The power of preselling and freemium with John Turner of SeedProd, a coming soon page and maintenance mode plugin for WordPress in this episode of the LMScast podcast with Chris Badgett of the LifterLMS team. Chris and John discuss how you can succeed in niche markets, manage a freemium product model, and much more in this episode.
SeedProd is a coming soon, single web page that you can put up when you start setting up your website while it’s under construction. You can use it to collect email addresses and start generating interest for your site. There are also paid features you can use to create contact forms, advanced design functionality, run contests, and encourage people to share on social media.
After John graduated college and found a job, he realized he wanted to lead his own life rather than working for someone else from nine to five for forty years. John understood the technical aspects of building software products, but he didn’t understand the marketing and sales side.
After building several applications that worked with networks such as Twitter and Facebook, John created a WordPress plugin that filled his need of creating quick landing pages and driving traffic to them, and he released it for free for others to try out as well. His plugin started to gain traction and was getting lots of feature requests, so John created a pro version.
When you choose your audience first and then design a product that fits their needs, you tend to find more success than when you just create products and hope people will buy them. John’s process of creating SeedProd is a great example of this, because he created a product that filled his own need, and it turned out that other people found it useful as well.
Chris and John dive into the benefits of being a niche business and creating products and services that serve a very specific audience. They also dive into how to manage a freemium product and walk the fine line between giving away just enough and too much.
Also head to LifterLMS.com to find out more about how you can use LifterLMS to build your own online courses and membership sites. If you like this episode of LMScast, you can browse more episodes here. Subscribe to our newsletter for updates, developments, and future episodes of LMScast. Thank you for joining us!
Chris Badgett: Hello, and welcome back to another episode of LMScast. My name is Chris Badgett, and I’m joined by a special guest, another southerner. Many of you may not know that I’m originally from North Carolina, but that is where I’m from. We’ve got John Turner from Charleston, South Carolina. He’s the creator of SeedProd, which is a coming soon, maintenance mode, and does some other cool stuff, solution for your WordPress website. John, welcome to the show.
John Turner: Hey, Chris. Thanks for having me. I’m excited to be on and talk with you today.
Chris Badgett: Yeah, absolutely. It’s always great to interview other entrepreneurs. I was on John’s podcast called Hooked on Products, so if you like looking into entrepreneurial case studies, especially in the online software space, check out the Hooked on Products podcast.
Before we get into that story of how you got into podcasting, you and I are about the same age. We’re right around 40. You said you’ve had three to four businesses since you graduated college, trying to get into entrepreneurship or whatever. Can you take us on that journey from, what happened between 20 and 40? Why’d you wanna become an entrepreneur? What were the three or four that failed along the way before you got to SeedProd?
John Turner: Sure, sure. I specifically remember this. After I graduated college, it took me about three months to find a job. And when I finally did find a job, I was living with a good friend of mine. I remember coming home after work, and after you get done with a college experience, you think you’re ready to take on the world. We came home, and I sat down. It was like six o’clock in the evening, and we were eating dinner. I was like, “Is this it? Is this the rest of my life?” I remember that specifically that’s just not really how I want to live the rest of my life, is working for someone else and doing the nine to five.
So that kind of lit the fire in me to wanna start a business. At that time, I was living in Nashville. I was learning web design and stuff, so I started building some websites for some musicians, and I was like, “You know what? I could probably automate this somehow and build like a CMS.” I think every programmer builds a CMS at some point. So I decided to build that, and at the time, I really didn’t have any idea about marketing myself, or my service, or my product. So I built it, and just through word of mouth, I had a little bit of success, but I would not say anything where I could quit a day job. I was making around four figures a month, which is pretty good.
That trudged on for many years. I guess, I don’t know … I guess about eight years or so. I was like, “Well, maybe this isn’t working.” So I tried a couple other things. I did a Twitter app, a Facebook app, and stuff like that. Like I said, I didn’t really understand the marketing aspect. I didn’t understand you needed to find your audience first and then build a product for their needs. I was just building products and thinking people would buy it.
