Successful course creators know exactly how important it is to have a well-thought-out pre-launch strategy for their online courses.
Creating a great online course isn’t enough to make sure it captures the target audience’s attention and sells quickly. You also need to pay attention to how you’ll launch your online course to maximize sales.
In this article, we’ll take a look at some pre-launch strategies for online courses that you can use for a successful course launch. Along the way, we’ll also go through some best practices and share actionable tips to help you get started with a step in the right direction.
#1: Build your email list
One of the biggest mistakes you can make before launching your online course is not building an email list. The great thing about having a mailing list is that you can easily get in touch with people who are interested in your content. This is a great way to promote your online course, let subscribers know where they can get it from, and why they should.
Segmented email lists let you connect with people who have already expressed interest in the topics you’re covering. You can sort contacts by people who’ve subscribed but haven’t purchased your online course and people who’ve purchased your online course. This way, you can rest assured that you won’t email customers over and over again.
A great way to start creating your email list is by adding an opt-in form to your landing page or blog posts. You can encourage visitors to subscribe or sign up for your mailing list by offering something in exchange for their email address. This could be a one-time thing like a checklist or template, or an on-going subscription such as a weekly (or monthly) email newsletter.
#2: Get the word out
You need to start promoting your upcoming online course before post-production is complete. One way to get started is by leveraging existing social media marketing channels. For example, if you have a Facebook group, Facebook page, Instagram, LinkedIn, or Twitter, you can use social media posts to promote the upcoming online course.
It’s also important to use the right hashtags. This way, you can get your message out to your social media followers and people who are likely to be interested in learning about your course. For example, if you’re launching an online course on street photography, you should use the #streetphotography #course hashtags to reach the maximum number of people.
#3: Send direct messages
If you’re launching a niche online course, consider sending personalized messages to potential customers. For example, you can send direct messages via LinkedIn Message, Facebook Message, or even text messages to people who’re likely to purchase your online course.
This way, you’ll be able to initiate dialogue with prospective students and gather responses which will help generate interest in your upcoming online course. Plus, their feedback will be useful in shaping a more effective pre-launch strategy.
Remember to address recipients directly and let them know why you think they would benefit from purchasing your online course. Highlight the benefits of your online course that are most relevant to them.
#4: Tell them over and over again
When it comes to telling your target audience about your upcoming online course, you need to do it over and over again. Put simply, by repeating your message, you’re able to reach out to a wider audience straight away.
And if you don’t want to repeat your message word for word, you can re-purpose its content by using an image editing tool like Canva.
A subtle way to get your message across without being overly promotional is by embedding the same message into different types of social posts. For example, you can:
- Share an image containing your message.
- Post it in response to someone’s comment.
- Make a quick, minute-long video telling your followers about your upcoming course.
This way, you’ll be able to get people to learn about your new course and generate interest.
#5: Do a giveaway
You can start your course launch by giving away your online course for free to some students.
Here are some things to bear in mind when giving away courses to students:
- They should be genuinely interested in your product even if you have a difference of opinion with them.
- Look for people who’ve helped or assisted you in any way in the past.
- Go with a diverse group of individuals by giving the course away to people of different ages, interests, and experiences. For instance, if you’re marketing a 3D animation training video, consider mixing up people with varying levels of experience in animation such as novice and advanced animators or people who create animations for work and those who do it for fun.
Alternatively, you can do a giveaway to ten random subscribers or new social media followers. This is also a great way to build your email list which will help you promote your course later on.
#6: Create a course preview or promo
If you’ve created video content for your online course, you should consider making a preview, teaser, or promo video. You can get your course producer to do this or create it yourself using a camera or smartphone. Teaser videos are especially useful for introducing your online course to prospective customers. Not to mention, it can also be used as an ad video on Instagram or Facebook.
Teaser videos are usually short and tend to last around a minute or less. If your product demands a longer time duration, try to keep it under two minutes. This is because most social media users have short attention spans and you want to make sure they receive the entire message.
You don’t need to spend a lot of money to create a teaser video, however, it needs to project authenticity and should clearly inform the viewer about what they can expect to get by purchasing your online course.
#7: Run targeted ads
Creating an online course requires a lot of work and effort and you need to make sure you get the word out about the upcoming online course to as many people as possible. This is where you can use your email list to find prospective customers as well as identify audiences that are “similar” to them. Facebook, for example, lets you create lookalike audiences with just 100 people from the same country.
Over time, as you continue to grow your email list, your lookalike audience will become more accurate and effective in narrowing down the right target audience for your online course.
#8: Pay attention to the branding
While you probably already know the importance of using logos, visuals, and other elements of branding, you shouldn’t spend the bulk of your resources and effort on designing the perfect logo or using color schemes prior to launching your online course. In fact, it’s equally possible to launch an online product with something as simple as a free Google Form – without using a logo or even having a proper website.
That said, if you’ve already created a course site, you can certainly incorporate branding elements on your web pages and landing pages. Consider creating a simple logo using a tool like Canva; you can always go back to the drawing board later.
#9: Launch your MVP
Some course creators build a minimum viable product (MVP), also called a pilot course, which serves as the first version of their online course that they’re looking to improve and sell at a higher price later on.
The MVP approach gives you useful feedback about whether or not people are willing to purchase an online course on the topic you’ve decided to cover. In addition to this, it’s a great way to secure testimonials from students who’ve completed the course. You can use this information to improve your course content and create additional helpful resources for new students.
Consider offering your pilot course at a lower price tag than what you will be charging for your “ultimate” course. Since this is your minimum viable product, you need to sell it to your first batch of students at a discounted rate to get more registrations. It’s a good idea to put an enrollment limit on these initial group of students. With time, as you make improvements to your online course and gather positive reviews from students who have completed your course, you can refine your online course and sell it at a higher price point.
A well-thought-out pre-launch strategy for your online course is all about getting the right message across to your target audience and gathering valuable feedback.
The good news is that there are several ways to go about doing this. You can build an email list, do giveaways, post on social media, and even start out by launching your minimum viable product instead of the final version.
Do you have any tips for launching a successful online course that you’d like to share with other course creators? We’d love to hear from you