Adrian is the Founder and CEO of Groundhogg A New & Powerful Native Based Sales & Marketing Application For WordPress
Adrian is the founder and CEO of Groundhogg product of his environment, Adrian has spent the lAast 5 years working in the Marketing and Sales industry. Currently a digital marketing strategist in charge of TBP’s marketing, Adrian is also a developer (created the WordPress Plug in for Infusionsoft called Formlift), Infusionsoft Certified consultant, Speaker & Trainer.
Adrian orchestrates ClickFunnels, Infusionsoft, Shopify, WordPress, Google Ads and a plethora of marketing software integrations which create traffic, sales and conversions.
Adrian’s core strength is in sales funnel design, problem solving and big picture thinking. The process from which you take a cold lead and turn them into a fanatic, raving follower/fan/customer. Adrian served as a key player in the design of the sales process for notable business such as Oliver Jewellery, The Den Toronto, TotallyADD, Toronto Home Painters, Best Body Bootcamp and Training Business Pros themselves.
Outside of work, Adrian attends the University of Toronto for Computer Science (3rd year) and is an active member of the Toronto chapter of the Delta Upsilon International Fraternity, currently serving as the VP of Member Education on the executive council.
In his spare time Adrian is an avid cyclist and spends a significant amount of time either cleaning his bike , cycling or sailing. He collects old jazz vinyl records. Plays the trumpet. And he loves to build things with his hands. And yes, one of his clients, Best Body Bootcamp got him hooked on a work-out regiment.
This weeks show is Sponsored By Kinsta Hosting
Jonathon: Welcome back folks to the WP Tonic Show. This is episode 397. We have got a great guest folks. We have got Adrian Tobey from Groundhogg. I have been looking forward to this interview. I know I say it regularly but actually I had been looking for this. And Adrian seems to have the right attitude for this program actually. Adrian would you like to quickly introduce yourself to the listeners and viewers?
Adrian Tobey: Absolutely. Well first of all, thank you so much for having me on. I’ve also been looking forward to this podcast. I’m super excited. My name is Adrian. I am the founder and CEO of the marketing automation plugin for WordPress called Groundhogg. We started not too long ago. Actually just last August is when we actually started development. And from since then we’ve come a really, really long way. And what we’re trying to do is democratize digital marketing and sales tools for the WordPress community that didn’t previously exist. As far as I’m aware, we’re the first fully featured CRM and marketing automation. And that’s the key one, platform that’s actually built specifically for WordPress.
Me personally, this isn’t my first go around and actually producing a WordPress plugin. I used to produce a plugin called Form Lift, which is a, or I still produce technically a plug in called Form Lift. Which is for our main competitor infusion soft or one of our main computers is a very popular CRM. And we produced that plugin as kind of, I don’t know. Basically it’s just added where now for groundhog. And I went to the University of Toronto, did some computer science there. I dropped out in order to pursue this in my third year. So we’re all in here.
Jonathon: Alright we are all in. And I’ve got my great Cindy. Why don`t you introduce yourself Cindy?
Cindy: Yes. Hello everyone. I’m another Canadian here. Cindy Nicholson from the coursewhisperer.com. Where I help entrepreneurs that are looking to create awesome online courses.
Jonathon: Yeah. And before we go into the main interview, I like to mention one of our great sponsors. And that`s Kinsta Hosting. Kinsta only specializes in WordPress hosting. They are big enough to have all the technical bells and whistles but still small enough to care. Great support. They host all their websites on Google cloud, but what you’re getting is a superb interface. And the real important thing is you’re getting fantastic support 24/7 from their technical support crew. Which is all in the house and they’re all A1 trained. They know what they’re talking about. You’re not just going to get somebody that doesn’t really know what they’re talking about. They’re all superbly trained. And that’s what you get. So you get all the bells and whistles, staging site, latest version of PHP. If you’re looking to host a membership, learning management WordPress powered website, these are the people to look at. And the same goes with Woocommerce. I can’t highly recommend them. We house the WP tonic website with them. Right straight into the interview. So I do an earlier show before I do this one actually Adrian. And we were discussing a recent news story that Mail Chimp is they are really building a full featured including website hosting the whole.
