LearnDash Program with 10,000+ Users

Can LearnDash and WordPress support a large number of learners? The answer is a resounding “Yes”.

In this case study you will be introduced to Anthony Balduzzi, founder of the Fit Father project. His learning program boasts over 10,000 active users going through his training program.

As is typical with WordPress, Anthony is using some additional tools on his site. Besides LearnDash, he is also running BuddyPress and Memberium.

BuddyPress is a popular WordPress plugin (free) that allows you to create a social network component to your WordPress site. It’s in many ways similar to Facebook in that users can have profiles, add status messages, leave comments on other user profiles, and participate in groups.

Memberium is a membership plugin that many people use when they want to connect LearnDash and WordPress to Infusionsoft. These three tools used together are powering some of the most robust LearnDash powered programs to date.

Watch the case study video above to get a “behind the scenes” look at Anthony’s complete system. The moderator for this case study is Micah Mitchell, co-founder of Memberium.

Video Transcript

Micah: Hey, everybody, it’s Micah with Memberium and today we get the pleasure of talking with Anthony Balduzzi, who runs the Fit Father project and he’s agreed to give us a peak behind the scenes of the membership site and share some insights and things he’s learned along the way. Anthony, thank you so much for joining us.

Anthony: Yeah, really happy to be here, I mean, the tool you have at Memberium is such an integral part of how we serve our customers so I’m really happy to share some of the things that we learned, that we think we do well, with the hopes other people who are out there making changes in the world run better memberships sites.

Micah: Awesome, I appreciate you being open to that and sharing because some people they don’t necessarily wanna inform their competition on things but I usually find the businesses we do key studies with, they just wanna help out and I love that attitude cause there’s more than enough to go around and I know people need the same things. Let’s start right in, can you tell me just a little bit about your business and your background, how you got started and where you’re at today.

Anthony: Sure, so, we run a business called the Fit Father project you see here on my desktop and what we do is we essentially help busy father and particularly guys over 40 lose weight and get happy for their families. The reason I’m so passionate about this, and I’ll click over to tap through some of our clients, someone else’s results that we’re going through here, but the reason that I’m passionate about this is because growing up I watched my own dad basically lose his health from working too much, not taking care of himself and that’s what really spurred me on to get into health and fitness because my dad passed away at 42, I was just 9 at the time and that really shifted my perspective on what it means to be a man, a provider, and the health solutions out there, the diets and workouts were just failing most guys.

They were just too complicated, they didn’t stick long-term and I saw my dad basically work himself to the bone so I wanted to do something with my life to change that. So we founded the Fit Father project with the idea that “Hey, we’re gonna provide these simple and sustainable health solutions to the busy guys out there who wanna live better.” The best way to do that was to get the program online, in a way that all of our different program members could interact with it and we’ve run thousands and thousands of guys through our program and the results are fantastic.

Largely because, it’s not that we know anything about diets and exercise that you couldn’t find online, I mean, the information is out there. It’s how we structured it in a way that’s digestible, implementable in our back end membership sites so the guys can actually take actions and get the results.

Micah: Awesome, tell me how long have you been doing membership sites of any sort or how old is this site?

Anthony: This site, we just did a, the site now has facelift, if anyone has seen the Fit Father project before, It looks good as of 2018 and we did a redesign. This is the front end of the Fit Father Project. I’ll also show the back and the membership site as well which is on the subject domain. I’ve been in the general online education, internet marketing space for 5-6 years now but it took me the a while to really just figure stuff out, I’d say we’ve been really seriously successful at this for around 2-2.5 years.

There were so many iterations of the band before, it began the Fit Father Project but this is the evolution of all that hard work, a lot of testing, trial… I wouldn’t call it failure because I learned so much along the way on how to build cool membership sites.

Micah: Got you, so you’ve had some experience with online marketing. How long have you been using WordPress?

Anthony: Since the beginning, since day one. I think the first site I tried to create when I just turned 21 was called like healthybookshelf.com and my idea at the time was I was gonna read all the health books and kinda just report and blog on those. So, it was WordPress from the beginning. That site does not exist anymore but, I’ve been using WordPress since the beginning because I knew that although there were other website building tools out there, maybe even more simple off the start, like less of a learning curve, I needed the plugins, the functionality and the marketing capacity to work with, to integrate with software like Memberium and like the other things we’ve used around the site to make things work long-term.

So, it’s always been WordPress and hopefully it always will be WordPress, we’ll see what happens with the platform but for now it’s the best thing out there for small businesses in my opinion who want big power with their marketing, the different tools, software that you can integrate and I definitely drink the WordPress Cool aid and you probably couldn’t get me off this thing.

Micah: Yeah, I love WordPress as well, I started building sites custom and tried some other things and when I made it to WordPress I was just like “Are you kidding?” You know, it’s so nice, there’s so much there. How technical are you? I kinda get the sense that, you know, as you said you started your first blog, is this you making this stuff or, you know, what kind of teams you have around you to make the site and put all this together?

Anthony: I am like light to like light-medium on technical side. I’m no means a developer, I don’t even know all like html, I just know enough on how things work from trial and error. I’ve been building these membership sites myself using very easy plugins. The first membership site I built 4 or 5 years ago was using optimized press with imember360 so I know enough about how tags communicate with some of our back end systems in Infusionsoft. I can do some design work but this site was done not by me, we have a team of developers that do this for us.

But, I really do feel that it is a good asset to be at least comfortable with a light level of the technical side, like being able to get into the WordPress pack and apply the tag display codes, the short codes, like basically, working your way on short codes and do those kind of basic things and maybe a couple of different web hooks for Memberium, you know, that’s basically extent what I can do, so not much at all but enough that I can actually build a site on my own, which was essential for us in the beginning when I didn’t have the cash to hire developers who would strap this business up. So, not very technical and there is hope out there as long as you’re willing to learn you can figure this stuff out.

Micah: Yeah, and I think it’s really cool when a site owner with an expert does know enough to be a little bit dangerous, enough to go and do something, enough also to just communicate with the team you’re working with rather than having to take their word for it. I’m sure they have a great team but it’s sometimes hard to take somebody’s word on something that you really don’t know much about. I totally agree and I would say you’re being humble if you’re able to do all those things, you’re probably above average, you know, technically speaking, especially with all experts because usually people are such experts in there, subject matter that they have to have a team around them, which is fine too, but like you said, the more they can learn, the better, right?

