134 – Grow A Passive Revenue By Creating And Selling Courses Online With Greg Smith

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Greg Smith is the Founder and CEO of Thinkific, a software platform that makes it easy to create, market and sell online courses. Greg practiced corporate law for one of the largest law firms in the country when he created his own online course and it took off, generating more revenue than being a lawyer.

He left his law career to start Thinkific and hasn’t looked back.

Greg and the Thinkific team have helped thousands of experts create and sell courses while building their brands and growing passive revenue.

Lawyer To Teacher: The Career Changer

Greg was practicing law for one of the largest law firms in the country when he created his own online course.

As it happened, it really took off.  In fact, it started to generate more revenue than he was earning as an attorney. So, without thinking twice, he left a promising legal career in order to start “Thinkific” and hasn’t looked back. Today, he and his team have helped thousands of professionals to create courses online, building their brands and growing passive revenue.

Greg’s story isn’t uncommon. You might think it’s all about the money but not for Greg.

Most successful entrepreneurs who’ve left everything behind to follow their passion in life, have similar reasons as Greg.  While money is certainly an important part of it, money is typically not the largest driver for many entrepreneurs – which surprises a lot of people. The big driver for Greg and why he switched careers, is his passion for teaching, leveraging his personal experience, success and pain to help other people.

Effective Webinar Strategies That Results in High Conversion Rates

It is all about building trust and offering value. There’s a lot of people talking about webinars nowadays and they’ve been around for a while.  Most of them think that webinars can be an amazing sales tool.

This “webinar” as a tool, is commonly used as part of basic funnels, driving pay per click ads from Facebook to a landing page.  Once on the landing page, people can sign up and attend your webinar, a webinar where you can deliver great content that builds your audience’s trust.  In the end, you can make an offer, a bonus or a product that you can sell.

Below are simple eye-opening techniques that Greg and his team use.  They offer webinars a little differently and as a result, it’s why they have a high webinar conversions.

  • Don’t plan the full content for the webinar until you are definite that everyone expected is signed up.
  • Have your audience complete a short non-stressful survey that will help you understand and learn who exactly who your audience is, what they really want to know, what they are looking for and why they are attending.
  • Once all details are identified, start to build your webinar. Create a webinar with purpose and custom design it for your audience and they will love it.  They will feel valued. Your customers will be very happy with the overall content and how the webinar was delivered.  Once you’ve introduced them to your products or services, they will be more than happy to buy.

“Don’t put together a webinar until you’re 100% sure of who your audience is” – Greg Smith

How To Get People Complete Your Survey Instantly

  • Keep It Short
  • Respect Their Time – You have to understand that time is absolutely important to everyone. Don’t lie. Provide a truthful time about how long it will take for them to complete your survey. This will give a solid impression that you respect their time. In return, you will likely get a higher response rate. – Try this, take the survey first and time yourself before throwing a number.

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4 Tips for How And Where To Market your Online Course

Marketing online courses is parallel to marketing any other digital products or anything else you can imagine.

When creating your marketing, you need to start thinking about your audience right from the very beginning.  You don’t want to just join any online community and right out of the gate ask people to check out your product.

You’ve got to add value. You have to work at building trust.

  • If you’re a photographer, Facebook groups might be a great place for you to start.
  • If you’re marketing to professional accountants or lawyers, LinkedIn is a great place for attracting professionals.
  • If you’re looking for good leads, Quora is a great site for generating leads and marketing online courses. You’ll encounter people on Quora, asking for help about all different topics and subjects. You can just join the forum, share your insights as an expert and link them out to your online courses for more information.
  • If you’re just playing around, discovering things and haven’t totally figured out what online courses you’ll market, YouTube, Instagram, Periscope and Blab are the sites for you.

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Great Tools for Analyzing, Measuring and Monitoring Social Media

The process of gathering data, as well as what data to gather, differs for each channel. There are a number of valuable tools to help you analyze, measure and monitor your social media success. Below are the Top 2 tools you need to check out today.

  • Mix Panel – This tool will give you the ability to easily measure what people are doing on your app on iOS, Android, and web.
  • Google Analytics – This tool shows you the full customer picture across ads, videos, social tools, websites, tablets, smartphones, and more. It aims to help you build your audience with valuable insights.

Harness The Power Of Mobile Apps To Create Happy Customers

Mobile usage and optimization is certainly changing the environment. It brings new opportunities in the way we interact with other people.

  • Your Services Become More Accessible. Almost everyone has a mobile phone. Once your business has transitioned to mobile, you can start offering your products and services in more convenient ways to your followers and the general, larger audience
  • If you are not considering going mobile, then you are missing out on a lot of things. Based on analytics and research, every day more and more people are doing everything on their mobile phones. Sooner or later, everything you’re offering, is going to be served up via mobile.

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An Offer You Can’t Resist

Greg and his team will put together a special offer for you. For all listeners of the Social Media Business Hour, he will be giving out for free, three months of their paid business plan. He will give you everything that you need to learn how to setup and customize your own online course including:  Scheduling content, certificates, hosting and delivery. All you have to do is click on the socialmediabusinesshour.com link that will be placed on Greg’s website.

