Course creators focus so much time and energy on creating their course and reaching their audience, that they often lose energy where it matters most—the course sales page.
They think, “Oh, all I have to do is slap some words describing my course on the page and call it a day.” But really, your sales page is your best asset for showing your audience why your course is so valuable and transformative.
Imagine this: you're at the store looking for a new shampoo. You get to the shampoo aisle and there are two different types. One is in an eyecatching package and boasts that it's the key to shiny hair and a clean scalp. The other is in a beige container and simply says, "good for your hair."
No matter how great the shampoo in the beige bottle is, people are going to be more inclined to pick up the striking and descriptive shampoo time and time again.
And the same is true for your online course. You could have the absolute best resource for your niche that has ever existed, but if you're not making that clear on your sales page, it'll be hard to convince people to buy. A strong sales page can pitch your online course as the solution your students have been looking for and the tool that will solve their problems.
To create the best possible sales page for your course, you need to think about 2 things:
- The copy
- The structure
Writing good copy simply means using the words that will build trust with your audience and send them searching for "enroll" button. But good copy alone won't do it. You want to make sure you structure your sales page in a logical way that makes it seamless and easy for people to purchase.
Let's start with the copy.
Writing strong sales copy
If sales copy intimidates you, you're not alone. Even skilled bloggers and content marketers have the tendency to get sales copy wrong when they’re just winging it. They write their sales page the same way they write their blog posts or newsletters and hope for the best.
Sales pages are different than the average blog post, though, because they have a different end goal.
When you’re writing a blog post you tend to be aiming to inform, and hopefully gather a few email addresses along the way. With sales copy, on the other hand, you’re hoping to get people to part with their hard earned money and commit to a transformation that you can offer.
That means you need to convey two things: the value of your product and the urgency to enroll now. You start with, “Choose my product because it will make your life easier,” and close with, “But you should hurry because time is limited.”
How to write effective sales copy
You can think of writing sales copy as a step-by-step process which, when executed correctly, can result in increased sales and more income for you.
1. Define your audience
Your course isn’t a perfect one-fit-solution for anyone and everyone, and you shouldn’t advertise it as such. Before you write a line of copy, figure out exactly who your target audience is. Consider these factors:
- Is your course better suited for novices or someone who already knows the basics?
- What is the end goal of taking your online course?
- If you had to describe them, who would your ideal customer be?
- Who is your course not for?
As you answer these questions, a persona will start to emerge, and the more specific you can get, the better (Imagine one person, maybe someone you know).
If you know that your target persona is a 55-year-old male who is a first-time entrepreneur honing his business idea., it’s much easier to develop a voice that’s persuasive. You’ll be able to talk about technology and business in a way that makes most sense to him, which will make it a no-brainer for him to take your course. After all, you get him, and he can trust you.
Take a look at how Melyssa Griffin clearly describes who her online course is best fit for and who isn’t right for taking Pinfinite Growth.
Off the bat she says that this course is perfect for bloggers new and old—the strategies in the online course will help anyone looking to grow their traffic and email list. Furthermore, the course is perfect for busy folk who are looking to run their Pinterest on autopilot without having to devote a ton of time or energy to the program.
By making it clear who you’re targeting with your course you accomplish two things:
- You make your target audience feel included when they see themselves in your “who this course is for” section
- You will have less people asking for refunds, because if a potential customer doesn't fit into your “who this course is for” section they’ll be less likely to buy your course in the first place
2. Make your sales page munchable
Your sales page should be easily scannable and digestible. Your audience is likely to first scan the page before diving in so they can see if reading your sales copy is even worth their time in the first place.
Divide your sales page inot very clear sections divided by images, graphs, and color blocking that clearly differentiate section a from section b from section c.
You can also use plenty of bolded text and colored text to make certain points and statements stand out. Again, this makes the sales page very scannable.
Your audience members should be able to take a very quick, 15 second look at your sales page as a whole and already have an idea of whether or not you course is going to be a fit for them.
Based on an initial scan, your audience will decide whether they should stick around or if maybe your online course isn’t going to be the best fit for them.
Plus, we need to be honest: people are easily bored and easily distracted. If you don't have something on your sales page to catch their eye right away they are likely to click to another tab and never think of your sales page again.
To make your page super munchable, I recommend including these elements:
- Use very clear headers - You can use headers to break up different sections in your sales page. They can be simple (i.e. “Testimonials”) or a bit punchier (i.e. “What people are saying.”) Regardless, including headers will help your audience know what to expect and prompt them to read your page.
- Vary text size and color - A huge wall of text is going to overwhelm your audience and encourage them to click away from your sales page - and fast. Breaking up that wall of text with a variety of text types will make your page easier to read and encourage your audience to stick around and read more.