Anthony: Huge, and I will say it’s been a huge benefit to our growth because I have the ability to do this stuff, like it’s not like you have to write a big brief, describe what you wanna do, send it to a web dev team, hope that they understand it, hope that they have to learn part of your technology and your platform , so, it’s enabled us to get some really cool stuff up quickly in a very cost effective way because I do have some of the most technical skills.

Micah: That’s awesome. So, what I wanna do is I wanna dive in and have you show kind of the experience from the front end, perhaps even some of the marketing, how you see people flowing through this into the back end, just before you do I will say I had a funny experience, I guess it was about a year ago when I was doing an event and one of my friends whom I’ve known for ten years came up and he was like “you must be doing well cause you’re looking fit” and I’m thinking I’m not that fit, I must’ve been really unfit before and I reflected on that afterwards cause what he said, and I don’t remember the words he used, but he was kinda saying it seems like a lot of people in internet marketing when they start to do well they start hitting the gym.

When I thought about it I was like I wonder if it’s reversed because at least for me I had to get fit to get the energy to really push my business and so I just figured as we went through this and everybody watching, you don’t obviously have to be a guy, just how important health and fitness is and you shared your story about your dad and I’m sure that is a huge motivating factor. My best friend a couple years ago, he passed away from cancer at 29 I guess and he had this amazing business, they were doing the last big year before he really started focusing on his health, they’ve done about 13 million but he was overweight and drinking too much and those sorts of things and it’s that old thing that you don’t really think about until it slaps you in the face of how important your health is.

Cause, you wanna focus on business and what not but I really do think this comes first so I’m really excited, I had mentioned you beforehand, some of these case studies we do it’s interesting to me from the membership site perspective and the technology and the marketing but this one interesting to me in those way and just that I’m a candidate for this, you know, so, I’m really excited to see what you’ve got so why don’t you kind of walk us through the front end experience and then we’ll go into the back end and look at some of the stuff you’re doing and just dive in. Go ahead.

Anthony: Awesome, perfect. Well, I wanna first echo all of what you just said about the health stuff. It is a long game for us entrepreneurs, I know that more than ever that the ability for us to continue to provide, building a businesses, being around for our families, all swings on how well we maintain our health in addition to running our business. The good news, especially that I will share with the Fit Father Project, is that little hinges swing big doors when it comes to open fitness so it’s not like it has to rule your life and it’s an either or, it can be both, you just need the proper nutrition and even if you’re doing a proper meal plan and working out two three times a week like some of our Fit Father Project guys, you can get it done.

Let’s get into the actual site. So, large play that we attract people is through our articles, our videos. We have an amazing content team that is just super good at publishing long-form content that ranks well in Google. So, for example, this is a very good example. If you Google weight loss for men over 40, this will be the article that owns the zero position in Google and these long form articles really just provide a ton of value and we do these long form articles that have imbedded opt ins for some of our great opt in offers. We have a free meal plan, we have a free 24 minute workout and we use these options to segment people into their interests. So, what we’ve found from surveying our guys is that they need help with their eating.

Some of them need help getting a time efficient workout. Some of them need help with muscle building. We have funnels for each of them that sync up to what they’re writing so we rely a lot on organic traffic through Google, which is a good place to be. We do do advertising as well but we get a lot of great, qualified organic leads. So, we write these long term articles that share our philosophy of how things work and we imbed pictures for our free opt in offer so if someone were to click this mid way through and say “yeah, it sounds great, I want this free meal plan” this would be their free meal plan, they can enter their name and email and it would send them the meal plan. We actually deliver it immediately on the thank you page and I think the thing that makes this business work well is our actual free stuff is better than a lot of our competitor’s paid stuff. We have guys email us all the time, saying hey I didn’t buy your shit but I used your free one day meal plan and I lost 20 pounds. And I love those emails so make your free stuff really good.

We hear that all the time but I’ll even show you what am I looking Micah. So, if someone were to opt in, “Congratulations, your meal plan is on its way” this is gonna pop this individual into our Infusionsoft backend campaign and there will be some kind of video where we like to really start to indoctrinate our people into our culture, what it means to be a Fit Father and just about the brand in general. We do some brand positioning stuff and then we actually deliver their meal plan on the next page. It’s the first thing they need in the morning, hydration, all the way through the recipes, foods to avoid, with a pdf in the bottom, so basically a really in-depth guide for what they’re looking for with a soft pitch for our 30 day program where they can click to our sales letter.

Our strategy with our marketing is pretty simple. We’re good at what we do, we show a ton of proof and case studies for all the guys that transformed with our programs but we just give them massive value so in addition to the meal plan we give them a five day nutrition course over the next few days that has pages that look very similar to this. It has a video up top with some long form content on the bottom that just addresses some of their biggest challenges of the nutrition at the bottom of those pages. It’s really simple, if you like this stuff then you’re going to love our 30 day program. And we have email series and ultimately that does drive them to a long form written sales level and this probably different from certain niches, don’t necessarily have this kind of long-form written sales letters but this works for us where we give them a long overview letter about what the program is.

You can see as I’m scrolling down it’s a long sucker but it really kinda goes through what they can expect when they join the program and then it gives you to sign up. This is our front end product, it’s a 30 day program called Fit Father 30x and it’s absolutely, I would even say, we serve this men over 40 niche but I would say that it is the best online weight loss program largely because of Memberium and Learndash, which we’ll talk about in a bit. And I don’t say that lightly because there’s been so many iterations and we built a fantastic program that helps guys get tremendous results and we have more testimonials that we don’t know what to do with right now, which is a great problem. So they buy this front end 30x and then we have a couple upsell upgrade options.

