#446 WP-Tonic Show: With Special Guest Kris Hadlock of Wordherd

WordHerd is a full-service WordPress website migration company, meaning that we convert any other CMS platform or custom website to WordPress. WordHerd handles migrations of all sizes, from small businesses to large enterprises.

When it comes to moving your website away from your current CMS to a new one, WordHerd is there to help by providing a number of services to ensure that your new website maintains all the functionality and feel of your old one.

WordHerd website migration services include:
Retaining existing content and HTML structure, such as titles, copy, and excerpts.

Jonathon: Welcome back folks to the WP tonic show. This is episode 446, yes folks, the episodes are flying. I got my great co-host with me, Adrian, from GroundHogg, and we got a great guest as well. We got Chris Hadlock from Wordherd as well. And we’re going to be talking about everything around migrating from different platforms to another platform. Chris runs a specialized company that deals with that [inaudible 00:57], so I thought that he would be the ideal guest to talk about this really interesting subject. First of all I, Adrian, would you like to introduce yourself to the new listeners and viewers?

Adrian: Hi everyone, my name is Adrian. I’m the CEO and founder of Groundhogg, here as the co-host for the WP tonic show. If you require any sort of CRM, marketing automation, or email marketing on your WordPress site as a plugin, then we’re the solution for you. And you can find out more about that at groundhogg.Io.

Jonathon: Yes, he’s the good looking one. So, and I got our guest, Chris, would you like to quickly introduce yourself to the listeners and viewers?

Chris: Absolutely my name is Chris Hadlock. I’m the president and CTO of Wordherd, and we are a website migration, a company, where you migrate any CMS to WordPress, and we also have an add-on CRM migration service.

Jonathon: That’s great, and before going to the main part of the interview, folks, I like to talk about our major sponsor, which is Kinsta Hosting. Kinsta has been sponsoring the show for a couple of years. They also host the WP tonic website; I’ve been totally blown away by the quality of their hosting and their support. They host on Google cloud, one of the best virtual cloud hosting platforms on the market at the present moment in my opinion. They’ve just recently introduced some upgrades [inaudible 02:29], I’m sure they are right.

They come 200% faster; it was some of the fastest hosting on the market. It’s just got substantially a lot faster. If you’re looking for a great platform for your learning management system, your wooComerce, and anything that needs a bit of real hosting performance, I suggest either for yourself or for your clients; you go over to Kinsta, have a look at their plans, buy one of them and also tell them that you heard about them on the WP-Tonic Show.

Now, for the main part of the interview, so, Chris, you came on my radar, and I looked at your website and your bio and I thought you were the person to come on the show to talk about migration. Because I have, in my own niche, which is learning management systems, we have a number of SAS competitors Kajabi and I regularly get people that have found out, that in the end enclose SAS system, doesn’t totally meet their needs, so they want to come to the freedom of word press, then they find that Kajabi makes it pretty difficult to move. So we’ve done a few ourselves and it has all been done manually. So, can you give a quick outline on some of the key platforms that you help people with, to migrate into WordPress, and then maybe give us some things that people got to think about before they go down this path.

Chris: Sure, so our top platforms are Adobe business Catalyst, HubSpot, Drupal, Joomla, and Typo3, but we can migrate any CMS into WordPress. We have different API connectors for some of the top platforms, and then we also can do a combination of scraping on custom sites that don’t have those API connections. So we’ve developed a proprietary tool around this process, which we use in the house, and it’s been said to save about 94% of the time over manual migration.

Jonathon: That’s fantastic, so, what are some of the key things that people got to realize before they approach somebody or some of the things they go to understand before that helps you achieve a really successful migration?

Chris: Well, there are a lot of things to take into account when you migrate a site, it’s not just the content, but it’s all of the images and the assets. If you were to do that manually, you would need to download re-upload, ensure all the SEO is intact, and re-link everything, so that’s what our tool really helps with and where it’s strength is. It can do all of that in an automated fashion. So yes, the things that would need to be taken into account is just ensuring that all those images are re-linked in the media library, all the SEO is intact for the images, the pages, the posts, and 301 redirects are implemented if necessary if any URLs change.

Jonathon: That was great, over to you Adrian.

Adrian: So if someone’s migrating, what kind of questions do you get? Like, what is their key want from migrating from some other CMS, because you usually do migrations from some other CMS to WordPress, right? So what are the reasons for that?

Chris: It kind of varies. It depends on the platform. Sometimes it’s that they’re locked into a system that’s got a high monthly recurring fee or with Adobe business catalyst, this platform has end of life in 2021. So we’ve partnered with WP-Engine Impressable to migrate sites from Adobe business catalyst into WordPress There are many people out there that are on that platform looking for the service they actually just went through a yearlong vetting process with WP-Engine and Adobe where they vetted their migration tool and that’s where those savings calculations were determined.

