wanted to and have a whole other series of training. We think of training in littler snippets than really in long and in depth stuff.

So that’s what we did. We use the membership levels in Lifter, and we tie those to say, for us on launch, we know what the bonuses are. We’ve got that all hooked up so that you’ll automatically unlock all the right stuff. If you don’t have that, then when you go to the Pro Training, and you click on it, it’s going to take you out to just an overview. Then there’s going to be a thing called “Take this course or buy this course.” It just depends. Right now, see, you’ve got access to everything, because you’re a Conversion Pro member. The priority support is over on the right, and that only shows up if you have Conversion Pro or better. Then you can just enter your headline in, and it goes directly over into our ticketing system so you get priority support. Rather than having to go through the forum system where we’re going to-

Chris Badgett: So just to-

Kim Albee: get back to you later.

Chris Badgett: Just to jump in there, we are doing some screen sharing on this episode. If you want to see the video version of this podcast if you’re listening on iTunes or Stitcher, head on over to LMScast.com, and you’ll see the video version. Sorry to interrupt. Keep going, Kim.

Kim Albee: That’s okay. We wanted to make it available to do priority support for people that were at our top level subscriptions, so that they can get something in there, we can get back to them within a couple hours as opposed to 24/48 hours. We wanted to give people that level that’s another bonus level of buy in that what level you buy and things like that.

Then we have forums. We stitched in bbPress and BuddyPress into this thing so that you actually have the ability to log your questions or whatever you want right within the forum. We can respond to that. We have them set up in certain categories. People will be able to answer them, and we’ll have them notify our staff, so that we can make sure that we get back to people and that we monitor that. You have all of this, and all of this is using the Lifter membership levels. We’ve got it all knitted in with the Lifter membership levels.

Chris Badgett: Let’s talk about that knitting a little bit. What does your team look like? What does your custom development look like? When did you need to do custom development? One of the reasons I’m asking is part of our audience is more of the solopreneur just starting out. They may not be ready for that, but they could hire some help to do some custom development to bring Lifter from the I’m eighty-five percent happy to the hundred percent that I want in my vision. How did you do it? What did you do custom development for? What does your team look like?

Kim Albee: That’s pretty cool. Here’s what we did. We started out with a theme that we liked, and then we started looking at things. We knew that because we’re a software vendor, when somebody orders our software, we had to make it really seamless for them into the community. That was one level of integration. We needed to make sure that we could create them as the right kind of a user inside our membership community. That hand off happens just integration from them purchasing a subscription package and setting up an account over into the membership community. That was one piece we had to grapple with.

A second piece was based on the kind of user they are, what membership level should they have? We had to make sure we could set that automatically. Then the membership levels, we can set up any training and say it’s in this membership level. If a user has that level, then you’re good to go, right? That we don’t have any trouble with. That was great. Then we looked at the forums, and I believe we were going to have some priority forums, but we decided to go with the priority support instead. We use Teamwork Desk.

Chris Badgett: Is that what gives you this forum as well? Is that their-

Kim Albee: No. We put that forum in place. We put that in place. Then what happens is that actually formats an email that goes to support at wpmktgengine.com that automatically goes into the inbox at Teamwork Desk. Then we all get notified, and we can work that ticket.

Chris Badgett: That makes sense. Only people who have permission to see, or that membership level, can actually see this, so you’re not getting requests from lower levels or people who haven’t even bought yet. Those are different channels. That’s a great organizational tool.

Kim Albee: Right. That was one that only shows up because you guys have that Conversion Pro membership level. That’s one, and then we said we’ve also got to have user guides and all of that. User guides are open to everybody, so that’s not under any sort of … It’s on the base membership level. That’s content. Those are just content pages. You could call them blog pages, but they’re not blogs. They’re user guides. We also had a guy who wrote … We have a guy who does all of our PHP integration and development work that does all the PHP side of WP Marketing Engine as well. He knitted a lot of this together.

We have another guy who can write all kinds of really great little JavaScripts and things like that. That’s what he wrote that comes up with the HTML table of contents over on the left. It actually interprets the whole page and automatically generates based on the h2s and h3s or whatnot. It generates that table of contents dynamically. It was all dynamic, and then I said, “No, no, no. You’ve got to put it out there. You’ve got to actually write it out as HTML with anchor links.” There was a couple of times where it was kind of weird, so I just wanted that all there so that it actually shows up that way. Then you have the little download icon, and that would download the PDF for you right there. Then we also have a PDF download associated with it, and that’s just part of this whole content piece.

