WordPress is a great CMS, but what about a great CRM too?

Adrian Tobey has been working hard to provide a plugin that turns your WordPress website into the heartbeat of your marketing and sales engine.

I’ll admit that when I first heard of Groundhogg a few years ago, I didn’t think I’d want a CRM built into my WordPress install. I had the concept of keeping my WordPress install as lean and mean as possible. But that was then. Now, hosting is more powerful, even more affordable, and WordPress continues to improve its core performance.

Plus, I have SaaS monthly recurring fees fatigue. I’m fatigued from paying exorbitant fees while only using 30% of the product. I’m fatigued from logging into another platform to do my work. Sending some automated emails and keeping track of my leads inside my WordPress website sounds like a breath of fresh air.

Enjoy today’s episode with Tobey, he’s built a solid product and I wish him and his team further success. Let me know what you think, send me a message on Twitter or LinkedIn!

Here are 5 key takeaways from the interview with Adrian of Groundhogg:

  1. Groundhogg started as a plugin to help integrate Infusionsoft (now called Keep) with WordPress. It has evolved into a full-featured CRM and marketing automation platform for WordPress.
  2. Groundhogg is focused on flat-rate pricing with no “success tax,” unlike some CRM competitors that charge based on metrics like number of contacts.
  3. Self-hosting gives users control over their data. Adrian believes people are tired of getting “shafted” by SaaS providers in terms of pricing and potential data/account issues.
  4. Most people switching to Groundhogg are surprised by how comparable it is to HubSpot, ActiveCampaign, etc. despite being a WordPress plugin. The data integration across WordPress plugins is a key differentiator.
  5. Adrian is passionate about keeping Groundhogg self-hosted but is considering selective SaaS integrations in the future while still allowing self-hosting. An eventual exit is likely but he’d love to open a winery someday too.

Important links

Episode Transcript

Adrian Tobey Groundhogg

[00:00:00] Matt: [00:01:00] Hey, Adrian, welcome to the program.

[00:01:32] Adrian: Thanks for having me.

[00:01:33] Matt: I, you know, your last Adrian Toby is your Toby’s your last name. It’s very close to Adrian Brody, who’s an actor and I, I just keep wanting to say it. So I might call you Adrian Brody later on in the episode, but thanks for hanging out today. You’re the, uh,

[00:01:48] Adrian: I forgive you in advance.

[00:01:49] Matt: thanks.

[00:01:50] Matt: You’re the founder of Groundhog. io. Um, Groundhog marketing automation and CRM for serious agencies and small businesses using WordPress. I remember seeing you come onto [00:02:00] the scene. Six years ago,

[00:02:03] Adrian: Close. Five years

[00:02:04] Matt: five years ago.

[00:02:05] Adrian: years ago.

[00:02:06] Matt: It didn’t start as a CRM. Did it start as something else?

[00:02:09] Adrian: Well, my first foray into WordPress was with a plugin, a product called Formlift, which I still actually have. It’s not very big. It is specifically a form plugin for people that also use Infusionsoft, is now called Keep, if anybody knows what that is. And I started

[00:02:29] Matt: did not know that. Infusionsoft is now known as Keep.

[00:02:32] Adrian: Yeah, it’s called keep now and then and then it’s very confusing.

[00:02:36] Adrian: So they rebranded to keep and then they have a product called keep max, which is basically infusion soft and then keep is like a simplified Version of the old infusion soft but back in like 2016 that was that was my deal we were part infusion soft certified partners and the agency doing [00:03:00] dollars for hours and And I ended up making up This product, this plugin called form lift, which made infusion soft forms, which sucked with their styling.

[00:03:13] Adrian: And I’m not sure if you ever use the product, but they weren’t great and it made them better and it made them work on WordPress because they didn’t. And it just made it a lot easier. And to this day, that product is still useful or formally just still useful because they haven’t actually updated the four modules since then.

[00:03:27] Matt: Wow. It’s amazing how a company that size I remember Infusionsoft as like, you know, everyone was using it back in, you know, at the height of, like, internet marketing when, like, everyone was, like, printing money with books and courses and All these things. And I remember seeing Infusionsoft, working with Infusionsoft when I was running my agency for a couple of clients, I was like, this is the worst piece of software in the entire world.

[00:03:53] Matt: How do how do people keep using it? But it was like the only thing that did the X things,

[00:03:58] Adrian: invented the whole. [00:04:00] Drag and drop flowchart. Email drip thing like that. Like they, they were the first in like apps. net.

[00:04:11] Matt: And you saw that as you were building out, you know, your Uh, you know, going from like agency to product worked and you saw that as an opportunity to say, let’s take that crazy idea as a SAS based business and push it into WordPress, right? And build Groundhog.

[00:04:26] Adrian: well I had been doing infusion soft work for I think Like two years full time at that point and i’ve been doing it longer than that part time. I was in school And I was doing that part time and I ended up failing my first ever course in my life at the University of Toronto. CSE 265, it was like big O notation and proofs and stuff.

