Building Membership Sites with Memberium for ActiveCampaign, LearnDash & Social Learner Theme


In this video, Ellen Martin of CourseLauncher HQ walks us through how she builds membership sites with Memberium for ActiveCampaign, LearnDash and the Social Learner theme.

Get a firsthand look at how easy it is to build a great looking membership site with Social Learner, along with other awesome and advanced ways you can use Memberium to build a powerful membership site.

Ellen is a Memberium Certified Partner who is one of the top experts when it comes to Memberium for ActiveCampaign.

Throughout this video she shares some helpful tips and strategies you can use to improve your membership site and create a better experience for your members.

Here’s some other key takeaways and highlights from this video…

  • Get an inside look at a Membership Site built with the Social Learner theme, LearnDash and Memberium for ActiveCampaign.
  • See How Ellen built a credit system with Memberium and ActiveCampaign to improve retention and the “stickiness” of her client’s membership program.
  • Learn about extra reporting and tracking capabilities that are included with Memberium and LearnDash.
  • Find out about other useful plugins that Ellen uses, such as ‘Thrive Architect’ or ‘PDF Embedder Premium’.
  • Lots of other useful tips for anyone running a membership site or online course.

We hope this walkthrough inspires you to improve own membership site.

To learn more about Ellen and CourseLauncherHQ, be sure to check out her website here…

Video Transcription:

Sarah: Hi there everybody! I am super excited to have Ellen Martin from the Course Launcher HQ with us today. She’s one of our five Memberium certified partners and thanks so much Ellen for coming on this webinar with me today.

Ellen: I’m so glad you’re having me, I’m looking forward to it.

Sarah: This one has been a long time in the planning but Ellen has been in the online marketing space for over 22 years and I got to meet her for the first time last year at the Memberium Summit in sunny Phoenix, which is tough for her right now being in cold snowy Ohio.

Ellen: Yeah..

Sarah: But the thing I love about you Ellen is that you have an incredible way of turning complicated system designs and text stuff into easy to understand English so we’re not getting lost in all the crazy jargon and everything, you have a really great way of simplifying things. So today, I think you have some cool tips and tricks for us and I’m super excited to see how you’ve been helping your clients and what we can take away from that.

Ellen: Alright, great. So, couple years ago I started using LearnDash to build some course websites and I played with a bunch of different membership plugins and then I discovered Memberium and fell in love with it. So, I started building on it, next thing I knew everybody was asking me to build for them with this particular plugin stack and what we did was turn it into an actual platform. So, I want to just tell you a little bit about what we’re doing with the platform and how we’re using Memberium because Memberium and LearnDash are the core of our platform that we’ve put together.

It’s built for people that want to deliver online courses, certifications, training programs, all that kind of stuff so we’re trying to take Memberium’s membership level whole idea and turn it into something, taking it to the next level. Let me jump over here and demo a couple things. Our company is Course Launch HQ, we’ve actually created Academy. This one right now is running on Memberium for Active Campaign, when I was an Active Campaign user I heard that Memberium was gonna come out with an Active Campaign version. As soon as it came out, I jumped on it, started using it, pushed it to its limits and really loved it. It’s such a pleasure to work with.

We’ve been able to build sites and what we’ve done is we selected the social learner theme as our framework and I wanna tell you a little bit why because we have a lot of people say “ Oh I hate the social learner theme.” Other people say “I love the social learner theme” and I say I have a love-hate relationship with it.

Sarah: That’s how I feel about most tech things.

Ellen: Yeah, you’re never gonna find the perfect fit. You’ll always find what works and use it, push it to its limits, make it better. So, what we’ve done is we’ve taken the social learner theme and said “Okay, how can we utilize this as our framework and then build upon that?” And that’s what we’ve done and because of the way we built it out we were actually able to put together sites for people pretty quickly because we use some consistent set of plugin designs as a starting point. In some ways things are pretty similar because we utilize it for the framework of these menus on the left, in some cases there’ll be a menu across the top and that kind of thing.

But we used Thrive Architect on top of that and so, this part right here is all built with Thrive Architect and this little button here is really cool because you can pick up where you left off. If I click on that it’s gonna take me to wherever I last was in LearnDash and that’s a cool little plugin from Uncanny Owl and it’s called the Uncanny toolkit and has a little zoom bots and it takes me right back so that’s pretty cool, love that. But, what this will take you to is, you can see the module layout cause I was looking at the module last but over in the right hand side, this is all styled by the social learner theme. That’s one of the reasons I really like it because you get the course title, you get the progression, it just looks so nice and clean and then about this course and who the author is, everything is just styled beautifully, in my opinion.

