We Interview one of The Co-founders of Accessally Nathalie Lussier
We discuss with Nathalie CRM automation and why it so important to set-up and deeply understand connected to running a successful membership website we also talk about why WordPress with Nathalie’s plugin (Accessally) solution is such an excellent platform for this type of automation.
Nathalie Lussier is an award-winning entrepreneur, international keynote speaker, and author who has been making websites since she was 12 years old. She graduated with a degree in Software Engineering and a job offer from Wall Street, but she turned down this job to start her own business right out of college. Her bootstrapped startup AmbitionAlly, has been featured in Entrepreneur and is inspiring a culture of intuitive small business marketing software across the globe.
Nathalie has been featured in Forbes, Inc., Fast Company, Success Magazine, Entrepreneur, Venture Beat, Mashable, Business Insider, Yahoo! Finance, and Under 30 CEO. She’s the creator of the hit 30 Day List Building Challenge. In this interview, we discuss CRM automation and how it really can be a really effective tool connected to increasing sells connected to your membership website.
Jonathon: Welcome back to the WP tonic show. This is episode 349. We really got a special guest on. I love this lady. She’s got all the attributes which I don’t have my listeners, viewers, intelligence, and good looks, charm, coder, and marketer. All the things which I like. That’s Natalie Lussier. Natalie, which you’d like to introduce yourself to the quickly to the listeners and viewers.
Natalie: Yeah. Thank you so much for having me on Jonathan and Sydney. So Sydney I am Natalie Lussier. And I have been making websites since I was 12 years old. So that’s kind of how I got started in this whole thing. I ended up studying software engineering in university. And then working on Wall Street and Silicon Valley as an intern during that time. And when I graduated I had a job offer to work on Wall Street that I turned down to start my first business. And part of that was, you know, it was 2008, you know, the things that are kind of just shaky with the whole financial industry. And also there’s a part of me that said like, if you take this job, you’re going to wake up 40 years down the road and just be like, what did you do with your life?
Natalie: So I always knew I wanted to start a business. I decided to just go for it. And that first business was actually in the healthy eating space. And I built my website on WordPress. Kind of just kicked it all out myself. And eventually people started asking me, who built your website? How are you doing all the stuff you’re doing in marketing? And that kind of spiraled into the next business, which was a web design company that I ran for about two years.
And then after that I realized, okay, I’m doing all this work for clients, but if I had a tool that they could use instead of me doing the work for them, that would also solve more problems a little bit easily. So I ended up, essentially getting my husband to quit his job and joined my business to become my tech co-founder. And together we started access ally and pop up ally and a bunch of other tools, which we can totally talk about it as well.
Jonathon: That`s great. Thanks Natalie. I got my cohost, Cindy Nicholson. Would you like to introduce yourself? Cindy?
Cindy: Oh, hi everyone. Its Cindy Nicholson here from the coursewhisper.com. And I help entrepreneurs that want to create online courses. I helped make those courses awesome.
Jonathon: That’s great. And I’m the founder of WP tonic. We are a maintenance agency that helps build membership sites and also support them and learning management systems. Before we go straight into our interview Natalie, I just wanted to quickly about one of our great sponsors and that’s WP fusion. And what is WP fusion? You might ask yourself, well, it’s fantastic, but in your technologies, thank the two main tools. You should have WordPress obviously, and your CRM. And what WP Fusion does. It allows you to put those two things and allow them to communicate with one another.
And you can do amazing things with your membership site; you’re learning management system or your ecommerce site. About tracking your clients, about showing them different things, connected to different actions is just amazing. If you’re really interested in that, and you should be, I would go over to WP fusion. And if you go there tomorrow, they do in their thanksgiving, they’re doing a Friday special and you’ll get 30 percent off, which is my on all their packaging packages, which is an amazing, deal. Well, Natalie, where shall we start?
I think you’ve done a good coverage of your background. So we decided between ourselves that we’re going to talk about CRM and CRM atomization. Can you give a quick outline why people that got a membership learning management systems site should be looking at CRM atomization and what are some of the benefits they could get from it?
Natalie: Yeah, absolutely. So you know, if you’re watching this, you’re probably pretty technical already. But just to give you a background on CRM and kind of how they’ve changed over the years. So it was, you know, contact relationship management. It was basically just having all of your contacts of knowing, you know, what you’ve done with all of your contacts over time. Maybe what emails they’ve opened and that kind of thing. But things have really evolved a lot over the years and now you can tag, you can have custom fields, you can store a lot more data on each of your contacts as they do different things with your business.
