It beats you.
You slaved for months and created an exceptional, value-jammed online course, packed it with a world of knowledge, poured your heart into it, and instead of turning you into an overnight millionaire, there it sits in the cart, NOT SELLING.
Yes, we believe you — you leveraged the best course creation practices and followed them to the “T”.
And we also know that online learning is a multi-billion dollar industry. So, it’s clearly not the market.
So, then what is it?
Well, there are some mistakes course creators make over and over again, which we believe could be the big-ass hurdles causing your course sales to fall flat.
Want us to break them down for you? Here we go. We’ll also help you figure out how to fix low sales of online courses so, let’s get down to it.
Mistake 1: Your course’s buying process is a hindrance
Is your bounce rate climbing? Have you been encountering too many cart abandonment instances?
It’s possible that your checkout process may be ticking visitors off. There could be a number of reasons why this might be.
1. Is your checkout process too complex (and lengthy)?
Field after field to populate, upsell pop-ups, cluttered information all on the same page — it’s bound to overwhelm customers, right? Bear in mind, every additional step takes them farther away from finishing payment and disrupts the user experience. Eventually, they decide it’s easier to abandon the cart than stay and complete the payment.
2. Are you providing pricing details upfront (tax, shipping costs, etc.)?
It’s a common purchase habit where a customer adds items to the cart to check the final total of the order. If you haven’t revealed the final price for your course upfront, there’s a good chance that it will get them rethinking their purchase.
3. Is it mandatory for users to create an account?
This next one is possibly the most annoying bit on websites where customers are forced to register or create an account. It can put off visitors who are just there to browse your offerings, wishlist, or add to cart and check prices. We recommend you avoid such mandates if you can help it.
4. Are there enough payment options?
While some might prefer credit cards or PayPal (international clients usually), for others, Apple/Google Pay, UPI, net banking may be the preferred payment method. It’s a no-brainer that customers who can’t complete their course purchase using their preferred payment option are likely to leave. The result? It hurts your sales conversions.
5. Have you optimized your checkout design for conversions?
It’s possible that your checkout page is poorly designed and unnecessarily complicated. If a customer is in the middle of buying your course and your website crashes, do you think they’ll return to finish the purchase? Highly doubtful.
Imagine convincing customers to purchase your awesome course, and something as trivial as a glitch on your site craps over all your efforts. How frustrating, right?
So, how can you fix it?
The simple answer is to optimize your website for a fast and efficient checkout experience.
Here are five golden rules that course sellers should follow when setting up their check out pages.
- Keep the data entry steps to a minimum.
- Customers should be able to auto-fill forms if their devices allow it.
- They should have a reason to create an account. Maybe to receive updates on new launches, discounts, and offers, earn loyalty points or generally keep track of their purchases. “Sign up to find out what offers are applicable on your order” or “Buy this item at 10% discount when you sign up.” Believe us, customers jump on it!
- Eliminate design fatigue. Make the buying process simple, intuitive, and clutter-free.
- Provide all pricing details beforehand, so there aren’t any surprises later. Prepare them for the final total from the beginning.
We know you want to leverage the checkout page to upsell your products but at what cost? You risk losing a potential customer forever!
So, our advice is you lose the upsell pop-ups instead; latest offers, browsing controls — anything that might serve to distract your customers and hinder their buying experience.
Need some inspiration? Etsy does a great job of it. Their checkout design is crisp and on-point, with a tracker on the top displaying which stage of the checkout process you are in.
Another great thing about Etsy is that you aren’t forced to create an account to browse or even complete your purchase. You can do so as a guest too. The same is with Best Buy.
We aren’t saying you should eliminate the account creation element altogether. The “Account Creation Successful” or “Order Successfully Placed” messages have their own value in the buyer journey.
But at least give your prospects time to finalize their order. Once they are done, they will be happier. And happy customers are willing customers. They’ll be more open to your request for account creation and might even refer you to their network.
That’s what eCommerce stores like Shopify, Myntra and Amazon do.
What else is common between the three? Their account creation process is pretty straightforward. All you need is a password and a user name. Neat, right?