Adrian: Wow, so is there any like data loss associated with this migration or is it kind of like an all in one; you get to keep everything, more or less structured in a way that you’re familiar with? Or is there a little bit of data loss, a lot of data loss? What can people expect?

Chris: No data loss and an exact theme do match.

Adrian: Really, do you like build the theme custom, or how does that work?

Chris: Yes, we have a theme of developers in house that will recreate the theme, but we also have been toying with some technology that we call intelligent theming, which recreates the design and layouts in WP-Bakery or Gutenberg. So, they’ll actually look at the structure of the page and recreate all of that in WordPress in an automated fashion.

Adrian: That’s pretty incredible, Jonathan.

Jonathon: Oh yes, that’s why I thought I would have Chris on the show because I was blown away. Now Chris, I know I’m going to ask you a really difficult question, maybe you can just give us a couple of examples if you want to. How much does this roughly costing Chris, can you give some idea what it costs on the couple of the most popular platforms that you regularly work with? And give us some very broad figures.

Chris: Well, I can give you an idea of what we base our pricing on. We base it on the total number of pages and post the complexity of the design and whether or not that needs to be recreated. Whether the SEO needs to be remained intact or if they don’t really have SEO and they don’t necessarily need that migrated. So like a very small brochure site would probably be between 500 and a thousand, and then sites beyond that would be higher.

Jonathon: Yes, I do understand because that was a slightly unfair question, but I’m sure it’s a question that you’re asked almost every day, isn’t it?.

Adrian: I’d love to know the biggest migration.

Chris: Yes, absolutely. The largest migration we did was for Northern Arizona University which is just right up a mountain for me. And it was a 215 microsite migration from Ectron, which is an enterprise platform in a WordPress, multi-site.

Adrian: So they had like 250 various like properties on subdomains or subfolders or whatever, and you migrated all of that to a WordPress multi-site?

Chris: Exactly, yes, they’re all different departments that are within the organization. So they needed different user roles and whatnot for access to different microsites.

Adrian: I’m just curious because I’m a developer techie person myself and I’m kind of just curious, did you have to like bill, you know because you said you’ve been building this tool for a long time. I’m curious if that particular job; spurred a lot of the innovation that you currently have in your platform, where you already like ready to go with that one?

Chris: I would say that we were mostly ready to go, but they had some custom widgets that they used; different shortcodes. And within our tool, we have a place where you can actually write some additional code that goes into a virtual machine, so it doesn’t actually touch the core logic. And we could write transformers that created shortcodes out of different widgets that we were coming across when we were processing.

Adrian: Very cool. I’ve done a few like website migrations myself and it is bar-none the most painful process on planet earth for anybody. I just gave up, I don’t deal with staging, I don’t deal with anything live changes [inaudible00:10:54] to live site because I’m lazy and don’t know how to do it really, really well. But the reason it’s so difficult is because, as you’re like making changes to your staging site or your developing site or whatever, or you have migration. You have authors or you have payments or you have sales that are happening on the live site while you’re making these changes, then pulling that over is like a super process because it takes time to do that usually maybe a month or a couple of weeks. And by that time your live instance is further ahead in terms of iterations than the one that you’re working on. So how long does this process actually take in order to kind of, to narrow that gap to ensure that there’s almost no change in between the time where you’re switching over from kind of like your old platform to your new platform?

Chris: Our typical kind of migration is scheduled for about two weeks and that’s based on the size of our team and our workload, so we usually ask for a consent freeze. It’s not necessarily for the entire two weeks, but when we’re going to actually do the migration, which could take a day, could take two days, depending on the size of the site.

Adrian: So basically you just put a lock on it. Like, you’re not allowed to like create sales orders and whatnot within this time frame, so that when we do do the migration, like everything’s Hunky Dory.

Chris: Yes, sometimes it’s obviously not possible especially on a site where people are selling things. So if we’re doing a WooCommerce migration, then we just try to launch the site quickly after we migrate, and then anything that’s leftover, we kind of move at the last minute.

Adrian: Okay, so you’re kind of just like, have someone like log into the old place, like grab the last little few orders and pop them over when you’re ready.

Chris: Exactly.

Adrian: Very cool, Jonathan.

Jonathon: So Chris, if you found in general that a lot of enclosed systems, not open source, do you feel that they make it difficult to migrate to something else?

Chris: Some do others just simply don’t have the APIs that are necessary to make it seamless. But that’s why our tool was originally built on scraping technology so that we can migrate based on the site map and just target certain areas of a site, and I grabbed the content and images and whatnot from that.