Greg_Smith_Special_Offer

SHOW

Click Here To Read The Full Transcript Of The Show +

Greg:               Hi, I’m Greg Smith from Thinkific and about 10 years ago I created my own online course and very quickly the revenues from the course took off and surpassed my revenues as a corporate lawyer with a large firm so I dove into online education fulltime and now I love helping other people do the same and I’m really excited to be here on the social media business hour with you Nile.

Woman:          Are you in business or thinking about starting a new business and could do with a bit of help and guidance when it comes to social media? Then you’re in the right place. Social media can seem daunting and even frustrating but it doesn’t have to be. That is why we offer insights and experience from social media experts from around the world. Discover tips, tricks and information that will help you leverage the power of social media so you can start growing your business today. Welcome to social media business hour with your host Nile Nickel.

Jordan:            Hello and thank you again for joining us. This is Nile’s trusty sidekick and cohost Jordan and I’d like to take a moment to share with you how you could benefit from Nile’s incredible experience using social media for real business success. If you’re an entrepreneur or thinking about starting your own business then using social media might be the most cost effective and time effective way to get your business real results. That’s not to mention much of what you could do to get those terrific results on social media is even free. Take Linked In for example. Nile always says it’s the best social media platform for business today. And that’s why I recommend you go to linkedinfocus.com and start your social media education today. Sign up for Nile’s free tips, tricks and strategies. Once again, it’s free and it only takes a few seconds. Go to linkedinfocus.com today. You’ll be glad you did.

Nile:                Hey, welcome back and I’m so happy to as I’d indicated in our last segment -- I’m excited. We’ve got Greg Smith who’s the founder and CEO of Thinkific, a software platform that makes it easy to create, market and sell online courses. Greg was practicing law for one of the largest law firms in the country when he created his own online course and it took off and it started to generate more money or more revenue than he was earning as an attorney. So, he left his law career to start Thinkific and hadn’t looked back. Greg and the Thinkific team have helped thousands of experts create and sell courses while building their brands and growing passive revenue. That sounds exciting and probably a bit surprising Greg.

Greg:               Yeah, it was a good moment. I loved practicing law but being able to get into teaching and then helping others teach online fulltime was a pretty awesome change.

Nile:                Well, you might be interested but his clients include everyone from the local yoga instructor who wants to teach online to companies like Hootsuite taking their training to millions of students worldwide. So, not on script or anything else, not a planned question but I have to ask. Greg, certainly you rolled out a course while you were an attorney. What was the course all about?

Greg:               Well, it related to law. It was actually on the LSAT so helping people get into law school with the law school admissions test.

Nile:                So, you were really leveraging your own personal experience and pain that you had so you recognized it and being able to help some other people and provide value to them.

Greg:               Definitely and I think I have some sort of strange fascination with exams because I really enjoyed the exam. A lot of people hate it. But I had a lot of fun with it so I think in my teaching people I saw that and I could transfer that fun to them and help them be better at it too.

Nile:                Well, that always helps people and obviously if you start earning more from some of your online stuff than you do as an attorney that is not a bad thing to necessarily follow the money and it sounds like that’s what you did.

Greg:               Yeah, well I -- the passive revenue is wonderful and I remember the day when that sort of shift happened where I really saw it coming in but I mean, really for me the big driver has been the freedom of the lifestyle and also being able to teach and share with so many people. I mean, when I started out teaching I was teaching to a classroom of 20, 30 people and then all of a sudden I was able to reach thousands and just get the feedback from so many people which was just such a wonderful experience to see.

Nile:                Well, your story there isn’t uncommon. Most successful entrepreneurs that I see that have transitioned and become successful in their business all talk about -- you might think it’s about the money but it’s never about the money. It’s about something else and -- so, while the money is certainly an important part of it it typically is never the driver which surprises a lot of people.

Greg:               Yeah, yeah. I mean, it’s a good justification that you’re doing something that people value but if that’s the only reason you’re doing it it’s unlikely you’re going to want to pursue it or be happy pursuing it and I’m all about doing things that are -- I enjoy doing and I’m passionate about and that’s really what I love helping other people do as well.

Nile:                That makes perfect, perfect sense. Well, I’m curious. Certainly you developed your platform to leverage your product but has your platform seen some similar success stories and if so would you mind sharing any?

Greg:               Yeah, definitely. I mean, there’s tons of success stories. It’s always amazing to see some of the new ones that are coming up and we’re just seeing it across the board in terms of all different disciplines. I was talking to a lady the other day who has gone completely off the grid somewhere in Hawaii. I don’t know exactly where but she’s living in Hawaii off the grid and she sort of pops up to check her earnings once a month and she has some great online art courses and she’s just teaching this whole community of people around some really interesting styles of art that she’s doing. I think she calls it Crazy Island because she lives on an island. We won't say she’s crazy but that’s what she calls it. And she’s done very well and it’s kind of allowing her to live off the grid. And then a really cool one I saw the other day was this guy teaching how to fly drones in the film industry. So, he’s worked on a whole bunch of big budget films and television shows. Stuff like Lost and I think Lord of the rings and so now he’s teaching people how to -- what drones to get and how to set them up and how to fly them with a camera and how to get jobs in the film industry doing that. So, just a myriad of different courses out there and some of these people are doing really well with it and have been able to transition out of full time careers and do this at a much higher revenue level as well.

