Launching your online course brings back a lot of the same feelings that the end of the school year brought back in high school. You were excited for the break so you could relax, but at the same time, the end of the year was always stressful having to play catch up and study for finals.
When it comes to your course, you're beyond excited to wrap things up and unwind after all of the hard work you put into it, but you're also worried - what if your launch doesn't go well? What if it's a complete flop?
First off - let me ease your mind: You're not going to flop. You've done everything right up to this point, and things are looking good. Take a deep breath, and get ready to finally launch your online course.
Launching your online course is more complicated than just sending a launch email and tweeting a few times, and a proper launch strategy can result in significantly more revenue for you. Here at Teachable, we've seen more launches than we can count and we've been able to pick out what works, and what doesn't.
For the past few weeks, I've been walking you all through my online course creation process. If you've missed anything, you can check it out here.
- Step One - Ideation
- Step Two - Goal Setting
- Step Three - Growing an Audience
- Step Four - Pricing Your Course
- Step Five - Creating Your Sales Page
- Step Six pt. 1- Setting up a Studio
- Step Six pt. 2 - Filming Content
A few weeks ago, we talked about growing your audience to launch your online course, now that we've got that audience, though, how should we go about selling to them?
This time last year I would have said, "Host a webinar, send an email, and hope for the best?"
Luckily I've learned a lot since joining the Teachable Team and I can now confidently walk you through our two-phase launch strategy.
There should be 2 phases to your launch strategy:
- Education: warm up your list so they know who you are and why you're reliable
- Selling: sell to that list now that they're excited about your and your course
In the education phase you’re warming up your list - you're helping familiarize them with your course idea, and more importantly with you.
Just because they gave you their email last month doesn't mean that they're ready to buy. You need to wine and dine them a bit and show them why your course is important and why you're reliable.
Slowly introduce yourself again through your education phase.
Your goal is to generate demand for what you’re teaching by educating, creating an understanding of your product, increasing a need for the benefit AND build trust through high-quality content.
This education phase can last 0-14 days depending on how long you want to grow your list before launching. You should be sending an impactful piece of content a few times a week.
You should send:
- Targeted blog posts (example from our The Profitable Teacher Launch)
- Webinars (example from our The Profitable Teacher Launch)
- Videos (example from our The Profitable Teacher Launch)
- Any type of content that shows students what you have to offer
You're sending these emails to show your audience what you're capable of and what you've got to offer.
So what do you put into these emails? Write them like a newsletter, not like sales copy. When you're warming your list up, you're 100% there to provide them value and help them. We'll start selling later.
Once your list is warmed up, it’s time to sell!
Here at Teachable, we call our signature email sequence the Crazy 8 Launch Strategy because it lasts 8 days.
Now you can launch over just a few days or stretch it out over a few weeks, but we've seen the data and crunched the numbers and 8 days seems to be the sweet spot.
The Crazy 8 Launch Strategy
Over 8 days you're going to send a strategic set of emails that build anticipation, excitement, and urgency that effectively urge people to buy.
Eight seems like a lot of emails, and if there is a pit in your stomach telling you that your entire list will unsubscribe, just know that I hear you but I think you're underestimating yourself and your list.
Your list subscribed to you in the first place because of the content you offered, they stayed subscribed because of the value you provided. Your list is comprised of your number one fans at this point and they care about you and most won't unsubscribe.
Take Melyssa Griffin in her post: Exactly How I Earned $100,000 in 14 Days from My E-Course Launch.
"I was nervous about sending out so many emails and annoying people, but normally I keep my emails to about one per week, so I knew it would just be two weeks of insanity and then things would simmer down. I also knew that…HEY…I spent so much time growing my email list by providing free value that taking two weeks to promote my new product was not much to ask for. As expected, I received some unsubscribes, but nothing really out of the ordinary. One 82-year old man emailed me angrily, but aside from that, instead of angry emails, I was getting messages from people thanking me."
Fun fact: long before I even knew what Teachable was I signed up for Melyssa's email list, read her newsletters religiously, and bought the course she's talking about because 1. I trusted her to deliver high quality content and 2. because she had a killer marketing strategy that had me considering buying the course every day until I finally pulled the trigger.
DAY 1: Course teaser
On your first email, you’re going to tease your course and build excitement.
Let people know that you’re creating a course, what it’s about, and that you’ll be launching soon.
Use phrases like “I’ll share the fun details later.” “The excitement is killing me.” “I’ve been working hours on this for you.”
Keep it upbeat and positive and generate excitement. Here's an example from when we launched The Profitable Teacher here at Teachable.
DAY 2: “What is the course” email
In this email you going to describe what's in your course.
Remember a few weeks ago when we talked about using benefit driven language on your sales page? This is the time to break out that language again.
Instead of telling your audience what is in the course, tell them what they'll gain from taking the course.
Tell what’s in your course. Explain the various modules and takeaways and build up the value of your “bonus content.”
At the end, tell your students that your course will become available to buy tomorrow.
Here's an example - though we deviated slightly having the course open that night.
DAY 3: "Course Opens" email
Today is the day! (Don't be nervous, it's going to be great!) Today your course opens and you start making money. Woohoo!
In this email, tell you audience that your course is now open and link them to your sales page.
This is a big email and you want to knock everyone's socks off.
Here's an example:
DAY 4: FAQ email
Your audience is going to have questions (and a lot of them) and you don't want to tediously go through every single individual one (oftentimes answering the same question more than once) so you'll need to address the questions in your FAQ.
In this email you want to answer the logistical questions about your course:
- How long do they have to buy?