[00:04:48] Adrian: And that’s just way beyond me,

[00:04:50] Matt: And

[00:04:50] Adrian: Like I’m, I’m a marketer, not a data scientist. Right. So I, I ended up failing that course because I was actually working on form lift when I should have been studying. [00:05:00] And so, you know, doing school part time, I was looking at the math and I wouldn’t graduate till 2024.

[00:05:05] Adrian: When my original graduation date was supposed to be 2019. And so I ended up dropping out over the summer because I’m just like, I’m not, there’s no way I’m investing that much time in a piece of paper that I really don’t care that much about. And so I had to like do something different and it wasn’t form lift because the problem with going into like formless full time is, you know, it’s a very specific and niche product.

[00:05:26] Adrian: It’s total market cap for users is just the maximum number of users that keep could ever have or infusions off rather. And the subset of those people that use WordPress as well. So that’s not a great. That’s not a great business to scale and grow unless you wanted to just like compete with all the other form plugins Which we have enough of those.

[00:05:51] Adrian: I wasn’t good. I wasn’t gonna do that.

[00:05:53] Matt: did you have that revelation while you were building it or did you come up with that like sentiment later on in life?

[00:05:59] Adrian: I [00:06:00] came up with that that summer I was like, well, what am I gonna do? I’m not going back to school So and I’m and I’m tired of doing dollars for hours in the agency So what am I gonna do instead? And I was like, well, I was thinking about formula It’s like alright. Well, how far realistically can we take this and it’s not that far, right?

[00:06:17] Adrian: I think I think We were like doing like 6, 000 a month with FormLift. And I was charging a lot for it, for a WordPress plugin, like 50 bucks a month. And it was like a WordPress plugin. But people who are paying Infusionsoft were like used to that. So they didn’t care. They’ll just pay it. Right. You couldn’t probably, you probably wouldn’t be able to get away with that as like a regular form plugin.

[00:06:36] Matt: right,

[00:06:36] Adrian: Right. Because it was specific to Infusionsoft, I was able to charge that. So it wasn’t FormLift. I’m like, what else can we do? And there was a couple big gripes that I had with Infusionsoft. And the number one was that it was incredibly expensive for no good reason. Didn’t love the pricing scheme, the [00:07:00] success tax, which we really position ourselves as like anti success tax, which is the act of pricing based on metrics that don’t really impact the value.

[00:07:12] Adrian: So, for example, we had a customer recently transition from HubSpot to Groundhog. And his monthly HubSpot bill was 70, 000 a month. And he went to HubSpot after he already signed up with us and we were getting him migrated over. I went to HubSpot and it’s like, I’m canceling because when you’re paying that much, there’s no cancel button.

[00:07:35] Matt: right, right,

[00:07:37] Adrian: right. You got to talk to somebody. You’d have to get on a phone call. Like they’re not going to let you go that easy. So he got on the call to cancel and they offered him to drop that by more than half to 30, 000 a month arbitrarily. And, and I realized. Like, it’s just, it doesn’t matter, like, the number of contacts that you have does not impact the services cost to deliver you [00:08:00] support in most cases.

[00:08:01] Adrian: You know, there’s like high level support VIP people that you might end up paying for at some of these companies, but for like run of the mill marketing automation, like before you get to that enterprise level, it’s all just arbitrary. So, I didn’t like that, and the second thing that I didn’t like was how difficult it was to integrate Anything on WordPress and get that data remotely leverageable in Infusionsoft or really any other SaaS.

[00:08:31] Adrian: And, like, you have all this, like, recent order history and WooCommerce or course progress and LearnDash. And, and there’s just, there’s no way to get that information. In any usable format. You can’t see in the contact record. You can’t use it in automations. You can’t merge it into email templates, nothing.

[00:08:49] Adrian: It’s just, it just wasn’t there. And I’m like, well, it could be there if all that data was at the same level. And so it’s like, if we, if we built this as a WordPress [00:09:00] plugin, all that information, it would be in one database and it could just. Just grab it and use it and make it leverageable and make it usable and make it searchable and filterable.

[00:09:11] Adrian: And I’m like, let’s, let’s build it in WordPress and see what happens. Here we go. And it didn’t exist. Like the only other CRM at the time was zero BS CRM, which is now called Jetpack CRM. The only update that they have made in the last two years, the branding and the UI. And there was no email marketing, marketing automation component, which is now really synonymous with the CRM as a concept, right?

[00:09:41] Adrian: Some people still think of it the way that it used to be, which is like, you know, you have your pipeline and you have your deals and whatever, but really now it’s that plus the marketing automation component. And that didn’t exist yet, so.

[00:09:54] Matt: I, I’m curious on how, um, since we started like chatting about like enterprise type [00:10:00] clients, I’m curious what your, what their reaction is to you when they say, when you say to somebody, Hey, I can save you in this guy’s case, maybe almost a million dollars a year in, in HubSpot fees or down to the, maybe the smaller business, which might be a few thousand dollars a year in.

[00:10:16] Matt: HubSpot fees or fill in your favorite enterprise CRM of choice. But the, but is you have to do it inside of WordPress. What are the particular challenges that you face by telling an enterprise client or even somebody who’s spending thousands a month to say, I can do this for you faster, more efficiently and better inside WordPress?