Nile:                Well, I’m really fascinated with the first story you told about somebody that wants to go off the grid, checks her earnings once a month but she’s selling an online course. I mean, that seems a bit ironic.

Greg:               Definitely. Yeah, a little bit of a paradox there. It’s a -- but hey, I mean, if it -- the great thing is it allows her to go off the grid. I mean, I remember for me, my kind of moment of recognition. I had taken a day off work and gone up to go kiteboarding on the water and gone in after a few hours out on the water. I checked my phone and there was something like 5000 dollars in sales in there and that was that turning point where I said okay. People really like what I made here because for a while it was just getting started and learning how to market it and how to get it out there but that was a big turning point. So, it was -- it’s funny but I see more and more people who are taking social media and marketing and information products and using them as a way to kind of go offline or spend more time with family.

Nile:                Well, that’s certainly one of the things you’d like to do but one of the things that I know is when you find something that works you like to repeat it so I guess that means you went back out the next day and enjoyed another day on the water.

Greg:               Yeah, yeah. I mean, I doubled down and got into more courses.

Nile:                Well, that’s great. Well, I -- in reading some of your stuff I know that you hit 28 percent conversion from sign up to purchase on one webinar. So, clearly you’ve got some inside knowledge and some tips. Is there anything you could offer to us people that aren’t so successful and experienced in that?

Greg:               Well, I mean, I think there’s a lot of people talking about webinars out there and they’ve been around for a while and I think that they can be an amazing sales tool and I am -- we’re seeing a lot of our instructors using them. Doing things like the basic funnels of driving pay per click ads from like Facebook to a landing page, getting people to sign up for your webinar, attend your webinar where you deliver some great content and really I think it’s about building trust and then you have an offer or a bonus or a product that you sell at the end of it. What we did differently on that where -- and the 28 percent conversion. That’s from -- you’re starting with a  number of people who even signed up so usually you lose a good chunk of those before they even attend the webinar and then the number who actually purchase something from your webinar is often much lower again. But we had 20 percent across the board and -- or 20 percent from sign up all the way to purchasing something and I think what we did differently is we didn’t plan the full content of the webinar until after we had everyone signed up and we learned about who that audience was so we actually talked to and surveyed and understood who the audience was that was coming to the webinar, what they were really looking for, what they really wanted and then we built the webinar around that. So, I think a lot of people, they put together a product or a webinar and they have it prescripted and they’re ready to go, they’ve got their slides and they run the ads and people sign up and they’re not really sure a 100 percent who’s attending. So, we kind of flipped it on its head and said let’s figure out who’s attending and then build it for them and they loved it. The response was amazing and we had a lot of really custom stuff in there that was just built to talk to those people and talk their language and it meant that they were super happy with the content of the webinar and what we were able to offer them after the webinar as well.

Nile:                Well, it’s interesting you bring that strategy up. I’ve tried that strategy probably a half dozen times now and I find that it’s refreshing to a lot of people because it’s not you saying hey, this is what you need and this is what you want. It’s them saying I’m curious about this, I’m confused about this, I’ve got questions about this, can you help me with these things? And you end up with a better product quite honestly.

Greg:               Definitely, yeah, yeah. And it shows you care too, right? And I think it’s much more rewarding to be involved in something like that because you’re not just sending out scripted responses. You’re actually interacting and delivering what people care about.

Nile:                Oh, absolutely. There’s no question about that. One of the things that I’m interested in is if you see any hot topic areas or maybe hot topic courses that seem to do better than others or is it really about the person and the process?

Greg:               I think there’s certainly hot topics that come up from time to time. I mean, we -- with this horrible news coming out of Paris we saw someone actually who had -- a long time expert in ISIS and so he had some courses out there on ISIS and of course immediately people are interested in learning about that. So, there’s definitely rise and falls at different areas. For a long time there it was coding and still is to some extend about teaching people how to code but at the end of the day I find that people can make a great business delivering courses and teaching all different areas and I’m constantly surprised by the different areas that come up and as you mentioned it’s much more about the person and the process and that ability to find your niche market. Now, that’s not to say that every single course topic will work and I think what you need to do is start from the marketing and look at the marketing and how you’re going to reach people or where your audience is before you even produce it and if you take that step even to just reach out to a few groups or your list or wherever you plan to reach people and start from that and just confirm that what you are looking to teach is something that these people want. You’re going to be much better served. And again, back to sort of the webinar strategy there, you can then kind of customize the content to what people are telling you they want to learn from you and that’ll really help drive your marketing as well and confirm if people are even interested in that.