Joshua Millage: This is beautiful.

We did this as an extension of that theme. We did a lot of theming and a lot of work on that side. I would say we have people who know how to do WordPress theming. We have people who know how to write JavaScript widget things. Then we have some people who know some really good integration. That’s to your rest APIs and all of that. Which we have almost everything we need. I think there was something that we couldn’t get, and I said, “Just email these guys. They’ll be able to figure it out. I’m sure.” That’s stuff we talked about this week, but for the most part we were able to put this whole thing together before I reached out, Chris, to you, and said, “Hey. I’d love to show you what we did with Lifter.”

Chris Badgett: That’s awesome.

Kim Albee: We are big fans of Lifter, and there’s so much more we can do. We use the badges. We’re looking at doing some other things and building even maybe a certificate sort of program. That’s a future that we’re still brainstorming. This so accomplishes our goal of supporting our users.

Joshua Millage: You’re doing something that’s really cutting edge in my mind. It’s funny. I just recently heard an interview with a marketing trainer that I loosely follow, Eben Pagan, who talked about that he believes that all software companies should be selling premium support training and really info products alongside of their core software offer. There’s a lot of just great business reasons, cash flow reasons. In a lot of ways, he points it back to creating this mind share community. I love to see how deep down that rabbit hole you’ve taken all of your training. You’ve got a wonderful product, and this is just a beautiful implementation of Lifter. It makes me so happy. I can’t even describe how happy I am, because we built this with the idea of we’re the foundation builder. We don’t know your company, but we want to build that foundation so that people can take it to this degree. I think this is the best example that I’ve seen so far of someone really taking Lifter to the max.

Kim Albee: What would be really fun would be to work out with you guys how to take something like this and make it easily available to those entrepreneurs that don’t have the wherewithal to build this. I would love to figure out something like that with you guys, because that would be a gas to do. I know people would love to be able to do this, and sometimes it’s just hard to get it done in a good way.

Chris Badgett: The key word there is onboarding. It’s one thing to build a product or some kind of service, but you have to onboard people. That’s what amazes me about what you’re doing with WP Marketing Engine is you’re reducing all that friction of getting started by all the training, the guides, the access to support, cleanly laid out. You didn’t try to jam it all in one long documentation. You’ve segmented that out in a very intelligent way. It’s really impressive. I think a lot of people, especially if they’re in the product business, have a lot to learn about onboarding and the power of community with-

Kim Albee: Here’s the really fun part about this for me. I’m a technologist/marketer, and I will tell you that the fun part for me is when we’re able now, and we have this. WP Marketing Engine and Lifter are completely integrated, right? What happens is as people look at classes, so say they onboard, and they go into the getting started training. I know within my marketing engine that they’ve looked at that class and that they’ve started that class. I have it automatically logged in the marketing engine, right? Now I can trigger specific communications out to them about that training or about that class or something else they could download or whatever. I can encourage them all the way through the training, and I know exactly where they are at any point and time. I can automate or trigger any communications to them with no matter what training they’re in or when they start.

Whether it’s premium level training or just getting started training, there are things that I know about them that I can now use based on how they walk around and use. I know when they create a new forum discussion. I know when they post to a forum discussion. I can also send things like emails that might be particular about that they did that action or they’re participating. I can encourage people to continue through a class. Maybe they’ve taken a class and now three days have gone by, and they haven’t really taken another lesson. I can now say, “Hey. In this lesson that you haven’t yet taken, you’re going to explore all these things. It’s going to open up all these doors for you, so get back in there. Here’s the link.” Some stuff like that that with WP Marketing Engine and somebody who has Lifter, the two things together can come automatically integrated.

Joshua Millage: That’s amazing. Chris, that’s been the banner we’ve been raising from the beginning is there needs to be that intersection between automation and education. Scaling the human touch and doing it well. You could make it really robotic, but what you’re talking about is really holding someone’s hand in a digital fashion through a training. The beauty of that is it’s not that hard to do. It’s way cheaper than it was even two years ago to do, and it’s just good business, because we all know that at the end of the day people do business with people they know, like, and trust. It’s like a law of gravity. You can try and say it’s wrong, but it’s not. It’s going to come back to haunt you if you fight that.