[00:10:36] Matt: Do they have a knee jerk reaction to saying, Oh, geez, WordPress, or are they already there and they just, it makes sense.

[00:10:43] Adrian: So for that particular person, what they ended up doing was they actually spun up a WordPress install just for Groundhog. Cause they had like an app that they were doing, um, siloed away somewhere else. And then they ended up just creating their own server specifically [00:11:00] just for this purpose, um, and saved.

[00:11:02] Adrian: Boatload of money, right? And they were super happy about that. And as far as they know, they’re still super happy about that. Um, but a lot of the larger enterprise people that we primarily work with through agency partners. We have our agency program and agencies are typically the one that are introducing Groundhog to the enterprise.

[00:11:19] Adrian: We don’t market directly to the enterprise. So if it is, if it is being used by enterprises, going through our agencies and one of the agencies that we work with Chris Britton out in the UK. Um, those enterprise companies use. Groundhog not at an enterprise level, but the way that they’re those organizations are broken up They have those siloed teams and siloed projects and they’ll spin up instances Specifically for use for like one particular lead gen project that they have for a Facebook campaign that they’re running Right and that saves them the cost of spinning up a new like HubSpot instance that might cost them 20, 000 a month,[00:12:00]

[00:12:00] Matt: Right,

[00:12:01] Adrian: right?

[00:12:01] Adrian: So that’s, that’s where that Groundhog gets used in those particular, it’s not at the, like, there’s not like an enterprise level CRM, which is something that a lot of. You know us down here don’t really think about it’s like they don’t have this global I mean some of them might but from what i’ve heard from our agency partners Is that it’s all very actually fragmented in the siloed and all these teams have their different softwares And there are different tools of choice and then we get plugged into those

[00:12:29] Matt: And you’re, and you’re pricing, uh, right now it’s, uh, we’re in the week of, of November 20th, it’s Black Friday deals, you get a bunch of Black Friday deals running, but normally your pricing is 20 a month, 40 a month, 50 a month, 100 a month, and it doesn’t change based on those contacts you were referencing because, um, I, I work at Gravity Forms.

[00:12:50] Matt: We use HubSpot as our CRM. My last job used HubSpot. My job before that used HubSpot, uh, I, I have seen, uh, the range of, of [00:13:00] pricing, uh, that HubSpot charges folks, um, from a WordPress hosting company to a podcast hosting company now to a plugin company. Um, Their first year deals are always great. Like a lot of, like a lot of sales, like you come in literally 90 percent off for, for new plans.

[00:13:14] Matt: They’re like, Hey, welcome. Come on in. It’s wonderful here. You’re going to get all these things. And then year two comes, they go, Oh, we’re going to discount. It’s only 50 percent year two. And then year three, you really feel the pain. Um, a behemoth like a HubSpot, like a ClickUp, um, Salesforce. I mean, these are massive companies.

[00:13:32] Matt: They can afford to lose on the front end. And then. Recoup on the back end because they know you’re just going to become so immersed in the years two and three that you’re going to be like, I, I can’t leave this. If I leave this, it’s going to be even more painful and costly for me. Um,

[00:13:46] Adrian: especially when the options are just as expensive

[00:13:49] Matt: right. When the other, when you look at the comparative market, right, it’s almost like a cartel, right? Like these other, these other, or these other organizations, um. How, how is [00:14:00] professional services in your world? Like when you’re moving somebody from a HubSpot, I remember being at my last job, ClickUp, you know, you came in and it was, Oh, it’s only 400 bucks a month for a ClickUp.

[00:14:09] Matt: And then they hit you with like 20, 000 in professional services to get the thing set up. Do you go into professional services in the business? What does that look like for, for Groundhog?

[00:14:22] Adrian: As far as we go, we actually offer first time complimentary setup where we’ll just, you know, we’ll make sure that the site’s basically ready to go for you to go in and start sending an email, we’ll get your list over, we’ll make sure cron jobs and add ons and integrations and there’s no conflicts and everything’s working as it’s supposed to because, you know, WordPress is going to be WordPress sometimes and it just needs an expert to go in and you.

[00:14:47] Adrian: Uncheck or check a few boxes just to make sure everything is hunky dory before, you know, we send off people because we want people to be successful. But that’s really as far as we’ll go. If, I mean, the whole goal for [00:15:00] us is to limit the amount of professional services that would be necessary. And When it comes to professional services like ClickUp or HubSpot Environments, the product is complicated on purpose to justify the professional services that they offer.

[00:15:19] Matt: Right.

[00:15:20] Adrian: I’m not about that. I’m just gonna make it easy. We got templates. You just click and install. You’re ready to go. Change email copy. Send an email. Like, we’re just, we’re just about making it As straightforward as possible to get you from 0 to 100 to whatever, cause you know, it’s about making money, right?

[00:15:38] Adrian: That’s what we want. And so we’ll get you set up and ready to go. And then we do have agency partners. I mentioned that a couple of times. Uh, we have our agency license, uh, and people can opt in to become a certified partner by taking a course. And then we put them on our website. If people do want to say, Hey, I don’t want to deal with any of this.