- How long will they have access?
- Is there a money back guarantee?
- Are there payment plans?
- Are you dripping content?
- Who is this course right for?
- How much time does it take?
In addition to the logistical emails, you might want to talk a bit more about your topic. My course is on Instagram themes so I might answer a few questions like this:
- What even is an Instagram Theme?
- Who needs an Instagram Theme?
- Is this just for bloggers?
For an additional example, check out Ramit Sethi's FAQs for Zero to Launch.
Here was ours:
DAY 5: Surprise bonus email
Here's where you get to tap into everyone's love for freebies and surprises and offer an exclusive bonus for anyone buying your course.
Build excitement. Explicitly say you're giving a surprise not mentioned on your sales page.
And make that surprise killer! It should be some kind of valuable bonus content (like a workbook, consulting, a free tool) or a limited-time discount. Whatever it is, make sure it's valuable.
We didn't have this type of email in our recent launch, but we should have! If you've done this,tweet me a screenshot of your email @hellomorgantimm and I'll add you to the post! #FreeAdvertising, y'all!
DAY 6: Thank You & Social Proof Email
Your audience has graciously allowed you to grace their inboxes every day for the past five days, so let's show some appreciation.
Make sure to thank everyone for reading your emails and being part of your launch. Write from the heart and in your voice.
Say "I never expected this..." and include testimonials where people rave about your course.
This kind of language also builds social proof. It shows that people have bought your course and are happy with it and you may even bring in a few additional sales here.
For our launch, we included a bunch of testimonials in previous emails. While this email can boost sales if you're struggling, you don't always have to include this email, especially if you use your social proof in other emails.
DAY 7: Logic + Course Closing Email
At this point, your launch is almost over. You're probably a bit exhausted, but hopefully excited by the amount of money you've made.
In this email, you're going to say that your course is closing. Build a logical argument for why it make sense to buy now, reference the surprise bonus and build an urgency around getting the course before it's too late.
DAY 8: Last Chance 3 Email Series
This day has the potential to be your most profitable day. Anyone on edge is going to either buy your course now or not at all. That's why you want to finish strong and send 3 emails.
Yes, 3 emails.
Email 1 - send at 9:00am:
Tell your list that today is the LAST day to get the course and emphasize why you have to close your doors and at what time.
Email 2: 3:00-4:00pm:
Send a mid-day reminder that cart is closing, how thankful you are and how wonderful the course launch has been.
Email 3: 1 hour before cart closes: Last chance
This is a quick email outlining that this is the last chance to get the course, it's going away, NOW!
Whew! You did it!
Eight days of launching can be exhausting. There is so much that goes into it and you're going to be spending a lot of time writing and prepping, so give yourself a pat on the back - you did it!
Other ways to launch
I really do recommend executing the Crazy 8 Launch Strategy, but you can supplement that with other methods, too.
Launching with a blog
As someone who lives and breathes blogging, you had to know this would make the list.
A lot of your blog visitors will be unqualified leads, but some of them will be your perfect target audience. If you haven't captured their email to add to your list yet, the least you can do is put your online course on their radar.
A quick post related to your course and announcement that the sales page is live will at least get people thinking about your course (and hopefully buying!) Blogs are a great platform for getting information out to the general public, so if you have one I'd be sure to announce your course there.
Webinars are live trainings related to your online course. They are typically around an hour long, give or take, and provide a lot of value.
Your webinar should be introducing your course topic, letting your audience know why it's important, and teaching them something, too.
A common pitfall I see a lot of people fall into is not providing value. They talk about their course topic, and why it's important, but they offer nothing else and their audience ends up frustrated because they lost out on an hour of their day.
Your webinar should be more than just a sales pitch. Here's our post on how to create a webinar that converts.
I can't log onto Facebook anymore without seeing ads for online courses, and if you know how to set them up the right way Facebook Ads can be incredibly valuable.
You can direct your Facebook Ads to your course sales page, or if you set your ads up far enough before launch you can direct them to a content upgrade so you can get your leads into your sales funnel.
The benefit of adding people to your sales funnel rather than directly to your sales page is that you're able to qualify those leads over the course of your email launch.
There are so many benefits to running a Facebook Group relevant to your course topic.
You're building a community, establishing yourself as an authority, and creating a platform where your audience can begin to know (and love) you.
As an admin of a Facebook Group, you can announce when your course goes live and get feedback from your audience there.
How I'm launching
Truth be told - I'm not ready to launch. I've still got a few tweaks I want to make, so it'll be another few weeks.
But! When I do launch I've got my strategy already mapped out.
A Facebook group
The very first step I'm taking is to launch a Facebook group for Instagrammers and bloggers that I've had under construction for the past few weeks. The Facebook group is more of a community builder, but I will be making the community aware of the course launch.
A blog post
I'm sure you already guessed this one - but I will be writing a blog post announcing my online course.
Additionally, I'll be adding sales copy to all of my existing Instagram posts, too.
The Crazy 8 Launch Strategy
I am starting today (!!!) with warming my list back up and getting them excited about Instagram themes.
I'm sending out freebies, growth guides, and other bonuses all revolving around Instagram before launching into our signature Crazy 8 Launch Strategy.
It's been a great nine weeks introducing you all to this series and walking you through step by step, but it's now coming to an end.
I'll be checking back in after my launch to talk about my results and what I would have done differently (because hindsight is always 20/20, eh?).
In the meantime, the blog will be resuming as normal except we have a new content marketer on the Teachable Team who will also be posting here! Everyone, meet Eduardo and expect awesomeness from him in the next few weeks!