Adrian Tobey: I have also being hearing about the story.
Jonathon: And they got $700 billion to do something with it. So you’re in the hot spot of technology in a way. What do you think WordPress can offer in against the mammoth that is Mail Chimp?
Adrian Tobey: Mail Chimp is indeed a mammoth. And they have incredible customer base and they’re everywhere I go. But what sets products or any cloud or software as a service based product apart from the WordPress community is that you own nothing. If you were to use any of those platforms. As soon as you stop paying for that platform or you violate a terms of service. Or you are a business type that is not supported by their platform. Then any data or any investment that you had in that product, including your financial investment is worth technically nothing. Because they can take that away from you. You don’t own any of the data. They have access to all of your clients’ data. So if you were looking to own the things that you build and the things that you invest your time in. Well then WordPress offers the way to do that.
As it has done for the last half decade or decade or so. So that’s really what sets these products like Mail Chimp or Click Funnels for example. If you’re looking at things like I had mentioned Infusion Soft before active campaign, they all offer tools to build your websites, to build your stores, to build your order pages. But any of that data that you put, invest in that time. You don’t actually have any of it personally. And if you want it to take it out and move it elsewhere, you can’t.
Adrian Tobey: So that’s how they get you that you’re, you’re stuck with that platform. Or else you want to manually rebuild everything using different architecture, different tools, and different Ui. All you have to go through that whole learning curve again. Well WordPress is kind of like this universal tool that you can basically bring from host to host, you can modify it, you can install plugins that you need for move the ones that you don’t and so on and so forth. So I think that’s what really sets it apart. So while this will certainly be good for the less technically advanced people, the people who don’t want to take on the burden hosting their own website or manage it and keep plugins updated, then this will be a great solution. But for those who are looking to really build their business as a full time thing and they’re going to be looking at hiring employees and hiring a team than WordPress will definitely be the way forward. Because you get that customizable, you get that ownership of what you’re building.
Jonathon: Yeah. I think you put that so great. And also this hybrid’s. I know a certain company that runs the hosting and updates all the plugins. If you’re got a membership.
Adrian Tobey: Managed WordPress.
Jonathon: Yeah. I think it’s called WP Tonic actually. Cindy, got a question?
Cindy: Yeah, sure. Adrian, welcome. And congratulations on your business.
Adrian Tobey: Thank you.
Cindy: I can imagine everything that has gone into getting to where you are today. So congratulations.
Adrian Tobey: Blood, sweat and tears.
Cindy: Yeah, I can imagine. So I actually maybe you can kind of talk, I’m always interested to hear the origin story of how things came to be. What were you doing that you saw this need and what hole you are filling in the marketplace today in terms of how you differentiate yourself?
Adrian Tobey: So before I was doing this, I was an Infusion Soft certified partner. And I was a partner for a few other CRMs as well. I worked in a digital marketing agency. And my sole responsibility was essentially to make our clients more money using marketing automation, automating a lot of systems, processes, automating. Follow-up for these companies, using these tools, building the landing pages, all of these things. And time and time again, a client would come to us and before they had even purchased, or I’m sorry, before they’d come to us, they had purchased these platforms. It’s just paying their monthly donations to these tools because they were extremely expensive, and extremely complicated. And they couldn’t take the time to get out of their business to actually build these systems and processes. They couldn’t take the time or they were busy, obviously operating their business.
Adrian Tobey: So they had to come to us and pay not an insignificant amount of money to do it for them. And then when we were done, they still didn’t have the knowledge or we did our best to train them. But they still couldn’t get out of their business in order to take the time to learn, to continue to manage and keep that system up to date. To create new marketing campaigns, to build pages, to do all of those things. It was still too complicated for them. And they had to log into both their WordPress website. They had to manage this other platform as well. So they need to give two separate logins. And then there were three or four maybe different, API connectors like Zapier for example, that connected both of them and they had to manage that. And it was just super complicated.
