If you want to launch an online course, you need to have a solid product launch plan.
Most people create an online course, slap it on their website and send out an email to their tiny tiny email list.
This doesn’t lead to any sales (trust me I’ve tried it and I’ve failed miserably!)
Here’s what you need to do instead:
You need to create some excitement about your course before you start promoting it.
This requires educating and nurturing your audience, so that when it comes to talking about your online course they’re ready to hear about it.
Online entrepreneurs and course creators are ALWAYS talking about launching because they know it’s important.
But wishing for people to enrol in your course and knowing how to do a product launch are two totally different things.
So, how do you tackle the intimidating task of launching an online course?
In this blog post I’m cracking the door wide open on the product launch, so that you have everything you need to know to have a successful launch.
What is a product launch?
A product launch is the process of creating huge amounts of buzz and excitement before an online course is released.
A product launch is broken down into three phases:
Let’s break down each phase shall we?
This is the lifeblood of your entire product launch. In this period you create hype and excitement for your course before you “open cart” and start promoting your course. The aim of the prelaunch is to build authority, anticipation, credibility and social proof, so that you prime your audience for your course.
You do this by creating high-value content that is delivered over a period of 5-12 days through email, video, webinars or a free course.
This is the big day that you’ve been building up to and it’s the day when you officially open your shopping cart and invite people to enrol in your online course. Typically, it starts with an email that basically says “We’re opening up for enrolment and you can join our program now”. This can last from anywhere between 1-8 days, when you finally close your shopping cart.
This is the period where you follow up with your customers to make sure that they are fully supported. This might include a follow-up sequence that answers people’s questions or gives them the best tips and advice to make the most out of your online course. It’s also an opportunity to follow up with prospects who didn’t purchase your course. In this case, you can give them more value to help them out of pure good will.
Why a product launch is so freaking important
Instead of promoting a product out of the blue and asking people to “buy it now!”, a product launch creates a build up of anticipation, which leads to more sales.
Not only that, a product launch is a conversation between you and your audience. And it gets people enrolling into your online course more because of the various social triggers that a product launch fulfils.
These social triggers are usually:
1. Anticipation. Anticipation allows you to grab your audience’s attention, so that they look forward to hearing about your new product.
2. Social Proof. This is when someone sees positive comments about your course, they’re much more likely to enrol themselves.
3. Scarcity. When there is less is something, we want it more. And if there’s scarcity in our course (such as limited spots available) we’re more motivated to sign up.
4. Trust. People need to trust you before they buy from you. A product launch allows you to build trust with your audience over a period of time.
5. Authority. When you share high quality content with your audience, people see you as the go-to person in your niche. This hugely influences your audience to sign up to your course.
In short, a product launch is an incredibly powerful marketing method because it builds on social triggers that influences people’s decisions and buying behaviours.
Now, let’s dig into the steps you need to take to have a successful product launch.
12 steps to have a successful product launch
1. Choose a profitable online course
An unforgettable online course starts with an idea. An idea that gets people *results*.
Have you ever heard of the butterfly effect? It’s the idea that an online course needs to give someone a transformation. Meaning that the course takes them from where they’re at now (point a) to where they want to be (point b).
So, where will someone be at the end of your online course? How will they feel?
This is key because a good course doesn’t need to have massive amounts of information. It just needs to cover the essential content that helps your audience achieve a specific result.
An online course also needs to sell. Here’s 3 ways to know whether it will sell:
There’s similar courses out now who are teaching the same topic
You’ve already made revenue by serving 1:1 clients on this topic
People are investing in money to learn about your topic through books, webinars and events
If the answer is yes to one of these, then it’s about offering, pricing and doing your first product launch.
2. Set revenue goal
Before you launch an online course, it’s a good idea to set a revenue goal, so that you know what you need to achieve it.
Let’s pretend that your revenue goal is £1,000. Now, let’s work out how many email subscribers you need to launch your course using the course formula.
On average 1-3% of your email list will convert to paying customers during your product launch.
So, in this case, let’s make an estimate that the conversion rate of your course will be 2%. So, if you priced your course at £250, you’d need to sell 5 copies to hit your revenue goal of £1,000. Plus, you’d need 250 people on your email list if only 2% of those people became paying customers.
Revenue goal (£1,000) = (Total # followers X conversion rate 0.2 ) X £250
= Sell 5 copies
= 250 followers
In short, if you want to reach your revenue goal, you need to reverse engineer it and work out a) the price your course and b) the total number of email subscribers you need to have a successful launch.
And if your goal is to grow your email list, you can grow your email list to 1000 email subscribers relatively quickly. (*Check out step 5).
