We Be Discuss Changing World of Marketing Automation
Jack has over ten years experience in the world of WordPress, where he got his start designing and building websites, web apps, and creating custom plugins for clients.
In 2015 he founded Very Good Plugins (https://verygoodplugins.com/) to focus on creating commercial plugins, and created WP Fusion (https://wpfusionplugin.com/) as the flagship product. WP Fusion allows customers to leverage the power of marketing automation systems within WordPress by creating a deep link between the two platforms.
What started out as a side project has grown into a full time job, as WP Fusion has followed the incredible growth in the marketing automation space over the last few years, especially for small businesses.
Jack considers himself a “digital nomad”, and when he isn’t writing code he enjoys traveling the globe and immersing himself in new cultures and experiences.
This Episode is Sponsored By LifterLMS
15% OFF All LIFTERLMS Add-Ons using This Coupon code: WPTONIC
Here’s a Full Transcription of Our Interview With Jack Arturo
Jonathan: Welcome back folks to the WP-Tonic Show. This is episode 303. We’ve got a great guest. I’ve been looking forward to this chat. It’s Jack Arturo of WP Fusion. How are you doing, Jack?
Jack: I’m great, Jonathan.Thanks for having me.
Jonathan: Oh, it’s a pleasure. Would you like too quickly introduce yourself to the listeners and viewers?
Jack: Yeah, sure. So, my name’s Jack. I’ve been doing WordPress development for about 10 years and over the last 3 years, I’ve been working on a product called WP Fusion which is a plugin that tries to bridge WordPress with marketing automation systems and it’s really geared towards course creators, membership site owners and that type of thing.
Jonathan: Yeah. It’s great. Before we go into some depth about the plugin and Jack’s history, I just want to quickly mention the sponsor of the show and that is LifterLMS. LifterLMS is one of the leading Learning Management plugins in the WordPress ecosystem, a great crew. The CEO, Chris is a friend of mine and it’s just a great product with a great team and it will help you build your great membership website. You’ll find on the show notes there will be a banner ad with a coupon code, WPTonic, one word, and you get 15 percent off all the add-ons, commercial add-ons and everything else if you use that. We appreciate them sponsoring the show. So, WP Fusion.
Jonathan: Like you say, slightly ambitious. What’s the story behind you going into this particular area of your WordPress development?
Jack: Sure. Well, yeah. So, I’ve done a few plugin projects in the past and that kind of thing but the market for creating something that people need is sort of saturated at this point. All of the big issues have kind of been solved. But a few years ago, I was kind of doing InfusionSoft API work, connecting different systems together just as a freelancer and I had a client who wanted, he was using a membership plugin called UserPro and he just wanted the people who signed up on this site to go into InfusionSoft as new contacts and that just wasn’t a possibility at the time, which was kind of surprising because you would think that, you know, most websites are using WordPress and a lot of people were on InfusionSoft. There was no link. So, we created that and made it as a simple plugin that connected UserPro to InfusionSoft. And then a few weeks later, somebody came and said, “Well, yeah. That’s great. But can it work with WooCommerce the same way? Or can it work with Ultimate Member the same?” And it’s just kind of grown from there. People purchase the plugin and then say, “Yeah. All this is good but I also need it to work with this forum system or this membership system and then we’ll add that in.” And it’s grown to, we now support like maybe 40 or 45 different WordPress plugins and then we connect them to 17 different CRMs and marketing automation platforms.
Jack: It’s kind of modular. You pick which one you use and then it figures out which plugins you’re using and then certain features unlock depending on that.
Jonathan: Wow. It sounds fantastic. So, when it comes to Learning Management Systems like LifterLMS or LearnDash, how does your plugin kind of fit into those systems, Jack?
Jack: Yeah. That’s a great use case because if you have an online course, you really want really get people on a recurring membership and people coming back and interacting with your content. You don’t want them to just sign up, download everything and then never talk to you again, right? So, marketing automation helps a lot with that. You can, for example, like one really common thing is a lot of people will purchase a course but they have this sort of mentality of, “Oh, I’ll do that later. I’m going to do my self-improvement next month.”
And they never log in and do it. With WP Fusion, you can tag them when they first make the purchase and then because you have all these automation tools in your marketing automation system, you can say, if 1 week has passed and the new customer hasn’t completed the first lesson, then send them an email saying, “Hey. We noticed you bought but you haven’t started using the content yet.” That right there is a really simple trick to get people to be like, “Okay, yeah. I should go back and actually take this. I will do it.” Or you can have, for example, if somebody fails a certain quiz, you could have that assigned to somebody on your support staff and say, “Maybe this person needs extra help,” and they get a personal message from you instead of just giving up. So, yeah, for learning management sites, it’s a great way to get people more engaged in the first place and also keep them coming back over time because you can, for example, if you’re using like a gamification system like BadgeOS or something where you award badges and points, now you can automate all of that. If somebody finishes the first course and fills out two questionnaires or completes their profile, that unlocks a badge and then the badge might unlock a discounted products in your store or something like that.