After ten years or so, I found Rob Walling, who was the founder of Drip. He had an academy called the Micropreneur Academy that taught you how to build software products and sell them, and the selling was the key part I was missing. So I joined his academy and learned kind of the 101 of marketing. At that time, he actually had a course, and the course walked you through how to basically, step 1, step 10, on creating a product and selling it. One of the steps was that you needed to vet the product somehow and see if there was interest in it. The way you did that was you set up a landing page, you drove traffic to it, and you collected … It’s kind of like a phantom product. You don’t even have to build it yet. You just put up a landing page and see if you can generate interest.
I did that, but at the time, WordPress didn’t have anything to really do that with, so I built something quick, and I released the plugin for free on WordPress.org. I was testing a bunch of different ideas. I was doing what he said. I was putting up landing pages, and driving traffic to them, and seeing which one would fire and which one wouldn’t. But during that time, I found out something interesting is that a lot of people also had that same need, so my free plugin started getting tons of feature requests. I started building those, and I would release the pro version of that plugin. From day one, I started making sales, and it kind of took off from there. I found out there was a need for the product people wanting to set up landing pages in WordPress, to want either test an idea or to hide their website wants and design, or just general coming soon stuff. You wanna collect leads. Obviously, it takes to do that on a website, so why not use that time to collect leads and get feedback on what you’re building. That’s kind of the journey there.
Chris Badgett: That’s awesome. I love that it’s a classic pre-selling technique. I’ve also heard it called the false door test or the cardboard wall test. I don’t wanna understate the value of doing something like that.
John Turner: Right.
Chris Badgett: And I just wanna share something over in the course creation space that kind of blew me away just the other day, similar to what you’re talking about in terms of demand. I’m a course creator. A lot of my courses, one of the reasons I built course creation software is I’m scratching my own itch. I have a lot of courses where I’ve partnered with experts all around the world in a niche within organic gardening called permaculture. One of the ways I market my courses is I take two of the best video lessons, I put them for free on YouTube, I optimize the title and description with links to the paid course and everything, and I just kind of sit it and forget it and throw that into the YouTube ecosystem. I’ve gone back and looked at some of those videos, and this is from a project about four years ago, 30,000 views, 60,000 views-
John Turner: Oh, wow, right-
Chris Badgett: I look at my project right now, which is LifterLMS online course creation software, which I spent all this time marketing and creating content, and I’m lucky to get 1,000 views on a video when I’m driving traffic through all this stuff-
John Turner: Right, right.
Chris Badgett: All that is to say this whole permaculture organic gardening niche is way, way, way, way, way bigger than course creators. It’s not better or worse. I’m just saying the niche is … there’s so much more going on with zero effort, just there’s a product market fit, kind of mass big niche here. And when I look at your product, SeedProd, if I look at it on WordPress, it has 700,000 downloads. That is amazing.
John Turner: Yeah, yeah it’s quite-
Chris Badgett: Could you speak to big niches in awhile, or speak to the concept of a big niche. How has that impacted you? What was it like when you discovered that? Was it a surprise? Tell us about the scale of it all.
John Turner: Sure. I don’t know if you’ve read a book, it’s called “Blue Ocean Shift”. Are you familiar with that concept?
Chris Badgett: Blue Ocean Strategy?
John Turner: Yeah, yeah.
Chris Badgett: Yeah, yeah-
John Turner: Okay. So at the time … I’ll kind of sum it up for people, but I recommend reading the book. When a niche is underserved, it’s considered a blue ocean. And then you go into it as the first person, you’re creating your niche out, and then eventually, more people enter it, and it turns into a red ocean, and it becomes crowded, and then you niche down again, or reposition, to create another blue ocean. So at the time, when I got into WordPress, the plugin business in general was a blue ocean, so it was nice to be first to market. But now, I have thousands … well, not thousands, but I’d say hundreds of competitors. But since I was early to market, I was able to establish a brand and a reputation in what I still feel like is the best plugin to meet the needs of what people are looking for. I don’t know if that answers your question. I might’ve went off topic there, but yeah.