And especially with your courses and your membership site. So for example, if somebody has not logged in for a while, it will be great to be able to use your automation marketing system to remind them that they purchased your course. Or that they signed up for something and to have them complete or at least get more of the value that you promised them and that they originally signed up for.
Natalie: So those are some things you can start to do with automation marketing. And obviously it’s not something that you have to do manually. Or you don’t have to like pull up a report and say, okay, I’m going to manually email these five people, are these 100 people, if this just happens in the background once you set up the automations. And so there’s, you know, obviously retention pieces like that that you can use for your membership and your courses. There are also all kinds of stuff around cart abandonment to make sure that if somebody has started their shopping experience with you and they don’t complete their purchase.
You can use your automation marketing system to kind of woo them back and get them to complete their purchases. And obviously there are all kinds of other cool stuff. If they complete a quiz, you can apply a tag to send a different email series. Or if they click on an email button in one link in an email and not another, maybe you show them different content in the membership site because they’re more interested in that topic. And that’s kind of where they’re at right now in their journey. So there’s a lot that you can do between the two systems and I like to think about it as a way to extend the journey in a personalized way. So it’s not just relying on yourself to try to like keep track of what everybody’s going on, I’m going to be working on or like what they’re up to at union membership site in your courses.
That`s great. Cindy?
Cindy: No, it’s I think the automation is a huge opportunity, especially for people who are creating courses and membership sites. Particularly from what you’ve talked about in terms of, you know, if they haven’t visited in a while or if they’ve completed something to encourage them to keep going on. So what kinds of things do you see in, for people who have these set this CRM automation with membership courses and membership sites and online courses? What kinds of other things are they doing to kind of really help with the engagement of the course to help people go through it?
Natalie: Yeah, so there’s different things that we’ve been testing and that we’ve seen people tests. So you probably are familiar with the concept of a mocking the next module when somebody completes the current module. So, you know, once they complete a quiz or once they complete you know, watching videos and that kind of thing so you can use automation to automatically unlock the next piece of content. And so we’ve actually done tests around that and it seems like it would work better because you would have people complete, but actually it’s the opposite.
Having things unlocked from the get go allows people to kind of jump in and dive into the content that they really need right now. So I wouldn’t have progress based unlocking because that is a functionality that our software obviously allows access ally. But at the same time, what does really work well is to drip the content over time. So it is too much sometimes for people to try to consume the entire course on day one or day two. Even though that’s when they’re the most excited. So dripping content week to week does tend to increase engagement and get people to go and complete it. So the other thing that we’ve seen people do is kind of like a loop to check if they’ve actually done anything. On the previous module before you send the next one. So kind of just checking like, okay, are they engaging? If not, let’s kind of remind them about the thing that they haven’t engaged with yet before you send them the next piece. So it doesn’t overwhelm them.
Natalie: You should say Jonathon Cindy and I will know you are passing over to me Cindy. This is all great, isn’t it Natalie. But I think there are people understanding it’s a great concept and it’s something they should really look at. But then it’s a hard thing to really pin down. Can you give some, is there any kind of little case study or anything that’s come on your radar where somebody started off atomization and they got a nice result from it.
Natalie: It’s kind of like all or nothing. So a lot of times, you know, you don’t have a, you know, hey, we had our course running a half of our people went through without and how they went through with. So I think there are definitely case studies of automation itself helping people’s businesses. And I know the membership site guys talk a lot about that as well, so maybe that’s a good resource to go and check out. But yeah, I think that a lot of times people go all in and then it’s just night and day on their business. So I don’t think it’s necessarily, not incremental, right, if that makes sense. Like it basically just changes the nature of how you do business. So, that’s kind of how I see it too, is like when we started, you know, we had a very basic membership site plugin and we were running a live challenge.
Natalie: So what we had was a 30 day challenge. People would get a video every day for 30 days. And when we did that it was all through, you know, ended up, we ended up having to build access. I like to run it just because the tool that we had at the time was not able to handle that volume and people kind of plugging into our site at the same time. But once we had that evergreen challenge that led into paid courses within our membership site, like that really changed our business.
We’ve had over 50,000 people go through the free challenge and if without that kind of automation, like, I mean we never could have done it like with each person who joined every day. Right. We would have had to, I don’t know how we would have managed, it would’ve been like once a month or something. And I feel like that would have slowed down the options that we had. It would have slowed down the cross selling functionality that we had because people, once they log in and they see what else is available in a membership site, they want to have it right. And so that was another big part of the success of that strategy for us. So that’s kind of our case study. But like I said, I don’t have the opposite version of like what would have happened if we didn’t have automation at that time.