The options for what you can do are pretty unlimited. It unlocks this whole possibility for creating all these rules and logic and timers for how your members are communicated with and how they access your content. I’ve seen some really crazy things done with it but those are some basic examples.
Jonathan: That sounds amazing. Where to take this conversation? There’s so many to go. I also apologize to the listeners and viewers. I’m not that well today. I’ve come down with a little bit of a cold. So I’m not 100% so be gentle. So, obviously, you know, you’re integrated with a lot of services basically, external use and external APIs. How have you dealt with API that can turn into API hell really?
Jack: It’s pretty straightforward because all the systems that we integrate with support a contact which is a person with their personal information and custom fields and then tags. So, everything WP Fusion does is based around tags. So you might apply a tag when somebody purchases and then that unlocks your paid content. Then, when they complete the course, that applies another tag and then the tag sends an email. So as long as they support those abstract concepts, contacts, and tags, then we can make it work. So there’s some things, for example, like MailChimp is huge and it would be great if we could work with MailChimp but they don’t really have that same architecture. They have these like smart segments that you can create inside of MailChimp but there’s no way to just flag somebody as “Purchased this product” or “Completed this course”. So we can’t make that work. But for the majority of the systems, they all follow that same kind of basic way of doing things. And then, they all have tools for, inside say Drip, for example, you can say, “When this tag is applied, then do this,” or, “What this long and then if this happens, then do that.” So, as long as it sticks to those basic concepts, we can make it work pretty easy and we don’t have to do a lot of maintenance. The APIs change very rarely so it’s pretty easy to keep going.
Jonathan: That’s great. Are there any users of WP Fusion that you’ve been working with or you’ve been given insight in what they’re up to that sticks in your mind as a great example of utilizing your plugin with their website basically? Either a Learning Management System or E-Commerce, anything really.
Jack: Yeah. So, I have one customer who was a client before, going back years. She runs a company called the English Success Academy and she helps students prepare for the TOEFL exams. And so, she has several teachers working with her and then she has a sales site which is on one site and then the actual learning portals on another site. With WP Fusion they purchase using WooCommerce on their sales site and then this goes into Drip which is the CRM she’s using and Drip is able to trigger WP Fusion on the course site to create a new user account for that user, generate a password and then send an email to the customer from Drip with their login information. And when they log in, we’ve customized the homepage using the user’s tags to show what courses they’ve purchased, what their progress is in all the courses. We have some stuff that automatically will tell them how many days they have left until their exam. I mean, there’s actually a lot going on. And then one other cool thing is, so then we watch that exam date and then we use Drip to send out an email a week before the exam that follows several conditions based on how much of the course they’ve completed and what their quiz scores have been that says either, “You look ready to go,” or, “We think you might need some extra help. Your assigned teacher is so and so.” And so, that’s been great and the site’s been growing really, really rapidly and I think it’s because, and also, she’s had fantastic reviews because I think people really feel, like even though it’s automated, it’s much more personal than just signing up for something, taking it and then wondering if you’re ready. They’re getting personalized feedback every few days as they prepare for their exam.
Jonathan: Oh, it sounds fantastic. I just feel you’ve got the right product at the right moment really.
Jack: Yeah. It was really kind of just luck. When we started it, it was just InfusionSoft and that was it for the first year and then everybody kind of left for ActiveCampaign. And now, almost like every week, I get one or two requests for a new system I’ve never even heard off. So the marketing automation space is blowing up and it’s becoming a lot cheaper and easier to use. There’s no big upfront cost or anything. So a lot of people are wondering how to get going with it and WP Fusion is a great way to take all of your existing customer data, student data, whatever and jump your automation process.
Jonathan: Because it’s definitely an area where WordPress, you know the strengths of WordPress is that you’re intellectual capital, you’re not kind of in the ecosystem of a propriety system. You can always move hosting provides. You’ve got the flexibility of customizing the WordPress, you know the bits that you’re using in WordPress to, you know, you’ve got a lot of flexibility but the problem has been this area of marketing automization where some of the fully hosted SaaS course membership and Learning Management Systems have had a more persuasive argument really because they’ve been able to integrate that better, haven’t they? Would you agree with that?