Chris Badgett: It does. There is some kind of first mover advantage in the blue ocean, if you will.
John Turner: Right, right. Yeah, right now, like I said, the market is getting crowded, and I’m kind of looking for new opportunities out there, but I think in your space as well, like you were saying the organic … I can’t remember what you called it … organic gardening perma-
Chris Badgett: Permaculture.
John Turner: Yeah, so that’s probably a blue ocean right now.
Chris Badgett: Yeah, yeah-
John Turner: There’s a lot of demand for people seeking information on it, it sounds like.
Chris Badgett: And it’s very slow. That particular niche has been very slow to come online, so I just went in there with some online skills, and honestly, it wasn’t that hard to get in there.
John Turner: Yeah, right?
Chris Badgett: Yeah, timing.
Let’s talk a little bit about … You mentioned Rob Walling and the concept of the Micropreneur. If we look at a niche like Martech or marketing tech. I think I heard a statistic, that’s only a 20,000-company niche, which is a lot of people, but it’s a small niche. It’s not a giant niche. But just because, whether you have a big niche or a small niche, it’s not necessarily bad. I’m just throwing that out there. You have 700,000 downloads, have a viable business. I have 7,000 downloads for our freemium front end of our product and have a viable business. So it’s not always bad. You don’t always have to be big. There’s been some benefits to being small and super niched or whatever.
John Turner: Yeah.
Chris Badgett: But-
John Turner: And-
Chris Badgett: Go ahead.
John Turner: I was just about to say those numbers are really deceiving, too, just because I have 7,000 free users doesn’t mean I have 7,000 paid users. And a lot of times, the plugins with the bigger user base have smaller people going into paid, whereas a smaller plugin might be definitely having more conversions on going free to pay, basically.
Chris Badgett: Could you share some freemium lessons learned? Freemium being you have a free product with an upsell to a paid version. What are some lessons you learned along the way?
John Turner: Sure. So I’m still learning, but … Some of the lessons are … There’s a fine line to walk between giving away just enough and too much. And obviously, it’s different for every product, but I think that’s one of the reasons why my free product does so well is that it’s simple enough to where it doesn’t overwhelm somebody when they come in looking for it. It’s just enough information for them to get the job done, but obviously if they want more, then they can go to pro. And I think that’s with any product that’s in the freemium space. You wanna give them just enough to get the job done and do it well. But obviously, if they’re looking for more or have a business case need for it, you want them to upgrade into it. So I think that’s one of the biggest lessons I’ve learned.
And I guess one of the next lessons I’ve learned is, and I’m still learning this, is the persuasion techniques into getting … and I don’t … persuasion sounds kinda sleezy, but getting someone to upgrade to your pro version, so to speak, is an art, a science and an art, and I’m still learning that. It involves copyrighting and basically understanding your customer. How are they approaching your product? How many times does it take, you need to educate them, and you need to touch them, and basically get your message across to them before they purchase. So I think that’s a lot of the lessons I’ve learned, and I’m still learning. It’s a never-ending process. So I think it’s just, you’ve gotta do stuff to actually learn what works and what doesn’t work. And most stuff doesn’t work, but when you do find stuff that works, it’s a big win. Sometimes. Sometimes, they’re small wins.
Chris Badgett: What do you think your most desirable paid feature is?
John Turner: The most desirable paid feats are … I’ll give it a couple of them. The biggest one is being able to collect the leads and then follow up with those leads. It also has a feature where you can kind of go viral. So people will sign up, and then if they share, they can collect points or entries, so to speak, where they can, if they get so many, you can award them coupons or things of that nature.