3. Sell first, build later
So, here’s a secret, you don’t have to create your course content before you launch it.
In fact, I’d recommend pre-selling your course before you create your course content. To do this, all you need to do is create the welcome workbook of your online course and create a checkout page for people to buy the course. (That’s right, pre-selling requires very minimal effort and you don’t even need to create a sales page!)
I prefer pre-selling an online course for a few reasons:
1. It’s the only way of getting real proof that your online course is something that people want
2. It ensures that you don’t waste time, energy or money running a course that isn’t validated first
3. It’s the fastest route to generate social proof and testimonials for your course. Which are useful when it comes to launching your course!
Once you’ve got 5 people buying your online course during the pre-sell phase, you’ve successfully validated your course. Hoorah! That was easy 🙂
4. Launch plan
Doing a product launch is a mammoth of a task. It’s like launching a book. It’s something that requires MONTHS of planning because there’s lots of moving parts that go into a launch. That’s why I recommend that you plan your product launch 2 months in advance so you have time to plan and create your content.
So, you want to be super organised and know every action you need to take to have a successful product launch.
That’s why I recommend that you have a product launch plan, so you have a definitive checklist of all of the actions you need to take to launch.
For example, you need to plan your:
Launch email sequences
Tools & systems
And… how to make sales after your launch
Psst, you can win the Launch Playbook. This is designed to help you plan and organise a successful course launch.
Psst, you can snag a copy of the Launch Checklist. This checklist breaks down every action you need to have an epic product launch.
5. Grow audience
Now, if you haven’t got an audience of email subscribers it’s time to put your grafting boots on.
If you want to have a successful launch, you MUST have an email list. An email list gives you a licence to print money online, so don’t ignore this step.
There’s two ways you can grow your email list:
The hare includes list building strategies that get you thousands of email subscribers FAST. These might be giveaways, free email courses, challenges, webinars and paid advertising.
The tortoise, on the other hand are list building strategies that bring in email subscribers at a slower pace. These are opt in freebies, content upgrades and guest posting.
The key is to focus on 1-2 list building strategies, and double down on them until you have an audience of people.
6. Tackle imposter syndrome
It’s time for real talk.
The number one thing that’s holding you back from having a successful product launch is imposter syndrome.
If you’re holding back from doing a product launch it’s likely because you don’t think you’re “ready” yet and you’re waiting for the “perfect time” to launch.
I’ve spoken to countless coaches, course creators and consultants and they ALL have imposter syndrome regardless of what level they’re at.
And the interesting thing about imposter syndrome is that actual imposters don’t feel like imposters and actual frauds don’t feel like frauds. Isn’t that mad?!
Believe it or not, imposter syndrome is the most common in high functioning women who have strong values of excellence, integrity and humility.
>> Hey, that includes you btw 🙂
So, grab a piece of paper and ask yourself what are your biggest fears about doing a product launch? How does imposter syndrome hold you back from launching? Is it procrastination? Not wanting to be seen? It’s time to bust those gremlins that we’ve been led to believe through social conditioning. Ugh.
7. Create an offer
After you’ve validated your course idea and you’ve got proof that people are willing to pay for it, you want to create an irresistible offer.
This includes the course promise, pricing, core training and support.
And one more thing, if your product launch is over a period of 8 days then it’s likely that 80% of your sales will come through on day 7 and 8! So, you want to think about how you can bring in sales earlier, so that you don’t get super overwhelmed.
Pro tip. Offer time-limited bonuses, so that people have an incentive to sign up to your course earlier.
What are bonuses? Bonuses are extra resources or lessons that aren’t a necessity for your students to achieve a result from your course. Usually, they’re additional content that helps people to get more out of your online course.
8. Create a sales page
Finally, you need a sales page to direct people to buy your course. Duh! Once your dream customer lands on your page, you want them to instantly feel excited because the course is the right fit for them.
Here’s a few elements to consider:
The title of the course
The sub description
The outcome and transformation for each module
Testimonials that showcase social proof
How you’ll accept payments
Pro tip. Offering payment plans will have a huge impact on the online course sales you make. Sometimes people want to sign up but they just don’t have the money to sign up today. So, giving them an option to pay in instalments increases the chances of them saying “yes!”
9. Create hype and excitement
One of the things I see a lot is people spending months creating a course and then saying “I’ve created a course, now how do I sell it?”
And I can’t help but feel bad for them because they didn’t know any better.
Instead, you want to presell your course first, so you have proof that people are actually going to buy it when it comes to launching it.
One of the best ways to do this is to create buzz and excitement for your online course by doing a challenge, webinar or bootcamp.