Adrian Tobey: And after, and I got really good at it, cause obviously I’m doing it for these companies. But it was so frustrating when I would get the torrent of emails maybe about a month after we were done. It’s like, how do I do this? How do I do this? How do I do this? Let me trained somebody how to do that. It’s like I don’t remember. I don’t remember. I don’t remember. So I thought they just had to be a better way. I had already at this time built, I had mentioned another product called Form Lift, which sole responsibility was to make web forms pretty for Infusion Soft because they’re not. And so I had some previous experience in that. They have over about a thousand customers at the moment. So it did okay, it generates modest revenue linearly. And like, well I can take that knowledge that I have from producing that plugin.
Adrian Tobey: And what I can do is I can bring that whole experience, that whole marketing experience, all of the API is all the connections, all the emails. And if I just bring it into the WordPress where people in most cases already know how to use WordPress, they can transfer that knowledge from using WordPress to using Groundhogg in order to run their promotions and marketing campaigns. And that’s exactly what I did. So I built that and that way they can use that knowledge that they have preexisting and then transfer it over and start managing their campaigns in relatively short order with minimal roadblocks and minimal learning curve.
Cindy: And how did you, you know, again, you saw this gap. Did you go any through any sort of validation or like did you talk to people about what if they would be interested? Like what was your process in order to go, yes, I’ve got a business idea here and I’m going to move forward with it?
Adrian Tobey: Well we knew there was a market. So currently the CRM industry is something like $18 billion a year. And new ones start every day and new ones perish every day. It is as Mail Chimp just got $700 million to invest in marketing automation. So this is obviously something that many, many businesses need. Because you can essentially cut out a lot of manual labor by just replacing it with automation. But the only open source or free or cost effective alternative that exists didn’t work with WordPress. It didn`t work very well, it required like a whole IT team to set up. Alternatively you would have to go to, for example, Mail Chimp or Active Campaign and you’d have to invest in this monthly fee. And then you have to spend time learning that. And there wasn’t a single marketing automation solution. There are a few CRM solutions for WordPress and we incorporate that as well.
Adrian Tobey: But there wasn’t a single one that handled marketing automation for WordPress yet. So we thought we’d be the first and like Woocommerce before us. We operate on the same business model. Shopify came before Woocommerce. And all of the other CRMs came before Groundhogg. But we’re going to kind of be our dark horse and rise up through and proliferate through the WordPress community. It is very low barrier to get started since we do host it in the WordPress repository. It’s a one click install and we believe, or at least people have told us and we’ve all been validated. We have over a hundred clients and reputable businesses already using it. So we know that there’s a market for it and that people can be successful using it. So we think, or at least we’re aiming for at least word of mouth and spreading it. And we know there’s a market for it and that people can be successful with it.
Cindy: That’s awesome. Jonathon?
Jonathon: Yeah. So I think the other thing Les has pointed out is that, example. I want to pick on them, but Lead Pages when they bought Drip. They seem to be in a bit of a flux. You know, if you kind of, you can buy into a company and they can be the lead at the moment. And then you’ve invested in, they can lose their way a little bit. And I sense that with Lead Pages and with Drip. They’re trying to find, they have lost their way a little bit. They would refute that. But that’s my honest feeling. And the same, you could say the same a little bit with Infusion Soft. And now their focusing on a joint product call keep isn’t it?
Adrian Tobey: Yeah that is what it is called.
Jonathon: So you can buy.
Adrian Tobey: Mixed reactions for that one.
Jonathon: Well they are advertising enough. I don’t know what the advertising budgets been, but it`s a lot. So you can really buy in to one of the SAS models and they could be the leader of the pack. And then they are not. That that can be a problem as well. Can`t it Adrian?
Adrian Tobey: I don’t know if I fully understand the question. I’m going to be honest.
Jonathon: Well, because you’re buying it, you’re hoping that they are going to keep up with the other competition. Like Lead Pages was the darling of Landing Pages. I think at the present moment Click Funnel is pretty. But that has their landing pages can be pretty ugly. But there is not much you can do about it. Is there?