[00:15:57] Adrian: I just want someone to do it for me. We can refer [00:16:00] you to those people who we vetted. I’ve spoken to personally, they did the training and, uh, and they’ll take care of them

[00:16:07] Matt: What about evaluating the infrastructure? I can imagine this probably adds a lot more, uh, weight to somebody’s WordPress install. Um, you

[00:16:17] Adrian: much less than you’d think

[00:16:18] Matt: much less, uh, saving database, saving records to the database, automation, all that stuff. Does, do you get into the weeds with customers where you’re like, Oh man, like, Hey, Kinsta says I have to add another plan now because I’m using much more resources or pressable or Bluehost, you know?

[00:16:35] Matt: What does that look like when somebody starts to use this? And actually the thing’s cranking and running and making money for their business. Is it an easier upsell to them to say, Hey, go talk to the host. They’ll take care of it. Or did they ever ask you about like server maintenance and capacity and stuff like that?

[00:16:50] Adrian: I mean, hosting is so commoditized now that I’ve rarely run into those situations. I mean, most people like spin up something on cloud ways and or you [00:17:00] know, they might even go to like S two directly. Is it, was it AWS? They’ll go to AWS directly and, and people are very savvy now, and there’s all these companies that just take care of it.

[00:17:11] Adrian: Um, Groundhog as a server impact is minimal because every, every, we do, we do custom tables, everything, no post types, everything’s on an auto loader, and it’s very well optimized. Um, the, the real surprise that most people actually run into when it comes to server resource usage is when they send an email.

[00:17:37] Adrian: For the first time, they’ve never sent an email before because without the other sermons, they’ve never gotten that far, right? But then, you know, with Groundhog, they actually got to that stage, and they sent an email, and then their website crashes. Why did their website crash? Not because Groundhog was sending 20, 000 people, or not because it was sending 20, 000 emails, but because that email sent 20, 000 people back to their website all at the same time.[00:18:00]

[00:18:00] Adrian: And they had no caching and no whatever and nothing ready to go to handle the inbound traffic, which is really where, you know, sites suffer when it comes to speed is concurrent sessions and all that fun stuff. So, What we tell people is if your site is like, set up with like CloudFlare or whatever, or you got just great hosting and you guys are ready for, you know, large concurrent sessions of incoming people, then you’re fine.

[00:18:28] Adrian: And really there’s like any, any hosting setup that is set up to handle that is going to do just fine with Groundhog.

[00:18:36] Matt: I started saying the pricing and I forgot to frame it, how you have it framed, which I think is fantastic on your pricing page. You can go to groundhog. io slash pricing, or just click on the top for the pricing link and you have sort of what you said, you’re no, I think you said no success tax or something like that.

[00:18:52] Matt: And your flat rate pricing, you know, 50 bucks a month, whether you have 500 users or 25, 000 users. Contacts [00:19:00] in the, in the database, it’s still the same price. And you look at that against HubSpot for 25, 000 is 2, 600 a month. It’s probably even higher than that. If you have all of like the sales and marketing and support components, the HubSpot.

[00:19:12] Matt: Um, and then you go down the list, active campaign, a thousand bucks a month, keep 600 bucks a month, convert kit, 233 a month, really justifying those, those prices and largely. you know, I think what we’ve sort of framed here is probably because at least some overhead is not passed to you. In other words, you’re not hosting this data.

[00:19:31] Matt: It’s all on somebody’s WordPress website. So you, you get to keep your hands clean of that, but I’ll ask you the literal million dollar question is where is, when is Groundhog Sass coming, if ever.

[00:19:48] Adrian: I don’t know if I have it in me to go that road to be completely honest. Um. We, we run Mailhawk, which is, uh, which is SMTP as a service. It’s basically [00:20:00] SendGrid, but it’s a service that we manage and sell to our customers. And, and that’s a SaaS, and that’s a headache in its own right. There’s WordPress headaches, and then there’s SaaS headaches.

[00:20:10] Adrian: And SaaS headaches are expensive headaches. WordPress, not so much. Um The, the, the main differentiator between Groundhog, like what makes Groundhog actually special when you compare it to HubSpot and ActiveCampaign and ConvertKit is yes, the flat rate pricing, that’s special in its own right, but what a lot of people don’t think about, data ownership, self hosting.

[00:20:40] Adrian: The reason why WordPress is the most popular CMS in the world is because you control, right? When, when you’re hosting that data, that’s data that you own. No one can touch it. No one can turn it off, right? We’ve gone through a couple of years where cracks started to [00:21:00] show in how far SaaS providers would be willing to go for the information people wanted to share.

[00:21:05] Adrian: MailChimp did it. ActiveCampaign did it. HubSpot did it. Now I’m not, I’m not suggesting that, you know, I, I, you know, I’m gonna reign agnostic on, on opinions of what content want to share, but I, I believe that if you want to be able to share information that you want to share, You gotta have self hosting, and I’m not willing to put that in the hands of third parties.