Sarah: Yeah, I love how you don’t lose your left hand pull bar for the navigation and they don’t have to bounce around to look, I love that, that’s awesome.

Ellen: Yeah, and you can show it on different pages, here we’ve decided not to show a toolbar, we had members. We don’t utilize the membership aspect of this, if we did we could put a toolbar over here or a widget that showed the current members, the logged in members, whatever we wanted. That’s another question people ask me “Well, I don’t wanna do the social, I just wanna do the site.” So, we have a lot of sites to build and we’re not using any of the social aspects at all. And, so what we’ve done is we just do a little redirect so if somebody tries to go to a members area that’s the social part of it, it just redirects them back to the dashboard. So, it’s really easy, one quick little line of code in a redirect plugin and it’s all set.

So we do that… This is the way a course page will look too, so it gives you a really nice layout with your featured image, a little brief overview of the course, they can see the progress right here at front and this progress bar is all handled by LearnDash and LearnDash has some awesome features in it that will help you track the progress of your student. If you get the LearnDash I recommend getting the Pro Panel with it because that gives you some backend recording. There’s other recording tools available if you need more enhanced, more deep dive of some reporting statistic but the built-in stuff with LearnDash is pretty decent.

Sarah: Looks awesome because the whole point of a membership site is to put your members through your course or your program or certifications and you want to know how far and fast they’re going through something and if there’s overachievers who like to tick it all off as fast as possible. That’s awesome.

Ellen: Excellent, that actually brings me to my passion is all about education and one of the things I’ve had a problem with over the years is that online courses kinda tend to be just a bunch of stuff that somebody stuck up there and there’s no follow up no tracking and that’s where Memberium and LearnDash together really shine. You’ve got the tracking inside of your website with the LearnDash recording but because it integrates with either Active Campaign or with Infusionsoft then you get extra recording and extra follow up capabilities in there. So, what we’ve got in Active Campaign is a set of animations we put together for the clients that let them provision the course, deliver the course and then also have follow ups.

So let’s say someone comes and they sign up for your course and they don’t log in. You can send them a reminder email the next day and say “hey, you didn’t log in.” You can send a reminder to a coach or somebody so if they need to reach out say “Hey, you need some help logging in?” You’re not just let someone sit out there going oh “I gotta contact support, you’re being proactive” You can do the same thing, kinda figure out how long really should it take for them to complete module one and you give them that week or whatever to finish it and then few days later maybe send them a gentle reminder.

I love the way WP Elevation does their course, you guys have interviewed them some time back. I actually took that course from them I got a little bit behind and I got this email that said “Hey, we need you to catch up”. And it was just a gentle reminder, the tone of it wasn’t overbearing, it wasn’t anything like that and it encouraged me like okay I’m gonna get in there and get caught up. So it really works. I buy a ton of courses and I complete very few of them. WP Elevation is one of the ones I completed because I used that same setup where it’s got the follow up in it.

Sarah: Yeah, that’s an incredibly powerful tool.

Ellen: It is.. We actually build up all the animations in Active Campaign and then we also have a bunch of campaigns for Infusionsoft that we do the same thing with. Our clients come to us, we can do it all for them, no worries we just handle it and we build a lot of these sites, it’s all we do and we’re able to really tweak those things pretty quickly.

Sarah: Nice.

Ellen: So, in here, we actually built this out. This was a Thrive Architect build to look inside of the course itself, we’re actually using Thrive Architect here to put some of the elements in the page so this video was embedded with Thrive. This module thing, this is all part of the social learner with the module display and you can see this little thing that says it’s in progress. If I come over here and click there you can see I’ve got one of the three lessons done. So you get that on the course page and then you’ve got the same kind of progress bar on the module pages so if I come back down to this one, that side bar then shows me where I am, shows me my completion over here as well.

So, that’s one of the layouts we’ve done. We’re working on some really cool stuff right now and one of those things is, one of my clients came to me and said I wanna do credit system.

Sarah: I’m very excited about this.