Nile:                Well, we’ve only got about a minute left in this segment but I’m curious do you do sometimes the online surveys whether it’s in the middle of a webinar that maybe you’re building or maybe just in prep for a course being delivered. Is that one of the strategies?

Greg:               Surveys are huge. Yeah, definitely. I think if you can make it easy for people to give you information and you know how to ask the right questions and make it simple for them to respond you can get some invaluable data from that and also use it as a lead generation tool.

Nile:                Well, I think in the next segment -- in fact, I think what we’re going to start off with is maybe we’ll talk about some survey strategies and again I know that’s not something that we were prepared to talk about but I think that it will be extremely insightful so again we’re social media business hour. We’re talking to Greg Smith of Thinkific.

Greg:               Thinkific. You got it.

Nile:                Did you see that stutter? But we’re going to talk about some surveys. We’ll be right back after this short break.

Jordan:            Hey Nile, let’s take a break for another social media marketing moment. Talk to me about social media posts and the right way of doing it and the wrong way of doing it.

Nile:                Well, so many people that do their posts on social media anywhere on social media -- it really doesn’t matter the platform. They like to inform people. Maybe they like to sell you. Unfortunately that’s not what most people are on social media for. They’re there for a break whether it’s a mental break, whether it’s just spending some time, killing some time so you have to stop the scroll. As they scroll through your social media page, whatever page that’s on they’re seeing a lot of things. What makes you different, what makes you stand out? Other thing you want to is you want to entertain them a lot. In fact, 80 to 90 percent of all of your posts should be entertainment based, not information based.

Jordan:            Thanks Nile. For more tips just like that one join us on socialmediabusinesshour.com, sign up. You’ll be glad you did.

Nile:                Hey, welcome back to the social media business hour with Nile Nickel here. We’re talking with Greg Smith of Thinkific and in the last segment we went through some strategies and all of that. What we were going to do to start off this segment is we were going to talk about some survey strategies and I’m curious about maybe some thoughts that you have on this, some things you’ve tried that you’ve had success with so do the dump on us.

Greg:               I can't say I’m an absolute survey expert but a few things that I find work well for me is keeping it short and I really like to keep it short. I’ll actually time myself or even run it by someone else who hasn’t taken it and time them in taking the survey and then I’ll throw out a number at the start of the survey or in the email or however you’re sending it out telling people how long it’ll take them to fill it out and I don’t lie. I see a lot of these surveys where it says it’ll only take you two minutes and then you get into it and you see that it’s four essay questions or something. So, I’ll throw in a number and I’ll usually make it something kind of funny like you’ll complete this survey in less than two minutes and 47 seconds and that just indicates to people that you’re respecting their time and you’re much more likely to get a higher response rate that way. So, that’s really my first step in putting it together is trying to keep it short.

Nile:                So, one of those strategies too that I like that you mentioned is you give sort of some specific times and I suspect that they might end in odd numbers like retail pricing for example.

Greg:               Yeah.

Nile:                Great idea there. So, in your experience with what you’ve done what have you found that are some of the best ways to market and sell online courses? We’ve talked about webinars a bit but I’m curious of some of the other strategies that you have.

Greg:               I think there’s a lot of different ways to do it and I think actually people could probably benefit a lot from listening to your show and probably put so many of the different strategies that you talk about to work in marketing online courses and it’s very similar to marketing any other digital products or anything else online. For people, it kind of depends too on where your audience is. I think for any marketing you need to start thinking about your audience right from the beginning so if you’re marketing to photographers Facebook groups might be a great place for you to start. If you’re marketing to professional accountants or lawyers -- I think you’ve done some work with that, with a lot of lawyers -- then Linked In. and I know you’re a much more expert in Linked In with your Linked In Focus site than I am but Linked In could be a great place for attracting people. For new people I actually find Kora is a great site now for generating leads and marketing your online courses because you have people asking for help in all these different subject areas and you can hop in there, express your knowledge as an expert and then link out to your online course for more information. And then for a few other things I’ve been playing around. Well, I’ve always done well with YouTube. Just starting to play around with Instagram. Haven’t totally figured that out for the online course market yet and having a lot of fun with Blab as well.

Nile:                Well, Blab is -- and Periscope for that matter become huge in a lot of those areas and fun so --

Greg:               Yeah, definitely.

Nile:                But I’m glad you mentioned Kora because I don’t think in the history of our show and we’re 130 plus episodes in; I don’t think we’ve ever talked about or mentioned Kora. I’m somewhat familiar with it. I suspect our listeners probably aren’t and so I don’t want to leave them in the dark. It’s important to bring them up to speed. Do you mind talking about Kora for just a bit?