Actually one of them that they can take immediately. And what will happen from here is they will get their product delivered via, Memberium will imply the proper tags via the Infusionsoft Memberium integration stuff, we’ll build our card through Infusionsoft, we’ll apply the tags and send them their welcome email, which we can get to in a second. Let’s assume we’re at the point where they’ve bought this, we’ll first go to what it looks like on the front end so I’m gonna switch my screen over here to Google Chrome, this is what it looks like when they’re logged into the front end membership site. We actually got inspired by a case study that we saw you I think with Create Space, we saw that you were using this amazing theme with Learndash, and like “Wow we really need to step up our game, that is a cool membership site” so we ended up like reverse engineering the theme we used and we used this Office theme as well.

When they log in, this is what it will look like inside their membership site. So, they’ll get this welcome pop up video, the ability to join the private Facebook page for the group members and some of the programs they registered for. I’m logged in as a test account here so you’ll see my program hold into here but, in this account we’ll actually have a mix of different programs that I can show you inside our program library, not just Fit Father 30x but this is the membership portal that we host all of our programs inside. So, in our program library, what it looks like, so we have a big thing that we’re working on. We’re inside the course training library here and this is where we nest all of our programs, including the front end program I showed you, the Fit Father 30x, but what we’ve been incredibly intense about this year with our customers is mapping out what we call our 12 month curriculum.

I think this applies not just to our business but to any business. What is your customer journey from basically the minute they even land on your site, so going back to those article, but the minute they make their first purchase, what’s their journey gonna be like, how are we going to walk them from A to Z? And so, our solution was coming up with this Fit Father road map where we kind of lay out “Hey, this is way you start and kind of walk me through different phases”, our first level program, our second level program, our third level program, through like a full one year curriculum of what we call a Fit Father For Life. These are some of our quote and quote upsells, but we nest these inside this membership site and this is a test account so you’re gonna see they have access to different kinds of things, I wanna show you that on purpose, what it looks like when they don’t have certain things.

So, here we are and I’m gonna show you the Fit Father 30x program in particular, as well as how it kinda looks in the back of Infusionsoft with LearnDash, which is a really exciting tool that we do use. But here is what the library would look like if they have access to certain things and based on the tags and the things they purchased and not others. So, for example, this account will have Fit Father 30x that always gives people a bonus bundle. We’ll click on these in just a second. And this particular account also has our phase 2 program that gives them the next two months of their workouts and eating and we’re launching our phase three and that’s coming out actually on Saturday and that’s what it will look like if they don’t have these options. This is our immediate one click upsell that we offer people after they purchase the Fit Father 30x and if they don’t take that, it stays in their membership sites as locked.

And then we have other specialty programs down the line where if they don’t have access it will be locked, if they do it will be green. And again, we really loved one of your other great studies with create space and they had similar kind of icons and we were like “hey we like that, we wanna do something similar. That’s kind of like a library, we’ll pause there for a second before we dive into these programs.

Micah: Yeah, and let me just say real quick, everything is so beautiful, like the design, not just here on the back end but when you were showing the front end, the long form, stuff which you know, long form usually works, but there’s a way to make it when it looks kinda cheesy and then there’s a way to make it actually look really good and provide all the information that they would need and I just wanted to comment it all looks beautiful. I know you’ve recently I think you mentioned in 2018 gave things a facelift but I’m sure it was working before that. What is the difference between then and now?

Anthony: Well, we really gave the…, those pages that have been working really well like the opt in page, the sales pages, they’ve been that way for a while and I’ve always been a stickler for good design from the very beginning and I’ve actually done most of this design stuff, you know, boot strapping when I was beginning, doing most of this myself. And I think that it’s so important for that whole customer experience and customer dream to have a great looking product that makes people wanna stick. I mean, in the internet marketing space there’s plenty of flash in the pan kind of brands that are “4 day abs” , here today, they do a bunch of affiliate stuff and they’re gone tomorrow. For us, we wanna be in the long game, we wanna be playing in this space in 10, 20 years, whatever it looks like at that time.

Good design and good user experience is essential so we wanted a membership site that matched that. I appreciate you saying that and the customers also like that too, and I will say this, if you make the decision to really like listen to this and up your game on the aesthetics of your user experience and your design, your customers will then hold you to a higher standard. Which is what I found and we love that. I love when our guys are saying “Typo on page six” or this doesn’t look good or make sense, and we love that, we think it really helps engage our community more cause they knew we demand experts ourselves and our clients have excellent results so it creates a culture. The design itself creates a culture of better customers and better use of program. So, it’s all kinda a part of a big picture in my opinion.

Micah: Yeah, I mean, it really does look good and looking a lot of these things and like you said in fitness, sometimes they can have the aesthetics but having the quality to back it up and having the right experience, not just flashy pictures, is amazing. I will say on the other side of that coin to people who’s site does not look as good or you’re not there yet or whatever, keep in mind he’s been doing this for a little while. He’s been through a few iterations, so don’t feel bad if yours isn’t perfect but this is definitely something to strive for. I’m really noticing cause I love direct response and I love long form and stuff, I was just like, wow, I know it takes some work to get it to look good and still have all of those elements, the direct response elements which if you don’t do them just right, they can be a little off putting and I think you guys do an amazing job there. So, why don’t you go ahead and dive into the course?

Anthony: Yeah, I appreciate there and yeah, there has been 4 or 5 iterations of this site, it’ll continue to improve. So, here’s what it’ll look like if they have access to any of these and you’ll notice a couple things about this, a couple things we do that I like, we use this program “status in progress”, this is because we build our programs on the LMS LearnDash, which plays so well with Memberium and its really one of the biggest reasons our guys are so successful in our programs. Another thing we like to do is actually use this little tool called Proof down here. That’s great for showing if people are buying things in real time but it’s good to remind your customers and say “hey, you’re in a good place, there’s tons of guys just like you who are continuing to join this and there’s a reason why we still show this on the program page.”

We have a little welcome video when they come to get them orientated to what’s going on in the program. You can see their curriculum is laid out here in these different steps and if they’ve completed them they’ll get these different status check bars and this is all done pretty much automatically based on your integration with LearnDash, I’m gonna plug the crap out of them, I’m not affiliated with them in any way other than we use their stuff, we love it, it works really well in Memberium. But, inside here, each of these are program setup steps and I’ll show you what it looks like when they’re completed and when they’re not completed. This is what a lesson will look like if it’s not completed. There’s gonna be this little mark as complete button that they can click that kind of both applies tags inside Infusionsoft which say hey they completed this lesson, this one happens to be a week #3 week check in.