If you guide people through your base training and then through your next level, you can ascend them. What you have here is premium levels down the road. Once you’ve built that trust and that goodwill and people are using the product, they’re seeing results, they’re getting theory and implementation at the same place, they’re going to want to go to your next level. I think that’s something that I wish I saw more with so many technology companies, because I think that we talk about people get so focused on just their core product, but you need to connect the dots for people and show them how it solves their problem now and in the future. You can do that really well with courses and training and what you’re showing us here. This is-

Kim Albee: Absolutely. That’s my hope. Our goal when we looked at our company and our vision for our company and everything else was to provide comprehensive tools and processes that allow small or midsize businesses to really grow their business. To us, it’s not just tools. It’s process. Part of the challenge, if you look at this, you could call WP Marketing Engine basically a marketing automation platform just like the ones that are out there that cost far more than what we’re going to be charging and similar capabilities really. If you look at the churn in that space, people who start with a product, switch to another vendor, switch to another vendor, switch to another vendor, all of the vendors have essentially equal capabilities done slightly differently. Right?

You’ve got to say, “What’s the problem?” Well, you think the grass is greener on some other technology. The problem is typically with process and people not understanding what they need to do to implement to get the results they need. I think the training for me is a really big piece. We have to look at how do we hit the market for small business people? Right? How do we do that, and how do we offer really great training and support without the cost of picking up the phone every time somebody has a question? How do we bridge that hurdle? Otherwise it becomes too expensive of a product to deliver, and then you miss your market. We’ve worked really hard to try and figure out how can we do this? How can we put an offering out there that has terrific support and great training and everything else out there that will allow them to say, “Here’s how I use the training. Here’s this philosophy. Here’s how I implement it. Here’s how we go, and I get support,” and the whole nine yards.

We’re trying this out. My goal and my hope is that we’ve hit it on this one, and that we’re going to get that small business owner really using this as a marketing engine for their WordPress site, to do that marketing

Joshua Millage: Just a quick story. I actually had a call this morning with a gentleman who was a friend of one of our clients, and he was asking me about Infusionsoft. I thought it was really interesting, because one of the things he kept saying to me was, “So when Infusionsoft gets my prospects.” I was like does he just mean an opt-in? He was literally thinking that Infusionsoft would go and manage all the paid traffic to get him the conversion and then follow up. He was thinking, I realized that he was getting some bad information, of course. I sat there for twenty minutes and explained to him like, “No, no, no. That’s one piece of the puzzle. What I realized is Infusionsoft’s not doing that. They’re not providing that type of education.

This gentleman who has a product doesn’t even really know what it does. He’s going to be another data point in that churn number. Once he does realize that what he bought isn’t really fitting in with his business, he’s going to move on. It’s really important to do what you’re doing here, showing this is our product. This is how it connects to all these different pieces of the puzzle in your small business. People are going to go, “Okay. I get it.” Now you have the opportunity. I don’t know if you’re going that route, but maybe your Premium Training is a little bit around SEO or paid traffic or content marketing. There’s so many avenues you could go.

Kim Albee: Mostly right now it’s all about how do I grow my leads? Right? With content marketing, how do I grow my leads? How do I create really good calls to action better than contact us and request a quote? Not get you at the bottom of the funnel, which that’s all of three or four percent of your traffic, but what about the other ninety-seven percent? We want to attack that other ninety-seven percent. We’ve got some free training out there right now that preceding our launch that basically walks people through this. That draws the picture and the puzzle and kind of puts those pieces together that look. This is how this works. This is what you need kind of thing. We’ve done some really fun training around that to kind of build that out, and we’ll have that available also on this membership site. Once our launch is over, we’ll move those videos into the membership area so people can see them there, too.

Chris Badgett: Kim, tell us just a little bit more about WP Marketing Engine. Who’s it for? Who’s it not for? What’s the elevator pitch? What problem are you solving? Hit us with that.