Greg:               Definitely, yeah. We’ve had some great successes on Kora. So, I mean, Kora’s a question and answer site. So, very simple. You can hop in there. You can ask questions of anyone about anything and people can answer questions. Anyone can answer your questions but you can also invite specific people so you can actually kind of go in there and say hey, let’s invite the director of engineering at Google or let’s go invite Mark Zuckerberg or whoever happens to be in there to answer my question because they’re an expert in this area. There’s no guarantee they’ll answer it but you can invite them. And so from a marketing perspective I mean, you could -- it’s like any community. You can go in there and use it for fun and participate and share knowledge but from a marketing perspective if you start to go in and you can search for questions that you think your audience might be asking -- and it doesn’t have to be -- let’s say you have a course or a product or an eBook or something on how to use Linked In. you don’t necessarily just have to look for people saying how to use Linked In. you can look for all sorts of Linked In related type search queries, find all of these questions and then you can even subscribe so that it’ll update you when new ones come in. you can list yourself as an expert in that area and people will ask you questions. And then you can post answers to these questions and then of course refer out to your site or your product or your business for more information. Now, like any of these things you don’t want to just go in there and say here’s my business, here’s my link, come check me out. You’ve got to go and add value. So, I make sure that when I go in there often I’ll disclose who I am and what I do and that I work for Thinkific because I mention the product and I want people to know that I do work there but then I’ll add as much value as possible so I’ll really add a lot of value for people and that I think starts to build trust which helps in any kind of marketing and then from there I can include a link. They can come and check out my site.

Nile:                Yeah, and I can't endorse Kora enough. I mean, almost any question that you want to ask you can and by the way, if you need an answer to a question don’t hesitate to post it up there.

Greg:               Yeah, it’s very useful for that.

Nile:                Yeah, but by the same token you can think of it in different ways in being able to provide value and perhaps draw people to you and that’s more than the person that’s just asking the question because they keep that dialogue on there. Somebody asks a question, well people could look up that question later and find the answer.

Greg:               Right, yeah. It sticks around for a long time and it’s good -- it’s great Google links uses and it’ll -- it pops up quite high in Google often.

Nile:                Well, one of the things that I know we both believe in are the analytics part of this and --

Greg:               Definitely.

Nile:                So many people almost get scared off when they think about some of the technical requirements and what they have to know and how do I do this and how do I analyze these numbers when I don’t even understand the terms. Do you think people should be afraid of that and does it really require a whole lot of technical skills to really leverage those tools?

Greg:               I think to be a true quant and really get into the quantitative analysis of the physic -- or the -- sorry. The metrics.

Nile:                You were going to a term quant there.

Greg:               You can definitely make it very challenging and I don’t want to discredit the experts in the field because there are some amazing experts who really have this stuff down but for people getting started and I was definitely in this place at one point, pick one. Pick one metric that you think is important for your business, important to indicate what you’re looking to accomplish and really focus on that. Sort of the OMTM or the one metric to measure and focus on that one thing. Now, just make sure it’s not a vanity metric. Like often people will focus on just the number of people who visited my site but if you’re looking to get them to sign up for your -- a certain product or a subscription or something like that maybe that’s a better metric but don’t make it a vanity metric that doesn’t actually translate into the results you want. Try and drive that metric as close to the results that you want as possible and focus on that one first and then kind of start to fall in love with it and bring in more metrics that you think are important but even just focusing on one for a long period of time can be a great thing.

Nile:                What were the first few that you started off with?

Greg:               I think one of the first ones I really focused on was -- I run a free trial on a lot of my courses and it -- I focused on a number of people who signed up to the free trial but then converted to paid and we saw some really cool insights and that my first -- one of my first three trials was -- I think it was an hour or two or three content and my brother actually came and said it’s too long. You’re giving away too much. I said but I want to give away this great stuff. People love it. They get to know me, they trust me then they’re more likely to buy. He said well, let’s run an experiment. You’ve got the metrics. So, we -- he cut that content down to I think seven to 10 minutes and our free trial conversion to paid -- I think it almost doubled just from that change so I had to eat my words. He was proven right by the tests and the data and the data doesn’t lie usually. So, that was one of the first metrics we were tracking and where we really saw some big gains in making some adjustments to it.

Nile:                That is such a common -- I’d say really a common mistake is people want to give so much and attention spans tend to be short online and so you’ve got to do it in really short bite size segments. In fact, it’s really scary how short attention spans are online. I mean --

Greg:               Hopefully people are still here to listen to this.

Nile:                Well, that’s exactly right but it’s one of the reasons we break it up into some segments too.

Greg:               Yeah, yeah, yeah. Well, I’ve listened to your show and I didn’t get bored so you’ve got my attention.

Nile:                Well, I hear that but by the same token we’re sensitive to the fact that sometimes people say I’d really like it if it was shorter so we’re actually -- I’m going to give people that are listening some insight here. We’re syndicated on some terrestrial radio stations and so we follow a terrestrial radio station one hour clock calendar and so we break our segments up -- in fact, Greg you and I were talking about this before we got online. Our each segment is roughly 13 minutes.

Greg:               Right.

Nile:                And that has to include things like the lead in and the intro music and the exit music and stuff like that so we’ve got to be very sensitive to that because terrestrial radio follows a very tight schedule. So, we’re sensitive to that. We sometimes extend segments that maybe could be shorter but we’re following that terrestrial radio thing and that brings up something. I know it’s not on our questions that we were going to talk about and topics and all of that but I think maybe we could talk about this in the next segment and that could be repurposing of content because that happens a lot with what we do on this show.