[00:21:35] Adrian: And even, by mistake, like, they have filters on outgoing emails now, and there’s reporting, and it could just be completely by accident. We had a couple people that just showed up and said, Hey, our account’s got closed. We didn’t do anything wrong. It just got flagged, and we got shut down over a weekend.

[00:21:52] Adrian: There was no one there to, like, you know, Here are appeal or whatever and we lost X amount of [00:22:00] dollars on a really busy weekend that we really needed to be up They restored our account afterwards, but it was just an accident and it’s like What? That’s crazy! And so, what you’re really buying when you self host with WordPress, is not only peace of mind, but control.

[00:22:22] Matt: It’s

[00:22:23] Adrian: think that’s very important.

[00:22:24] Matt: I think it’s also, you know, if you can, so again, I saw you come on, let me frame it with this. I saw, when I saw you come onto the scene, um, I think you premiered on Jonathan’s show, right? Uh, Tonic, right? You were, you were a co host there quite often. And I was like, man, this guy’s young, ambitious.

[00:22:41] Matt: CRM world gonna be tough, right? That was my gut. That was my gut feeling. You’re still here. Huge testament. Um, you know, I wasn’t discounting you, but I was thinking, man, it’s going to be a tough ride trying to do CRM competing against these these

[00:22:55] Adrian: It has been a tough ride for what it’s worth.

[00:22:57] Matt: I think I think when you came onto the scene, like, [00:23:00] The money was bonkers in CRM.

[00:23:02] Matt: There was that, there was a, the company Drift, D R I F T, which was also a Boston based company. Freaking puttin out, I mean they were, I went to their events, cause I’m just south of Boston. It was ridiculous. I actually met Chris Badgett up there, in person for the first time. And it was just like, you know, when they were printing money and they were doing this.

[00:23:20] Matt: Big luxurious event. I’m like, how does this come? How do they afford this stuff? Um, anyway, the point is is like not an easy road not an easy road to start a wordpress plug in company Not one especially not one I think in the crm or e commerce derivative Of wordpress so a huge testament to your success keeping itself hosted in wordpress gives you a unique advantage Um to like you said if you’re building up a nice Book of partnership, which if you go to, uh, groundhog.

[00:23:46] Matt: io and you go in the top nav, you can actually look and find the partner directory apply to be a partner. And for agencies out there, and this is where I think it makes a lot of sense for you is when the agency gets the end user or the freelancer gets the end user. [00:24:00] That agency slash freelancer, that’s the customer’s world.

[00:24:04] Matt: Like they don’t know WordPress, the web host, Groundhog. Uh, they don’t know the SMTP service, all of these different plugins. No, they know the freelancer agency right in front of them. And what you’re providing is. Another piece of the puzzle for the agency to say, Hey, I’m going to build this nice warm blanket of software for your business.

[00:24:25] Matt: It’s going to, you’re going to be able to sell stuff. You’re going to be able to email your customers. You’re going to be able to run marketing automation or in probably in their speak, like make your marketing easier for you. Um, you’ll be able to publish content when we all know that’s important. SEO, they’re able to build this nice little solution and Groundhog is a major part of that.

[00:24:43] Matt: So I think you’re smart to, to stay connected, but I can also understand. Yeah, man, it’s not easy. It’s, it’s always easy for pundits like me to say, when’s the SAS coming? Right. And we’ve seen that with like Elementor cloud, right? They launched because everyone thinks. The next step is [00:25:00] always Sass when it, when it comes to the WordPress world, because we’ve seen so many people springboard from a plugin into, uh, into Sass.

[00:25:08] Matt: Leadpages is one of them from many, many years ago, um, famously started as just a WordPress plugin. He turned Leadpages into an empire, purchased Drip, and I think he sold it all. Uh, for many multiples of millions of dollars. And then same thing, OptinMonster, um, Sayed, OptinMonster used to just be a pop up and now it’s a, it’s a SAS, right?

[00:25:26] Matt: Um,

[00:25:28] Adrian: I mean, the multiples are definitely bigger in Sass. I’m, personally, Passionate about our self hosting positioning because I think I think people are tired man. I think people are just I Think I all right hot take I think CRM is second only to CMS in terms of dollars generated in marketing I think I think it’s CMS and then CRM and then [00:26:00] probably AI now is third You know that might change in the next year or two.

[00:26:07] Adrian: We’ll see but I think, I think people are tired of just getting absolutely shafted by, by these, by the sass. But I mean, over the Black Friday, I, I started collecting feedback, um, when someone checks out, we have a little pop up, you can’t close it, too bad, but it says, why did you buy Groundhog today? Right?

[00:26:28] Adrian: And I’m, I’m, I’m just sending the replies to, to my inbox and I get, it’s just like Paying 300 a month, paying 500 a month. I’m just sick of paying. I’m just, I don’t, I just won’t want to pay it anymore. It’s so painful and, and people aren’t getting the value that they deserve from those fees. Because it’s either too complicated or they need those professional services that they can’t afford it or what, there’s so many different reasons that I’ve heard.

[00:26:58] Adrian: And so I’m passionate [00:27:00] about, about the mission originally back in the day, I used to say, and kind of, cause cause what WordPress is like, we wanted to democratize CRM. I don’t say that anymore because people don’t really know what that means. Um,

[00:27:10] Adrian: but that’s really, you know, it’s, we were just, we just wanted to make it.