Cindy: So you’ve talked about access ally it. Was it pretty much one of your first products that you created then?
Natalie: Yes. So access ally was the first product that we created, but it’s not the first one we released. Because we knew it would be a bigger thing to support. So we wanted to kind of test the waters with a smaller product first. So we ended up releasing Papa Ballet, which is our pop up opting plugin first because we were like, okay, it’s a smaller price point, smaller kind of feature set, let’s make sure we can support it. We can handle, you know, support questions. We have everything we need documentation wise and stuff. Before we jump into the deep end, as I like to think about it with access ally with lms and of that stuff.
Cindy: And so can you tell me a little bit about more about access ally and how you know, what differentiates itself in the marketplace and everything?
Natalie: Yeah, absolutely. So access la is you know, we like to think about it as kind of the all-in-one on WordPress. So it really does integrate deeply with CRM. So all the stuff that we talked about and when I say CRM that is currently Infusion soft, ontraport, convert kit, active campaign and drip. So kind of the popular ones in our space, if you will. And so what you can do is you can set up both the order forms.
Abandoned cart follow up, you can do your actual membership. So that’s like all tag based access for different members and then also the lms. So you know, progress tracking and quizzes and video, bookmarks, and then affiliate tracking as well. So it’s really a fully all in one system on WordPress that integrates with a CRM. So a lot of people are finding they do not need to invest in, say like an infusion soft ecommerce system because access ally handles a lot of that. So they might still use infusion soft for the automation piece, but they might not need like kind of the add on`s for infusion soft.
Cindy: Wow, that’s great. And you know, essentially it was born from the need because you didn’t have anything there that would do it in the first place. It’s great that you have the skillset to be able to build it yourself.
Natalie: Yeah, absolutely.
Jonathon: so how do you see online learning in general? Do you think we’ve reached a plateau of membership and online learning or do you think it’s still in the early days? Natalie.
Natalie: I think, well, I can’t really say early days, but I still feel like there’s a lot of runway. I think that, you know, people I would say students and people who are taking online courses are expecting more. So they are looking for a better experience and they’re kind of maturing as people who are using the web and people who are using online learning platforms. So I think that the game is being upped from that perspective.
So I think us as course creators and also software creators for course creators need to also be aware of the changes in the marketplace as people kind of mature and know what’s available and what’s possible. So I know a lot of times, you know, people want to be able to keep track of what they’ve done so far. They want to come back to where they left off. They want to be able to take notes as they’re going through your course.
Natalie: So there are specific things like that that they kind of expect at this point. So I think in that perspective, we’re not in the early days, but from, you know, people coming on and creating more courses and like the potential for course creators is still huge. And I don’t think that we’ve tapped at all. There’s like stats about the lms industry and the online learning industry. It’s in the billions and is always increasing from year to year. So I think from that perspective, we’re definitely, you know, still have so much to grow.
And I think people are also realizing that there’s smaller kind of niche areas that they can teach in. And that’s kind of where I see a lot of the growth because they feel like we think, oh, I need to be like a Harvard or a university in order to teach something. But no, you just have to know enough to teach someone who’s brand new to your topic or are a couple of steps ahead of the other person who’s going to be learning from you. And I think that is where a lot of the potential delays as well. I think it’s kind of like peer to peer learning, almost like we don’t have to have a specific degree or a specific something or another in order to become a teacher online.
Jonathon: That’s great. Thank you so much Natalie. We are going for our bright folks. We are coming back. We’ll have more discussion with Natalie Lussier. We back in a few moments folks.
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Jonathon: We’re coming bank, but before we go through our part of the interview. I want to talk about another major sponsor. This is Kinsta hosting. Kinsta has been a major sponsor of the WP tonic show. They’ve decided to continue that sponsorship into 2019. I’m so grateful for them and they’re great sponsor. And we host the WP tonic site on Kinsta and they are just fabulous. And what do you get with Kinsta? You get all the bells and whistles.
If you’re a developer, a WordPress consultant, a power user, and you’re looking for hosting that works with a membership site or ecommerce, Kinsta is the right choice. You get the latest versions of php or available page insight. Every day back up just a hosted tolls. It’s bill on Google cloud network. Fantastic network and the best thing is you get 24/7 support from people that really know what they’re talking about. So go to Kinsta today and tell them that you heard about them from the WP tonic show. Over to Cindy. What`s your question Cindy?