Chris Badgett: I wanna hold on that one right there-
John Turner: Sure-
Chris Badgett: Just for the listener, I’ll describe it, and then fill in the holes with me just so that we make sure you watching or you listening understand what SeedProd is. It’s basically a coming soon single webpage that you would put up right when you start setting up your website while it’s under construction. You could, like John’s saying, collect email addresses to start getting interest, people that you’re later going to sell to or notify that the business is open, or the website is complete, or the product is ready, whatever it is. But then, it also has this thing, one of these paid features where you’re kind of incentivizing people to share this thing that’s under construction, or coming soon, or about to be better than it was before. That’s what SeedProd is.
John Turner: Right, yeah. And it’s funny. When I built SeedProd, that feature was based off a Tim Ferriss blog article where a company called Harry’s … they sell razors, but they did the same thing, basically, and they got around 10,000 leads. Now obviously, not everybody’s gonna get 10,000 leads or so, but it’s a viable way to get people to sign up for what you have to offer. But the biggest thing of the coming soon page is just a specialized landing page where the main goal is to collect the email of your potential prospect for whatever it is that you have coming soon. That’s the main goal of it, and who doesn’t wanna have somebody to talk to when your website goes live as opposed to having crickets?
Chris Badgett: Yeah, and I just wanna underscore that point, especially for the course creators and the membership site builders out there. The people that I see find the most success, they build their content, or at least they get their curriculum kind of mapped out before they go shopping for LMS software, or membership site tools. But, they often have the name figured out well before it launches. So if you’ve got that name, getting a coming soon page up that’s collecting leads and is really pitching the offer of what this course, or this membership, or this school is gonna be all about, is really important. ‘Cause you wanna have that, there’s nothing better than having that signal of, “Oh, people are opting in, people are interesting.” Spend a little bit of time sending some traffic to the opt-in page while you’re working on developing the content. ‘Cause if you have that signal that, “Oh, this has interest,” it’s very motivating, and it helps take some of the stress out of launching when you already have this initial momentum. ‘Cause a lot of people are starting with an email list of zero, and this is where you start. This is the place to start.
And I wanted to ask you, could you tell us more about the content of this referral feature? I found this really helpful for running contests and things like giveaways and things like that. It’s a great way to kind of open up a potential viral loop. Could you tell us more about that?
John Turner: Yeah, sure. Basically, the way it works is that somebody will sign up for your website to be notified when it goes live, or your course, or whatever you’re building. And then, after they sign up, they’re presented with a few different ways to share, a unique URL they have that tracks who they send back to their site. And then, based off that, you can award them, like I said, discounts, or early entry, or any kind of incentive you want based on the number of people they refer back to your website. So depending on what you have to offer, obviously this can go viral and help you spread the word of what you have coming up, and you won’t have to do so much advertising. They’ll help you advertise it a little bit more. And like I said, if you Google the Tim Ferriss Harry’s story, you can kind of see that in action and the results of that. And I’ve actually got a blog post coming up here on my website very soon that kind of talks to that and how it relates to SeedProd and things of that nature.
But yeah, I think the biggest thing, and just to go back on getting email and getting people to subscribe to what you have coming, you can also go to those people and interview them, and those interviews can help you create whatever it is you have to offer. I’m not sure if you’re familiar with Brennan Dunn, but he has a course called “Double Your Freelance”, and he is creating a new product called RightMessage, which is a personalization tool. If you follow him, you’ll see that during that process of creating this tool, people that was interested in it early, he interviewed over 20, 50 people to get feedback on the direction of his product. I think that’s crucial, because obviously, you don’t wanna spend time building something that nobody wants. You need to figure out what your audience wants from you and deliver that back to them.
Chris Badgett: Yeah. Co-creation, no matter what kind of business you have, but as a course creator, getting that feedback open early, especially while there’s still room to influence the product, that’s what we’re all about, and that’s what we teach is just not building in a vacuum.
John Turner: Yeah, absolutely. It’s very dangerous and can lead to a lot of wasted time and money.
Chris Badgett: Absolutely, absolutely. Well I wanted to ask you something, John, about something I notice sometimes that’s really unique in people, which you have, your co-host, Phil, has, which is a combination of developer and marketing skills. Me personally, I have a software company like yours, I can’t write a single line of code. If I ever need to go get the HDML for a link, I have to go to one of those W3 school websites and find the A=H, F, whatever.