Oh, and another thing you must keep in mind if you want customers to complete their purchase: allow them to pay for your course however they like. In short, add multiple payment options.
You can work with a UI/UX designer to better optimize your online school and avoid losing sales conversions to petty issues such as those we mentioned above.
Mistake 2: You’re charging too little or too much
A course that promises the world for just $15? WRONG.
A course that delivers nothing at $1000? WRONG.
For instance, “Master The Guitar in 30 Days” or “Become a Digital Marketing Expert in a Month” — both sound exceedingly unrealistic, right? Your audience is sure as hell not going to fall for it.
Similarly, you promise them an in-depth learning experience or a big-ass transformation/outcome upon course completion, and all your course covers are four lessons. Nope, it doesn’t work like that.
Getting the pricing strategy right is no child’s play, we get it. There are industry rates to consider, perceived value to assess, competitor pricing to keep an eye on, course content to nail and whatnot. Not to mention, that impact plays a gigantic role.
This is why most course creators struggle with settling on a fair price for their online courses.
Especially if they are just starting out.
More often than not, they are riddled with self-doubt and question the value of their course thinking, “Nobody is going to pay so much for information they can easily find on the internet.” Or “My competitors are charging far too less. There’s no reason for anyone to go for a high-priced course like mine.” As a result, they end up charging too little.
On the other hand, some course creators think, “I’ve recorded everything. I know people are going to get tangible results from my course” and completely disregard the importance of branding, authority, and an online presence — thereby setting a high price for their course.
Let’s get one thing straight — there isn’t a secret formula to nailing the pricing of your course. And you run the risk either way.
Charge too little, and your audience will think your course is low-quality and low-value. Good luck getting them to trust you with their education then.
Charge too much, and you might put off prospects who will then set you aside as an option while they consider other educators. Eventually, you may have to slash your prices, which again puts you at the risk of being undervalued.
There’s another dangerous precedent to lowering rates, by the way. When you sell your course at discounted prices, it gives your audience the incentive to hold off course purchases until you run another “flash sale”. Does that in any way sound like a sustainable model for your business? Of course not!
Argh! It’s almost as if pricing valuable knowledge is impossible.
So, how can you fix it?
Begin with evaluating the contents of your course. For instance, if you have a comprehensive, start-to-finish course on data science, it makes sense to charge a premium for it.
But it’s also important to determine if you are in a competitive space. For instance, there are countless Java or Python-based courses online — Paid and FREE. So, if you want to charge a premium for your computer programming-related course, you will need to have the branding and authority to back it.
Check out this 12-week “Start and Scale” course by Foundr, priced for $1,997. Clearly, the seller Gretta Rose has established both recognition and authority because her course has a learner base of over 12,588 students!
How impressive is that!
Moving on, the other critical aspect to consider is the impact or outcome you claim to generate with your course. A course on “How to Set Up a Million Dollar Dropshipping Business?” priced for $1000 sounds about reasonable, doesn’t it?
On the other hand, a beginner’s module or a course that merely covers the basics of a subject would need to have a conservative price tag. Expensive doesn’t fly here.
Check out this 1.5 hours Python course for beginners:
Expensive is subjective, btw. What may be expensive to one student may be inexpensive to another. So, it’s crucial to have a customer persona to determine your pricing range and eliminate any my-audience-can’t-afford-this chatter.
If you are just starting out, it makes sense to set a conservative price for your online course initially. Once you’ve made enough course sales, built an online presence, and established recognition in the industry, you can begin to increase prices. The idea is to price it at a level that ensures the sustainability of your online school.
Begin with researching industry rates. Follow your competitors closely to see what price models they are using to sell their course. In the end, you should set a price that you feel is worth your efforts, the knowledge you are providing and will cover your marketing costs.
Remember — once you settle on a price point, hold your ground.
Regardless of how cheap or expensive your course is, there will always be people with the “your price is too high, I can’t afford it” objections. DON’T jump to reducing prices. It won’t get you too far.
Furthermore, there’s as much effort involved in selling a low-priced course as there in selling a high-priced one. So, it’s only fair that the effort is worth your while.
While you can have flash sales occasionally, make sure you set aside healthy profit margins for yourself.
