The Ultimate Online Course Launch Checklist
Launching an online course can be nerve-wracking, exciting and a bit confusing all at the same time.
Your online course launch will either set you up for success or leave you struggling to maximize your revenue.
Before thinking about how to launch an online course, you should have already done your research to find out:
- The problem(s) your course will solve.
- Your main target audience.
- How your course will be delivered.
Here are the three main stages of an online course launch:
- Post Launch
We’ll walk you through everything you need for each stage.
Pre-Launching Your Online Course
- Decide on your target audience to make sure you can create the content they need.
- Find out how much your target audience already knows and how your course will fill in any gaps.
- Research your competitors to discover what they’re offering and how you can improve their online courses.
Delve into your target audience’s problems and pain points
- Send surveys to your target audience to be clear on the specific problem(s) that need to be solved.
- Build a social media strategy to work out the platforms you’ll focus on.
- Keep an eye on social media for mentions of your online course topic. Join in the conversation to ask detailed questions to get a better idea of problems and the solutions people are looking for.
- Share details of your course in Facebook groups. Spamming is a huge no-no when using Facebook groups. Comment on group members’ posts with subtle hints about your online course launch.
- Find out about promotion dates for Facebook groups. These promotion threads allow you to market your online course to your heart’s content, so make sure you have a list of these dates.
List your online course’s aims and outcomes
After you’ve nailed the objectives of your online course, map out how each module will help you to meet your goals.
These checks and balances will keep you on track to deliver a value-packed online course to your target audience:
- Review the content you already have (checklists, eBooks, etc.) to find out whether you can include them in your online course or in the launch marketing materials.
- Plan the content you’ll need to build your online course.
- Create an outline of the lessons and modules that will be included in your online course. Your content outline will give you a head start when it comes to creating content.
- Keep a consistent voice throughout your content creation and your online course launch. This helps to establish your brand and to increase the trust factor in your online course.
Work out the different formats you’ll use for your content
A variety of formats help to keep your audience engaged. Here are some types of formats to use:
- Text – For workbooks, checklists, written instructions, etc.
- Audio – For on-the-go learning, interviews and podcasts.
- Video – For slide decks, how-to videos, visual instructions, presentations, etc.
- Images – Use photos for screenshots, infographics, before-and- after comparisons, etc.
Read our How to Write Subscription and Membership Content that Sells blog to create compelling and engaging content.
Work out your online course launch pricing strategy
Click here for ‘3 Tips for Pricing Your Online Course.’
Promoting Your Online Course Launch
Imagine that, after all the research and content creation you’ve done, no one knows about your online course launch.
It will come as a relief to know that you don’t have to finish creating all of your course content before you launch.
- It’s recommended that you start to pre-sell your course before you create all your content. This gives you some wiggle room to make any necessary tweaks.
Pre-selling your online course is another great way of testing whether your target market really wants what you’re offering and whether you can get recurring revenue from your course.
If pre-selling your online course works, you can use this revenue to pay for the time you’ll be investing in creating your lessons. Or you can use this revenue to outsource some of your online course creation:
- Enroll beta testers for your online course. Beta testers are trustworthy people you’ve identified that need a solution to the problem(s) you’re aiming to solve. Pre-selling your course at a discounted price to beta testers gives you in-depth feedback about what needs to be changed and what’s working well. Pre-selling can be your ‘soft’ online course launch to get you ready for the real thing.
- Finalize your content using the comments and responses from your beta testers. You may need to remove or change some lessons and add new modules according to the feedback you receive.
- Continue to engage your beta users as you make the changes to find out their opinions.
Now is the time to stir up excitement for your upcoming online course launch by doing the following:
- Write blogs about a part of your online course. Go in-depth to show yourself as an expert.
- Blog about your online course launch in general and include a landing page or a pop-up form to collect email addresses for your waiting list.
- Identify reviewers for your online course. If you already have a network of other course providers, you can review each other’s courses.
- Write a free and automated email course to build your email list.
- Encourage your subscribers to ask questions about any part of your email course. Questions will help you to fine-tune your course content and will also build relationships with your email list.