Adrian Tobey: No. So I think the thing about SAS products, at least what I’ve seen. I had been in the email marketing and marketing automation industry for about six or seven years at this point. And they all seem to have, or at least the SAS products or the SAS versions all seem to have a shelf life. Mostly due to the fact that many of them require outside investment in order to keep the lights on. And for example, Infusion Soft has never been profitable. So they need to keep going back to investors and then it’s essentially becomes a race to the bottom with their competitors because they’re looking to become profitable. And the investors are looking at their bottom line and they can’t focus on what really makes them great. Lead Pages they lost their way because they got bought out. Constant Contact got bought out.
Adrian Tobey: And when that happens, they cut costs. They’re looking at, they’re looking around like, what can we cut? What can we, what can we turn into a lean operation? And they can no longer focus on what really made them stand out in the first place. We don’t necessarily have that issue. Simply because based on WordPress we can focus on what makes WordPress great. This is the fact that it’s open source. You can build a community around it. Everybody is open and freely able to contribute to Groundhogg and make it the product that works best for them. We don’t operate behind closed doors and keep our IP to ourselves. We freely share it with the world. And most of all we can, since we have like zero or almost no infrastructure in order to actually support the products. Since all of the hosting is done on part of the consumer, we don’t need to necessarily invest thousands and thousands of dollars into IT or keeping IT people around. So we don’t necessarily have the same issues that growing software service companies have. We have a different set of issues. It’s not like we’re issue fear. It’s not like where are you free? For example, self-hosting comes with its own kind of roadblocks in a few cases. But it’s not a set of issues that would just distract us from what our core purpose is, which is helping small businesses grow with WordPress.
Jonathon: That`s great. Over to you, Cindy.
Cindy: So you’ve got your business. What were the first few months starting up like? What was your strategy in terms of letting people know that you existed and how you differentiated yourself? How did you go about rolling out and kind of introducing your business to the world?
Adrian Tobey: Well, the first couple of months were just development. We have to have a product first. We didn’t, fortunately the actual first generation of the product didn’t take too long to build. It only took about a couple months. And then from that point, we developed a couple strategic partnerships. For example, a notable one is with WPP from grow, learn and teach, which an LMS is. And we have a little bit of a cross promotion going there. We have an extension that allows people to build their courses and as the courses drip through their account, they can start and stop automation. And Groundhogg to send the relevant email sequences and cross off and upsells. So that is a nice strategic partnership. We also were introduced to a man named Michael Short, who’s with the WordPress a service business.
Adrian Tobey: And we were able to proliferate Groundhogg through the WordPress of service community. So people are building their own kind of like active campaigns and stuff using a Groundhogg. And there’s a, there’s a couple of other notable partnerships as well, but a lot of it is basically been word of mouth. I get introduced to some pretty brilliant WordPress contributors. And they’re like, wow, you know, you’ve built something really here. Is there an opportunity for you to come on my podcast just as I received an email from Jonathan? And that’s how we’re able to let people know that this product exists. And generally the first reaction that we get is it’s kind of good, too good to be true, but it’s not. We’re really here to just help people grow their businesses. And almost be the altruistic alternative for marketing automation.
Cindy: That`s awesome. Jonathon?
Jonathon: We are going to go for our break. And when we come back we’re going to be delving in the area of automization a bit more. Be back in a few moments, folks,
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Jonathon: We’re coming back. We’re talking all things automization. Before we continue the discussion, I’ll just want to give you some info. Me and Cindy are doing a Webinar on the 30th, Thursday the 30th at [9:00] AM Pacific standard time. It’s the seven things you need to know when you’re doing your first course. You really do need to know these things. Cindy’s all pumped up, ready to do this. She’s going to play out with me as well. So she must be a saint. So how can you join us and learn? Basically you just go to WP Tonic webinar and you’d be able to register free. And like I say it’s going to be a live webinar. And you will be able to ask us questions after the presentation. Please join us. It’s going to be fun. So I think one of the things about WordPress until recently, how did you build a funnel? How did you build something that could compete with Click Funnel? I think with Page Builders, with Elementor, with Beaver Builder and there are a couple others. I think some of the problems about building landing pages is that enough of a reason why you saw opportunity in this market? Because it became easier to build landing pages that could fit into an automization model.