Greg:               Yeah.

Nile:                Obviously we’ve got a great guest. You know a lot, you’ve got great insights and there’s a lot that we could do to repurpose and share this content and this value out some different areas so -- a little insight into our show and why we do what we do. I’m glad you brought that up because we are sensitive to sometimes people saying it’d be nice to be just a little bit shorter. We agree too. Hey, are there any specific tools that you’ve found to use? We’ve got a little over a minute left but I’m just curious what tools that you found to use that you use for your analytics.

Greg:               Mix Panel is a big one for me. Obviously Google Analytics is a big one out there but we actually integrate directly with Mix Panel and feed a lot of data into them. We have our own built in analytics but we also feed it to Mix Panel and with Mix Panel you can get really creepy in terms of seeing exactly what each person is doing and where they are and what’s going on and you can even message them based on that.

Nile:                Wow, wow. And you mentioned Google Analytics too. I know you work closely with Google. That might be something that you could talk about in the next segment. I don’t know if we can or can't but we’ll see how that goes.

Greg:               Sure, we can talk about it. Yeah.

Nile:                Well, that is absolutely awesome. I know that we’re close enough to time that rather than get into the next question because then I’ll be cutting you short. I don’t like to do lighting rounds. What I’ll say is hey, we’ve got some great stuff coming up in the next segment. Make sure you join us there.

Jordan:            Hey Nile, let’s take a brief break for social media marketing moment. Why don’t you talk to me about the Linked In profile and how to engage with that? I hear you talking to people about that all the time.

Nile:                Well, I do. Yeah. So many people treat their Linked In profile just like it was a resume which is the stupidest thing you could possibly do. Nobody wants to read resumes. Even the people that have to read resumes. So, what do you do to make your profile summary more engaging? You tell a story. You draw people in and there are so many ways to tell an engaging story. Why are you passionate about something? Why would you do this if somebody wasn’t paying you to do it? Tell the story, draw them in and what you will find is they get deeper into your profile because you’ve made them say to yourselves I want to know more.

Jordan:            Thanks Nile. For more tips just like that join us at linkedinfocus.com, sign up for more tips and tricks. You’ll be glad you did.

Nile:                Hey, welcome back to the social media business hour with Nile Nickel and we’re talking with Greg Smith of Thinkific tonight and we’ve just been all over the road map but we’ve got some really great stuff. I mean, I’ve taken so many notes that I’m having trouble staying focused on being the interviewer here Greg because you’ve really got some fantastic content. I really appreciate that.

Greg:               Thanks. That’s great. I’m glad that I’m able to add value. I’m having a lot of fun.

Nile:                Super, super, super. Well, I know that you’ve had some insights into Google. Obviously you use Google Analytics and sort of the cornerstone of anything you want to do but you’ve worked to make some closer connections with Google. Is that correct?

Greg:               Well, I did mention when -- before we were hopping on the show here that I had a chance to meet with the director of engineering there just yesterday actually and it wasn’t so much making -- well, I guess it’s closer connections now but not so much working with them. He was just in town for an event and we got the opportunity to sit down with him and have a little chat with some of the technology leaders here in Vancouver and so it was just an amazing experience to understand sort of the world and the future from his point of view. I don’t know if you’re familiar with _____39:40 at all or his books or the documentaries about him or his stories about artificial intelligence in the future.

Nile:                I am, I am.

Greg:               Yeah, so you’ve seen he’s probably got some pretty amazing insights and a very positive outlook on things. I’m hoping that his predictions come through and he’s been accurate in the past but I think he says we’ll all be immortal by about 2040 and we’ll have full AI as smart as any human being by about 2029 so the future’s looking pretty bright in his eyes.

Nile:                Well, and it’s one of the things when you read some of what he’s written or what he writes, it gets a bit scary at times depending on how you look at it because technology’s advancing so fast.

Greg:               Yeah. Yeah, it definitely is and he’s really got that sort of exponential growth curve predicted. And you’re right. There are some scary things in there. I’m not sure about all of it like putting nanobots into our brain and connecting up with the web and everybody sort of blurring the lines between biology and technology and human and machine. It’s an interesting potential future for us.

Nile:                Well, and Google’s certainly at least with the available technology today pushing the envelope on that too so it’s sort of a neat meeting and need insights but I think what it does is it shows that you really are deep into the industry, you follow the trends and you really try to make the connections with the thought leaders that are in this market and this environment.

Greg:               Yeah, we’re trying and amazing stuff out there.

Nile:                Yeah.

Greg:               And definitely there’s always people smarter than you that we can learn from, right?

Nile:                Absolutely. All the time. So, I appreciate the insight. So, let me ask a question because we know that the whole market is moving mobile. As a matter of fact most people say that currently 80 percent of the internet content is mobile based delivery. So, when you talk about online learning what’s your take about this mobile optimization and really optimizing for the mobile platform?