John Turner: Right, right-
Chris Badgett: But sometimes, I come across people like you who have this unique combination, where my approach is partnership, business partner, strength in numbers kind of thing. But, there’s people like you out there. What are some of the benefits and challenges of being a technologist and kind of the business marketing person, too, all in one.
John Turner: Yeah, it’s very challenging, actually. I guess the reason why I am that way is because early on in my career, I tried a few partnerships, and I had some bad experiences with those, so I think that’s kind of influenced my overall direction. But I was a developer first, and marketing came out of kind of a necessity to learn it, but I actually really do enjoy it. I actually enjoy it more than the developing aspect now. As my business grows, I have considered hiring a developer, but at the same time, I do like being small. I like being agile, and I like not having to answer to anybody. If I wanna take a couple weeks off in the summertime, I won’t feel guilty. If I have a team working around me … At the same, those skills is kind of like a one-two punch. If anything goes bad with this business, those skills transfer over to other business and opportunities.
And really, I just enjoyed learning all this stuff. I think anything, I think there’s so many opportunities in the online space that it doesn’t hurt to just learn, and keep learning, and applying what you learn. And I just happened to learn tech and marketing, which are very valuable in the space.
Chris Badgett: Absolutely. Why’d you start a podcast? The podcast is called “Hooked on Products”. Check it out on iTunes. Why’d you and Phil do that?
John Turner: We wanted to connect with other people in our community and our space that were kind of doing the same things that we’re doing. And a lot of people start a podcast to help with their main business or to teach, kind of-
Chris Badgett: Get leads, or-
John Turner: Educate, yeah, what their product is selling. But we wanted to reach out to people in our space, and connect with them, and share our ideas and our stories, and our tactics and stuff. And it’s been very … it’s been awesome, to be honest with you. We met quite a bit of people like yourself there. Everybody has a different story, but a lot of people … they all have this same connecting, driving forces that they wanna create something awesome and serve their customers. And I think that’s one of the things that we enjoy about doing the podcast is learning how other people are doing that and the techniques, and applying those, and testing those ourselves.
Chris Badgett: That’s awesome. I think there’s something to be said for investing in relationships in your industry. I mean, there’s this pressure to “always be selling” or whatever, but it’s also good to just develop relationships in your industry.
John Turner: Yeah, absolutely. And like I said, it goes back to the never stop learning philosophy that I personally have is, I just wanna learn as much as I can, and then take from that and apply it to my own business as well. And I gotta say that your podcast that you did with us was awesome and is, I think, one of the top three already that we’ve done so far.
Chris Badgett: Oh, that’s awesome.
John Turner: A lot of golden nuggets in there.
Chris Badgett: Yeah, thank you. How’d you meet your co-host?
John Turner: Sure. Phil and I met back when I originally joined the Micropreneur Academy. They had a forum that went along with that course, and we met within there. I think it was about three years til we actually met in person. So we were at kind of the same space in our career, our entrepreneurial career, and we were both looking for ideas and products. And we just kind of bonded, because we’ve kind of been on the journey together ever since. I think … I can’t even remember … It’s been about eight years or something like that since I’ve known him, can’t even remember, but it’s been awhile. And then we meet a couple times a year at various conferences and stuff, so it’s been a nice relationship to have and somebody just to go along with the journey with.
Chris Badgett: Yeah, I enjoyed … I’ve met Phil at a couple work camps and at an event called CaboPress. It was really good to get to know him.
I wanna go back to your product for a second. Sometimes when we have products, whatever they are, you’re always trying to sweeten the stack or add more value to it. I was looking at your pricing tables, and you have these themes, so basically coming soon or opt-in pages in a box with already pre-designed backgrounds and typography and stuff, and there’s a lot of them. How many are there? Do you know?
John Turner: There’s 50 plus right now, yeah.