Adrian Tobey: The tools that are available to work for WordPress to market a company to sell products to exactly as you said, build pages are developing I believe much faster than their software’s a service counterparts can even keep up. The amount of user contribution that goes into these products is so much greater than the 10 or maybe 15 IT people that can work in a software as a service product. So the just immense amount of tools that exist for WordPress existed, but marketing automation for WordPress didn’t exist yet. This is kind of why we stepped up in to fill that gap. Because we have Woocommerce for sales pages or you have a Easy Digital Downloads or you have Cart Flows. Or any of the notable ecommerce solutions for WordPress. And then you have your Elementor or Beaver Builder’s your WP bakeries.
Adrian Tobey: You have your page builders that exist in order to create some pretty stunning contents and pretty stunning websites. So the only part that was missing was the email, the contact collections, CRM, the drag and drop that stuff just didn’t exist yet. So with us, you now have kind of your suite of tools that are available to you. You can install Elementor, install Woocommerce, and you install Groundhogg and you have your basic essentially like a whole Click Funnels as you had noted. Operation within your WordPress website for a fraction of the cost. Click funnels for example, is $299 a month US in order to get your email, your pages. And what I would classify as subpar automation. But with $67 a year for Elementor, free for Woocommerce or unless you need extensions. And free for Groundhogg, you’re looking at a pretty nominal cost in order to have what would appear to be a superior solution.
Jonathon: Over to you, Cindy.
Cindy:: So it’s interesting you were talking about your strategic partners and one of them being LMS provider. So maybe you can give some advice around automate. Our audiences, course creators, people who have membership sites. What advice do you have for those individuals who are looking to use something like your product in terms of automating their business?
Adrian Tobey: The biggest holdup that I ever see, and it says somewhere on our website to avoid this at all costs. At one point you just have to go and you can’t be building stuff forever. You will. Everybody tries to make their product perfect. They try to make sure that there are no typos in every single email. They try it, they test and test and test and test and test, and they find a thing. Eventually at one point you have to say screw it and whatever happens kind of happens, but you’re not gonna make any money. You’re not going to make any change by testing things. At one point you have to say, all right, well we have to release this. We have to sell this. We have to get the word out. We have to sell products and make money at some point.
Adrian Tobey: So if you’re building a course or you’re building a marketing campaign or you’re building a website, at one point you have to just release it to the world. And whatever comes that your customers will tell you if something’s not working. They may not be happy about it when they tell you, but at least they will tell you. And at that point you could add the discount code to make it go away. But you just have to launch, that is the big thing. When we started, we launched it, we had a soft launch around November and we had version one of the product. This is not nearly as pretty and well put together as it is today, but we had to get something out there. We’ve got to start building our audience. We have to start building people that start building our fan base. And some people have been with us since day one, some people left day one, and that’s kind of just the way that business works though. You kind of have to put that aside. You can’t make everybody happy. You just got to start producing your product and just start getting it out there. You can test for a few days, but that’s it. As soon as you have some semblance of something that might work, just start getting it out there.
Cindy: Yeah, no, that’s good advice. And I find that course creators in particular, their delay tactic is always wanting to make sure the content is just right to make everything just right. Then ended up delaying it for that reason. And so that’s how it manifests itself with course creation. So that’s good advice, Jonathan.
Jonathon: Now Adrian it’s a problem that’s put against WordPress and also came up with your plugin. You had a security problem with your plugin. And I’ve been pushing you on some WordPress groups. And I’ve been saying to people, go and look at Groundhogg. And then somebody came up and they said, what, no, don’t do that. It had a security problem. What was the problem? And how have you dealt with it? And how have you learned from it?