Here’s some examples of great pre-launch activities:
A) Video series – like the style that Denise Duffield Thomas has done for her Money Bootcamp course
B) A 5 day challenge – like Melyssa Griffin’s Triple Your Traffic Challenge
C) A webinar – like Boss Babe’s IG Growth & Monetization Blueprint
In short, choose a launch method that creates buzz and makes your audience look forward to the product launch.
10. Simple or pro
When you’re planning your product launch, you want to choose the tools to run your launch and online course. What email provider will you use? What medium will you use for your pre-launch hoopla? How will you record your video lessons? These are all important questions you want to consider.
Ultimately, you need to decide whether you’re going to go simple or pro. The simple approach is where you use low-cost tools that give you the essential elements you need to deliver a good online course. The pro path, on the other hand is where you might have a custom website and better technology for your online course.
In my opinion, no path is better than the other. You can use low-cost software and overtime you can slowly upgrade the programs and software you use, so you can do more complicated stuff with emails later.
Here’s a list of low cost tools:
This is perfect for course creators who want an affordable email marketing system. It allows you to keep in touch with your students and drip course content with automation sequences with the paid version starting at $14.99 a month.
You can create your product sales page on your blog.
This is great for screen recording the presentations for your online course.
This is perfect for hosting your videos for your online course. It allows you to link or embed your videos on your website.
This is perfect for hosting a live class or webinar with your online course students. The free version allows you to have free calls up to 50 participants for 40 minutes but if you want a longer call you can get the paid version starting at £11.99 a month.
Samcart is perfect for collecting payments from your students and it starts at $19 a month.
On the other hand, the whole package approach is a higher-cost solution that allows you to deliver a standout brand and user experience.
Here’s a list of more advanced tools:
Convert kit is perfect for pro bloggers or online entrepreneurs who want landing pages, sales pages and email automation. This starts at $29 a month.
This is one step further from Convert Kit as it is gives you almost everything you need to host a course. This allows you to create landing pages, sales pages, checkout pages, email campaigns and membership sites. This starts at $89 a month.
11. Look after your customers
This is a big one. There’s been a huge influx of online courses in the past few years. I’ve signed up to a couple of online courses where they promised me the moon but gave me dirty laundry.
That’s why you want to make sure that you have a good onboarding process once someone has purchased your course. The most obvious one is the course content. In my own experience I’ve signed up to an online course and paid £597 for it and it was a mess. It was obvious that everything was written as a first draft and it wasn’t easy to follow at all.
Or another programme that I paid £2,500 for and it was mostly PDFs. I was disappointed in the course because of how it was delivered and it a lot of the content was quite vague.
But I have done a few courses that I’ve found incredibly valuable. More often than not, they’re more streamlined. The core principles of the topic are clearly defined through making each lesson easier to understand and implement. And it’s really clear what the order of steps are to reach a specific outcome.
My personal favourites are:
Pinfinite Growth by Melyssa Griffin
List Builders Society by Amy Porterfield
Plus, there’s a few more things you can do to look after your customers.
Joanne Wiebe from one of my favourite blogs, Copyhackers recommends that you ask your audience this one question after they purchase your course: “where were you at in your life that brought you to buying this course today?”. This collects information about your audience’s motivations and desires. (And you can use this to improve product development and customer satisfaction).
Have a regular live community call, so that people can ask their questions about the course. No longer is just an online course good enough for people to get results. People need accountability and support.
Send a follow up sequence that helps your students make the most of your online course. Amy Porterfield sent me 5 emails once I signed up to List Builder’s Lab and I loved them!
Keep your customers happy, give them plenty of support and they’ll refer your course to their friends.
12. Plan how you’ll make consistent sales after
After the big launch is over, you want to think about how you’re going to make consistent sales.
There’s no good putting months into a launch and then, having a successful 10-14 day period and then letting it slide. Ideally, you want to think about what you’re going to do to continue making sales. What will you do after the launch is over? What marketing activities will you do to bring in sales?
That’s why I recommend that you create a solid marketing strategy for consistent sales. Moving forward, you can sell your online course every day and launch your course every half a year or every quarter. This might be with webinars, free email courses, video series or blog posts.
So, there you have it! There’s the 12 steps you need to take to have a successful product launch. I hope that helps!
Overwhelmed with launching your course?
The Launch Accelerator is my signature coaching and training program designed to give you the strategy, tools and support for a profitable online course launch. It gives you the EXACT process maps and step-by-step execution guides I use with my clients, so you can say goodbye to soul-sucking projects and replace your one-on-one income with an online course.