March 26th, 2018 Business

Simply creating a course and putting a price on it is never enough for starting an online business selling courses.

You need visibility and to convince anyone who comes across your site that your course can help them. There is no hard science to this process. Marketing and selling is a bit of an art, but that isn’t a bad thing. It actually means that you have a lot of leeway in how you go about building an audience for your offerings.

Let’ say that your marketing efforts are performing well. You get a lot of people visiting your course sales page, but for some reason they are not purchasing. Or, maybe some people are buying your course but your conversion numbers are not as high as you would have hoped. In either case the process is a matter of trial and error. I can tell you that from my experience in online business that the biggest hurdle you have to overcome is trust. Specifically, you need to quickly convey to your visitors that you and your course is what they need, right then and there.

You must help your customers avoid “being wrong”.

Good sales copy is a start for this process, but how are you overcoming people’s inherent fear of “being wrong”? People pretty much universally hate to make wrong decisions. It is why many of us will only purchase something if we know 100% that it’s what we need. However, we don’t always know what we want and prefer to try things out first. This is why you see so many companies (including LearnDash) use 30-day refund periods. It gives people the freedom to try something out first.

In the context of selling online courses this is a good option but not always applicable. Another technique you can use is offering sample course content (sample lessons) free of charge. I would highly recommend collecting an email address in exchange for access to the sample lessons so that you can add these leads to your marketing funnel, but that is up to you. The content in these lessons should be amazing. Not “watered-down” or limited. If someone takes

these lessons they should walk away in a better place than they were prior to taking them. They must learn something useful that can be applied without the need of the rest of the course. By setting your course up in this way you are proving your worth and value. You establish trust. When someone signs up for sample lessons they are almost ready to buy. You just need to deliver in these lessons to close the deal.

Can you offer sample lessons with your learning management system?

If you are using an LMS that doesn’t allow for sample content then that program is very much behind the curve (LearnDash has the sample lesson feature since 2013). There are plenty of options that are both hosted and non-hosted that allow you to do this. Heck, even Udemy has this functionality.

Even if your course is free you could consider offering sample lessons. Chances are you have a paid product or service at some point in your funnel. Best to establish your credibility early in your relationship with potential customers. It will increase conversions in the long-run.

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About Justin Ferriman

Justin Ferriman started LearnDash, the WordPress LMS trusted by Fortune 500 companies, major universities, training organizations, and entrepreneurs worldwide for creating (and selling) their online courses. Justin's Homepage | Twitter


4 responses

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Interesting article Justin. I think building trust is essential and by allowing people to sample/ experience something of what you have to offer, you are providing more foundation for people to build trust on. Can I push you to think further though? Do you have any thoughts on the fears/ doubts/ seeds of distrust that people bring into their buying practices? I suspect that some people have doubts about course content, some people have doubts about the general effectiveness of eLearning as a tool, some people doubt the suitability of generic content for themselves/ their organisations… I wonder if you can elaborate this further. Much appreciated.

I think that people are looking for “solutions”. If the sales copy of a course promises to “solve the problem”, then that is often enough to get someone’s attention. However, the deciding factor is often who/what is behind the content. Testimonials from people or well-known organizations helps with this as well.

In general I think it’s best to focus on answering “what’s in it for me?”. But then validate that by providing evidence for “why you should choose us”.

Great post as always!

Thanks Will, glad you enjoyed it!

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