It’s frustrating as hell…
You pour your knowledge and passion into creating an online course.
You’re confident it’s exactly what people need.
But when you come to launch it, instead of a flood of sales… you only get a trickle.
(Or maybe none at all.)
It stings. Worse than that, it’s embarrassing.
However, when your course fails to sell, a small number of reasons usually explain why.
And if you know what they are, you can fix them (or avoid them in the first place.)
#1 Your Targeting is Too Broad or Too Fuzzy
You know you should market your course to a narrow, well-defined audience.
But you also worry that focusing too tightly might exclude other buyers.
So you compromise.
Instead of tailoring your course (and marketing) to one specific group, you keep your audience fuzzy to allow students of many stripes. Or you try to target several groups at once.
The result: your leadership training for corporate managers becomes a course for “leaders of all flavours” or is marketed as being ideal for “entrepreneurs, business owners, or managers”.
The thing is though, it’s better to strongly attract a smaller group of people than weakly attract a larger group. And though it’s counterintuitive, you’ll actually sell more too.
So if you’re not sure which audience to focus on, that’s the problem you need to solve before relaunching your course.
#2 Your “Promise” is Not Clear or Compelling Enough
When a customer buys your course, it’s clear what you get out of the deal - their hard-earned money.
But is it clear what they get?
For customers to hand over that money in the first place, they need to be crystal clear what they’re getting in exchange.
We’re referring to your “promise”. In other words, what do you promise to give customers if they pay the price of entry?
And we’re not just talking about all the “stuff” inside your course, the lessons, resources, etc. Those are just the means to an end. We’re talking about the result your course delivers.
And that must not only be clear, but it must be compelling too. Your target customers must really want the result.
For example, if you charge £500 for your course, customers won’t buy unless they’d happily trade that sum (plus all the time they’ll put into completing the training) to get that exact result.
So if your course isn’t selling, ask yourself if the result is clear enough and compelling enough.
#3 You’re Expecting People to Spend Too Much, Too Soon
If a total stranger walked up and asked to borrow £100, would you give it to them?
What about someone you’ve known and trusted for many years?
Not everyone will answer the same, but when money’s involved, trust plays a huge part, right? If you’re lending it to someone, you must feel confident you’ll get it back.
Likewise, if you’re spending money on a course, you need to feel confident that what you get will live up to expectations.
That’s the kind of confidence which is usually earned over time. (After all, if you lent that stranger £5 and got it back a week later, you’d be inclined to lend them more later on.)
So if your £997 online course is the first thing you ask people to buy, expect the take-up to be very low. Chances are, you haven’t earnt the trust required for someone to take that big a leap of faith.
That’s why many successful course creators have a low-cost product that they offer first.
It’s much easier to sell something lower-priced as a first purchase. And if people feel like they got good value they’re much more likely to trust you at a higher price point.
So if your course isn’t selling, ask yourself if you’re asking people to spend too much, too soon.
#4 You’re Not Giving People a Reason to Act Now
Most human beings are natural procrastinators.
And it’s not even a flaw. Most of the time it’s a matter of necessity.
We all have tens - if not hundreds - of things we could do at any one moment in time. So we naturally prioritize those things where we have the strongest reason to take action.
How high on your target customers to-do list is buying your course? Is it an “urgent” item or “someday/maybe”?
Because it’s a mistake to think that non-buyers are always people who weren’t convinced by your offer. Sometimes they’re just people who intended to buy but never got round to it.
So you need to ask yourself the question: what will make people prioritize buying my course over other things they intend to do?
Sometimes it’s just about reminding people of the pain of not being where they want to be. When their discomfort reaches a certain level they’ll think “I’m sick of this!” and take action.
But more often than not, it’s by using our old friend FOMO - the Fear Of Missing Out.
Use a “limited window” launch to prompt people to act before a deadline.
Or offer a limited time bonus for those who take action sooner.
If your course isn’t selling, how can you give people a reason to act not procrastinate?
#5 You’re Not Reaching Enough of the Right People
Here’s a hard truth to wrap your head around…
Even if you put the perfect offer in front your ideal audience, the vast majority of them won’t buy.
And it’ll be for lots of good reasons. Maybe they can’t afford it at the moment. Maybe they’re crazy busy and don’t want to take on something new right now. Maybe they’re in the middle of trying to solve their problem another way, and don’t want to switch horses so soon.
The point is that beyond a certain point, it’s a numbers game.
When selling digital products to a qualified audience, a 5% conversion rate (percentage of people who see the offer and end up buying) is considered great and 2% is more typical.
That means if you want to get 10 new students into your course, you’ll need to offer it to around 200 to 500 people.
Now, in practice there are lots of factors that can affect those percentages. But if you went into your course launch thinking you’d convert one-in-three or one-in-four, you’re way off base.
On the bright side, if you’ve experienced a disappointing launch, maybe you actually did pretty well in terms of conversions. You just didn’t reach enough people.
If that’s the case, you have lots of ways to reach more people. You can build your own audience. Borrow someone else’s audience. Buy ads on Facebook or Google.
But however you do it, the numbers need to stack up.
So if your course isn’t selling, ask if you’re getting your offer in front of enough people.
What Do You Need to Fix Before Your Next Launch?
In practice a lot of things need to line up to sell your online course successfully.
But if yours isn’t selling, don’t just assume your whole concept is flawed. You may just be missing one crucial element. (And that element may not be too hard to fix.)
And if you haven’t launched your online course yet, review the list above; make sure you address each of the reasons your future course might struggle to sell.
If you don’t you’re depriving people of the amazing result your course could deliver.
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