Chris Badgett: Where did that come from, and what is the reaction to them been, and how do you decide when to build a new one, or how’d you pick the ones that you built?
John Turner: Sure. That’s actually pretty new. Most people like to just start from scratch and design their own, but I had a lot of people that just wanted to click a button and have an instant good-looking page. So I kind of did some research, and I took the feedback from people, and I looked at some of them most popular spaces out there that people were wanting, and I built it off those. And like I said, it’s kind of a newer feature, and I track which ones get installed, so I kind of, based on those numbers, I go forward. But yeah, it’s just been one of those things that, I do a survey every few months, and that was one of the top ones that they wanted more pre-designed themes in it. So that was kind of what led that feature decision.
Chris Badgett: Yeah, that’s great. I know business owners, your customers … I mean, there’s business owners, and there’s people who build websites for clients. I’ve bought your product before for clients. I’ve used your free version. But the business person especially, sometimes they just wanna, a template, pick the one that’s most like them, change the words, and roll. I think the whole boom in the page-building industry attests to the power of pre-done templates and-
John Turner: Yeah, yeah. And I’ve considered adding a done-it-for-you option on there as well, and that’s something I think a lot of course creators do, I think a lot of them use them as an up-sale. Is that right? Is that they, they’ll have a course, and then an up-sale is a done-for-you or something like that. Is that true in your space?
Chris Badgett: Yeah, absolutely. I mean, I call that just the … There’s the do-it-yourself, there’s the done-with-you, and then there’s the done-for-you. So sometimes people structure different offers, or take one product and change it a little bit at those [inaudible 00:27:05] levels.
John Turner: Yeah, I’ve considered adding that as a service on the back end of the sale, but I haven’t done it yet.
Chris Badgett: Yeah, that’s cool. I think just like … There’s a difference between a website that is a marketing brochure for a business, whereas the website is the business. So if it’s an online course website or an e-commerce website where the website is the business like what you have here, it’s valuable for the brochure or coming soon website, for the brick and mortar place or whatever, but for the online business, starting pre-selling and collecting leads is, I think, really valuable.
I’m also one of those … I think that there might be a service there, and one of the other things is education. So if you do education plus product plus service, sometimes that completes the picture, because the education can fill in the gaps. A basic pre-selling course touching on structuring the offer, headlining, sub-headlining, giving a reason people to opt in, how to do the countdown effectively, how to open it up for viral referral. The market, it might just need a little education, even if it’s … it doesn’t have to necessarily be a full-on course. It could just be like a … an online course could be an email mini-course, or checklist, or lead magnet, whatever. I’m just a fan of figuring out different combinations of education and software service products.
John Turner: Yeah, yeah. And that’s the kind of thing, it’s different for, that combination is different for every product. I’m still testing ideas and trying to constantly improve on that education, product awareness, and things of that nature. But yeah, I’ve tried the mini-course, the email mini-course. And I have a short sales cycle, so typically, it’s straight to an offer for me. But yeah, I agree. Education on your products is key. And actually, with the coming soon page, I actually recommend people, actually still write blog posts while their website’s up and going and release those, so they’re getting some information out there. Not only does it educate, but it also helps them start getting a headstart on Googling, getting some of that search engine traffic.
Chris Badgett: There you go. There’s another lesson on pre-selling.
John Turner: Yeah.
Chris Badgett: I also notice, I didn’t realize you had this on your pricing table, you had some photography included, or access to stock photos?
John Turner: Sure, so-
Chris Badgett: How does that work, and where did that decision come from?
John Turner: Yeah. There’s a website called Unsplash.com, and they are a website that lets people post photographs. They’re pretty high quality, and you can search through them and stuff, and they’re all free. They’re public domain use. You can use them for commercial, or whatever, however you wanna use them. They do have a few terms in there where you can’t replicate their site and stuff like that, but for the most part, they’re free. And they offer developers an API so they can use those images and put them in their own products. So it was just a natural fit for people.
