Behind the scenes of a $120,000 online course launch
We just polished up our second launch of my Square Secrets Business course and it’s safe to say we exceeded our goal! Today I want to take you behind-the-scenes to see how we ran this course launch, when sales happened, the things we totally screwed up and more!
So, important background info first. The course we were launching was Square Secrets Business (or SSB for short.)
SSB is for those who want to earn money by building a Squarespace web design business and working with clients. Covering everything from setting your prices & packages, to getting legal & tax ready to booking yourself out with dream clients months in advance! Pretty much, it teaches those that have some serious web design skills how to turn them into a successful business!
This was the second time we’ve launched this course, and our 5th launch in total (we also have a Square Secrets course which we’ve launched 3 times now), so we’ve been around the launching block a couple times now.
Okay, so on to what happened sales-wise. The course was open for enrollment for 8 days (Friday - Friday) and we enrolled 99 students in that time, generating $120,300.00 in sales!
In the 5 days leading up to the launch, I hosted 5 live videos on Facebook & Instagram. You can see them here:
The purpose of these videos was to build a little hype before the launch. We also shared these videos with my email list to get them to head over and watch them. We also boosted the videos with $500 of ad spend to put them in front of our site traffic and page likes.
We wanted to boost them to our email list, and track ROI of how many people saw the ads and then converted, but we’ve long since given up on trying to figure the tech of that out with Facebook, because the back end of the Facebook ads manager is a nightmare. (End rant.)
We have absolutely no idea how many people saw the ads and then converted, so I’m not willing to spend more than $500 on something where I can’t determine a ROI. I personally don’t think it did much (especially since we couldn’t get the tech of showing it to our email list to work) so yeah, I really don’t think those boosted videos made any amount of difference really.
We also sent 3 emails prior to the cart opening to get the excitement going, and to get people to put launch day in their calendar!
Then, sales started coming through as follows:
As usual, we had a flurry of sales right when cart opened, a bunch more just before Early Bird ended, a dead period on the days after early bird ended, sales right in the couple hours after the webinars (we offered a fast-action bonus) and then sales just before cart closed.
I think it was 2 launches ago we started testing extended payment plans. When cart closed, we sent another email to our list saying basically “Hey, if you wanted to get in but couldn’t due to price, here’s an extended payment plan to make it a bit easier for you to get in.”
Every time we’ve done it, we do get another rush of sales, so clearly, making the price a bit easier to manage over a longer period of time is just what some people’s budgets need, so this is something I’m super happy to offer.
The obvious downside of an any payment plan is that I’m pretty much acting as people’s bank, and people fall off and just ghost on you sometimes, so we’ve calculated that into the regular payment plan and extended payment plan prices.
What went well:
We killed our enrollment goal first off and got our best conversion rate yet!
We love our new refund policy. (7 days, no jumping through hoops.) We used to have it as a 30 day policy and needing to show homework, but found that resulted in people just being super annoyed that they had to do homework (even though it was superrr clearly stated in many places on the sales page), and we hated looking over it and feeling like teachers who are annoyingly looking over people’s shoulders, so we switched to a 7 day, no homework required policy. It’s simple to manage, and gives people enough time to look at the content, check if it’s genuinely what they need, but also doesn’t give people the time to completely take the entire course and then get a refund too, as some unfortunately do.
We had a crazyyy number of bundle purchases (both our Square Secrets + Square Secrets Business courses purchased together) this round! (48/99) This unexpectedly increased our revenue from the launch a lot.
We had documented everything needed to turn our site into and out of ‘course launch mode’. In the last launch, I changed everything over on our paigebrunton.com site to announce the course was open for enrollment. I then took screenshots to show future team members what needs to be changed. Basically, it made it super easy to hand that task off to my VA and for her to change the site over perfectly
I had documented EVERYTHING from past launches, absolutely nailed our processes down to the last teeny tiny job, so it could pretty much all be handed off to my assistant. I feel like in this launch I got to where I wanted to be, doing the jobs only I could do (Facebook lives, and webinars) and nothing else. My assistant could do everything else without me. So basically, it was a big accomplishment removing myself from the day-to-day of launching.
Holding a call with my assistant just before the launch started. She looked over all of the tasks she had assigned during the launch, and anything she had never done before and wanted clarification on or assurances on, we took the time to go over anything she was unfamiliar with.
What didn’t go so well (lesson learned):
We tried using Zoom for our webinar instead of Crowdcast as usual, and I’ll be honest, I didn’t like it at all. I made the switch because I’m using Zoom for podcast recordings and figured I’d use one software for the both. But Crowdcast genuinely has a better system than Zoom for webinars so I’ll be going back to Crowdcast in the future for sure.
Subscribers kept getting emails after opt-ing out of launch emails. Turns out, our email marketing system ConvertKit had some issues with link triggering (which enables us to let people out out of sales emails) and therefore, people kept getting emails after opt-ing out. (Sorry if that was you! We didn’t mean for that to happen.)
Our email open rate was stellar this launch (we deleted a ton of cold subscribers just before launch because we had been accumulating a couple thousand robots on our email list apparently) but one email did terribly with a 15% open rate. When we looked into it, we noticed that email has done badly for the past 2 launches as well. Finally we caught on that our subject line sucked and we needed to find a new content topic for that email. We’ll be changing that emails content next launch!
We get a ton of emails in the 6 hours before early bird cart closes and regular cart closes. Some people were frantically sending us emails and when we didn’t get back to them right away, a bit worried they’d miss the deadline. We’re going to keep in mind to be checking emails every half hour just before a cart closes to help these folks out and calm their nerves about missing the deadline.
We got a lot of complaints about VAT and people wanting us to find a way around paying it. Unfortunately, we couldn’t do anything about it, but can totally see that people are annoyed by having to pay it. (I hear you, I’m not a huge fan of paying taxes either.)
I totally screwed up the bundle pricing and didn’t read it over again with a fine tooth comb before launching the sales page. We had 3 sales of bundles before realizing that the price was wrong and it was $100 cheaper than it should have been. Meaning 3 very lucky ducks got the bundle at an extra special discount, haha! We fixed it, and thankfully no one noticed. We were prepared to give the extra $100 discount to anyone who noticed and was upset by the price being $100 the day before, but no one did.
Earning this much in revenue in a month legitimately freaks me out. It’s actually not as enjoyable as you’d imagine. I clearly have some money mindset work to do.
So there we go, that’s a $120,000 course launch for ya! I hope for any fellow course creators that gives you a bit of insight into how someone else runs a launch, and for any aspiring course creators, shows you what’s possible!