Adrian Tobey: So while unfortunate plugins are, and especially when you have someone that is extensive as ours at this point. We have a small development team here with a very, very large products. It is inevitable that things drop through the cracks. The one they do, it’s all about how you handle it. So we sent an email out or we will release as soon as it was made aware of us. We released a update maybe less than five minutes and it was already pushed in the WordPress repository in relatively short order. We made sure everybody knew that they had to update. This was the update. The biggest problem was that there was, it was an irresponsible disclosure. There was a company called plugin vulnerabilities. They were releasing zero day vulnerabilities in a lot of popular plugins. Certainly some more popular than ours, with some automatic monitoring stuff.
Adrian Tobey: And we were made aware of it. We fixed it as soon as possible and we made sure that an update was made. And we released a page called vulnerable or responsible disclosure to make sure that this doesn’t happen again in the future. And when you certainly always check over everything twice, but we have a big product and unfortunately there will inevitably be other security flaws. And hopefully they don’t get released in the same way. That is rather irresponsible on part of this particular researcher. But we’re here to make sure that nothing ever truly terrible happens. And as far as I’m aware, there was absolutely no actual harm caused as a result of this breach. So at least we can kind of give that one a thumbs up that nothing actually truly terrible happens.
Jonathon: Yeah, I thought you handled it really well actually. I was saying to Cindy that there’s this notion that the SAS don’t have security problems then it’s a delusion. What they do is they don’t publicize them, do they?
Adrian Tobey: They do not. So we are certainly kept accountable due to the fact that all of our products are open source. All of our extensions, all of our IP, everything is freely available to the WordPress community. The thing about software as a service is that they keep their IP close to heart. So when they do have security breaches, they just have certain, vulnerability disclosure guidelines where they don’t necessarily in their terms of service have to actually disclose anything that may have happened. For example, there are a couple of notable not necessarily CRM companies, but just notable people like Intuit. And have large databases of email addresses and information that are held close that get breached from time to time.
Xerox for example, and their online platforms. So they might not necessarily release it and whether or not that and they also have access to your data just because. So whether anybody or any companies who host their data on these large software’s projects that, that is not private to you. They are freely able to go and use that data in order to compile statistics lists, sell that data to third party providers.
Adrian Tobey: It’s in their terms of service if you look at it. So whether or not it’s just a security breach, your data is actually being shared regardless of whether they actually breached or not. So that’s another consideration.
Jonathon: Oh, that’s great. We’re going to wrap up the podcast part of the show. Cindy is going to go off early. Hopefully Adrian is going stay on and we will have some bonus content for 12 minutes. And I’m going to ask Adrian if he had a course, how he would build his initial funnels? What areas he would look at? So you will be able to watch that on the WP Tonic website. Or the WP Tonic YouTube channel. We normally push the interviews to the YouTube channel first. So if you can’t wait for the podcast, subscribe to our YouTube Channel. And you will be first to see the interview. So Adrian, how can people find out more about your, and about you in general?
Adrian Tobey: Well we have tons of channels to actually reach me personally. So you can reach me at www.infoatggroundhog.io. That’s a two g by the way. HOGG.io. and that’s my personal email address. Feel free to reach out if you have any questions. You can go to Groundhogg again with two g`s .io. And that is our website. You can download the plugin from there. You can also go to WordPress forward slash plugins forward slash Groundhogg. Again with two g`s and download the plugin freely from the WordPress repository. And we also have a Facebook page, Facebook groups, Twitter, you name it. We have all of those avenues in order to be able to find out more about our product and what we can do in order to help your business grow.
Jonathon: That’s great. And Cindy, how people can find out more about you. And your knowledge, Cindy?
Cindy: If you’re looking to create an online course and needs some help in how to put it together, you can reach out to me at thecoursewhisperer.com or come find me on LinkedIn.
Jonathon: That’s great. We’ll see you next week where we can have another great interview. Covering marketing, automization, anything that will help you if you’re looking to build an online course. And get that freedom that you’re looking for. We will see you next week. Thanks. Bye.