One of the first things people will do is, “Where can I get background images, and what size do I use?” So the Coming Soon plugin lets you click a button, put in your search term, and it’ll bring up hundreds of images you can choose from. You click on it, and it’s instantly sized. It’s just a quick way for people, ’cause the background image is kind of the eye-catcher. It’s when you first come to the website. So it lets you get one of those up and going quickly without a whole lot of effort, so that’s kind of where that came from.
Chris Badgett: Did you say that goes through the Unsplash API, or you … was that how that happens?
John Turner: Yeah, yeah. So we just query their API, and it returns a bunch of images, and then they click on an image, and it automatically sizes it up, and it downloads it to your WordPress, and all that fun stuff.
Chris Badgett: This is for the geek listener out there, but it sounds like you have a specialty here, so I wanna ask.
John Turner: Okay.
Chris Badgett: How do you approach image sizes? In this case, we’re looking for a full background image. We’re looking across laptops, big monitors, smart phones-
John Turner: Right, right.
Chris Badgett: Your saying your tool automatically crops it, or resizes?
John Turner: It crops it, it resizes it, and … The thing about background image is it needs to be in the background. A lot of people make the mistake of putting text on their background image or something like that. Now, when you go look at it on a phone or a laptop, it’s gonna look different, ’cause the image will resize and crop based on the image resolution. So there’s no perfect size is what I say. The biggest thing is you wanna keep it small as far as the weight of the image so it’s not a big page to download. We keep it big enough to where it looks good on a big screen, and then if you push it down to a mobile site, it’ll look great as well.
The next features we’ll be coming out with in the next major version, Version 6, is you’ll be able to change settings on mobile and desktop, so you’ll have completely separate settings for those if you wanna tweak them down even further. So some people may wanna actually change the image they have on a mobile phone, since there’s just not a whole lot of real estate there, and you’ll be able to do that. But yeah, it’s a pretty cool feature, I think, and a lot of people enjoy it.
Chris Badgett: That’s awesome.
So you touched on more image options across devices. What else is in the future for SeedProd? Where are you headed?
John Turner: Sure. The Coming Soon plugin, it’s been around for so long, and there’s really only so much you can do with it, and it’s pretty feature-rich right now. The biggest things we’ll be doing is making it faster and adding more design options. Some people wanna tweak it. But the biggest thing is we don’t wanna overwhelm people with options, so right now, I’m just modernizing some of the stuff it’s built on to make it faster and a little bit easier for people to use. The biggest thing is to make it intuitive for people that are beginning to use it and then also have the options for advanced users that need to tweak stuff a little bit more. So that’s kind of the future of it. Like I said, the plugin is pretty stable, and as far as the feature set goes, but we’ll just be tweaking those.
Also, I don’t know if you saw my pricing table, I have a few other products, and those are closely related to the Coming Soon plugin that we sell. What I built for myself, it felt like people need when they were first starting up their websites.
Chris Badgett: Could you touch on those?
John Turner: Sure, sure. Some of those are like a login page, customizer screens. A lot of people, especially with membership sites, if it’s not built into their plugin that they have, they wanna customize the login screen. So that’s one of the plugins we offer. We offer a Contest plugin, which lets you run standalone contest, and it’s based on a lot of what the Coming Soon plugin does, but it’s a little bit different. It lets you run contests, and it has a little bit more features based on what a contest needs. So if somebody refers, you can wait the entries that they get and things of that nature.
And then we have a 404 landing page plugin, so if you wanna collect leads on your 404 page when people get there. We’ve got a few other ones. I won’t go through all of them. But most of them are ones that I have built, and they’re generated towards lead generation, most of them are. They’re-
Chris Badgett: I’m really fascinated with video marketing myself. It’s one of my specialties. So I have to ask, what does WP YouTube Leads Player Pro do?