Jack: Yeah. Definitely in the past. I mean there are hosted platforms for doing your courses or membership sites. The problem is then all of your data lives with this provider and you’re trusting them to both be around for the next few years to keep innovating. I mean, with InfusionSoft, they used to have a membership system and then they dropped it. They weren’t mobile responsive nearly quick enough and that kind of thing and then you’re just sort of stuck with it paying huge monthly fees. And also, WordPress has gotten a lot easier to use like compared LearnDash, LifterLMS is innovating crazy fast. So, yeah, I think it’s a good time and also we give you, because your data’s in WordPress now and your students are there, obviously, you can customize all of that. But if you want to move from one of the older systems like InfusionSoft to something newer like Drip, WP Fusion can just take all your data and move in over in a couple clicks. You’re also no longer locked into what system you’re using for your emails and contact management as well.
Jonathan: Yeah. When you were talking about this case study, it sounded a bit involved so how much can that be achieved in WP Fusion with your interface and how much of that you have to actually go in and do some custom coding?
Jack: So, all of that is done without any custom coding.
Jack: I mean we give you the tools but it’s still a lot of work to think out that logic. I kind of oversee it but it was their idea. We want to know the student’s next exam date. We want to send them an email at this time. So you still have to a sense for what kind of automation and what kind of logic you want to use to communicate with your members. But that’s really just a creative capacity, not a technical one.
Jonathan: That sounds amazing. Absolutely amazing. How do you see you moving WP Fusion in the next year? Have you got any plans?
Jack: Nothing earth-shattering. I’ve got maybe four or five new CRMs and platforms planned that we’re going to integrate with and that’s just based on requests from people who would like to purchase but can’t yet. And then, we’re working on some new kind of like tweaking the website, making things easier for first time users with videos and tutorials and doing some more advertising. I think that there are a lot of people out there who could benefit from a solution like this. But I’m a Developer so when I kind of created everything, it works very well, I can show screenshots and explain what it can do but I’m not so good at explaining the strategies of, you know, “This will help you do 25 percent more sales,” or that kind of stuff. So we’re trying to think more along those lines and try and help people see whether or not it would be a good fit for them.
Jonathan: I think we’re going to go for our break folks and when we come back, we’re doing to delve a bit more in automization in general. We’ll be back in a few moments.
Male Voice in Commercial: Do you want to spend more time making money online? Then use WP-Tonic as your trusted WordPress Developer partner. They will keep your WordPress website secure and up to date so you can concentrate on the things that make you money. Examples of WP-Tonic’s client services are Landing Pages, Page Layouts, Widgets, Updates, and Modifications. WP-Tonic is well known and trusted in the WordPress community. They stand behind their work with full, no question asked, 30-day money back guarantee. So don’t delay. Sign up with WP-Tonic today. That’s WP-Tonic.com. Just like the podcast.
Jonathan: We’re coming back, folks. I’m still alive. I’m slowly dying here but hopefully, I’m doing a reasonable job, Jack.
Jack: Yeah, pretty good.
Jonathan: Like you said at the beginning of our conversation, there’s a lot of players now. I’m just looking at some the key people, InfusionSoft, ActiveCampaign, Ontraport, Drip, ConvertKit, Agile CRM. There’s a lot. Basically, how do you see some of these dying away in the next 18 months? Do you think the ecosystem can support all these players really?
Jack: I’m not sure. If you’d asked me a year ago when there were a third as many, I would have said no but they still keep showing up. I think that there’s just a lot of money out there and a lot of interest in it so people are throwing these against the wall to see if they stick. If you look at something like ConvertFox is quite new and it’s basically Intercom and Intercom’s quite established, a lot of people use it but I think it saw, and they saw a lot of people signing up for Intercom and wanted to create their own version of it with like a few minor differences. But from what I’ve seen, they’re actively developing it and people are signing up and we have customers using it so I’m not sure. Everything eventually reaches the saturation point. I have no idea where it’s going. It’s definitely changing for sure.
Jonathan: Have you go any kind of, because obviously, you’ve worked with all these different, you’ve got a unique view really because you work actively with all these systems. Are there any of these particular ones that you think are really suitable for certain scenarios and other ones better for other scenarios? Got any insights?