Still confused? Maybe a flexible, tier-based pricing model is better suited for you. This way, you can provide additional value to students who are willing to shell out bigger bucks. You can have, say, a basic, upgraded, and premium version. There could be an exclusive value-based element like a one-on-one consultation or a group coaching session for each price point. Sounds workable, right?
Follow these steps, and pricing should no longer be an obstacle when launching an online course.
Mistake 3: You aren’t listening to your prospects or addressing their initial questions
Anytime anyone’s pocket is about to get lighter, a ton of thought goes behind it. The same is with investing in a course. Your prospects are thinking,
“Is buying this course a good idea? Is it worth what I’m paying?”
“Will I benefit from it?” Or “Will it lead to desired outcomes?”
“Can I trust this seller?”
And so on.
While buyers are in the consideration stage, they turn to you for support and expect you to resolve their queries. And if they aren’t satisfied with the response, chances are you’ll never hear from them again.
Ask yourself, are you active on support? Are you adequately addressing pre-sales questions? Are you organising enough webinars, live streams, and Q/A sessions to develop trust and credibility?
If not, you might just as well be voluntarily turning down course sales.
So, how can you fix it?
Almost every successful course seller has one sales strategy in common — hosting comprehensive Q/A sessions. They either prepare a list of commonly asked questions beforehand and address them through a long webinar or go live and invite questions as they proceed.
Check out this astrology expert holding a 35-minute long live Q/A session to address queries related to his predictive astrology course.
Virtual sessions such as these make for an incredibly interactive format, which lead to engagement.
So, if you want to build credibility and eliminate doubt from the minds of your audience, you need to become accessible to them and connect with them on a personal level.
As your students get their concerns resolved in real-time, it will establish you as a reliable thought leader in their eyes. They will develop a sense of trust and loyalty. That’s the vote of confidence you need to give them to go ahead and purchase your course.
This is especially important if you have taken the pre-sales route to validate your course.
So, make sure you are actively keeping track of channels they are reaching out to you from. All that’s needed next is that you do a stellar job of addressing these pre-sales questions.
What’s great is that you can record these sessions and embed them on your social media posts, website, or upload to your YouTube channel. The next time anyone asks you the same questions, you can simply direct them to it. Some time-saver, huh?
What else can you do?
Validate your course. It can’t be stressed enough how important this is.
You may be an expert in your field. You may have skills and knowledge that others don’t and want to acquire. But if you live by the Field of Dreams maxim – “I’ll build a course to the best of my capabilities, and buyers will come,” you are wasting valuable knowledge.
Here’s some hard wisdom to take to heart — course creation is no one-way process, and you will not become an overnight millionaire.
The only mantra to success is to work with your audience, understand their pain points, address their queries, gather feedback over time, and build a stellar course for them, by them.
So, before investing back-breaking hours on creating a course that nobody will buy, conduct in-depth research to find out if there is a market for it.
Oh, and don’t miss out on any opportunity to get in front of your audience. The good-old “seeing is believing” adage holds true here. The more they see you in action, interacting with people like yourself, emulating your course benefits, the more they’ll trust you. It’s like if you are a fit person selling a course on fitness, that’s an incentive for customers to buy your course, right?
Mistake 4: Your sales page probably sucks
An often-used saying in advertising goes, “I know half my advertising dollars are wasted — I just don’t know which half!”
More often than not, it’s the issues with how you showcase your products, their outcomes, benefits that tank your course sales.
We are talking about the first thing your prospective customers lay their eyes on when they visit your online school — the landing page.
Also known as the sales page, it’s how prospects get insight into your course. This could include benefits, background on the instructor, expected transformations or outcomes, and course format, among other things.
Now, here are two reasons why your sales page may be working against you:
1.Poorly-written sales copy
Here’s a hard pill to swallow: Your followers don’t really care about you. They are not interested in you per se, they’re interested in what you have to offer and how you can transform their lives.
But instead of highlighting the obvious outcomes of your course, including testimonials and user reviews, course creators either go overboard with giant paragraphs of irrelevant, narcissistic text:
“As a child, I was fascinated by the world of art. I spent hours drawing and painting and haunting museums……”
.. or are too stingy in providing information:
“Master web development. Learn how to design professional-looking websites.”