[00:27:16] Adrian: Accessible. Yeah, and I’m still passionate about that.

[00:27:21] Matt: and I think you’re, I, you know, hearing you say it now is, is, it makes me even more, uh, a believer in, in the success that you’ve had, uh, up until this point. Um, because if you can own that space, like you said, there’s not many competitors in the self hosted CRM space.

[00:27:39] Adrian: There’s a few more now than there used to be.

[00:27:42] Matt: yeah, sure.

[00:27:43] Adrian: we, we did it first and then a bunch of people were like, oh we could do that. Which, you know, fair enough. There’s enough for everybody. I’m not bitter.

[00:27:50] Matt: yeah.

[00:27:51] Matt: I mean, generally speaking, how, how, how do you feel like when you measure success, we’re going to that tail end of 2023, you look back, how old are you? By the way?[00:28:00]

[00:28:00] Adrian: I’m 26.

[00:28:02] Matt: So you’re, you know, very young in this space. You’ve been in, you’ve been doing this now successfully for five, six years. Are you measuring success?

[00:28:10] Matt: How are you measuring? I don’t want to put words in your mouth. How are you measuring the success so far with Groundhog? Personally,

[00:28:16] Adrian: I, well, the only metric that matters is dollars in and dollars out, really. We’ve always been a profitable company, so that has to count for something. Uh, we’re, we’re, we’re a six figure company. I’d like to be more than that. Um, we’ve, I’m investing, I’m investing a lot of money right now. In, in breaking that six figure barrier.

[00:28:41] Adrian: So, we’ll see where that goes. Um, I’ve been around for five years, plan to be around for another five. I mean, the goal for me, I think, would be eventually an exit. Because that’s really, that’s really the only, it’s either sass or exit, right? Which, you know, I’m not, I’m not too keen on the sass. What I really want to [00:29:00] do is open a winery.

[00:29:01] Adrian: Because I live in Niagara now. And, uh, I’m really into, like, the whole wine culture, so that’d be, that’d be really fun. But for now, it’s, it’s Groundhog 24 7.

[00:29:10] Matt: taking a card out of Pippin’s playbook and selling the business and starting a brewery.

[00:29:16] Adrian: There’s something, you know, there’s something about that kind of work that’s so romantic to me. Um, and then, you know, taking everything that I learned in SAS or in, in plugins and sales and marketing and just, um, because all the winery, all the, all the winery owners here are just farmers. They don’t know.

[00:29:35] Adrian: If I opened a winery, it’d be epic. We’d make tons of money.

[00:29:38] Matt: Yeah, get to my age and you just want to sell everything and just become a landscaper. That’s what I want to do I just want to cut I just want to show up at somebody’s house and be like can I cut the grass and they say? Yes, I they say how much I say 40 bucks they go. Okay, and I take the lawnmower out of the back of my truck.

[00:29:54] Matt: I cut the grass and I leave done

[00:29:56] Adrian: like that, that, the, you see those videos of like the [00:30:00] people doing like the, the landscape, uh, or the lawnmower simulators, right? And it’s like that, just in real

[00:30:07] Matt: listen to a podcast. No one’s going to complain about the color of grass. Like it doesn’t matter. Like there it is. You cut it, you clean it, you’re done. Um, let’s talk about the advantages of, of Groundhog. Somebody who’s moving over. What are most people surprised with? Is it the, the automations?

[00:30:21] Matt: Like, Oh, I never thought I could just like. Get a contact lead in on my gravity form and now I can put them into a Pipeline and it’ll it’ll go and start emailing them and segment them. What are the biggest surprises you think? Most people are like really happy when they’re using groundhog

[00:30:39] Adrian: Oh, I think. I think what most people are actually surprised about, especially if they’re coming from somewhere, if they’re like coming from ActiveCampaign or they’re coming from Hotspot, I think what most people are surprised about is just how comparable. It is. They think, well, you know, I’m, I’m, I’m going to take the money.

[00:30:55] Adrian: I’m going to save the money I’m going to get, but I’m going to get less because it’s like a WordPress plugin. And [00:31:00] then they get into it and they realize, Oh, this I, I, I’m, I’m not actually having to sacrifice anything. I think that’s probably what most businesses, at least that are switching are, are truly surprised about.

[00:31:13] Adrian: It’s just the lack of sacrifice because it is very complete. Um, other than that. If there was like a feature that I had to pinpoint, it would, it would definitely be our search and segmentation tool. Like I was saying earlier, one of my biggest gripes was that it was so hard to leverage data in WooCommerce or in LearnDash or in affiliate WP or any of these plugins that you have on your site.