Jonathon: That’s great. I think we’re going to go for our break. We are going to be talking about the whole area in a bit more detail in the second half folks. We will be back in a few moments.

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Jonathon: We’re coming back; we’ve got a real expert on the show talking about an area that’s not talked about that much. But like I say, Chris Hadlock is the expert, the head of WordHerd, and we’re talking about migrating to WordPress, which is a great idea, I feel. So Chris, what about, WooComerce, you mentioned it a bit in the first half with my co-host Adrian, are you getting a lot of people looking at moving away from SAS kind of eCommerce, looking at WooCommerce?

Chris: Yes, we get a combination of CMSs and different eCommerce platforms as well. So I would say CMS’s are our top migrations and then eCommerce would be second up.

Jonathon: So which ones are they looking to move away from to go into WordPress: WooCommerce?

Chris: The typical Shopify, big commerce [inaudible 15:22]

Jonathon: I’m fascinated because their Shopify is really kind of those that really push it and don’t get me wrong; I have done some Shopify development myself. It seems as such, a great alternative to WooCommerce, is it very similar to what you said in the first half; costs, but what are some of the reasons you come across why they move in from Shopify to WooCommerce?

Chris: I would say that the main reason is cost, and then second to that would probably be just having an open-source platform where they can easily design; they’re more used to WordPress and the themes that it offers

Jonathon: Right, over you to you Adrian.

Adrian: I see that, and we talked a little bit about it I think, at least we were talking about early before the call, you do about 30% or 30% of your overall migrations are for CRMs. That’s correct, right?

Chris: Yes, I would say that’s about true.

Adrian: Okay, so what are the difficulties that people genuinely experience while switching their CRM? Are there any things that people should be looking at? Because 50% and I run a CRM based business, marketing automation, email marketing, et cetera, and I can solidly say that a good portion of our customers are switchers. Switchers being they jumped from place to place to place, trying to figure out the CRM with the marketing automation tool that fits their needs. What are some of the most common points of interest or things that people thought you’ve switched their [inaudible 17:02] need to consider before deciding to make the leap to go from software A to software B and possibly beyond that?

Chris: That’s a great question. I would say that they need to consider what it is exactly that they’re looking for, of the new CRM. If they are looking; specifically with HubSpot which we get a lot of migrations from, they wanting to migrate their CRM and their CMS because they’re closely tied together. So one of the things that we often need to account for is that, CRM customers or users are being tracked within WordPress, so that’s one example of that.

Adrian: So are you talking about people moving to HubSpot or away from HubSpot?

Chris: If they’re moving away from HubSpot, one of the things that they need to do is just ensure that that tracking is still in place.

Adrian: Right, and so how do you– I’m curious, so if they’re moving away from HubSpot, what are they moving to, to offer that, like best relationship with WordPress?

Chris: There are quite a few systems out there that we migrate to, but none of them integrate with WordPress seamlessly. Some of them that I can name are like Sharp Spring Active Campaign some people just put the MailChimp, which doesn’t really lend that tracking capability.

Adrian: Okay, very cool. Jonathan,

Jonathon: He needs to know about GroundHogg [inaudible 18:46]. You better [inaudible 18:50] checked to give, ain’t you? So, do you find everything; what is the kind of spread of clients that approach you, although you mostly, you know, is it medium-sized businesses and large organizations that approach you, say you’re dealing with an IT professional or do you have a very broad manner of inquiries from different people? And secondly do you have to really explain to them that even with your great custom tools, this isn’t going to be totally a simple exercise, there have to be a fair bit of education involved?

Chris: When we first started out it was very broad and we have really been working over the past year or two to hone in on businesses. We work a lot with agencies as add on service, so what they’re providing to their customers, we also work with a lot of SEO firms. And it’s helpful when companies know exactly what’s involved in the process or they have some kind of experience in CMSs.

Jonathon: They got the arrows into the back already.

Chris: Exactly, yes. So we’re focused primarily on small to large business,

Jonathon: Right, [inaudible 20:24] do you find with the people outside what you just described, they think that you can do this very quickly and very cheaply. Is that the basic [inaudible 20:35] the problem?

Chris: Yes, I think they’re looking more for like a plugin that just automates the entire process and they just basically go in there and push a button for $50 and it’s over. But, we look at this as a larger process and we ensure that everything is intact and you don’t lose any SEO equity, and that your design is an exact match and that your content is editable in a way, where you don’t have to know HTML in the end right

Jonathon: Over to you, Adrian

Adrian: How much manual work is actually expected, let’s just take, you’re kind of middle of the road migration it’s not as big as your largest client, but it’s certainly not as small as your smallest client, like kind of middle of the road. How much manual work is actually expected? And do you take care of it or is that of the business to take care of it, what’s the distribution?