- Include negative space to make your page easy to read - negative space is simply the area on your sales page that has no text or images. Adequate negative space keeps your page from looking too busy or overwhelming, and invites your audience to stick around a bit longer.
- Add images to break up the text - much like the other tips mentioned here, images are going to make your sales page less intimidating. Images also serve to draw the reader’s eye - so make sure the copy surrounding the images is persuasive.
This one step will encourage significantly more people to stick around and take the time to read your page, giving you more opportunity to win your audience over via your superior sales copy.
At Teachable we make dividing up your sales page simple. Our default template breaks up the sections for you, and our text editor makes adding heading and different sized text simple.
To get an step-by-step walk-through for setting up your Teachable sales page, enroll in the Sales Page Design Mini Course (free when you use this link).
3. Tell a story
As cliche as it might sound, telling a story on your sales page can really help your audience connect with you and your product. By painting a vivid picture of who can benefit from your product and the problems you’re going to solve, you can help people connect with your product. Start with telling your own story, or sharing a case study of a friend or client you helped.
Describing a clear pain point that your online course is going to solve and then explaining how your course will help your students overcome that pain point is very valuable in creating a powerful sales proposition.
4. Overcome objections
People naturally try to talk themselves out of making any big purchase—whether it’s a new vacuum cleaner that they have a practical need for or an online course that can transform their life or business.
You need to nip that tendency in the bud.
Address any rational concerns someone might have when it comes to buying your course, and frame your online course as the best possible solution for the problems that your audience is having.
- “This course is expensive.” If you haven’t effectively portrayed the value of your course, people may think of it as expensive rather than valuable. One way to prove the value of your course is with language like, “The information in this course is worth well over $900, but I’m selling it for just $150,” or, "This course will help you earn $1,000, but I'm giving it away for just $150."
- “I could learn how to do this on my own.” In the internet age you can learn basically whatever you fancy online and for free. But that’s not the point of online courses. Online courses are a shortcut to an outcome and that’s what you have to emphasize in your copy. Say something like, “It took me 2 years to master this concept, but I’ll get you to where I am in just three weeks.”
- “Why would I buy from you when _______ is selling a course on the same topic?” A lot of course instructors get a case of “imposter syndrome” where they feel that they’re not enough of an expert to be selling a course on their topic, and that thought might run through your student’s minds, too.
Say something like, “I’ve been where you’ve been, and it wasn’t all that long ago. I remember what you’re going through because I was in your shoes just 2 years ago. I’m not some expert who has been teaching on this topic for 20 years and has long since forgotten what it feels like to be in the beginning stages, I’m simply someone who figured out what works and wants to share my method with you.”
- “But how do I know I can trust you?” When it comes down to it, to someone you don't know, you’re just a random person on the internet. Chances are you customers have never met you, and you could be anyone hiding behind a fake online identity.
Building trust online is a very important component of making sales. One way to build trust is through testimonials. Testimonials show that other people trusted you and are glad that they did.
5. Use clear calls to action
A call to action is exactly what it sounds like: text or an image that’s calling out to your reader to take an action.
It can be as simple as “Enroll now!” or a little punchier, “Join the fun and buy today!”
It's easy to worry about being salesy and opt for softer calls to action, like "Learn More." But if your copy is doing its job, your future students are looking for a clear button that tells them exactly where to purchase.
So be upfront and ask people to purchase or sign up for your course, because that’s why you brought them to your sales page in the first place (and that's why they're there).
6. Use benefit driven language
Benefit driven language presents your course to your audience in a way that appeals to them and their needs.
Instead of saying, “I’m giving you 5 hours worth of content that I spent 2 months creating!” You can say “After taking this course you’ll be able X which will result in Y and Z.”
Make sure that your sales copy is less about you and more about your audience and your online course.
Here is an example of benefit driven language from Reach Your Readers by Creativindie.
Benefit driven language helps people visualize what the outcome of the course will be, and they’re going to be more excited to buy.
Here are 5 great online voices to subscribe and absorb.
- The Copy Cure - This is free training from Laura Belgray and Marie Forleo brings actionable tips (some that I’ve mentioned here) to your inbox.
- Noah Kagan - A marketer who has built his brand on his writing style. His blog OkDork is filled with personality and actionable advice.
- MozBlog - Notice how clean each article is. Some of it is long and detailed, but it’s all there for a reason.
- Contently - Contently is an industry leader publishing articles on content marketing and copy.
- CopyHackers - Joanna Wiebe has some great content you can learn from on how to make your copy compelling.
Now let's take a look at the actual structure to use for your sales page, and what elements to include, like testimonials, images, etc.
The 9-step sales page formula
When it comes to the design of your sales page, there is a simple formula you can follow for maximum results.