Cindy: So Natalie, I totally agree with you in terms of the direction with online courses like people, I think students are being much more discerning. They’re going to select, they’re going to choose their courses more selectively and I think that that means that there’s a lot more we can do to make the learning experience really good for them to keep them engaged, keep them going through it. So I really appreciate those comments for sure.
So one of the big things that you know, our listeners are often kind of wondering about or curious about is like, you know, strategies to get people to sign up for their courses. So they spent all this time creating this course. They now want to, you know, get people to take their course. What are some strategies that you recommend in order to, to kind of help bump up the subscriber rate for courses?
Natalie: Yeah. Okay. I have a lot to say on this. So, you know, I, I’m kind of big or big on list building, right? And about reaching out to your ideal audience and building a list of people that you can follow up with who are interested in your topic. Or your potential course topics that you might have done the line. So I think that’s kind of step one is you need to have a big reach or at least targeted reach for the people who would be ideal for your courses. So that’s kind of step one. And obviously I have so much to share on like how to do list building. So there’s things are constantly changing. There’s like Facebook ads you could do. There is, you know, podcast interviews that you could do, there’s just all kinds of different things you can do to get in front of your ideal people.
Natalie: So that’s step one. But then I think from there, once you get them to join your email list or your interest list for your course or maybe even a taster of your course, so a lot of people are doing, like a first module for free when you opt in. Or like a piece of the course that kind of gets taken out of the course to kind of give someone an idea if this would be a good course for them. I think that works really well too. So something like that, once you have that, then that nurture sequence and that sort of upsell sequence is really important. So that’s, again, it’s sort of that automation marketing piece where how can you kind of design a funnel or an email sequence. Or even it could be including videos or all kinds of stuff that kind of tells people more about why they should take that course.
Natalie: And so why it’s going to benefit them. What are the benefits? Who has taken it so far? And I think a lot of times people think that sounds good, but is it going to work for me? So can you answer that question in those emails through case studies, through testimonials or other things that makes a huge, huge difference? And then also beyond that, if you do offer a piece of the course or something free for people to try first is can you also show what’s available inside the membership site as an upsell? Right?
And if you have certain things. So what we’ve done in the past is we have a little quiz and if somebody fills out that quiz, we guide them to the next course for them. And so it’s kind of like we’re giving them a taste of what’s going to help them grow or help them do the next thing in their lives. And so if you have different courses, that could be another sort of natural upsell and it’s not pushy, it’s just saying like, Hey, you know, we have this course, this is what you say you need help with, this is going to help you solve your problems. And that has also worked really, really well.
Cindy: I love the idea of giving them a quiz and helping them direct them to the next, the next area that they need to learn from. Because otherwise it can feel very overwhelming, especially when you get into membership site and see all of this content. If you kind of start out with giving them some sort of quiz to help direct them of where to start first. I think that’s it. That’s a great idea. Jonathan.
Jonathon: Yeah Natalie. I think everything you outlined is great but I think to keep them engaged in the course does dropout is the kind of the dirty secret of unknowing [00:21:22 inaudible] be learning entrepreneurship. You know, the basic statistic that’s pulled out is a tremendous amount of people drop out of online courses after three month. And I think the key is building community. I think your course gets them into the program, but it’s the building of community that will keep them in the course. Going to the games sites where you build real community on an online course really.
Natalie: So there’s, I mean, I totally agree that, you know, people do drop off and I think it also depends on the topic of the course. And so I know for me when I became a mom, I signed up for a bunch of parenting courses and like diapering courses and all this stuff. And you know, that was a phase of my life and I’m not going to be a member of those courses forever, hopefully. Right? So, I mean parenting, yes, but not diverse. So that’s something to also keep in mind is like based on the topic of the course, there is a natural drop off as people either master it or move on in their lives or whatever it was for the face of their life. But that being said, there are courses and topics at do span many years and sometimes even like decades. So I think in those cases it is important to build community and engagement in that way.
And some, some of the things I’ve noticed that really helped is to kind of help people find each other in the course. So if you’re doing a course by yourself, it can be a little bit isolating and if you have someone who’s checking in on you and that could be a community manager, it could be, you know, the course creator themselves and I just tapping someone on the shoulder and saying like, hey, how’s it going? I’m in a forum or a Facebook group or something.