[00:31:40] Adrian: Like that data is there, but you can’t see it in your contact record. You can’t filter contacts. You can’t search them. So. With all of our integrations for WooCommerce and all these other plugins, you can like go into the contact list and say, all right, well, just show me the list of people that bought in the last 30 days and their order value was between [00:32:00] 100 and 300. Right? And then people that never had access to that data, like before, you’d have to like send it to like a custom field or something or like do some custom activity tracking, but not every CRM offers that feature. So it was just complicated, but we just pull that data directly from the WooCommerce order table. Easy peasy. And so they’re like, Oh, wow, I didn’t actually have to set anything up. I didn’t have to like do some weird Zapier stuff or I didn’t have to use WP Fusion. Like it’s just, it just worked. And, and I think people are pretty surprised, but pleased, with that.

[00:32:39] Matt: When I think of some advantages, a little bit of the hot seat. Questions, but when I think of the competition, I think of the big sass companies. One of the things I think of is like HubSpot, um, as a salesperson, I can come in and I can go to hubspot. com. I can log in. I can do all this stuff there, or if I’m in my.

[00:32:58] Matt: You know, Gmail inbox, there’s [00:33:00] a browser extension, um, emailing somebody. I can boom, I can do that. Or there’s the mobile app. I have access to all of this data. It’s quick. It’s, it’s, it’s easy. Do you get that same kind of experience for Groundhog, even though it’s tucked inside of, of WordPress, or is that one of the challenges of WordPress is to have that, like be everywhere, get access to everything, um, that these bigger SaaS players have because they’re in just one.

[00:33:27] Matt: One point in the cloud, they’re not in a million different WordPress websites. I’m hard to put that into words, but as somebody who’s used word HubSpot for years, like as a salesperson, it was always like at my fingertips for better or worse. What’s that experience like for, for Groundhog and WordPress?

[00:33:44] Adrian: the same. Um, so if there, if there was one thing that you did have to sacrifice, it would be that Access Anywhere stuff. Um, it is siloed, it’s on WordPress, and you get to own it there, which is nice, um, but you do [00:34:00] sacrifice all, like, the other cloud integrations that would come with HubSpot, so like, accessing it from Gmail or your extension, like, that, that would be gone.

[00:34:10] Adrian: Maybe not forever. If we did enter into the SaaS market, it would be to facilitate that, um. That’s that if we were if we were to go to sass it would be like facilitating that but you’re still self hosting But I don’t know there’s there’s probably a way to technologically get around that I don’t know.

[00:34:26] Adrian: The future is the future is infinite, but It’s not this it’s not the same Although the people that we do have switch that did have that have not complained Too much about it being gone. We’ve got a few future requests pending for Gmail sync and stuff like that. But for the most part, people are like, well, well, you know, the, however many thousands of dollars in savings is worth it

[00:34:57] Matt: I think one of your bigger feature releases was [00:35:00] quite recently, right? It was,

[00:35:01] Adrian: this morning.

[00:35:03] Matt: oh yeah, I just went to the blog. It was this morning. Groundhog 3. 0 is here. Um, but prior to that it was the, it was the email template, right? I remember you tweeting about that stuff. Wasn’t it the email template builder? Wasn’t that a pretty big

[00:35:14] Adrian: That’s all that. That’s this morning. I mean, we’ve been like

[00:35:18] Matt: Oh, maybe I’ve just seen you, yeah, talking about it for a while.

[00:35:21] Adrian: oh yeah, no, we’ve just been, we’ve been talking about it for a while and building up suspense, but it went out this morning.

[00:35:27] Matt: Nice.

[00:35:27] Adrian: It’s very good.

[00:35:29] Matt: And, and I’m just looking at the, or one of the blog posts ground hog 3. 0 columns, conditional content, socials, and more. Um, what can we do in these with this dynamic content and, and email templates that are so powerful?

[00:35:44] Adrian: So with the dynamic content stuff, I was talking about. In the contact list, you can segment and search and filter based on all this data that you have, activity, login times, course completion rates, recent order history, and [00:36:00] much, much, much more. In the email itself, you can select one of the blocks. Let’s say you have like a section where you’re generating an automatic discount code, which you can do.

[00:36:16] Adrian: You generate this automatic discount code, but you only want this discount code to be generated, or you only want this section to show to let’s say, customers that haven’t sent or haven’t spent any money within the last 30 days. You can enable the conditional content and then you can select using that same filters tool, only show this to people who have not placed an order in the last 30 days.

[00:36:43] Adrian: And then you can send that email out to your whole list. Cause it might be like, let’s say a blog post or something. And you just want that section underneath, but you only want to show to specific people. You could do that within the content of the email itself rather than having to. Develop two different [00:37:00] email templates and then sending those out to those two different segments So you could just create the one template and then filter out who actually sees that section depending on the filters

[00:37:10] Matt: Yeah. You’d never be able to do that in HubSpot because it’s not going to have that data, right? It’s not going to have access to that data. And like for anyone who is using a third party, Uh, CRM and kind of like trying to homebrew that kind of solution, what you probably using like Zapier and, and Zapier prices have gone up, right?

[00:37:27] Matt: So now like you’ve got your CRM price and then you’ve got this glue that you’ve been using for a while called Zapier and that price is going up. So yeah, man, it makes, it makes a lot of sense to, to move in house, uh, to a WordPress solution like this.

[00:37:43] Adrian: I think so

[00:37:45] Matt: You’re biased, but you, but I, but I agree with you, but I agree with you.