Ellen: What I like about it is that with the credit system, it helps with your stickiness. It helps people stay in your, if you’ve got a recurring membership model, it helps people to stay in if you give them credits every month. Some people come in, they’ll use up their credits every month, some people will roll over but the nice thing is if they got rollover credits and they decide they wanna quit, you can remind them before you cancel like “hey, did you know you got a hundred credits here, if you cancel now, you can’t use your credits.” So it’s a way to keep people in there.

It’s also a way to give people access to not overwhelm them with content but give them access to what they need when they need it. So, one thing about Memberium, if you look at a Memberium website it will tell you how to build a credit system, it’s more on the Infusionsoft side. And you can do it using short code and some other stuff but what we built in is we kinda automated it so we actually have some customization right inside our social learner theme based websites that we actually get people a few different ways to display the products.

So, this one is not using the credit system, it’s just showing all the products. Let me show you a logged in view of somebody that… So, this one is logged in as an end user, not an admin, and I’m gonna make you wait a little bit Sarah cause I’m gonna show you some ghosting first and a couple other views and then I’ll show you the credit system.

Sarah: I am on the edge of my seat. I love your design as well, it is a really beautiful site.

Ellen: So, yeah, one thing we did is we tried to make a design that would be consistent with the theme, consistent with the client’s brand, we can customize the colors, we could customize the outline, all kinds of stuff if somebody wants but by default we can create a very easy to implement thing. So, if you notice this one’s gray and this one’s in color. So, if you look on the Memberium website about ghosting, it teaches you how to create partials and create some short codes so you can build something like this out. The problem I’ve had with that is every time you add a new post you have to come in and edit your page so it shows the new post. So, our development team came together and set it up so you automatically put in what category you want to display on this page and it pulls all the posts from that category if they have access it’s in color, if they don’t have access it’s in gray.

Now, if I click on this it’s gonna open it in a new tab, it’s gonna take me to you don’t have access page so It tells you click here for more information. If somebody doesn’t have access to that product they can get more information about the inner circle, you can put in a link to a sales page, whatever you want in there. You can actually put the link right in the post.

Sarah: Yeah I like how it’s also contact support, if they think they’re having an issue and should have access you can have your customer service handle it without them having to go digging all around. That’s super cool.

Ellen: Yeah, this was also built with Thrive Architect. That’s one of the reasons I lie Thrive Architect, you can make some really nice looking page layouts right inside of social learner. I’m gonna give one cavy out about the social learner theme if you go out and buy it, my recommendation is do not install, do the one click install because it will install a whole bunch of crap you don’t need and one of the things that installs that I tell people to absolutely do not use is the visual composer and it’s a page builder that in my opinion is rather clunky.

Sarah: Yeah and I like Thrive because I’m not a super technological person, I’m not super techy like I would classify you as but I’ve used visual composer and you can get some stuff done but I like Thrive, the simplicity of it for us non-tech.

Ellen: When they went from the Thrive Content Builder to Thrive Architect they’ve made it easier to use plus they also got rid of this problem called content lock it and what that means is, if you go turn off the Thrive builder, if I turn off the Thrive Architect on this site right now, it’s not gonna leave me with a bunch of short codes, it will gracefully revert back to the WordPress editor so that you can still have your content there. There’s only three builder plugins that I would recommend using. One is Thrive Architect, Even Builder is the other one and Elementor is the third. There may be other ones but those are three I know of that don’t do that content locker thing. So if you have a builder on your site like Divi, try turning it off and see what happens to your site.

Sarah: Don’t do it… Don’t tell these people this…

Ellen: Actually, you don’t , you really don’t wanna do it because sometimes when you turn it back on it’s not a pretty site then either. But if you have a copy of your site on staging, which I also recommend, you end up with a bunch of short codes and stuff left behind. That’s why I recommend the Thrive, it’s easy to use, very graceful and it’s fast. They really did a good job of reworking the new version of it. So, again, this page is built in Thrive so you don’t end up with a boring looking page inside this framework.

You can see we don’t really use the social learner theme for a whole lot other than the framework and for formatting the LearnDash elements. And it’s really mobile friendly and if you wanna squish down the sidebar you can, all kinds of cool things you can do. That’s the great version, over here this is a split version. We have my products on the top and these are the things that they have access to and these are the things they don’t. So you notice there’s no price tag on these, down here we display the price tag.

Sarah: Yeah, nice, I’ve seen it before where you can put a big lock on it as well so they know it’s there but they know they have to pay it.

