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You’re not making anywhere near the level of course sales that you could be.
It doesn’t matter if you have the cheapest price point, or the largest number of lectures.
It doesn’t matter if you’ve hired a professional copywriter, and paid them tens of thousands of dollars to build your landing pages.
It doesn’t even matter that you have the absolute best course on the market right now.
You’re not making anywhere near the level of course sales that you could be.
And that’s okay. But I want to help you change that.
When you’ve put so much time and energy into creating an awesome product, it’s natural to want to get it into the hands of as many people as possible. However, almost all course creators make some common mistakes that severely hinder their ability to acquire new students.
In this article, let’s look over these mistakes in more detail, and discuss practical strategies you can use to begin increasing your sales right away.
1. You Haven’t Analyzed Your Potential Buyers
Before you even create your course, you should have a pretty clear understanding on who your eventual students will be.
What they care about, what their true problems are, and how much they’re willing to pay to solve those problems.
You should have a clear understanding on what values resonate with them, and the most effective manner to communicate with and teach them.
Far too many course creators base their courses around what they like – their learning style, their lecture ideas, even the course topic itself.
The problem with this is that your own personal opinions of what’s good and what isn’t, may not reflect the true feelings of the marketplace.
Remember, you’re not creating a course for yourself, you’re creating a course for your audience.
Before you even begin, you should validate your ideas – proving that people care about the topic enough to spend money on a course, and researching the most effective ways to deliver the value you’re offering.
Some questions to ask yourself include…
- Is the content most effectively taught in text, audio, or video format?
- Should content be taught on a schedule, dripped out over time, or should all of it be given up front?
- Should you include tests, quizzes, or assignments to measure understanding?
- How important is communication with you, the instructor, throughout the process?
- Would it be better to build one comprehensive course, or split it up into multiple smaller courses?
- What price should you offer your course for?
Try to collect as much data about this upfront. Look at other competing courses, survey your audience if you have one, and put yourself in the mind of your target consumer.
If you’ve already released your course, don’t worry. You’re not doomed, and it’s still worth testing out some of these ideas when applicable.
Let’s move on.
2. You’re Not Running Tests On Your Sales Pages
You may have heard about the importance of testing, but are you actually doing it?
Would you start if you were told that it could increase your sales by 3X or more, with only a few small changes?
This has been the case for countless others, and it could be for you as well.
Conversion rate optimization is an ongoing process that is never truly complete. Regardless of how many tests you run, consumer behavior changes as time goes on, which means that even if you build the ‘perfect’ sales page, it won’t stay that way forever.
All major companies continuously test everything they can to help their pages move visitors towards their targets.
Jeff Bezos, CEO of Amazon once said “Our success at Amazon is a function of how many experiments we do per year, per month, per week, per day.”
They run thousands of tests per year.
When it comes to split testing, you’ll want to start with major changes first – those that will have the biggest impact on conversions.
Try testing these out on your course sales pages:
- Sales video vs. no sales video.
- Long-form sales page vs short-form sales page.
- Long sales video vs. short sales video.
- Including lecture video lengths, or omitting them.
- Having leaks on your sales pages – links to other pages on your site, vs. removing them.
- Layout of your different sections.
- Section headlines.
- Different bonuses or special offers.
Again, test out major changes first. This is especially true if you don’t make a lot of sales already – higher impact changes will yield definitive results more quickly, and allow you to run more tests more effectively.
Low impact changes, like changing the color of a button, will give you marginal improvements at best and take much longer to achieve statistical significance. Save these small tweaks for later.
3. You’re Not Heatmapping Your Sales Pages
Similar to split testing, heatmapping your sales pages can provide a lot of insight as to what’s actually working for you, and what isn’t.
You get to see exactly where people’s attention is going, what they’re actually reading over and paying attention to, and where you can improve.
After all, you’re missing out on a lot of good opportunity to sell your course, if you include all of your best points in an area nobody is paying attention to.