[00:37:49] Matt: Um, sweet, man. What, what else is, uh, is on the horizon? Obviously 3. 0, literally seven minutes ago on the, on this blog post. Um, What’s next? Are you trying to, are you trying to smash in AI like everybody else or is [00:38:00] it already here? I just

[00:38:00] Adrian: Oh my goodness, uh, I, I am so, I missed the boat on AI, man.

[00:38:06] Matt: You didn’t miss

[00:38:07] Adrian: That boat, that boat’s miles out to ocean and I’m still standing on the dock, waving.

[00:38:12] Matt: We’re about to see an epic collapse of open AI. And, uh, everyone’s going to be holding the bag like they were with, uh, NFTs. But, um,

[00:38:20] Adrian: yeah, I, I’m so, I was so far behind on like blockchain too. And I mean, I saw NFTs for what they were right at the beginning. I was like, ain’t no way, ain’t no way. Right. So, you know, board ape, right. Board, remember the board apes? It’s like, yeah, why would I pay for a generated image of pixels that I can.

[00:38:42] Adrian: Oh, look, it’s on my phone. Great. Nice. I didn’t pay for that. How does that work? But I own it, but I don’t. The original copyright owns it. So, anyway, I can’t resell it.

[00:38:57] Matt: but you must, you must have people ask about [00:39:00] AI in the, in

[00:39:00] Adrian: Oh, yeah, of course.

[00:39:01] Matt: must be like, Hey, what do we do? Like, can I pipe this to open AI to do some things?

[00:39:06] Adrian: if, uh, if AI is going to make an appearance, it’s going to be in, like, generative email content. Um, there’s like AI used, like, like some of the other AI features I see in other platforms is like predictive sending, um, or, uh, predictive sending being like, you know, analyzing open time or open rates in correlation to time sent and seeing, well, how long does it usually take for an email to be received versus opened and then when do the most opens happen so you can predictively send emails at a specific time of day to get the best open rates.

[00:39:36] Adrian: That’s not necessarily AI. That’s just, that’s just computational, right? We’ll eventually get there, but as far as open, as far as AI goes, that’s probably just generative email text, which we might just end up integrating with one of like, like Bertha, for example, which is, um, Andrew Palmer’s and Vito’s product, right?

[00:39:55] Adrian: We’ll probably just, I spoke to him in October and we might end up just being [00:40:00] like, Hey, use Bertha to create email content and. Bingo bango dunzo, right? That’s really the rest of like the predictive and AI stuff is really just computational I don’t think like a language model in the way that people are currently thinking about AI would be would be useful

[00:40:18] Matt: Yeah. If, um, if your folks are listening to this and you’re taking your website seriously, one of the things I remember my agency days is, you know, you’d have a customer. Maybe combat you on price a little bit. Hey, why is, you know, why do you charge me 5, 000 when this other person down the street is only charging me 500, you know?

[00:40:37] Matt: And we were always looking at it from the complete solution, um, or the platform that we felt we were, we were empowering our customers with. It’s not just a website. It’s your, you know, back when I was doing it anyway, it was your blog. It was social. It was connecting up to your newsletter. It was selling something.

[00:40:52] Matt: It was kind of completing this whole experience for your business and your end users. And I think something like this allows an [00:41:00] agency to, you know, to even reinforce that even more is when you’re building these solutions for customers. These are sticky solutions for customers, right? These are the things that your customers will love.

[00:41:11] Matt: Um, You for building for them, right? Like, Oh my God, this made my life and our team so much easier They can kind of complete that sales marketing journey All in one space place, which is WordPress, which is their website. They’re already there. They’re uploading the products They’re making their blog posts and now they can see the the heartbeat of their business at groundhog.

[00:41:33] Matt: io Adrian props man for making it for surviving this far

[00:41:40] Adrian: Well, I hope to be surviving if not thriving for for much longer

[00:41:47] Matt: I say that because, you know, I know, I know the, i, I know the, the struggles of, uh, of running, uh, a business. Not that you’re struggling, but I understand the challenges, um, you know, trying to, to go up against these giants. Do you also, do you [00:42:00] run the business with your father too?

[00:42:02] Adrian: No, um He helps he’s an he’s an advisor. I mean we used to do like the marketing agency together, but as far as like direction and and and Like the day to day operations. It’s it’s it’s me and Greg and My wife helps out and you got people on call and stuff like that

[00:42:26] Matt: Yeah. I ran my agency with my father. It was, uh, it was challenging

[00:42:31] Adrian: Yeah, now brought by the product level is just me

[00:42:34] Matt: Yeah, good, good, good. Adrian, uh, Groundhog. io, where else can folks go to say thanks?

[00:42:40] Adrian: You’ll find me on Twitter We’re active on Twitter, so that’s where we hang out. We also got a Facebook group, you can come hang out there. Uh, YouTube channel, just search up Groundhog, you’ll find us.

[00:42:52] Matt: Awesome stuff, Groundhog. Two G’s. Groundhog. io. Thanks for listening to today’s interview. [00:43:00] [00:44:00]

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