Jack: It depends. I am really not a huge of InfusionSoft. I think they’ve spent a long time catching up so I’m usually moving people out of InfusionSoft. I usually either recommend Ontraport or Drip and that kind of depends on your needs. Drip is super easy to get going with. It’s very straightforward. It’s pretty affordable but it doesn’t have some of the more advanced features that Ontraport has. For example, on Ontraport, you can record purchases attached to a customer and you can see all their historical purchases. You can have built-in affiliate tracking, landing pages. You can process credit cards to Ontraport. They even have a really amazing thing that I haven’t seen in any other system which is called Custom Objects. So, you could, for example, instead of just having contacts and purchases, if you were a say a landscape architect or something, you could create a Custom Object for an estimate and an invoice or a proposal and you could see all of those attached to your contact as well. So, if you were doing an online course, you might have a Custom Object that stores the person’s quiz scores everytime they’ve taken a quiz and that would take some programming to set up but it’s very, very extensible for whatever you want to do. Ontraport costs a little more and some people don’t need those features but that’s where they usually say if somebody’s looking for something, either Drip or Ontraport depending on the complexity of their needs.
Jonathan: And what about ActiveCampaign and ConvertKit? How do you see them in the market at the present moment?
Jack: They’re good. I use ActiveCampaign myself. I think they kind of, it’s a bit limited. I like in Ontraport, probably if I had a choice, I would have started with Ontraport. I have certain needs that I want to see when I look at a contact. I want to see their purchase history, their license key, their support tickets, whether or not they’ve renewed their license, that kind of thing and I can drag and drop that in Ontraport to make it all prominent for me.
Jonathan: All right.
Jack: Yeah, which is nice.
Jonathan: That’s sweet, isn’t it?
Jack: Yeah. You can build it out to show exactly what’s most important for you to know about your customers.
Jonathan: That’s the important thing really, isn’t it?
Jonathan: A lot of businesses, they have different requirements of what information they want to see quickly, don’t they?
Jack: Yeah. And not a lot of them do that and you can even group it into sections that collapse and add separate pages, even have users in your account that can only access certain details about a contact and not others so it’s very flexible. ActiveCampaign is a little frustrating because you can add custom fields but it’s just one long list of all the data you have. I collect quite a bit of it so I have to scroll all the way to the bottom to see that stuff and you can’t put in tabs or pages or anything like that. It works well but it’s not quite as extensible as some of the other systems.
Jonathan: And what’re your thoughts about ConvertKit?
Jack: I like it. I haven’t used it extensively and I don’t have a lot of customers on it. They’ve kind of been stagnant as long as I’ve been working with them. Drip, for example, why I tend to recommend it is they just overhauled their whole brand and now they’re focused really strongly on E-Commerce and they’ve done a great job of letting you record purchase history and show it in a timeline and record customer lifetime value and ConvertKit doesn’t have any features like that. So it’s just sort of here’s the contact.
Jonathan: I do apologize.
Jonathan: Could you restate that bit about its strength around E-Commerce and go a little bit more in detail there?
Jack: Yeah. So, I think like maybe 3 months ago they changed their whole branding, their whole color scheme, their logo, everything and their new phrase or like tagline now is, “See your customers in full color”. So they’re no longer even pitching it as a CRM exclusively. They now say it’s your E-Commerce CRM, a CRM focused around E-Commerce. And they added in all these features where now you can see like, “On the 5th, the customer purchased 3 quantities of this product at this price and this increased their lifetime value to this much,” and that all shows up in a really nice easy to see timeline where you can see a whole history of your interaction with the customer and I think that was a really smart pivot because not many people were really capitalizing on the kind of small business who needs simple features but also needs E-Commerce into operability. Of course, Ontraport has that but then it has a lot of other stuff too so Drip is very focused around being a simple easy to use marketing automation system with great E-Commerce tools.
Jonathan: I did some work with Agile CRM over a year ago and that seemed like a Swiss army knife, pretty powerful.
Jack: Yeah. It’s cool.
Jonathan: They had some really helpful help people which you could speak to all the time and then they got rid of them all.
Jack: That’s not good.
Jonathan: Features that we could never seem to consistently ever get to work correctly.
Jack: Yeah. Like what?
Jonathan: I can’t remember now.
Jack: Okay. I ask because I really liked it from my experience with it and I liked that you can build dashboards of reports which you don’t see very often.
Jack: So I recommended it to a long time customer because he was looking for something different and I don’t remember exactly what his problem was either but a couple weeks in he was like, “No, I give up. It’s no good. It looks shiny but it’s not good deep down.”
Jonathan: Well, they’ve got a lot of stuff. When I was looking at it, there was a lot of stuff they were offering in one package.
Jonathan: It’s always a struggle with any kind of software or service. When you are offering so much functionality that you’re actually diluting the core product.