- Design an email sequence for your online course launch.
Here are some ideas of the types of emails to include in your launch sequence:
- Include some mystery in your first online course launch email. This will whet your email subscribers’ appetites about what they can expect from your course. The aim is to build anticipation, so your subscribers want in on your online course.
- The next email should spell out exactly what your course covers. List the lessons, modules and what your subscribers will gain from different module.
- Use the information you’ve collected from your research to create a list of FAQs to send to your email list. Include information about the course itself as well as practical issues, like payment plans, refund and cancellation policies, etc.
- Send an email that gives a sneak peek into your online course. Create a buzz by including a promotional video about your online course launch.
- Offer a bonus item in your next email. Surprise your subscribers by offering a bonus, which can either be a discount or extra module if they buy your online course within the next 24 hours.
- Use social proof in the follow-up email to help persuade the subscribers who are still on the fence about your online course. This email should include the reviews you’ve collected before.
- Send an email about your live webinar or Facebook Live you’ll be hosting on launch day.
- Say thank you in the next email. Show your appreciation to everyone on your email list. Let’s face it, they could have chosen to unsubscribe, but they’re still choosing to get your emails. So, let them know you value them.
- The reasons for buying should be in your follow-up email. Listing the reasons that investing in your course during the launch is a no-brainer. Cover what life is like without your course and what it could be like after completion. Focus on the transformational effect of your course.
Looking for more practical ways to market and sell your online course?
Click here for 101 easy ways to get the word out about your online course.
Launching Your Online Course
The day that you’ve been working so hard for is finally here.
The right preparation and planning should make your launch day much smoother and bring in as many subscribers as possible.
You’ve done an awesome job so far, so take a moment to congratulate yourself before you put your launch day wheels in motion.
Follow this list of things to do on your launch day to cover all your bases:
- Send two emails to your email list. The first one should be sent in the morning announcing your launch. The second email will be sent later to let your subscribers know they need to buy your course now or they’ll lose out on any special discounts. The point of these emails is to create urgency to get your subscribers to buy your online course ASAP.
- Host a Facebook Live or webinar to give tons of value about the problem you’re solving. Let your audience see that you’re someone they can trust and they absolutely need to get your course to help them get over their hurdle.
- Include a live Q&A at the end of your webinar or Facebook Live to reassure people who aren’t sure about investing in your course.
- Your webinar or Facebook Live doesn’t have to be a solo affair. Think about hosting a joint webinar or Facebook Live with another online course creator who has a similar (but non-competing) audience. This collaboration will help you to spread your online course launch to a wider audience.
The Post-Launch of Your Online Course
After the big launch, the work continues to wow your learners to prevent churn:
- Welcome them with a well thought-out onboarding process that clearly explains how they should navigate through your course.
- Build up a community by encouraging your students to interact with each other. Not only will a thriving community prevent customer churn, but it’ll also take some pressure off you because your students will help each other when issues come up.
- Keep engaging with students. Launching your online course is just the beginning of the interaction you have with your students. Check in with them to find out how things are going. This level of engagement will help you to support those who are lost and may prevent them from abandoning your course.
- Celebrate wins. Encourage your course students to share the successes they have while implementing what they have learned in your course. Give a shout-out in the community to those who are crushing it to make them feel good and to let others know that they can also do the same.
Protect Your Business
After you’ve done the hard work to launch your online course, it makes sense to do all you can to protect your revenue (especially if you have a recurring income model). Sadly, customer churn is a part of subscription businesses — and that includes online courses.
It’s not uncommon for students to start your course on a payment plan and have a failed payment at some point. Dealing with customer churn doesn’t have to be a frustrating experience if you partner with us at Gravy.
We provide a full-time focus on recovering failed payments for your online course to increase your customer retention rate. At Gravy, we work with several subscription-based business owners just like you to help protect your bottom line and your brand.
In fact, marketing powerhouses like Amy Porterfield trust us to retain their students and reduce churn. (Read Amy’s story here.)
Book a free call with us today to find out how we will work with you to keep your students and make more profit. Launching your membership site is an exciting time for sure!