Greg:               You just have to be mobile. I think that you’re right. Whatever you’re doing now you need to be able to offer something mobile and so everything we do -- if you’re building something with Thinkific it’s automatically mobile so when you put your content in we make sure we encode it and optimize it and make it for mobile and that’s really -- I think that if you’re -- yeah, if you’re not going mobile you’re going to be missing out and we see that increasingly with all of our analytics as more and more people going mobile and everything you’re going to be serving up is going to have to be served up mobile. And it’ll be interesting. We’ll see -- I mean, I was talking to the founder of Plenty of fish last night as well actually and he was talking about how his industry in online dating has changed so much since he started the company and where it started and how now it’s gone completely mobile with things like Tinder where you really have to offer up this mobile service.

Nile:                Yeah, mobile’s really changing the environment certainly as much as the internet did. Even though it’s leveraging the internet mobile really brings a whole new host of opportunities as well as problems.

Greg:               Yeah, definitely. I mean, it’s more than just a screen size to you, right? But at least on the positive side we’re getting better and better connections everywhere we go in terms of our mobile data so it’s been a while since I’ve encountered any issues with being able to stream video or stuff like that with my mobile.

Nile:                One of the things that I’m curious about is do you find that there is a major shift that you have to go through sometimes to get to that mobile environment?

Greg:               Well, in terms of if you’re not there yet and you have to switch everything over?

Nile:                Yeah.

Greg:               We’re lucky in that one of the first members of our team came from a company called Mobify and their background was in converting everything to mobile specifically in the ecommerce space and so he came in and just laid down the law and said everything we do from this point forward is going to be mobile and if we’re not doing it mobile then we’re taking a step back and we’re going to build it and make sure it’s going to work mobile. So, we’ve been really lucky to be able to avoid that sort of transition as we’ve had it from the very early days so I’m pretty thankful to him for that. But yeah. Definitely I mean, this whole business is built around getting -- helping people convert to a more mobile friendly environment. My brother wasn’t so fortunate. He had someone inexperienced build his website. That was me. And I threw up a website for his -- he’s got like a home services business. It’s just local home services and I just threw something simple together and now he’s come back to me years later and said okay. We need to make this thing mobile. And he’s there now but it was a bit of pain making that transition and getting someone who could actually set it up properly for mobile.

Nile:                I have to go back to the irony here. Obviously you’re the CEO of the company. If somebody came in that you’d hire and said hey, everything we’re going to do is mobile compliant from this point forward. That was a pill that you had to swallow and it sounds like you weren’t there yet. Was that a difficult transition?

Greg:               I was on board. I think I -- it’s a great idea in principle and I was definitely -- I got on board very, very quickly. The only thing I struggled with is that sometimes it means you have to do things a little bit slower because -- and this is a lot of the things that we do is you’re just making sure that you do it right as opposed to just getting it out there and so it did mean we had to do things a little bit slower in some circumstances but we’re definitely in a much better position and our clients are in a much better position now because we were able to focus on that.

Nile:                That really is outstanding advice and I ask that question because a lot of people struggle with that. Certainly we’re talking about mobile and we’ve talked about it a bit on the show but it does change things a bit and you certainly want to make sure that you could deliver your content to where people are consuming the content. That could be on a desktop but more than likely today it’s on a mobile device so important stuff to know.

Greg:               Yeah, definitely.

Nile:                Do you have -- I know we talked about webinars in the first segment and selling. You have some tips on how to use webinars to sell some online courses?

Greg:               Well, I think as I kind of alluded to it when we were talking about it before, it’s -- really comes down to building trust and trust in anything you’re doing whether you’re making a post on Kora, you’re doing a webinar or doing YouTube videos. It really comes down to I think building trust and I think trust correlates to conversion rates, to your metrics, it correlates to just that relationship you have with your audience to how many people they share it with. It even correlates directly to how much you can charge for a product. I get asked all the time how much I can sell my online course for. And a lot of it just comes back to how much trust do you have at the point of sale and so on a webinar for me my number one goal and when I’m talking to people is about building trust through the course of that webinar and the more information of great value you can share with people -- well, you can do your sales pitch as well talking about whatever it is you’re delivering in your online course but the more you can kind of deliver trust in terms of who you are, what your brand is, what you stand for; you can even get a little bit personal with it. People always like that. You can start to build trust and then you can show what it is that they’re going to get. So, if you are selling an online course through a webinar you can start to give people some insights into what’s included into it and for me, if I was doing it for an online course I would even probably give away some of the best educational content for free in the webinar so people can really see that I’m knowledgeable about this subject and they can trust me that if they go and sign up for this online course they’re going to learn something from me. So, across all my channels it’s about building trust.

Nile:                Makes perfect sense. One of the things that I’m curious about is -- because we focused on this a lot on the social media side and that is engagement. Now, certainly engagement can be a trust building strategy but how do you work on engagement or do you see that as an important element of what you’re doing?