We love to merge in simple Memberium merging, their first name and what not, to make them feel like they’re right at home. When they mark as complete we can redirect them straight to different kinds of lessons and content. In this case, we’ll redirect to opportunity to actually enter their weight into their account, which is mapped with custom fields here. So, this goes into their account, we can aggregate them with the weight they’ve lost, so we’ll track them inside their Infusionsoft account, but that’s what it looks like when they’re completing lessons.

Micah: So, question, sorry to interrupt you. Can you explain the workings lack, this is something we get frequently from customers, how do they track whatever it is, whether it’s weight or some sort of progress. Can you dive a little deeper into what you’re doing there, where the data is going and how you’re using it?

Anthony: Yeah, so we created custom fields for starting weight and their today’s weight that constantly replace themselves when they fill out these forms and you guys actually have a straight up short code for like a member data update kinda form, this is all created via one of your short codes. We kinda input this and basically have that, each time they submit a form, it replaces that starting weight custom field and the weights in their custom field. That’s a good way that our customers can kind of let us know how we’re doing. And we have that data altered on their accounts. Our plan is to pull that data and analyze that in a bigger way where it will be nice where in real time on our desktop we can kind of display the amount of poundage that people have lost in the past week, etc.

Our idea is that we use an integration like Zapier or something like that to pull some of the data from those custom fields that are mapped into Infusionsoft and put those into some kind of front facing display on our site and this goes into our brand positioning. We’re good at producing results so we leave with results so this is important for us that we have our guys actually submit their weight as they’re going through the program and I’ll show you where this is in like the email series and we’ll dive into that. It’s very relative to each person’s business, the kind of things you wanna track from somebody. Weight’s a very easy thing for weight loss program to track, it’s very objective and we hold ourselves to a high standard delivering weight loss, this is something we track throughout each of the weeks of the program.

And again, it’s just a custom field in the back end of Infusionsoft for each of the people’s accounts and we just map that with your short code. What is great and I think is something that I really love that we do well, is before we get people onto the actual program, so the way this program works is 30 day fitness program but it’s not like you sign up and you’re ready to go day 1. You have the meal plan to read, some workouts to go through, accountability, we have them write a mission statement. These first four steps of our program course design are critical. We have them go through each of these steps and hit mark as complete so they can download their meal plan, they can watch some of these set up videos on some things that we believe are important and this is like a very lengthy, 80 to 100 page great meal plan in pdf.

Once they’re done, there will be a mark as complete button. Again, this account has that already completed so mark as complete goes away but that will tag them to say hey they completed this meal plan set up stuff and they’ll automatically move them onto the workout program set up step and they can do these at their own pace, as quickly as they like, but we track this and they do not start their 30 day program until they’ve gone through and actually completed all of the setup steps. I think that’s essential. I thin that as program designers and people running membership sites, we need to take more ownership over the fact that it’s our responsibility to ensure that people get through the curriculum. It’s not enough to just say okay we made the sale, they’re in there, if they go through them it’s on them but we give them everything, bla bla bla.

It’s a very crop out, I hope I don’t get a law suit but I’ll share this because it’s important on how we run our business. We feel it’s our responsibility to ensure that someone gets great results through the product and our onboarding and that’s why Memberium and Learndash and Infusionsoft are essential for doing that for us. If they don’t complete any of these program setup steps, we’re sending them reminder emails, we’re pushing them through the program to get them on that 30 day program and after they complete those 4 program setup steps, they get this last lesson that says hey, when you’re ready, this is what the video says that we play right here, great job, you’ve done your, at this point you’ve gotten through your meal plan, you know what you’re doing, you got your workout setup and scheduled, you’ve written your 30 day mission statement, now hit the mark as complete button and we’ll kick off your 30 days emails.

So, we’ve tracked every step of getting them started on our program and I wanna take this opportunity to switch back over to the Firefox where I have my Infusionsoft open here. I wanna get into, this actually might look a little daunting but this is actually what or product delivery sequence kinda looks like. So, essentially, if anyone buys from our funnels or our processes, we’ll tag them properly and we’ll send them emails, introductions to new member login creation using the proper, applying the membership tags here, saying the proper HCTP posts and we’ll give them some of their login delivery email, these is a very basic using of Infusionsoft’s old builder that says hey, here’s your log in membership password, let us know what’s going on.

We’ll send them another email that says hey making sure you get these emails, hit reply, because we email them every day over 30 days, requesting their white list of things, the emails they’ve replied us to get them engaged and if they do not log in to the membership site, which again, this is that late click log in goal, we’re sending them reminders, we have couple weeks worth of reminders to get them to log in to this product, that’s when the accountability starts. It’s amazing, if you don’t do this so many people might buy your stuff and not even log in or start using it. So, once it starts there, we’ll introduce them to our customer service team who will have their followup sequences for the customers throughout the journey, but we’ll move them into these meal plan workout setup steps.

So, those setup steps that I showed you, I’m gonna zoom in here for a second, these are those setup steps, meal plan setup step, workout setup step, mission statement, start the program. These are those 4 setup steps and inside each of these are emails that get them to do it, get them to walk through that meal plan setup step and if they complete that setup step they’re gonna get the lesson complete tag that’s gonna kick them out of that meal plan lesson complete and start their workout setup step. If they do not, it’s built in accountability. It’s more emails, giving them more value training. This is not just like hey dude do your setup step, it’s actually value that’s giving them some philosophy and some other things to get them to auto log back into the membership site and complete those program setup steps. We’re really like walking them through every setup step. We’re showing them like hey hit mark as complete and we’re urging them to get back in and get through the setup lessons.

We do this for every setup step on the program. So, Fit Father 4 setup step, mission statement setup step, kicking off the program emails, we do this for all of these setup steps and eventually once they say cool, Dr. Anthony, I’m on it, I know exactly what I’m doing, let’s start the 30 day program, they get this start tag and we run them through the actual program itself which is 30 days of accountability emails starting from day 0 and just walking them through. All the delayed timers emailing once every 30 days and applying the proper tags when they get to each week’s complete, as well as we do some stuff down here on tracking when they start our next phase program. So, I know it might seem like a lot on a first glance but I think the key message I wanna take here is that a beautiful thing like using something like LMS like LearnDash + Memberium is not only gonna build a beautiful program site but we can actually have great accountability built in to the onboarding of our program and that’s why we get great results, cause we have campaigns like this that enable all the front end stuff here, switching back to the membership site, it’s actual work.