Jack: Yeah and you might overwhelm people. They start thinking, “Well, I’m not using all of this, maybe I’ll go somewhere else.” Yeah, totally.
Jonathan: Hopefully, you don’t mind me asking. I’m just taking this opportunity because you’ve got such unique knowledge.
Jack: I’ve been approached by some companies like, “If you want to be one of our certified partners or become one of our affiliates,” and I always say no.
Jonathan: Well, that would be a very difficult situation.
Jack: Yeah and I always want to give an impartial opinion on which systems I like working with.
Jonathan: I know nothing about Intercom really. I’ve never used that or had a client. What’s their pitch and what’s their specialty in this crowded market?
Jack: Yeah. So they’re good. You probably see them all the time even if you didn’t realize it. It’s that little floating chat icon in blue down at the bottom right of a website where it pops up and says, “Hey. You’re reading our whatever.”
Jonathan: I’ve got one on my own website but I use a different company. I think it’s Drip but it’s a different Drip.
Jack: I think Intercom, if they weren’t the first with that, they were like one of the biggest players doing that thing. So it’s really built around chat and then kind of like seeing what your customers are viewing in real-time and then offering them contextual help. The one thing I see that’s nice with Intercom, I actually have a couple customers using both Intercom and ActiveCampaign at the same time, is say somebody passes a course or purchases a product, we can apply a tag in Intercom and the little chat message on their screen will pop up and say, “Congratulations on passing your course,” or, “Thank you for purchasing this product,” in real-time. The people that I’ve helped with that didn’t find Intercom had enough features to be their main marketing automation system but they really liked being able to trigger those invents in real-time and then communicate with the customers and that sort of thing so there’s a niche for it definitely.
Jonathan: Before we close down the podcast part of the show and hopefully, Jack will agree to keep on the show for our bonus content.
Jonathan: I just want to ask you, you know, you hinted that, WP Fusion, you could actually be a Quasar membership plugin functionality. Could you go into a little bit of detail about that?
Jack: Yeah. It can and I think that’s great because a lot of people, they might start using like Paid Memberships Pro or MemberMouse or something which has a lot of features that they don’t really need. They just want somebody to make a purchase and then get access to their course or content. So, yeah, with WP Fusion, like I said, everything is done with tags so an action on your site can apply a tag like a purchase or filling out a form. And then, a tag can be used either to unlock a page, to automatically enroll somebody in a course, to automatically set a membership level. So, yeah, for very basic stuff, you can just say like you have a LearnDash course or a LifterLMS course and you set the access to invite only or closed and then when somebody purchases a product, either in WooCommerce or even an outside platform like Thrivecart or something. As long as it connects into your CRM it’s all the same. Then that tag will automatically enroll the person in the course that they paid for and you don’t need to buy a separate membership plugin. Before WP Fusion, a lot of times you would have to, like LifterLMS works with WooCommerce of course but say you were using some other payment system, then you would need to do custom code to get them to realize that the purchase happened. But because we’ve kind of made that more abstract by making everything about tags, you can really make any condition perform any action on your site and create pretty complex membership setups if you want without a dedicated membership plugin.
Jonathan: Wow. I’ll have to have a chat with you about that.
Jack: Yeah. I check on people’s sites sometimes to look at a bug or something and I see them with these like complex setups of linking 10 different things together I never would have imagined. So it’s kind of I create the tools and then I let people do what they will with it.
Jonathan: Like I say, we’re going to finish the podcast part of the show folks. Jack, how can people get a hold of you and learn more about WP Fusion?
Jack: Yeah. So we’re at wpfusion.com, all one word.
Jonathan: And I would highly advise you if you’re in Membership, Learning Management Systems or E-Commerce, you should go over there and learn more about this plugin because I think to say it’s useful is an understatement. If you want to get a hold of me or find out more about WP-Tonic, go to the WP-Tonic site. We’re a support service provider in the WordPress space but we specialize in Membership and Learning Management Systems. Also, if you really want to support the show, give a review on iTunes. It really does help the podcast and get us higher in iTunes ratings and enables me to get interesting people like Jack on the show and give you more value. We’ll see you next week folks where we’ll have somebody doing something really interesting with WordPress, Online Marketing or in the Membership learning space. We’ll see you next week folks. Bye.
Every Friday at 8:30am PST we have a great and hard-hitting round-table show with a group of WordPress developers, online business owners and WordPress junkies where we discuss the latest and most interesting WordPress and online articles/stories of the week. You can also watch the show LIVE every Friday at 8:30am PST on our Facebook WP-Tonic Show page. https://www.facebook.com/wptonic/