But I also think pairing people together tends to work really well. And we’ve done that in our courses as well as we have people find sort of accountability buddies. And it’s not a perfect system because not everyone wants one. Some people might not, might be too busy to have one, but when you kind of allow people to find each other and say like, Hey, you know, I’d love to meet every couple of weeks to go over how things are going and how I’m implementing on the course. People are more likely to stick to it and actually keep going. So that has been really huge. And then we actually built the member directory inside of access ally for that reason, so that people could find each other and kind of connect offsite as well once they join the course and kind of get going in with an accountability buddy.
Jonathon: That’s great. Cindy?
Cindy: You actually mentioned to us earlier about like a strategy that you really like right now in terms of, and you’ve called it the log in opting strategy. Can you, tell us what it is and why you like it so much?
Natalie: Yeah. So you know, it’s something that we started did naturally with our 30 day list building challenge. And so what it was, was we just kind of offered something that was inside the membership site that was free and when people logged in they could see what else was available that was paid. So the lock and often is basically you opt in, you get a login to the membership site and then you also see what else is available that is either paid or free. And so along the, along the way we’ve kind of realized like, wow, this is kind of brilliant.
If you think about it, if you think about like Amazon or Google or a pretty much Facebook, any big website, they have you log into their site. Right so that they know who you are, they know how to personalize your experience and they know how to show you the next best thing that’s going to be helpful for you, whether that’s content or product that they want you to buy.
Natalie: And so that’s the same thing that you can do in a membership site and obviously on a much smaller budget and you don’t have to be a big tech giant to do that. And so that was kind of our big realization is that this works really well. And it also just gives people that like, wow, I’m inside, you know, I’m on, like, I’m on the, inside the inner circle. We had clients who use this and they one of them; her business is called the studio.
So basically it’s an art business. So when you joined, you opt into her list, you become a part of the studio, you enter the studio as a free member and then you see what else is available in the studio to kind of partake in. And so that has allowed her to really have kind of a cool experience that doesn’t just feel like another online membership area that’s like very basic and whatnot. But it actually has a feel and an experience to it and I think that when you add that on top of the concept of locking in, I’m really makes a really big difference.
Cindy: Yeah, I think it could really help with the whole community aspect of it as well. As you say they log in, they’re part of this group and you know, she’s called it the studio, which also feels very inclusive as well. So that’s an interesting strategy and I think it is a great way for people to showcase what they have to offer without necessarily having to sell to them via other means for sure. So that’s a great idea. Jonathan.
Natalie: I know it was just going to add one more thing. Sorry about that is you know, with marketing automation, which I’m a huge fan of, it’s great, but then people are getting a lot of emails. So when you have them logged in, it’s a different experience than just receiving another form of like marketing, right? Because you’re in, you’re already said you’re interested enough to be locked in and kind of seeing what’s available so it’s not as pushy and it kind of has a very different vibe than just another email or marketing thing. Yeah. Like I totally get it.
Jonathon: That’s great. We are going to wrap up the podcast part of the show folks. Hopefully Natalie is going to stay on for another 10, 12 minutes. And we’re going to be delving in to what she thinks of WordPress Gutenberg. How does she see WordPress against the online competition like Kajabi and learnable? There are some of the things we’re going to be covering. Natalie how’s the best way to learn more about you and your great products and services?
Natalie: People should go to accessally.com. That’s a CC e s, s a l l y.com. You can also just look me at thirtydaylistbuildingchallenge.com. And if you do that, you’ll basically experienced the whole thing, so you’ll get the free challenge, see what access ally looks like on the back end, essentially, you know, as a client or as a free member. And then you’ll obviously learn how to build your list. So if you’re selling courses that’ll kind of help you bring more people to them.
Jonathon: That’s great. I’m Cindy. You had to people find out more about you and your services?
Cindy: Oh well you can find me at thecoursewhisperer.com. So if you’re looking to create a course and need a little bit of help and maybe don’t have enough time to do it yourself, you can reach out to me and I can see how I can give you a hand.
Jonathon: That’s great. And if you want to go get a hold of me, it’s really easy folks. And you want some consultation about your membership, learning management system, planes for world domination guides to the WP tonic web page. And you can book a quick 15 minute chat with me totally free. And I can look at your idea and we can work out if you can achieve world domination really quickly. Thank you so much Natalie for joining us. If you really want to support the show, go to iTunes and subscribe to the show. Because that’s what it really looks at. The bigger the show gets the kind of guest like Natalie I can get on the show. And share their knowledge and expertise with you the audience will see you next week. Bye.
Thanks for listening to WP tonic. They’ll podcast that gives you a spoonful of WordPress medicine twice a week.
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