November 5, 2022

How to Presell an Online Course

Jared McKinney
Head of Growth

It's no secret that one of the most promising ways to generate sales for your online course is by pre-selling it.

Offering pre-sales before your official launch date not only helps finance the development of your content but also builds buzz among potential customers—all while bringing in cash flow. Perhaps you haven't even begun to develop your online course, or maybe you're well on your way to completing it. Either way, early access will allow people interested in the subject matter of your course to sign up ahead of time at a discounted price.

If you're wondering how to organize and market a prosperous presale campaign, this post is for you! We'll cover how to build an online audience, excite people about your course, and structure a presale campaign so you can see sales skyrocket!

Let's Start With the Basics: What Is a Presale?

Simply put, pre-selling is when you offer your product or service before it's been released. In other words, you're selling a product that doesn't yet exist!

Online pre sales allow you to accomplish several sales-related objectives: build momentum for your digital products, secure cash flow before the launch date, and gauge customer interest levels. Pre-selling your courses can give you a jump start on sales and put the money in your pocket before you've started creating content. This allows for more content planning time and development but doesn't compromise potential revenue. If that sounds like a win-win offer, you're absolutely right!

10 Ways to Get the Ball Rolling On Your Pre-Sell

When done correctly, pre-selling combines urgency and standard marketing practices to increase conversion rates—unlocking a world of advantages for you. But how do you actually begin? What tools do you need? And what should you do to ensure your pre-sell campaign is successful? Here are ten strategies that will help you get started:

1. Get Organized With an Outline

Turning your vision into a winning strategy begins with outlining what topics you want to cover in your online course. What problems is it designed to solve? How will you help customers meet their goals? This outline will help you set the stage for your landing page before it goes public and will guide all of your marketing decisions.

When outlining your course details, remember to tell customers exactly what they should expect from the experience, as it sets their expectations and eliminates confusion. For example: "Most of my content is text-based—but I also record videos and host live webinars with students."

2. Specify Your Course Benefits

Use your outline to make a list highlighting your course's benefits. It would be best if you were as detailed as possible, then extracted the most critical points for use in a few concise phrases or bullet points.

The more benefits you can list, the better. This will help you understand what differentiates your course from the competition and give customers a better idea of what they'll get from it. Here are some examples:

  • "I will teach you how to use WordPress so that you can start a blog and make money online."
  • "You won't have to worry about learning how to install WordPress or update plugins on your own anymore—I'll show you how with step-by-step instructions."
  • "With my course, I'll show you how to start a profitable blog in less than 30 minutes!

This will make creating a compelling sales page easier— our next order of business!

3. Design an Enticing Presale Page

Every product needs a compelling sales page that offers new prospects attractive benefits and guides them through the sales funnel—so they will buy from you instead of your competitors. It should include the following:

  • A bold and catchy headline: a title that clearly and precisely identifies a problem, suggests an answer and stirs the reader's interest.
  • Your detailed course synopsis: brief but informative, so they know exactly what they'll get. Keep it upbeat with photos or videos if possible (they'll help them visualize the experience).
  • One clear call-to-action (CTA): the final sentence of your pitch should be crafted to create a "wow" factor and elicit an immediate response.
  • Several positive testimonials and reviews: marketing messages can't compete with the power of "word-of-mouth." Trust in other people's experiences is stronger than trust in established brands.

4. Launch a Carefully Timed Email Campaign

So, how do you generate buzz for your new online course? Start by launching an email sequence that gets people talking about what you're offering. The three stages of a solid email campaign include:

  • Your presale email: tell them about the course and how it will benefit them. Set a deadline for when the pre-order price ends and explain that only a certain amount of spots are available at this discounted rate. Create a sense of urgency by letting people know there is limited time to take advantage of this offer!
  • Next, your reminder email: following up on your pre-launch email, this message is more urgent and emphasizes the time limit for purchasing. Add a Frequently Asked Questions section that addresses any objections or concerns prospects might have about purchasing your course.
  • Lastly, your final-chance email: The core message of this email is that time's almost up. Make the deadline clear and offer some incentive to encourage people still on the fence to commit now.

5. Publish a Series of Blog Posts

Email marketing can help convert prospects into customers, but you'll have to do more than just send out emails to engage your entire audience. Creating a blog post that talks about your upcoming presale can help you build hype, get people engaged, and generate demand for what you're offering.

Writing a blog post is an excellent way to expand on what you have to present, and can be far more effective than your sales page or short emails—if the content is meaningful. Make sure each piece describes one benefit of taking your course in specific terms; then, end with a clear call to action that instructs readers to take immediate action.

6. Create Brand-building, Educational Content

Long-form educational content like e-books and white papers is one of the most influential and effective tools in a marketer's arsenal. After all, customers purchase online courses because they want to learn something new and improve themselves in some way. Make your educational content available for free to convert more prospects into customers. They will see that you are an authority on the topic, which builds credibility and enhances your reputation in the niche.

7. Start Sharing Thoughtful Videos on Youtube

Broaden your audience base by uploading informative videos on YouTube related to your online course. Each video should address one small problem that people struggle with and include a well-crafted call to action at the end of each video, asking viewers to sign up for your online course if they want more in-depth help solving this issue. You can embed those YouTube videos anywhere you like—on your blog, in emails, or in social media posts. Share the link widely!

8. Maintain an Active Social Media Presence

Not only should you create email campaigns, blog posts, and videos—but you should also start marketing on social media! Get the word out about your presale by posting it on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and other platforms. Just remember not to overdo it—a little promotion goes a long way! To keep a consistently engaging social media presence, you should send out three or four non-promotional posts for every promotional one, as well as respond to questions and comments quickly.

9. Time To Close Your Offer

Offering your presale discount for a relatively short period will draw more buyers' interest. By creating a sense of urgency and scarcity, you'll motivate people to act now instead of later. After you have closed your offer, only people who pre-ordered it will be able to access it—unless you change the terms. If this strategy feels uncomfortable or risky for whatever reason, another popular option is simply increasing the cost of your product or service post-launch.

10. Remember Your Current Customers

The benefits of pre sales extend beyond simply attracting new customers; they can also be a great way to expand and strengthen relationships with existing clients. Those who have already purchased your courses or products will be more likely to buy from you again and help spread the word about your brand. So capitalize on their loyalty and grow your fan base by marketing to them directly.

Bonus Tip! Go Further Faster with Volley

As a course maker, virtual coach, or collaborative team member—you already know that communicating with your audience is essential to building strong relationships. With Volley, you can do just that!

Unlike chat boxes, video conferencing, and social feeds—Volley's intuitively designed interface is built for face-to-face video messaging. This quickly creates incredibly powerful connections that are made asynchronously; you can join the convo at your convenience without having to coordinate schedules.

Want to learn more about how Volley can give your online course presale a competitive edge? Learn about our Grow platform!

Jared McKinney

More growth than hack.

About the Author

As a marketer, I like doing old things in new ways—copywriting, SEO, email—to achieve outsized results on modest budgets. I've scaled marketing programs at 8,9 and 10-figure tech companies and managed teams from inception to IPO.

Connect with Me

Must-reads 🗞️


Look who's on Volley

Read More

[Case Study] 3 Creators crushing it on Consult with Me

Read More

3 Reasons Why You Need To Create Consult With Me Offers

Read More

101+ offer ideas you can start charging for today.

Read More

Announcing: Volley Grow - Make Money With Volley

Read More

10 Ways to Market an Online Course

Read More

Get started for free.

Unlock Your Expertise
Occasional Emails
Real Value
No Spam