Greg:               Yeah, I think engagement is definitely important. Now, being in the online course space we have our own sort of ways of looking at engagement in terms of how engaged people are specifically in the courses and are they taking them, completing them, doing the quizzes, watching the lessons, whatever you’ve set up for them to go through. I’m guessing you’re meaning more engagement in the social media sense of how your audience is engaging with you.

Nile:                Sure. Obviously to build trust, it’s not something that’s going to happen quickly so normally there’s multiple interactions there and you get at least in our experience a higher level of interaction when you get more engagement from the person you’re trying to interact with.

Greg:               Yeah, yeah.

Nile:                And we’re talking about an individualized strategy but you’re applying that strategy on a larger leverage scale online.

Greg:               Yeah. Yeah, and I think you really hit it on there. It’s over time you can build that engagement and you can build that trust and the more engagement you have with someone over time the more trust you can build and the more opportunity you have to work with them so engagement is definitely something that we focus on both from a student taking course perspective and also from the marketing perspective in terms of engaging with people and I find when you -- I mean, the customers that I start to know by name and recognize because they’re coming out to our events or they’re attending our training sessions or they’re tweeting about us; these are the ones who are most engagement and then they’re the ones that are the most fun to work with. They want to work with us the most, they refer us the most -- highest number of their friends so definitely that engagement side is key and important and I’m always looking for new ways to engage with people. We did a Blab actually earlier today where we got to engage with people and it was one of the things I really liked about the platform was the ability to kind of really engage with people in real time.

Nile:                High level of engagement on that platform. It really is. And I think it’s pretty fun as well so that sort of makes it neat. Well, I know we don’t have a huge amount of time but I want to ask one more question and then I want to let people get into know how they could learn a little bit more about you and what you could do for them.

Greg:               Great.

Nile:                But you talked about passive revenue with what you’re doing and doing that with online courses. One of the things that I’m interested in is today things move so fast. I look at passive revenue as being a long tailed strategy so the course has to be around for a while. Is that difficult today?

Greg:               You know what? I’m always surprised. My first course went up 10 years ago and it still is cranking up revenue so I think if you take the time and you put something good together you can really have it last a long time. And it depends obviously on your content. If you’re teaching about the newest, latest, greatest technology that may fade or change or be upgraded over time but I’ve seen one gentleman put together a course in Microsoft Excel a couple of years ago and is still doing amazingly well with it. Now, new versions will come out but he could always upgrade the course. So, I think there’s always a little bit of risk that things will change, you’ll be left behind but if you’re staying on top of things, if you’re doing well with it there’s going to be that incentive to continue to upgrade your course and actually it can produce new revenue opportunities and you see this all the time with training companies and if that new version of Microsoft Excel comes out that’s an opportunity for him to put together a whole new training series around all the new features and all the cool things you could do with it and he’s already got an established audience that’s bought from him, been engaged with him and trusts him so really I find as things change it just opens up new opportunities to create new products.

Nile:                Makes absolute perfect sense there. Completely. Hey, people want to know more about how you could help leverage their ideas and maybe some online courses on your platform. How do they get involved, how do they get in touch?

Greg:               Well, if they’re looking for more information about us in Thinkific and how we can help them with online courses whether they’re experts, consultants, coaches, trainers or just a company looking to build their brand or someone looking to build passive revenue. Thinkific’s really a platform that makes it super easy for anybody to set this up without any tech skills required. It takes care of everything from your ecommerce to your course delivery and hosting. It gives you full control over branding and I’ll put the link on your site so that’s socialmediabusinesshour.com. You can check that out and I’ll have a link to it there. We’re actually going to put together a special offer for your listeners Nile so they can actually get three months free of our paid business plan. There’s actually a free option to try it out. We’ll put that on there too. But if they want three months free on the paid business plan that’ll give them everything they need including scheduling content, certificates, hosting and delivery. Really everything you need to set it up and customize it and make it your own.

Nile:                One of these days -- I really appreciate that Greg. I can't tell you how much. Thank you very much. But one of these days I’m going to have to add up the value that somebody could get just by listening to the social media business hour because there’s a lot of things like what you just offered that has tremendous value that they get as being a listener, a regular listener and it’s a unique offer to the social media business hour so again, thanks so much.

Greg:               Happy to help.

Nile:                And to the listeners, I really want to thank you for joining us. You make this show. Hopefully you learned a few new ideas or concepts. Maybe you were just reminded of a few things you already know but you haven’t been doing to improve or grow your life or business. You know that my desire is that you take just one of the things you learned or were reminded of today, you apply it to your business or life this week. Some great things you could take away right here and get started today. We know that a small change can make a big difference and I’m committed to bringing you at least one new idea each week you could implement. You can have three months free offer here. Make sure you go implement that. Go back and identify just one small change you could make and see what a big difference it will make for you. So, until next week this is Nile Nickel. Now, go make it happen.

Woman:          Thanks for listening. Social media business hour is sponsored by linkedinfocus.com. Be sure to get the latest social media business tips and tricks plus free tips on how you can use Linked In to help your business today. Visit socialmediabusinesshour.com.

 

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