As you may or may not know, the e-learning space is hot right now. It’s expected to generate $107 Billion in 2015, and grow at nearly 10% annually. Online Information Products are one of the most scalable business models in the world – you are not required to manufacture or house product and there’s little to no overhead.
Information products started to grow in popularity with the rise of membership websites. We have come to realize as online marketers, that simply offering membership doesn’t quite cut it. Members need to be engaged and brought back into the classroom or learning environment on a regular basis. Some of us tried moving to a LMS (Learning Management System) WordPress theme – but were immediately limited by functionality, flexibility, and design. Then came along LMS plugins, enabling us to create and structure courses, keep the design that we wanted, and work in conjunction with our membership plugins that made us money. The problem was that most of these plugins were either too difficult to use, weren’t quite powerful enough, or needed nearly 10 other plugins to work appropriately.
Regardless, if you are going to run a business effectively, you need to use a CRM, or customer relationship management software. If you are going to make money by leveraging your expertise into income online, you need to use a LMS, or learning management system.
We use WordPress because it is easy and usable for beginners – it works out of the box. But we stay on WordPress and invest time and money into it, because that usable framework sits on top of a very powerful, customizable engine. Any great plugin shares this innate WP quality of usability + power and flexibility.
Currently, there are 5 top players in the LMS landscape: Zippy Courses, Learndash, WP Courseware, WooSensei, and LifterLMS.
Some of these plugins suffer from poor usability, while others suffer in power and flexibility. Zippy is very ‘usable’, but it needs its own site, can’t be a part of a larger site, has no support for quiz banks, certificates, or coupons. It becomes obsolete when one is actually selling courses and engaging students. Learndash is powerful but not usable. Learning how to use it takes time, customization options are limited, and you need to buy a smorgasbord of other plugins to get the functionality that you would expect out-of-the-box. WP Courseware is customizable, but usability and power of this plugin is very limiting. Woo Sensei offers great integration with woocommerce and woothemes, but customization and usability is not as advanced as other options.
LifterLMS was built with all of the above in mind. It’s interface is clean and usable, and the software is robust and powerful. Plus, you don’t have to buy any other plugin to get it to work.
The interface is intuitive and clean, making it easier than ever to create an unlimited number of courses, modules, and lessons with drag and drop capabilities for simple organization. You can build better courses that engage students by organizing lessons in completable, trackable modules. Content can be dripped out, and students can be reminded to come back when they drop off or haven’t been back in a while. Analytics are robust and built into the platform. You can offer customizable student profile pages, and easily add protected video or audio clips to any lesson.
Lessons can be video, audio, text-based, or any combination. If the material can go on a webpage, you can add it. You can add any kind of supplementary material for students to download and interact with. Students get custom built-in group discussions areas as well as private student to teacher discussion areas. You can even blend this with a live learning experience with our Google Hangouts integration for lessons that need to be in person.
You can gamify your course with badges, achievements, and automatic emails. Drip-feed your course content based on specific dates or days since sign up or user completion of courses or lessons.
You can grade quizzes manually or automatically. You can automatically issue certificates upon completion of material, courses, or any event that you want, as well as set advanced prerequisites so you can control forward progress based on student completions.
Most courses are going to be sold for money, or taught in conjunction with other products. LifterLMS has a built in shopping cart designed specifically for the needs of an information product. If you would like to use a 3rd party shopping cart like WooCommerce, LifterLMS is already fully integrated.
You can sell your courses for a one-time price or require subscription payments, and tracking your sales and income with built in ecommerce analytics and reporting has never been easier. Payments can be powered by PayPal and/or Stripe. You don’t have to worry about State tax, as that functionality is already built in. You can even offer coupons and promotions with a custom LifterLMS coupon creation and management system.
Membership Site Features
Most websites that utilize a LMS are going to innately be membership sites. With LifterLMS you do not need another membership plugin. You can create an unlimited number of membership levels to protect your content. You can easily customize access to course materials based on membership levels or past purchases. You can assign roles like teachers, teacher’s assistants, tutors and students and customize the type of content and website access that each has.
The administrator interface for creating and managing membership levels and related restricted access is very intuitive and simple. Students get an equally good experience, not ever having to log into WordPress and having custom, personal profile pages to keep track of all their activity and accomplishments.
In a live classroom, student engagement is the key indicator of that class’ success and future membership. This does not change for the online classroom, and every other LMS has failed to appropriately address this challenge in a simple and intuitive way.
LifterLMS includes a robust set of engagement features that include automated emails, badges and certificates. Course creators will be able to award a badge or certificate when a student completes a section, lesson or an entire course. You can also trigger a engagement when a student doesn’t do something. For instance, if your student hasn’t logged into a course for few weeks you can trigger an automated email to go out to encourage them to come back to your course.
The attention to detailed engagement and reengagement functionality is one of the key LMS features that makes LifterLMS so much more than a WordPress membership site plugin and stand out from other WordPress LMS plugins and WordPress LMS themes.