Ellen: That’s the other thing we can add, is the lock. If I click on it it brings me over to a sales page. That actually opened in the same window but when you edit this page there’s an option where you can tell it open in the same window, open it in a new window. So I wanna just show you real quick, if I come in here and edit this page because it’s showing the ghosted view, we’ve created a page template with some custom fields in it so that’s where this product is, my product, product library, you can change what it says, if there’s nothing left and you got everything and there’s nothing in the library, tell it what category it automatically pulls in your WordPress categories.

So, you tell it what category you wanna display and it displays it. You can show all, you can show only the ones they have access to, you can do the split. If I come over here, cause the show all was the ghosted view so this is what they only have access to so you know it’s only two. And then, split format, this is our first release, we’re gonna add a few other options here but here you go Sarah, now here we’ve got how many credits they have. Here’s 978 credits and they can either buy now and if they click buy now it opens up a new window, right to the sales page, they can pay cash to get it.

This sales page happens to be in Click Funnels, you could have a sales page inside your site, outside your site, you just put in the url and it goes right to it. If I wanna buy it with credits, it says do you want to use 5 out of your 978 credits, yes or no? If they say no it just drops them back down here, if I say yes they purchase the product and now they can access the purchased product and there you go.

Sarah: That’s so cool. I think credits are really great way to sort of just change the mindset of people so they’re not thinking about it in cash, like all of these credits of course I’m gonna buy these three products that I’m interested in.

Ellen: Right , and I’ll tell you I’m in a program right now where I’m paying a pretty hefty fee every month and I’m thinking do I really need to be in this program but every month they give me something free.

Sarah: Yeah and I love how at the beginning you said about the stickiness because that’s gonna be, if I had a credit buildup and I wanted to cancel my membership and get like caution you have a hundred credits, you’re gonna lose them all and drop back down, it’s like wait a minute I can’t lose my credits, maybe I’ll start digesting more and whatever.

Ellen: You might have some people who will buy all the stuff but they’ll use all their credits and then cancel but then you just have to decide how you wanna do it. Do you wanna give them lifetime access even after they cancel to the stuff they bought or is it only while they’re a member. There’s all kinds of ways you can model your program and the membership.coach I believe has some of those different methodologies in there that they talk about. So, what we’ve done is tried to take all these different practices and make them easy to implement.

The credit system is one of the favorite things I’ve worked on. I’ve had fun working on that.

Sarah: Yeah, it’s incredible. Now I’m gonna throw you off because can you show us sort of the backend how the crediting works? Like are you doing it in WordPress or is it..?

Ellen: If I’m on the page these are all WordPress posts that I’m seeing here. So here I’m on the marketing blueprints and if edit the post, what we’ve done on the post is when you create a post you select the category it is in, so it’s in the products that makes it show up on that product page so in the post itself you add five credits, five dollars, that’s what shows up. Then this is the sales url, that’s where it’s gonna take them if they don’t have it and then you can decide do you want it open on a new page, on the current page…

So, each one can be different, you can say, I wanna send them off site, keep them in the site, whatever. And this is the tag that they’re gonna get after they buy it with the credit and it should match, this tag matches the tag that you use for the content protection. We just made it so that it’s selected right up here so I just tell people to make sure those match and then that way what happens in the background is that when they click that credit thing it does a couple things. One, it goes out and it updates, it calculates the new credit amount so it will subtract whatever number you put in here from their credits.

So, the way it works is that either in Active Campaign or Infusionsoft you have a custom field that holds those credits and then that’ the custom field that we update with the new amount. We do the math on our end, you don’t have to have a plugin to do the math, you don’t have to use like the Active Booster pro or My Fusion Helper, you can do the math, we do the math right in the site. And then we just push it over, Memberium has some code that we use to update when they click it, so it updates the credit amount in their account and then it applies the tag to their contact inside of Active Campaign and that’s how they have access.

Sarah: Awesome!

Ellen: So, it’s all handled right in the post itself, just in all these custom fields, that’s the way we’ve set up that up.

Sarah: That’s all super cool. Now I have another random question for you.

Ellen: Okay, can I give you a random answer?

Sarah: Absolutely! If you were stranded on an island and you could only use three plugins for your WordPress site, what would they be?