This isn’t necessarily due to the content being bad or uninteresting. People just may not naturally see it. Heatmapping can make this clear.
In these instances, a layout or design change can help draw attention to the areas of your sales pages that matter most.
Heatmapping can also help to generate other ideas for potential split tests, and should be monitored over time to look for changes in visitor behavior on your pages.
As far as heatmapping software goes, I use and recommend Hotjar. Hotjar also tracks how far visitors scroll on your pages, which can be useful in testing how engaging your copy really is.
4. Not Utilizing Live Chat
As if you couldn’t collect more data from the visitors on your sales pages, let’s talk about live chat.
See, live chat isn’t just for making sales. Live chat is an incredibly powerful tool for collecting data.
Pre-sale, people only reach out to customer support if they have a question or concern about something. They want to buy, but something is causing them to hesitate.
When you enable live chat on your sales pages, you are literally having people tell you exactly where your sales page fell short.
Take the questions that people ask you, and work these back into your copy. Address all of the concerns people raise on your sales page. If one person is telling you about it, many others likely had the same concern, and didn’t bother to reach out. They just left.
Live chat is best when it is never used. It is never needed, because you handled everything on your sales page already.
Live chat also has the added benefit of increasing trust and buyer confidence. Knowing that they’ll be able to reach out to somebody in the event of a problem reduces their risk, and helps them to feel more secure in their transaction.
For live chat, I currently use and recommend Tawk.to. It’s free!
5. Relying On Udemy Or Other Course Marketplaces
Placing your business in the hands of a third-party is never a good idea.
By giving up the control over your business, you put yourself at the mercy of this other company. A company that could change its rules and policies at any moment, impose new restrictions, or kick you off entirely – all without any warning or recourse.
This is pretty dangerous, and not very comforting.
I understand the temptation, because marketplaces like Udemy bring potentially large volumes of students to you on their own.
However, it really jeopardizes both the short-term and long-term health of your business.
In the short-term, running tests and improving conversions is much more difficult, because there’s only so much you can do to the sales pages. Any marketing efforts of your own, including running PPC ads, are more difficult to measure and it’s hard to be sure whether or not they’re actually working. You may also not be able to deliver content in all of the ways you want to, which means that your products may not be as good as they could be.
In the long-term, you’re working to build up Udemy’s business – not your own. The students belong to Udemy, not to you. You’re incredibly restricted with how you can interact with them, and promoting other products that you offer is very difficult. You can’t add people to your own email list, you can’t send people around your website, and it’s much more difficult to build any sort of brand.
Utilize Udemy if you want for their passive, organic sales – but consider channeling all of your own marketing efforts to your own platform. In the end, in this is much more powerful – even if it takes a little bit of time to get going.
6. Not Utilizing PPC
If there’s only a few skills to master when it comes to marketing info products, PPC is one of them.
PPC (pay-per-click) advertising is the act of running ads on a platform, and then paying every time somebody clicks on those ads. The most widely used of these platforms are Google Adwords, and Facebook.
Utilizing these tools, you gain access to an extremely targeted ads marketplace, that allows you to track all of your key metrics in one place.
When running these on your own site, it’s possible for you to track conversions down to an extremely specific level – not just by ad, but even by search term, demographic, device type, and so on.
It’s insanely powerful.
However, it becomes even more powerful when you figure out how to do this profitably.
If your PPC ads are profitable, it’s possible to begin making a lot of money from your courses extremely quickly. After all, if you put $1 into an ad and ultimately earn back $2, the only limit to your earnings is how much money you can put in while remaining profitable.
All the while, you are sending plenty of people to your sales pages, which you can use to further optimize them through well-executed split tests – allowing you to spend more per click and still remain profitable.
7. You’re Not Developing A Content Strategy, And Building Funnels
On the opposite end of PPC, you’ll also want to be sure that you have a good branding and content strategy in place.