- Course Description
- Case Study/Testimonial
- Call to Action Button (CTA)
- Instructor Bio
- Case Study/Testimonial
- Call to Action Button (CTA)
Luckily, Teachable's sales page editor makes following this formula to create a beautiful sales page that converts easy and intuitive.
Headline / Hero
The headline is your first place to really wow your potential customers and get them intrigued. In this example from "Creating a Profitable Podcast" you can see they use:
1. Eye-catching colors
2. Descriptive language
Plus! They give their most eager students a chance to enroll right on top of the page. Your Teachable school comes with a hero CTA right out of the box.
Now, you don't have to use bright colors if they aren't part of your brand, but do consider color theory and how your colors are playing together. Make sure that your text isn't blending into the background or tricky to read.
As for using descriptive language, I was particularly interested in the words: 'Profitable', 'Valuable', and 'Monetizing'. These are powerful words because they are very clear and get at one of the primary things that drives people's behavior—money.
The course creator could have said: "Create an entertaining podcast." That would be great for a certain sect of their audience, but maybe their audience already knows that they're entertaining. They want to take their entertaining personalities and create a profitable podcast.
It's more valuable to teach someone how to do something and be successful with it than just teach them how to do something.
Now that you have your audience's attention, hook them in with a powerful course description. Using copy tips I mentioned above, create a description that will appeal to your ideal audience and get them excited about the prospect of taking your online course.
One thing to make sure you're establishing: the transformation. What exactly will your audience get from taking your online course? Make it very clear what you're setting out to teach.
Here's a great example of a course description from Contino Workshop.
A few things to notice are:
- He described exactly what the course was going to teach his students.
- The phrase "super-efficient" remember: courses are a short-cut to an outcome. People want to learn as quickly as possible!
- He threw in a bonus. Even if you're planning on offering free consultations with your course, consider framing them as an added bonus your students get on top of their purchase.
- He defined who his course was for: "everyone from the first-time lettering artist to the seasoned pro.
Case study or testimonial
A case study is a look at someone who has already gone through your curriculum and benefited from it.
For example, if you're teaching how to negotiate for a raise in your corporate job, take a look at someone who took your course and successfully negotiated her biggest raise to date.
A testimonial is someone singing praise for you as an instructor or your course. Here's a great testimonial featured on the Provide Skills sales page:
Your call to action is simply the place where you're going to urge your audience to take the plunge and purchase your online course.
Introduce yourself! People are going to be curious about who you are and what your credentials may be.
Depending on the nature of your online course, you might want to include the following:
- How long you've been in your field
- Any exciting highlights from your time in the field
- Any cool opportunities your skill has given you
Here's a great instructor bio from Coding Explained:
If people are still on the edge of deciding whether or not to purchase, giving them a sneak peek of your curriculum can help them get excited.
Here's an example of how that might look from Pitch Perfect by Elana Gross.
Another case study or testimonial
Again, highlight how incredible your course is by sharing someone else's experiences with it. Interspersing your sales page with endorsement from others is a subtle way to make major progress on convincing someone to buy your course.
My philosophy: the more thorough your FAQ page is, the less time you'll spend answering the same question over and over again via email.
Your FAQ can calm your audiences fears over things like refund policies, and also help them understand the nature of your online course a little bit better.
Here is a great example of an FAQ Section from Content Strategist Certification Course.
Here's your final CTA! Hopefully by now your audience has made up their mind to purchase, and this is going to make it easy on them.
Having multiple opportunities to buy on your page helps you secure "impulse purchases" that you may have lost if your prospective customer had to scroll like crazy trying to find your "buy" button.
3 Golden rules for sales page design
When you're designing your sales page, it's easy to go overboard and try to use all of the colors or all of the fonts and all of the sudden your sales page has gone from sleek and professional to arts and crafts gone wrong.
- Make your text black or dark gray. You can even get away with a very dark blue, purple, or maroon but choose your colors wisely. You may be super excited about your course and that compells you to want to use a bright, happy yellow for your main font, but that's hard to read.
Definitely incorporate color into other aspects of your sales page, but when it comes to the text, simple is often better.
- Choose a color scheme. Do this so you’ve got brand consistency and your entire sales page is streamlined. If you choose from three or four main colors your page will look more polished and put together.
- Be picky with your stock images. Ask yourself: Can your customers see themselves in your pictures? Maybe you love the picture of the graceful ballerina leaping with an arm full of roses, but if your course is about fashion for the office that image won't translate well.
There are so many stock image sites available, with a bit of digging you can find pictures that fit your brand, perfectly.
Once you've got your sales page on point, you can start email marketing! If you're interested in seeing examples of the types of emails you should be writing for your online business check out our ultimate email example guide.
Now go make some sales!