Ellen: Oh, let’s see, that’s a tough one. So, obviously, Memberium and LearnDash, those are number one and number two. I’m gonna give you a couple more to think about. So, Thrive Architect, I love it, I use it to build regular sites, I use it to build this so Thrive Architect. If I take Memberium and LearnDash and set them aside because they’re just awesome and you can’t beat those, I’d put Thrive Architect number one. I think you remember on my dashboard here I had the little pick up where you left of button. This comes from Uncanny Owl and so the Uncanny Tool Kit I’d have to make that number two. And something I haven’t shown you yet, do I have a minute to show you another plugin?

Sarah: Yeah, please!

Ellen: I didn’t even show you the coaching calls. We have all kinds of fun stuff. We have the coaching calls thing that puts an overlay, let’s see what else do I have in here.

Sarah: So, while you’re looking, I know you’ve opened up a bunch of tabs for ease of going through this but are you always a tab junky?

Ellen: I am, I have been known to have ten or twenty windows open with each of them having this many tabs.

Sarah: I can do one and if I get to ten or more I have to shut stuff down.

Ellen: So, here’s something to think about. I started using this Chrome plugin called OneTab. And it’s a lifesaver because you know if you’ve had more than ten tabs open for very long Chrome starts slowing down so there’s a plugin called OneTab, it’s all one word so if you search Chrome OneTab install that little baby and it will put this little funnel up here. If I click that little funnel it’s gonna suck all these tabs down into one tab and keep them grouped together by the date and then if I wanna re-launch them I can re-launch them one at the time or I can re-launch the whole group.

So, actually when I’m getting ready for a presentation like I did today, I actually saved all these things. I got them all open the way I wanted, clicked on OneTab then when I was ready to do the presentation I just went into one tab, clicked on restore all and it brought them all back up for me.

Sarah: That’s super handy.

Ellen: So, I typically have four or five projects I’m working on at the time and I’ll just have one tab group whatever project I need to set aside while I’m working on something else and then I can easily come back and pick where I left off.

Sarah: That’s awesome, I like it.

Ellen: So, this is the other plugin that I wanted to tell you about. It’s called the PDF Embedder Premium and there’s a secure version and just the regular version. We use the secure version and we actually provide this free to our clients cause we’re developer so if they’re on a course platform with this they get that included. This little secure icon says that it’s in a secure location so when you upload a PDF it actually puts it outside the media library so somebody can’t just come and grab the link from the media library. You can decide whether or not to have a download button here.

In this case it is also embedded with Thrive as a download and this one is coming with S3. And in here you can actually embed the whole PDF inside the website.

Sarah: Right, so they don’t have to download it. Nice.

Ellen: So, that’s another one of my favorites because it’s a pain, sometimes it will open in a new window sometimes it will prompt to download, this just puts it right where you need it. There is a watermarking feature too, it doesn’t stay there if they wanna print it but you can have it watermarked up as a little warning that this is the property of…

Sarah: Yeah, sometimes you have to do that if you wanna keep your content safe and protected.

Ellen: Some people are gonna swipe it anyway but having the watermark up here will keep the honest people honest kinda thing. But yeah I love it, you can just scroll right through, it’s pretty slick. So, that would be number three, my third favorite thing.

Sarah: Nice, do you have anything else for us or?

Ellen: Well I could demo a whole bunch of other sites if you wanna see them but..

Sarah: Well I’ve learned so much from this and I absolutely love the credit system, it was worth my anticipated wait for sure and thank you so much for sharing. So if somebody wanted to get in touch with you or had any questions, I know that you’re super active in our Memberium Facebook group but how else could they reach you?

Ellen: We have a place on our site you can schedule a demo and I’m gonna give you a short code. Pretty links was one of the other ones I thought about, we use Pretty Links so if you go to this link right here courselouncherhq.com/memberium/demo that will take you over to that page where you can actually sign up and ask questions. If you just wanna ask questions it doesn’t have to be a demo it can just be Q&A if you wanna ask me questions about LearnDash and Memberium, I’m happy to answer them and that will take you to my calendar and schedule and I’ll be happy to answer any questions that you have.

Sarah: That is so awesome. Thank you so much for that and for putting that out there if people are listening and want to take advantage of that, Ellen is ridiculously smart. Thank you so much, continue to freeze in Ohio or just come out to Phoenix, our doors are always open.

Ellen: Yeah, I’m looking at maybe hopping on a flight to Saint Petersburg right here.

Sarah: Yeah, you gotta escape the weather. Thank you so much Ellen and we will talk to you soon! Thanks.