We walk them through this entire journey and we do this exact same stuff with every single program we have in here. We take it very seriously that they use the program and I can’t think of a better thing than the LearnDash or another LMS with Memberium for getting people to do that. And these lessons in here, after they do the 30 days, they’ll get a video lesson and there’s some training on supplements so there’s like long form basically member specific blogs that we have here inside the site and sometimes when we’re emailing within 30 days it’s more long form content like the supplement series, sometime it’s just a simple video, it’s like we send them in here for a little video on how to enjoy alcohol and they have a little download pdf here.

So, we don’t need to be super in depth, we are emailing them throughout the program and I guess it all kind of gets back to what’s the customer journey, what’s the goal and how can we touch in with them and keep them massively accountable and weight loss is an industry that has the need where people really buy accountability and I also think other industries could use that too. And maybe some people are doing that, that’s just something I really wanna harp on because it’s at the heart of what we do well.

Micah: Yeah, a couple of things I wanna pick out of there that you’ve mentioned, getting them to log in in the first place. A lot of membership site owners don’t realize what a battle that is and how many people are going to buy a program, maybe they have the best intention of going through it later or whatever but getting them engaged quick and then one of the things you brought up that I think deserves a special attention is as you’re reminding them the fact that your reminders actually have value, that you’re taking some different angles and giving them some philosophy and stuff in those reminders, I think it’s huge because a lot of people, myself included, where I just send reminders, like hey, we haven’t seen you, come back in.

But I don’t really give them a reason to do it, enough of reason or something new or different that is gonna spur them to action unlike the last email I sent them, so I just thought that was genius and wanted to make sure people caught that but, the other thing that comes to mind is, where you’re so passionate about this and like you said, weight loss, where people will buy accountability, I would say yeah, this is a drastic example but, it doesn’t matter what type of membership site somebody has, if they took it as seriously as you do and if they realized that user is also going to buy accountability or in other words they really want the results at the end of the day and if accountability can help them get there, they should take this as serious as you do and their sequences and campaigns in Infusionsoft, they don’t have to be as detailed on the getgo but that is a good long term goal to have. This level of followup and this level of intentionality to get people through their content, I’m sure it’ll make them more successful, it’s just beautiful so far.

Anthony: I appreciate that and yeah, and I think the question we try to ask ourselves is like at every step of our customer journey where are they at? Like emotionally, mentally, what’s going on for them, how can we best meet them at that point? If they’re not logging in, there’s a reason for that. They’re either super slammed and busy with other things or the process is to hard to get in so how do we reduce the friction? We approached the program like that, the results are just fantastic. So, essentially you saw that 30 day email campaign, which is this, it’s the back end of this, where we’re emailing them, giving them those progress check ins, encouraging them, using a lot of video, training them on other important topics.

So, like, most programs stop at just setup step 1 through 4, it’s like dude I gave you the meal plan, gave you the workouts, you wrote the 30 day mission statement, go for it. What we decide to do is email them every day for 30 days with more value, more topics, getting even deeper on this stuff and that really helps turn one time buyers into people who wanna continue with you and be brand advocates because you’ve become a part of their life, you’ve built a habit of a product. So, what I wanna change gears for is looking at the back end of this, how you can use membership to start getting people into next phase programs because this program here, they’re buying a one time 97$ program, this is not recurring.

But, access to some other things down the customer journey are, there is a part of the subscription. That’s just how we chose to build things. The one thing that I do love is how easy it is that once you have someone to encourage them to take the next steps that will benefit them. Here is towards the end of the program, we’re at like day 28 here of the program, we’ll give them essentially a letter of what is gonna take for them to continue. They need to tweak their meal plan, they need to do workouts, and this is all written in the biology, our body adapts to certain things. So, your next step is here, our phase 2 program that we included in Fit Father For Life. Here’s how it works, lot’s of results.

And you come down through here and we can make the offer here which, I’ll leave the screen big so that these things shifted over here so you can view it, the point being is all of these are going to be linked to one click order box because we have them logged in into the membership site so they’re able to just upgrade to whatever next phase program they want so they wanna join the phase two basic, they can come in here and if I were to click this button it would charge this account right here with the card on file and get them immediately into the next phase program. One little trick I would say is if you are doing these make sure that you just don’t have these be the one click, I would make sure to have a page spaced in between where they have to click to the one click upsell, we had a lot of problems where we had a lot of people clicking those buttons like 6, 7 times and it can be a nightmare for customer support.

So, you do want one click upsells in your membership site, which is awesome, they’re convenient for your people, they’re convenient for increasing your revenue as well. We like to put a little buffer page in between but yeah, so basically they can upgrade any of these programs and what that will do is kick off product sequences very similar to the ones you just saw at Fit Father 30x, depending on what they got access to that will give them access to next level programs. So, if they bought phase 2, this will kind of light up green here and they’ll be able to hop in and see phase 2. Very similar stuff down here with the setup steps, the progress check ins, etc. And we tile these to email series so that’s kind of like the high level of how we do things. We deliver an amazing front end experience and we get guys indoctrinate into the product, into the community which I wanna talk about, some of these tabs in the membership site, but then we invite them to go to the customer journey and I think it’s a good thing in your membership site to actually have a roadmap.

Your customers they want you to be their guide and they want you to show them what they need to do next. When you can kind of map out like here’s your 12 month roadmap, actually layout the membership site in such a way that it kind of shows them here’s what you’re doing months 1 to 6, here’s 6 to 12, it kind of creates a psychological security for people to say oh they got me, they know what I need, they’ve walked people through this journey and it makes taking that next step very easy. We are ceding the fact that this is phase 1 of a multiphase program from the beginning. But we’re also saying look, we’re gonna prove it how effective this is before we even invite you to join anything down the line.

Micah: Let me get some clarity cause I think what you’re saying is genius. Is this, can they only buy the 30x program initially or are there any other ways?

