Do you know one of the most effective psychological tricks for marketing?

It’s simpler than you might think.




It’s deadlines.

Think about it. Deadlines are a regular component of your daily life:

  • You attach deadlines to your goals.
  • Teachers include deadlines in homework.
  • Managers include deadlines in projects.
  • And, most importantly, businesses use deadlines in their marketing.

The underlying reason is simple. Deadlines get people to take action.

Deadlines are powerful in online marketing because they add a sense of urgency to the offer. FOMO, or fear of missing out, has probably influenced you in the past—maybe to go ahead and buy that drone at a Black Friday sale or when splurging on concert tickets that go up in price after a certain date.

You can leverage deadlines in your online course business too. This post will cover two ways to do that:

  • Entice visitors to purchase by offering a short trial of your course.
  • Motivate your students to complete a course by providing limited-time access to your content.

Before we go any further, I think it’s important to point out that using a deadline as a marketing tactic doesn’t have to be spammy. In many cases, inspiring a customer to take action now doesn’t just benefit you—it’s also good for the customer. If a deadline is the difference between a student working through your course and letting their purchase go to waste, adding a little FOMO to the mix is good for everyone involved.

To use deadlines to market your course, you will need:

  • A Teachable Professional plan or higher.
  • A paid Zapier plan (starting at $20/month).
  • A Google Sheet (for the second process only).

How does the process work for limited-time courses?

In this post, we will describe processes that work like this:

  1. A student enrolls in a limited-time pricing plan or course.
  2. Time starts rolling toward the student's unenrollment date.
  3. The student is automatically unenrolled.

There are two different methods, based on the length of time you want the student to have access to the course. The process for a trial of one month or less is fairly simple, but if it's any longer, you'll have to get a little fancy with it. Either way, we've got you covered—just select the tutorial you want to read from the menu below!

  • How to provide a limited-time trial (for under 31 days)
  • How to provide limited-time access (for over 31 days)

How to take this further

This post is just a baseline on how to offer limited-time access to your Teachable courses.

These are a few ideas that (I think) would be cool to add:

  • Turn your short trial (under 31 days) into an acquisition funnel similar to the one described in this post.
  • Use this process as an incentive to increase course completions by doing an “accomplish X in Z days” challenge.
  • Set up an email workflow for students whose plans are about to expire and give them an option to extend their access to your course.
  • Create a nice-looking business report of subscription progress, using the data from the Google spreadsheet.

We'd love to see you take your school beyond the steps explained in this post. To get started, please visit our Knowledge Base or, better yet, click below to attend one of our weekly webinars.

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Limitations (that I could find)

No automatic renewal

You won’t be able to set up automatic renewal of the limited-time access. Your students will be unenrolled at the end of the established period. However, if you want to give them an option to renew, you can do that by creating an automated renewal reminder email.

You might need to expand the spreadsheet

The spreadsheet provided in this tutorial will work for about a thousand students. If you have more students coming in, add more rows to the spreadsheet and make sure to include the formulas in the new rows.

Did you find this useful? Want to see more content like this?

Now, I want to hear from you.

If you found this useful (or didn’t), found something I missed (I’m sure I did), think of something cool we could add to this process, want to see a similar post about another topic, or just want to say hi - pleeease add a comment below!

I’ll personally read and answer every comment.

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Eduardo Yi

Written by Eduardo Yi

Eduardo Yi is a content marketer at Teachable, the platform that allows anyone to teach online, where he gets to work on the intersect of his four passions: education, digital marketing, and incomplete lists.