Kim Albee: Okay, cool. WP Marketing Engine is meant for companies that maybe have three million or lower in revenue. You’ve got less than fifteen thousand leads, and what you want is you want a really easy way to create and generate leads, create great, gated content. Gated content, what I mean by that is pop up a lead capture form to stop access to something and get their name and email before and add them to your lead database. Then track everything about them, so understanding all of what you can have that isn’t like an email service provider with a list. It’s like having a lead database, and you now know they came back for this many visits, they’ve downloaded these items, they’ve taken these classes, they’ve whatever. We can show all that, and then you can trigger communications out to them using smart rolls. You can take actions and even notify people on your staff or what have you about things that are occurring.

You literally can take people from brand new lead, nurture them all the way through their buying cycle, and turn them into a customer. You may have touched them all this time, but you can automate that whole process. That’s what WP Marketing Engine does, and it sits entirely inside your WordPress website admin. You do all of this right inside your WordPress admin. It doesn’t add any big footprint to your hosting or anything else. You manage it all and access it all from right there, which makes it really straightforward for people managing their WordPress.

You can create calls to action and have a full call to action library. You create lead capture forms. We have a full dashboard. Email campaigns you can create. You can create smart rolls. If you run webinars with GoToWebinar, we’ve got all kinds of really fun things there that you can also leverage. It’s a full featured automation marketing engine inside of WordPress.

Chris Badgett: Amazing.

Joshua Millage: It is amazing.

Kim Albee: Yeah. We’ve been working really hard. We’re very excited about it.

Chris Badgett: That’s cool. Well, where can people go if they’re interested in learning more about WP Marketing Engine?

Kim Albee: Right now, if they go to getwp.me, it’s very short domain, but getwp.me, and you can opt-in for a training. There’s three training sessions and videos up right now, and on Thursday we’re going to actually launch your ability to purchase WP Marketing Engine at our very early access pricing that we’re going to be offering. It’s going to be super advantageous to get in early and to help us spread the word. That’s what you’ll get. There’s some really good video training in there. Video two has some skits even. I mean, it’s fun.

Chris Badgett: That’s awesome. If this episode doesn’t go out before or it goes out a little later, should they still go here? Is there another URL to direct them to?

Kim Albee: Wpmktgengine.com would be the main website that will be up once we’re fully up and available.

Joshua Millage: That’s awesome.

Chris Badgett: Let’s just go around the room and do some takeaways. What my big takeaway from this call is a lot of LifterLMS customers are adding a course to try to get another revenue stream on what they’re already doing. What if you did something like Kim has done here where you add training as a value-add to what your product is? Maybe have a premium level for deeper levels of training or access to support in order to help with your customer onboarding and retention and reduce churn and refunds and that kind of thing. It’s a totally different strategy, but I’d encourage you to think about that if that might work for your business.

Joshua Millage: My big takeaway I think is just the importance of creating a community around your product. I think people breeze over that in their business. They just, “Yeah, we need it.” That’s about the extent of the thought process. I think, Kim, what you’re doing, community you’ve seated here with this amazing platform is really inspiring to us. We’ve created Lifter, and I’m thinking to myself, “How can we do a better job? What can we do? How can we execute better like you’ve done?” Thank you for showing us this. I know that Chris and I will have probably a handful of conversations about what more we can do for our own community, but I would encourage people to really think about that.

I also want to encourage people to not get caught up in the fact that just because you’re a software company, this will only work for software companies. I can see businesses. I can see doctor’s offices. I can see orthodontists. You name it. There’s an opportunity to provide this type of training. I want people to really take a minute and get creative and think about how they can do something similar.

Kim Albee: Yeah. Absolutely. You guys, I’m available. I would love to brainstorm with you. Even what we’ve done, I would love to figure out how we make that available, that framework or whatever to people who don’t have the wherewithal to do all the building that we did and still be able to leverage it with all that integration and stuff like that. They could have that, they could have Lifter, they could have WP Marketing Engine, and altogether they’d have a full boat deal that they could just put their content in, build their classes, and fly.

Joshua Millage: Amazing. Absolutely. Cool.

Kim Albee: Very fun, you guys.

Chris Badgett: That’s awesome.

Kim Albee: We love Lifter.

Chris Badgett: Thank you for coming on the show, Kim. We really appreciate it. Again, if you are just listening to this, I’d encourage you to head on over to LMScast.com so that you can see the screen sharing video we were doing where we were walking through what we were talking about here today. Thank you all for watching, and thank you again, Kim, for coming on the show.

Kim Albee: Thank you.

Joshua Millage: Thanks, Kim. See you.

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