When somebody purchases a course, you are also part of the product. Access to you, and the information inside of your head. Your style of teaching, your mannerisms, your experience and insights.
When people feel that they know you and your brand, your sales pages will convert better. You’ll also ensure that a steady stream of new students will begin flowing in, and growing over time.
To do this, you need to structure your entire content strategy around a funnel.
In my blog post, Branding Isn’t Everything – Balancing Branding Vs. Direct Response Advertising, I discuss heavily the importance of content when it comes to building a branding strategy. Content will increase your trust and likability. It will give you a platform to show people that you actually know what you’re talking about, and that you’re an authoritative figure in your space. It will offer you plenty of chances to make your existing audience aware of your offerings, while subtly showing them why they need your products in the first place, and what specifically makes them so great.
Content marketing works best however, when you escalate the relationship. This is where funnels come into play.
A funnel can be as simple as this.
A person arrives on your blog post. You entice them to sign up to your email list through a relevant lead magnet or content upgrade. You can now get messages in front of them regularly, and you use this to build up your relationship by offering them a ton of value. You begin to show people how your products can benefit them. You ask them to buy.
If they do buy, you still continue offering them plenty of value, but you begin to cross-promote other products and services. This could be another, related course you offer, or a different service entirely – such as one-on-one coaching through Skype.
I like to believe that I will do business with every single person that reads my blog. It may not be today, it may not even be next year. Eventually however, the time will be right. And I will be right there waiting when they’re ready.
This all happens due to content. Everything in my business stems from this.
Therefore, I have two recommendations:
1. Pick up the course I offer on blogging. It’s 60+ lectures on my best blogging advice, and will show you exactly what you need to do to create a content strategy that works for you. I make most of my money here through courses, so I understand how this all comes together. We’re going to make your blog into a conversion machine, an asset that is continuously sending new students your way day-in, and day-out.
2. If you already have a blog that is generating customers for you, grab my course on email marketing instead. This course is a bit more technical, but will show you how to acquire even more subscribers from your blog, and maximize the value of each subscriber. It goes into more detail about funneling subscribers towards eventual purposes, and how to effectively nurture leads for easy sales. We’ll also develop a framework that ensures your email marketing sequences continue to improve over time.
8. You’re Not Setting Yourself Up For Future Sales
It is said that it’s 5 to 25 times more costly to acquire a new customer, than to retain an existing one.
Likewise, it is much more expensive to sell a course to somebody new, than to sell another course to somebody who has already purchased one from you.
However, this is only true if the buyer feels like they truly got their money’s worth. That your course was valuable enough for the price that they paid, and they’re confident your next course will deliver an equal or greater amount of value.
This means that…
- You should actually deliver upon the promises made in all of your advertising, including your sales pages.
- Update your courses as time goes on.
- You respected the buyer’s time, and didn’t fill your course with useless fluff.
- The experience was pleasing – your course was easy to navigate, and audio / video quality were satisfactory.
- If any customer support was needed, you or your team handled it in a quick and pleasant manner.
- You’re available for your students and actually care about their success.
- You would have paid for the course if you were in their position.
The best time to get that second sale is shortly after the first one. Leave buyers glowing by really overdelivering with your course, and future sales will be simple in comparison.
The day you release your course out into the marketplace isn’t the day you’re done working on it – it’s just the day the next stage begins.
This fact is extremely liberating – it means that more sales are within your reach. Regardless of where you’re at now, you can do more – all while working towards releasing even more great products, and building your brand in other areas.
I hope that this article has sparked some ideas in you. If there’s ever anything that I can help you with, please don’t hesitate to reach out.
To your success,
– James McAllister
Review the main points of this article in the SlideShare below. Feel free to embed this on your site, use it in your organization, and share it with others! All I ask is that you give credit! (Download links are available from SlideShare’s website, which you can access by clicking the LinkedIn icon)