Anthony: Yes, that’s it. Outside of some sales we run around New Year’s and Father’s Day, yes.

Micah: Okay, that probably simplifies the marketing though cause you have all that long form stuff that Google’s eating up, I’m guessing all those freebies and funnels they just leave to that?

Anthony: Yes, they all lead to this or we have a muscle building funnel that leads to this muscle building specific product because it’s the very different core offer than weight loss but yes. We did that intentionally to simplify because could you image the headache of doing weekly broadcast emails or setting up auto responders where you have seven different core products and they can join at different levels and then you have to exclude them if they have certain things, not others. It’s a nightmare. So, for us, it’s like what’s the simple journey? 9 times out of 10 they’re starting with Fit Father 30x and from here they branch out and they can then join the membership.

There are a lot of people in the fitness space that do forced continuity of the front ends, they check that little box that says we’re gonna bill you 67$ a month for the rest of your life and you’re getting our free course, we don’t do that stuff. I think there’s people who do it well in integrity and there’s a lot of people that do it not in integrity. We have people who join membership do so completely transparently and on their own volition, say hey yep, I love your stuff, this is the kind of thing I wanna pay for month after month because it’s that valuable.

Micah: Yeah, that touches back on something else you said too where with the one click upsells, it’s good to get a one click upsell but an accidental one click upsell that they didn’t want is a very bad customer experience and the transparency throughout, I think you hit on something that’s key to a lot of Infusionsoft users, especially because they have this idea of I’m gonna have a suite of products and they’re all gonna feed into one another and the whole eco system and whatnot. But when you go and try to map that out into a sequence and put it on the logic and the conditions and so forth, it can be pretty daunting and so, I love that this is simplified like you said and not just simplified but they wanna know what you know what they need.

Anthony: That’s so well said!

Micah: Yeah, this is awesome. Let’s hop into the community or whatever you had next.

Anthony: So, I’ll go back to the home dash, because this membership site is built on a platform that gives us the ability to use like a Buddy Press so if you come over here, you can actually have a profile here and you can have friends and groups, they can update their credit cards and see some of the different things that they have in the inbox so we actually, not too many people use this even though this feature is available, and that’s because people have a profile, you can see that here 20 minutes ago we completed this week check in and there’s notifications and messages you can send to other program members. The fun thing we do as well that we haven’t really talked about yet, we actually have achievements built in, we use Badge OS and when you complete lessons we give them these fun badges like hey you completed phase one or this like drink up badge they get when they complete the alcohol lesson.

These things pop up and when they complete affordable eating they get bargain shopper and it gamifies it a little bit. There’s so many things you could do with this kind of system where you can assign point value, they can redeem those points for future products and you can actually store these points that they get in a custom field using some http maps that you guys use in Memberium and you can get as creative as you want with this, where they can earn badges and get credits and purchase programs. For us we opt in on the keep it simple but I do like the fact that it does have a little bit of social function but to be honest with you, in our experience, people are so used to using the common social platforms they already use, like Facebook primarily, that we direct people there in the Facebook groups and not so much into this stuff.

But, if this is something that you wanna take seriously and look into there are some cool features of different kinds of groups and messages that you can do within a WordPress driven kinda stuff right here. So, you can have messages and stuff like this from other members here. That’s kinda fun and you can also see other members online right now down here.

Micah: This is a hot topic too that people ask about, should I use Buddy press form or should I use Facebook. Sounds like you’re using both and I agree with the reasons why. Tell me more about how that has worked out for you cause love the integration between the courses and the social proof and the groups that you can do here in control and their Facebook groups. For example, are their only allowed in the Facebook group if they’re a certain type of member and o you take them out when they stop paying? What are some of the things around these two types of communities and how do you balance and manage them?

Anthony: Yeah, there’s no one right way to do it. I think there are great benefits to having a closed Facebook group that only recurring paying members can be a part of, I think that can be incredibly valuable with a lot of different business models. For us, our program members are some of our best customer service people. And that is incredibly important for us the fact that when we get a new guy in and we know that our goal is to get them to the best results possible in 30 days, they opt to join the membership. We wanna do everything in our power to make sure that guy is successful. And the way we do that is through our front end Facebook group. We drop all of our members, invite them to our private closed group and the guys in there are just talking to each other all the time, posting accountability, we’re talking like a hundred messages a day are just blast through there. Some of the guys are lifelong friends now. We love Facebook for that because they’re already on it.

They’re already checking it, they’re already used to getting pushed notifications from their Facebook apps so we find a lot more interaction with Facebook. For us, my personal opinion is I’m gonna double down to Facebook being the giant that’s gonna own the community of social engagement space because that’s really their thing. I’ll double down on Google owning the finding of information and Facebook on the way people interact. Looking at the landscape things are going, I can’t really see plugins as cool as the Form and Buddy Press really beating the stickiness of something like Facebook with how used people are to those kind of platforms. We’re currently working on continuing to get people into our group but it’s amazing because not all of our customers, we have guys 40 anywhere up to 75 years old are on Facebook, so the people we do have there we drive them to this Facebook results.

They get better results when they’re in there and they can see the struggles of other guys going through the program and get the support. So, the Facebook group is huge and we throw lots of opportunities for them to join in and get started in that. It’s cool too because they keep each other engaged on the products, it’s not just you’re getting emails from Dr. Anthony in your inbox telling you to do these things. The other guys going through this as well are asking questions, doing the support. That being said, I really say we do very little with the Buddy Press stuff although we have that. We are looking into potentially having forums because I think forums can be incredibly powerful, especially if you have a niche that you’re in that’s irrationally passionate about the topic. If you’re in the vintage motorcycle business, the forum would be amazing. Those are the kind of people that might want to stay in there for a long time.

With weight loss, it’s kind of just they’re doing something to stay healthy so we keep it on Facebook. That being said, one thing that really is great for us is in these, take a look at the bottom of these lessons here, we do some great comment systems like we discuss here so you can see all the guys will comment down here and we’ll chat back and there’s some good conversations that happen down here in discuss and that’s a great way to really interact with the community but other than that, we’re driving into this Facebook group and this just a nap bar link that goes directly to that group. And there will be another link if you are a member of that long term membership, you will have another display here on your site navigation bar where they get Q&A access, access to a private blog on the site as well.