Both are terrible sales copies and can easily tick off visitors.
The better approach would be to include your professional qualifications and milestones you’ve achieved in your coaching business or teaching career.
2. Poorly-designed sales page
Maybe the loading speed or refreshing rate is frustrating. Perhaps you have a ton of flashy ads or pop-ups going on that distract visitors and slow down your website’s page speed and response time.
It could even be the clunky site elements (the kind that gives you a headache), flashy buttons and contrasting colors — basically, resulting in a skeezy-looking landing page with highlighted text, lousy font, and not-so-subtle formatting. Big no-no!
In short, if your sales page looks something like this, it’s the reason why you are failing at selling your course.
Of course, Big Barker has considerably improved their landing page now. But if you haven’t, there’s work to be done.
So, how can you fix it?
For one, you’ve got to do an excellent job of laying out what your course contains and what tangible results students stand to gain from taking your course.
Your sales copy should cater to your customers’ short attention span and showcase benefits or applications more obviously.
Basically, give them a start-to-finish walk-through of what they would be getting:
- How many hours of learning content are included?
- Is it all text or includes video lectures as well?
- Are there any live Q&A sessions or other supplemental materials?
- Is there a support group where they can seek assistance?
- Are there peer-learning opportunities? Can students interact with other students?
- Does the course include downloadable content?
- Do they get immediate access to learning material?
Check out the sales page of this web development course. Nails it, doesn’t it?
When prospective customers land on your sales page, they should feel that your solution is actually designed for THEM. And that it really works!
For instance, if you teach a course on how to master Google Ads, this is how you could tell students how you plan to help them achieve desired outcomes:
“I’ll show you how to get past the tech jargon and get a grip on the complicated process of creating Google Ads to sell your products every time.”
Instead of “I will teach you how to drive conversions with Google Ads!“
See the difference?
Granted, it is not exactly straightforward a task to write awesome sales copy that converts. So, if you are struggling with it, hire a copywriter who understands the art.
Another important thing, make it very clear how long the course will continue and what students will be paying for it.
You can include additional elements to inspire trust, like, a money-back guarantee, social proof in the form of testimonials and success stories, and FAQs.
All this can be neatly packed as text or video, depending on what your content allows. We recommend going with a mix of text and video.
Here’s something cool — a recorded video where you introduce your course to visitors. Sounds like a swell idea to capture attention, right?
A few words of advice on structuring sales copy:
- Keep paragraphs short and simple.
- Use bullets to highlight key points.
- Give some flavor with photos, graphics, videos.
Don’t hesitate to hire a UI/UX designer if you need one.
Mistake 5: You’re expecting massive results too early in the selling cycle
It is what it is. You’ve just launched your course, and you’re expecting the moon. That’s neither rational nor possible.
It might still help if you are going in with an established brand or have a few years of experience in your bag.
But if you are a newbie on the block, most of your organic marketing efforts will be trial and error until you figure out what works for you. In practice, it takes a couple of months for marketing efforts to bear fruit. Not to mention, there is the high-quality online presence you have to slave after.
So, how can you fix it?
If this is your problem, having unrealistic expectations, there isn’t so much fixing involved as there is a need for patience on your part.
All we can do is quote Abe Lincoln: “Good things come to those who wait, but only what’s left from those who hustle” — Be consistent in your efforts and wait for results patiently. We promise you it will pay off!
If that doesn’t put your mind at ease and you are still impatient to see results, we recommend you try your hand at Facebook Ads.
Bear in mind, though if the problem lies with your course, Facebook Ads won’t be of much help. In that case, as Dan Kennedy puts it, “If your business stinks, the last thing you want to do is get the word out about it”.
But if you’ve established that your course is killer and it is indeed an accelerant you need, Facebook Ads is your best bet. The platform is quick, robust, and sitting on a billion monthly active users. It can quite literally be the best thing to ever happen to your high-ticket course.
So, that was a birds-eye view of the major mistakes that might be tanking your course sales.
Hopefully, now you have a good idea of what obstacles you can expect on your journey to selling courses and how you can overcome them.