Chris: We take on the entire load, unless they decide that they want to implement a theme when we’re done, but we’ll take on the entire load and it’s all automated except for the theme at this point, and that’s what we’ve been working with; with the intelligent theming.

Adrian: Very cool. Very, very, very cool.

Jonathon: Yes, you kind of mentioned a few times, HubSpot, and I got be Frank, I don’t expect you to agree with what I’m just going to say. I think HubSpot, are fantastic marketers [inaudible 21:59] that, they’ve managed– I’ve spoken to a few people that after the kind of marketing magic has worn off the actual reality of the HubSpot platform hasn’t been that inspiring. Is that what you sense why a lot of people who have been approaching you drop HubSpot go to something more open source?

Chris: I personally think that HubSpot is a fantastic platform, and I think that one of the reasons that people leave is that it’s being underutilized. Maybe they don’t have somebody full time to manage the marketing aspects of their company.

Adrian: It’s really only worth it if you have someone consistently looking out, looking at the metrics, look in their reports, making the decisions, watching your KPIs, editing the emails, creating the campaigns, and doing the tracking. If you’re a small business owner and you’re kind of like a two, three-person operation, you generally all are wearing several different hats and you don’t necessarily have the capacity to be that full-time person looking in HubSpot, making the fairly, expensive thousand dollars a month worth it. So at least from my experience, because I’ve migrated a few people away from HubSpot manually, I might add, which is not fun by any stretch of the imagination. It generally just comes down to, and they’ll even tell you it’s just underutilization and the price; If you can’t make the thousand dollar worth that, then they’d rather pay $50 for something that just doesn’t do much, but it’s enough for them to do what it is that they wanted in the first place.

Jonathon: That’s kind of very linked to some of the presentations that you’ve done, isn’t Adrian? I think that what you just said is so true, isn’t it? Thanks for pointing that out because I don’t think I was making it clear because I actually think it’s a pretty good platform, that it can do so much and it’s a bit overkill isn’t it? For the average, medium-size business isn’t it?

Adrian: Yes, it’s really good if you have a marketing team or a marketing agency who’s doing like almost full-time work for you, to go in, set it up, manage it, and look at the tracking, look at the KPIs, look in the reports and then making modifications to your business based on that stuff. But if you don’t have that person, you’re not logging in every day and you’re just not looking at it, it’s really hard to justify the cost in your mind. Even though that, you know if you focused on it and you implemented it properly, that it would be worth it. If you’re not doing that, then it’s just not. And there are other tools out there that are cheaper that can do like, maybe like 50% or 60% of what HubSpot does, but at a drastically reduced price. Those are often enough to satisfy the business owner and to do the things, send the emails, do the tracking and have some of the reports that they offer, but without looking at your credit card bill and being, “Oh my God”.

Jonathon: Yes, so you also, Chris, you mentioned that you have people from other open-source, Joomla or Drupal, have you got any sense why those people want to move to WordPress?

Chris: I think historically, a lot of companies were sold on Drupal as an enterprise platform. There are not a lot of developers out there for it and it’s just not really the case anymore. I think WordPress has really grown a lot over the years and it rivals Drupal in many ways, and there are many developers out there that know the platform. So that’s why I think a lot of enterprises are seeing the light and moving to WordPress. Same with Joomla, Joomla was really popular for a while and it’s a fine platform, but again, there’s not a lot of developers out there and not a lot of support, and I think that that’s the main reason people are wanting to move from that.

Jonathon: I’ve got another question. Well, this wraps up the podcast part of the show, and I’ll give you my other part of the question in the bonus content. So Chris, what’s the best way to get hold of you and learn more about your company?

Chris: You can visit our website at wordherd.io, and you can use any of our platform landing pages and submit an inquiry for a free quote or you can just use our contact form to simply contact us.

Jonathon: That’s great, and Adrian, how do people find out more about you and what you’re up to.

Adrian: If you’re looking for a CRM marketing automation tool that does rival HubSpot, but as a WordPress plugin, so it’s all nice and integrated and in one place. Then you can go to groundhogg.io, and download our free plugin of the WordPress repository. Or you can get a premium plan and get some awesome extra features, advanced email editor, drag and drop funnels and all of that good stuff. And again, you can go to Groundhogg.io to find out more about that.

Jonathon: And if you’re looking to get to the freedom of WordPress around your course, developer, designer, and implementer, and you’re looking for the freedom of WordPress? Come to WP-tonic and we can integrate everything with GroundHogg and you’d be happy by me. And also if you want to really support the show, go to iTunes and give us a review, it really does the show. We’ll be back next week with another great guest and we’ll see you soon folks, bye.

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