Micah: Got ya! That’s really cool and you said something earlier about your product and when you’re after those first 30 days turning it into a habit forming product and I think that’ why Facebook is such a successful peer to peer thing, like you’re saying they’re already in there, well maybe not all of them. But I appreciate you saying hey we have this Buddy Press stuff and it’s fancy but it may not get used as much because some people do get lost in creating these communities with all these bells and whistles, it’s like maybe not always what people want. They wanna talk to each other a bit, they’re already there, Facebook is extremely habit forming. I’m not a big Facebook guy but I’ve given ground to it over time and I’ll be willing to double down as well that that’s gonna be the tool in the future that’s gonna be managing that stuff.

Anthony: I’m with you 100% on that!

Micah: That’s a good thinks of even the comments, the discuss thing, there’s different types of interaction. The Buddy Press thing is for social proof a little bit, you can share and do the badges and so forth, Facebook is for the peer to peer and then the comments are cool because they’re actually aligned to the content. They’re right there on the same page rather than here there’s some great comments on our Facebook group about this, go find them. So, I like that you use all of them in the right context.

Anthony: Yeah, and they’ll talk about it and it will be very relevant, they’ll look at for example here on the mission statement setup step, here we have write a 30 day mission statement for their change and at the bottom here they’ll post down their mission statement. So, here is, they’ll actually post some of their mission statements here and it’s fun to kinda see, they can read through and see some of the other guys, what their saying, what they’re committed to for the next 30 days and I love that.

Micah: Yeah, that’s awesome. So, a couple questions for you, kind of some curveball questions, what was one of the hardest things of building this whole site? What was the challenging part of it for you?

Anthony: I would say on the big picture knowing what’s important and knowing what really is the core structure and the essentials of the programs because there are so many bells and whistles with these things, with the Buddy Press, with the badges, with the other stuff. What really is important for driving the process of the customer update forward? That is one of the things, I would say making sure that the integration between the proper tagging of all these steps, the linking of the front end that you see here with the back end Infusionsoft and making sure that all the tags are set up properly is like a big job, especially as you get a little more complex and you continue to build because one wrong tag in any place in the sequence can kind of throw off the whole machine so refining that.

We’re pretty good, I think a big challenge would be creating content. I think we’re pretty efficient at creating a lot of video content, we have a full video team and a lot of written content, but I think that otherwise, you know, creating the content to fill these big containers can certainly be challenging. A big challenge is continuously figuring out price points for products. This is probably our fifth or six iteration and we actually just wrote this inside of our Facebook group with our customers being like, hey guys, so many of you are on different membership levels, we had something called Fit Father 365, we had a membership called the society, we are doing all sorts of stuff and just trying to figure out what works, especially for those next phase programs and with trial and error we kind of discovered this balance and getting Fit Father for Life kind of stuff.

I think it was a challenge figuring out what do they need at every step and how much are we gonna charge for it and how are we gonna sell it and deliver it and I think that’s a continual refinement process that my ammo, and this is kind of based on personality, is just kind of go for it, put it out there, see what the receptivity is, ask your customers and talk to them and that’s why I think it’s so essential to have a front end group whether it’s on Facebook or Buddy Press or some place where people can interact with the creators of the program and it’s like you lift a veil a little bit cause then you can be a bit transparent, you have great customers who want you to succeed and you can ask them questions. So, figuring out the pricing for our products and what they wanted because what we thought they wanted and what they actually wanted was not always the same thing. So, having the ability to converse with people on the front end was huge for us.

Micah: Yeah, that’s super helpful. Another question for you, it’s looking great now and I wanna ask you about some of your future plans but what is something if you look back maybe 6 months or a year or two, something that you would consider maybe a mistake that you would’ve liked to avoid or something you could’ve done better.

Anthony: Does it relate to this stuff or life in general? I got plenty of it!

Micah: We’ll say with the membership site!

Anthony: Not documenting these things that would actually hard line be my answer. So, I built this stuff and it was really hard transitioning from being a solo-preneur two years ago to having a team now because when you build all the stuff and all the tags make sense to you and all these different widget things make sense to you, if you don’t have it properly documented, how do you ever hand it off? And we are still in the process of handing this stuff off to our team. We’ve done a great job on the writing on the front end and stuff like that but making sure that your membership site and how it works is documented in SOP and it’s very communicable so you can bring someone in and they can understand what the tags are. Now we have a lot of documentation. Our standard operating procedure site for the business is as valuable for some of the other business assets in terms of how we characterize Infusionsoft tags, how we do our reporting and how everyone knows how to do this kind of stuff now.

So, not failing to document because I was doing this myself was a huge pain point later on when you have to go back and do that stuff. And, actually documenting along the way, I can’t say this from experience because I didn’t do this, but I can say it from the experience, we do it now with our new processes, helps you be more intentional of what you’re doing because you have to slow down and say here are the necessary steps and anything that you can do you do it in a way that your whole team can understand how it is and you’re not the only one responsible for the knowledge in the company, makes for a healthier company.

Micah: Yeah, makes total sense and even as I’m thinking about that, your point of being more intentional because you have to document it, I’ve gone through that before because I’ve kind of bounced around way to much and if I would’ve just sat down and written it out, I would’ve avoided a lot of wasted work and a lot of kind of regoing through the work to document it later to try to hand it off so, I couldn’t agree more.

Anthony: So, true. I think it’s balancing the bouncing. You wanna bounce on that initial momentum and then there needs to be a part of the process where it needs to be documented, once you start getting traction. One of the small things that we didn’t talk about and we’re in the curveball questions and we’re getting towards the end of this, but this is a cool little plugin feature that’s been sitting down here that I wanna share. It’s a cool plugin where you can kinda take notes on any of these sections and you can write some cool stuff and you can save that and what that’s gonna do is give you the ability to have your customers create a journal on any of your lessons. So, if I come into this person’s account you can see that we have their notes and you can see some draft notes down here but this is the one that we just created and they can open that up and they can actually print that or download it as Word and this is some of the pre-written stuff in there.

