How to Deliver Online Learning to Over 500,000 Students with WordPress

A Seasoned LifterLMS User Puts the Focus on Photography Website  Member Experience

Melissa Love

Melissa Love, The Design Space

Success Story Highlights

28 Courses: Training photography related courses

500,000+ students: On her website

100 Article: Including free tutorials, that pull in traffic

Melissa Love has been a LifterLMS power user for quite a while. A designer and marketing specialist, she powers her own membership e-learning community with LifterLMS at The MarketingFix. (See our interview with Melissa about her own membership story.) More recently, she deployed LifterLMS on Cole’s Classroom,  a photography online education site boasting over 500,000 members.

“LifterLMS is the most comprehensive and customizable WordPress LMS plugin available. Whether you’re creating online courses, a membership site, or a combination of both, LifterLMS has everything you need to create, sell, and protect engaging online content”

Melissa Love, The Design Space

Cole, a longtime friend of Melissa’s, was well into his online membership journey, experienced in marketing, and using Active Campaign as his customer relationship management (CRM) platform. While he already had huge following and excellent SEO, he was unhappy with the learning management system software he had been using. With Melissa’s expertise in membership sites and LifterLMS, they were able to bring his photography course website to a new level.

What really stands out, however, is how Melissa created a unique and personalized user experience for each member.

Cole uses ClickFunnels to use his many free tutorials as lead magnets. To optimize these and engage visitors, trial members, and paying members further, Melissa has created an engaging, personalized experience.

This is because when it comes to lead magnets, Melissa stresses the importance of niching down as specifically as possible, and avoiding the trap of “good enough.”

For users looking to solve specific problems, she notes that niching down with the appropriate lead magnets works because it brings those people to the exact content relevant to their needs. These can take the form of:

  • targeted landing pages
  • case studies
  • tutorials
  • curated content
  • upgrade offers

If you try and bring your generic lead magnets and your generic ideas into a niche, it’s never enough. You have to go much deeper… so that people think “that’s exactly what I need.”

Cole's website courses with LifterLMS

Customizing the Dashboard Experience

LifterLMS already provides a dashboard, and Melissa takes it even further with customized notifications and slick navigation that allows members to flip easily between different content areas, such as courses, library, calendar, etc. Using WPFusion, she can pull in a member’s first name with a shortcode she has set up the dashboard, and display a rotation of personalized messages depending on the day or what page the member is on.

Process & Launch

To switch from consultant to academy owner Kay had to put herself in the shoes of other business people, each of whom likely has different needs, and figure out the best framework to fast-track them on using the relevant parts of ActiveCampaign. As she worked with the pre-launch beta students, it became clear almost immediately during office hours that which issues were most critical to students and likely to keep coming up, and for which courses needed to be developed.

(LifterLMS) is light. It’s easy to customize the way we want to with CSS.

She also created conditional dynamic content with an app called If-So to display customized recommendations or offers in the sidebar based on an individual visitor’s interaction on the site.

The user experience is further enhanced by automating an updated display of goals in the dashboard, and embedded widgets that show the member what they last watched. Another example is how Cole’s Classroom shows a member of the month in the user dashboard.

The cumulative effect of this customized user experience is motivation and support.

Cole's website lessons with LifterLMS

It’s about creating an experience that feels (like it is) gently surrounding and supporting them… It should feel interactive, make them feel that there is something bigger going on than just the nuts and bolts of the back end of a WordPress site.

Melissa’s tech stack depends on a strong CRM, and her CRM of choice is Active Campaign, which Cole was already using. She uses it with WPFusion for data integration that can be displayed in the front end of a member’s dashboard where they can see their progress.

Active Campaign can also trigger automation, such as sending an offer relating to a lesson that’s been completed. It can also gameify a user’s progress with badges and levels with a plugin like GamiPress, which Melissa has used in other projects and on her own MarketingLive website.

Ultimately, the key goal is to offer members a way to visualize their progress in a fun, immersive, rewarding experience that encourages them to continue on to the next goal.

Realizing that her teaching serves her students better and more efficiently when organized motivates Kay to carefully structure her teaching. A plan structure that productizes her knowledge also helps keep her from over-extending herself and burning out from having to respond personally to repeat inquiries. Developing a team workflow for course creation and documentation has also aided in this effort as it becomes part of the ever-growing resource base.

Melissa’s Tech Stack

Melissa’s tech stack needs to accommodate not only her own business’ automation, but content and course presentation, and community interaction, so she has in play:

  • WordPress
  • LifterLMS
  • Elementor: Page builder
  • Kadence: Theme
  • Active Campaign: CRM
  • WPFusion: Marketing automation
  • Paid Membership Pro
  • Zapier: Stripe integration with WP Fusion
  • If So: Conditional content generator

While Melissa used Kadence for Cole’s Classroom, as an avid user of LifterLMS herself, she has developed themes that work with LifterLMS, as well offers guidance on using it for course  and membership websites. As do her many other themes, they integrate with all the major WordPress page builders.

We have three themes just for LifterLMS, ‘cause we love it so much. So if you are struggling with your building [of] the membership site, you can install ours with one click and you’ll have a working membership site. Straight outta the box. And they’re pretty as well.

The Value of Using Tech for “Old School” Person-to-Person Marketing

As much as Melissa enjoys “nerding out” on tech, design, and marketing, she also sees value in old fashioned marketing based on real-life connections, whether in-person or virtual—something that takes time and patience. She cautions that what often appears to be overnight success is actually the result of lots of hard work and promotion.

In fact, Melissa herself spends considerable time each week marketing and adapting traditional “getting to know you” methods while using current tech.

I spend at least a day and a half, two days a week reaching out to people, being on podcasts, pitching things, looking for connections, asking for introductions, getting in front of other people’s audiences.

Those are just the new ways of doing the old fashion stuff, … trying to leverage the connections you have.

Cole's Website with LifterLMS

Whether designing an “user-centric” e-learning site, or building relationships for marketing, putting the human element front and center is one of the keys to success.

We have published a podcast episode with Melissa Love on LMScast. You can learn a lot more in detail about “Deliver Online Learning to Over 500,000 Students with WordPress” from this podcast-