John Turner: Okay, sure. What that one does, it allows you to put an opt-in over your YouTube video so that they have to enter an email to watch the video. You can have it show up as soon as the video shows up, or you can have the video stop at a key moment, and then you put your email in to continue to watch the video. It also lets you do things like put [inaudible 00:35:48] action or annotations in the video. And it also let’s you do chaptering, so if you wanna list a few quick links, it’ll take it to that spot in the video. It was just something I built, because I was testing some video ads, and I wanted to collect leads off those. And I think there’s a company called Wistia that lets you do stuff like that, and it was kind of a lot of what their features offer, but the self-hosted version for WordPress.
Chris Badgett: That is awesome. Do you have any comments as being kind of between the lead and the CRM or the email marketing platform? What do you notice? Do you see any trends in email marketing, I guess, in terms of tool popularity, or what seems to be … what email tools are people choosing these days for where they’re sending the leads? Just any kind of email marketing comments.
John Turner: Sure, so obviously MailChimp is really still one of the largest players, and they’re kind of catching up in the automation space. But a lot of the … The three popular ones I hear about a lot are Convertkit, Drip, and ActiveCampaign. Those are the three ones I hear, and a lot of people were interested in the automation aspect of it. But there’s an interesting thing about automation is it’s actually quite complex and can be quite complex to set up and execute. So there’s definitely a lot of interest in that right now, but I find a lot of people struggle with actually executing the automation part of it. I myself have set up several ones, and I ended up just going back to some simple campaigns that have delayed releases and move people in and out. But, it’s there if you wanna do it, and a lot of people do have those needs. I don’t know if you do any kind of that stuff, but it’s a little overkill for what I’m doing.
Chris Badgett: I’m an ActiveCampaign user, and I used to do a lot of custom work in Infusionsoft community. I have a background in building complex campaigns, but I feel like building WordPress websites, when you’re on that journey of figuring all that stuff out, people tend to go complex, and then you kind of figure it out, and then you burn it all down, and you start over with something much more simple. I’ve been through several iterations in terms of marketing funnels or the essential tools for a website and stuff like that. It gets simpler over time, not more complex.
John Turner: Yeah, and I think … I use a lot of the [inaudible 00:38:35] rule when it comes to email marketing. I don’t try to over-optimize, I just do the stuff that knocks down the big dominoes.
Chris Badgett: That’s a good point. Well, go check out John’s website over at SeedProd.com. Super useful tool. If you’re listening to this, and you have your course idea, and especially if you haven’t launched yet, especially if you have a domain name and it’s just sitting there, start getting some leads. Put SeedProd on there, and start pre-selling. And don’t … Having the email opt-in is there, but also the core of business, especially online business, especially in an online education business, is the offer. It’s who you’re selling to, what is it, what is this course, or what is this school, or what is this platform all about. Starting that conversation and co-creating through a coming soon page is like … that is Ground Zero. It’s like an essential step. I would never skip that.
When I first started LifterLMS, I had like a … even though I could build fancy websites, I had a lead page template with an offer on there and an opt-in. That’s where it all started.
John Turner: Yeah, right? Yeah, you gotta test your offer and see if people bite on it. That’s the biggest thing, and then get feedback on like we’ve discussed. It’s huge.
Chris Badgett: Absolutely. Well John, thank you so much for coming on the show.
John Turner: Thanks for having me, Chris.
Chris Badgett: People can head to SeedProd.com. Where else can they connect with you on the internet, besides your great podcast, “Hooked on Products”?
John Turner: Sure. Those are the main two spots, and I do have a blog @johndturner … what is my blog? I’ve changed it recently. JohnTurner.blog, there you go. And I do post on there every once in awhile, and one of my goals this year was to post on there more of just kind of documenting my journey, but I’ll be posting on there a little bit more as the year wraps up. But that kind of … it outlines some of my goals and what I’ve achieved and stuff, and more goal-setting stuff. But yeah, you can reach me there, or Twitter @johnturner.
Chris Badgett: Awesome. Well thanks, John.
John Turner: Thanks for having me, Chris, and we’ll talk at you soon, okay?
Chris Badgett: Sounds good.