I think it’s cool, it’s something that pretty much everyone can do with their membership site. It’s a note taking plugging, I don’t remember the exact word of what it is right now but it’s a note taking plugin, you can probably figure it out after the call but the point being, it’s a nifty little feature.

Micah: That is super nifty. Actually, one of the things we like to do, if you’re logged in somewhere as an admin to your site, if not we can put a list on afterward but I was gonna say, getting an idea of some of the specific plugins, cause I’m sure if somebody goes and googles note taking plugins in WordPress.. We’ll try to get from Anthony a couple of these proof plugins, then the note taking and some of the others so that anybody who’s interested can try it out. The note taking is really cool and I like the proof plugin as well, I was tempted to go by some things while on the call so I could see my name pop up there but I was too focused on what you are saying. Is there anything else and I do have one or two follow up questions but are there any other areas of the site before move on that you think are especially interesting that you wanna show?

Anthony: That’s really it on this back end site, I think we covered a lot. And I think that really we showed the site well, the last thing I wanted to show them was the note taking area, but yeah, that’s about it.

Micah: Okay, cool. So, I wanna ask one thing, what are some of your plans for the future, cause you have this it sounds like the first 12 months in hand, what are you looking forward to, what are you kind of planning for this year for example?

Anthony: We’re continuing, this year is all about our e-learning stuff. Continuing to dial in and get more people in those next phase programs. It’s kind of all about the good old real estate land grab with SEO keyword stuff and our team of writers, the machines that they are, really capturing more organic traffic and ranking for all of things to get, like the system is built so now it’s more like get higher quality, get organic traffic and continue to dial in the retention of the long term membership. So, this is all about e-learning for us this year, we’re gonna be introducing e-commerce into our business with supplements and our long term plans are really building this in truly in person local and international business where we have pods of guys running Fit Father Project groups locally and doing big events as well. So, a big live events where a lot of our program members can come or the groups interacting to actual in person stuff so, really just growing from an online business into an online and offline business.

Micah: Cool, I hate doing events. I do some but I just, the logistics are so challenging so, I wish you luck in that, not to be negative at all, it’s great for business. One of the last questions for you, if you had some advice for somebody starting out and if you wanna think of it as if you wanna go back in time and give you when you were starting out some advice on building a membership site or getting into the membership site business, what are some pieces of advice you would give?

Anthony: Yeah, the first thing would be that you need to be incredibly clear on your customer avatar. Who the person is that you’re serving because everything that you’re doing inside of that membership site all relates back to creating incredible results for that person. So, knowing what business you’re in and knowing your core market as well as your focus of what makes your process different, how your process directly resolves pain for your avatar and who you’re really serving because if you do not know that stuff, you’re gonna make mistakes when setting up the site as not to directly serve that avatar or you’ll have multiple avatars. So, it all starts from really knowing your market, their pain points and how to solve that and having your kind of process.

A membership site is really like a physical manifestation of these invisible processes and understandings of your market so marketing 101 stuff, it’s really tempting to throw out a membership site, get it on some auto build thing but we gotta really pump on the breaks and make a step back. And two, I would say bake accountability into the building of the membership site from the get go. That’s been a huge thing for us and I know we talked a lot about that today but how are you really designing a membership site so that you’ve taken ownership over how well they use your content and so I think the solution to that is typically some kind of LMS kind of solution that helps people go through.

Micah: Yeah it’s interesting that you bring up the avatar thing because we did a membership site last year and the weird thing is, my copywriter, and she’s a genius her name is Claire, she really pushed me to make an avatar and I was like oh that’s a waste of time and energy cause I’ve never done it before. I did more of what you were just talking about, which is just put up the site and make all the mistakes along the way, so she built up this detailed avatar and then she went on to write all the copy for the avatar and do all the course design around the avatar and seeing that first hand in our business and seeing the result of that site it was a lot more successful than I though it would be, honestly.

That’s such a good focus point to give people when they’re starting, get your avatar, get that right and build around it cause I think so many people see the whole subject matter and it’s too easy to go in too many different directions and not gain enough traction when you don’t. So, I love that.

Anthony: Totally! And all the plugins and the bells and whistles are only there to create a better experience for your specific avatar. It just makes your decisions of building a membership site a lot easier because you go into it instead of like here’s all the bells and whistles, how can I stick them on Frankenstein in a way that fits, it’s like here’s our person, what do they need? Okay, let’s go grab that. Let the plugin serve you, let the membership site evolve as a product of the kind of goals and the person you’re serving.

Micah: So smart. This has been amazing Anthony, honestly, it’s been amazing. You’ve been really generous to show off what you’re doing and talk through it, if someone’s interesting in what you’re doing, what is the best way for them to get involved, you know, how can they contact you and what do you want the people to do who watch this and they wanna get involved to get more fit?

Anthony: Yeah, you can head over to fitfatherproject.com. There’s a contact form on that site you can fill out. That will go to my assistant. My direct email is also Anthony@fitfatherproject.com. So, super top secret there, you know my name Anthony@fitfatherproject.com so you can send me a message, inbox is slammed but if you mention Micah I’ll be able to get back to you quicker that way. Hopefully, people find this valuable and I had a great time, thanks for letting me do some humble bragging throughout here, I’m proud of what I do and I hope I served, it’s a fun chance to reflect on how far we’ve come when sharing this and I’m excited to continue to grow our membership site as well.

Micah: Well, Anthony, it’s been a pleasure, I just absolutely love it, especially the new things that come up, the site is beautiful, the technology you’re using and everything but the little reasons why and the motivation behind it, I find it inspiring and motivating again so thank you so much for joining us!

Anthony: You are so welcome, thanks for having me Micah!

Author

Justin Ferriman is the co-founder and CEO of LearnDash, the WordPress LMS trusted by Fortune 500 companies, major universities, training organizations, and entrepreneurs worldwide for creating (and selling) their online courses. Twitter | LinkedIn

2 Responses

  1. This post was exciting to read, as our LearnDash-powered site also has over 10,000 active students. Although we use a different membership setup, we have looked into Memberium as a future option with more possible features. LearnDash does a great job in managing the courses and helping our students keep track of their progress. We initially launched with students submitting offline completed assignments, but with the scale of our growth the auto-graded exam features have been an enormous time-saver.

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