You’ve come up with an eCourse idea and created the content (or at least a detailed plan!) and now it’s time to launch your eCourse out into the world. But where do you start? You’ve heard about soft launches, launch calendars, pre-launch strategies and conversion rates but what do they all mean?
Never fear, I’m going to run you through the key tasks you need to be undertaking during a launch from building your list, creating your sales page, to accepting payment and registrations and promoting your eCourse.
But I warn you – launches are complex and multifaceted – so whilst I can give you an overview you might need to sign-up for my detailed checklist to get more details on a new product launch process.
1. Sales Page – Copywriting & Design
Your key asset to launch your eCourse is your sales page. You have two options – do it yourself (DIY) or custom design. I started out DIY’ing very simple sales pages and since then some great tools have come on the market such as Optimise Press, Lead Pages and some great one page themes perfect for sales page.
Your sales page is often the first contact people have with your eCourse brand so investing in some professional branding (i.e. eCourse logo and brand identity) or a full blown custom sales page can really pay dividends. It shows people that you are serious about your eCourse and that they can expect a high quality program from you. I’ve worked with Ellissa Jayne on beautiful sales pages like this one (as well as this website) and it has made a huge difference to my business and sales.
Another key consideration is whether to write your own sales page or get it written by a copywriter and a third option is to write a draft and find a copywriter who is happy to refine it for you. There are pros and cons to working with a copywriter as I do believe that you know your eCourse, your brand and your tribe much better than anyone else ever will but the question is can you communicate that knowledge effectively and speak to the heart of their needs and desires? If you find a really great copywriter they will draw all this great knowledge out of you and create a sales page that even sounds like you (only better!). My go to copywriter gal is Jess Larsen of Hello Wordsmith and Jess is also a guest expert contributor in the eCourse Launch Formula helping participants to write exceptional copy that sells.
You can also get a checklist of what to cover in your sales page in my eCourse Essentials Toolkit here.
2. Payment & Registration
Your sales page needs to have two basic functionalities other than persuading people to buy. Firstly it should be able to take payment electronically without your intervention and secondly it should bring participants to a registration page for your list or membership program or even better automatically register them through the purchase process.
There are a tonne of tools out there (and I’ve used a few) from simple through to advanced including pay-pal buttons, e-junkie, woo-commerce (or other online store) through to full customer management systems like Infusionsoft. In the eCourse Launch Formula I show you how to set up three different types of payment systems for your eCourse.
Some of these systems can be set up to automatically register participants otherwise you need to find a way to divert them to a registration page for your list (i.e. mailchimp form) after payment. I discuss how to achieve this in the eCourse launch formula.
Some membership platforms like WishList Member can be set-up to integrate with a payment platform (such as pay-pal or woo-commerce) and a mailing list provider (such as Mailchimp) so that the whole process is seamless and automatic.
But be warned these technologies can, and do, go wrong so test, test, test and be prepared to trouble shoot issues during the launch process (with a wine in hand!)
3. Pre-Launch Activities
Depending on the size of your list you may want to do what is known as a ‘pre-launch’. During the pre-launch the sales page is generally not live.
This is where Soft Launches should be explained. Soft Launches are a launch that is pretty simple in nature such as just a few emails to your list and posts on social media – in this context soft = basic, easy, simple.
However, in general, it pays to do a full launch process including pre-launch activities. The purpose of the pre-launch phase is to build your list and engage people on that list. People do this through a variety of activities such as free opt-ins, webinars, summits, email challenges and video series to name a few.
These pre-launch activities are the perfect time to use a Facebook Ads strategy as you are sending people to an opt-in rather than a sales page and you have a better chance of converting a cold lead to a sale if they are on your list. Also as you can measure conversions to your list from Facebook ads and then measure how many actually sign-up you can get a better understanding of your return on investment (for more on Facebook Ads read this).
A pre-launch phase can run from anywhere from 1 week to multiple months depending on your list building goals and timeframes.
Tools like Lead Pages, Landing Pages and Landing Page Monkey offer great customised opt-in pages and delivery templates for pre-launch strategies such as video series and webinar replay templates.
4. Launch Baby Launch!
The Launch process is that moment when your sales page is ready and you are ready to email your list and get the word out there on social media.
But there is so much more involved than this for a profitable launch and it can send you a little crazy!
You should be creating a launch calendar and having clear strategies to continuously bring in leads throughout your launch.
The fact is that launches are a numbers game. The average conversion rate is around 1-2% so if you get your sales page in front of 500 people you can reasonably expect 5-10 enrollments (assuming it is a needed and well targeted offer). Now many people, particularly those with small & engaged lists, achieve much higher conversion than this. These days my conversion rate is around 3% but when I started out with a smaller and more engaged list it was up to 20%. But you can see that the more people you get in front of the better your launch.
You should have an email sales campaign pre-written and scheduled that you can tweak if necessary as you go. Whilst in the early days I wrote these emails on the go it is so much easier to write them upfront and know that they are going out regularly on autopilot.
You should email your list a lot more than feels comfortable remembering people do not read every email they get immediately so the more you send the better chance you have of getting noticed. People will just forget or get busy so when your early-bird or enrollment is closing make sure you email frequently to capture as many sales as possible. OK, so I’m not talking stalker quantities here (like 10 emails a day) but during the critical points of your launch when specials are ending or enrollment is closing 2-4 emails over 24 hours is acceptable.
You should consider an affiliate program to get in front of people you otherwise wouldn’t and approach other businesses to write guest blogs during your launch period for the same reason.
Launches take work, strategy and persistence and are quite stressful and for this reason in the eCourse Launch Formula we cover all manner of launch strategies and have guest expert contributors in the areas of social media, copywriting and publicity to help you accelerate your launch. My support forum for the eCourse Launch Formula becomes invaluable during the launch process when you feel a bit overwhelmed and scared or when you need a quick change of strategy to increase sales.
And as a special bonus in my free video series I give away the exact strategy that I have used to achieve 5-figure launches for the last 3 years.
If you would like to work with me to create your Online Course check out the eCourse Launch Formula – your complete step by step guide to creating a profitable and passion driven eCourse.