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How to Pre-Sell a Course Before You Build It

Thomas Griffin
Thomas Griffin
President and CTO at OptinMonster

Learn how pre-selling your lessons can boost your chance for success.

Are you interested in pre-selling a course before you build it? There are plenty of reasons you may want to consider this strategy if you're a CEO or part of a marketing team. 

Business owners rely on pre-selling to see if their concept is worth investing time and resources. If an idea falls flat, they can move on to something that resonates with their target audience. 

Marketing teams use pre-selling to build hypes for various products and services, including online courses. The learning management system market is predicted to grow to 22.4 billion by 2023, so it's worth looking at the role pre-selling can have on these business models. 

You don't have to operate a whole website based on having customers pay for courses. SaaS businesses use this tool to create walk-throughs, tests and comprehensive guides that show customers how to use their software. 

Below, I explain how to pre-sell your course and offer tips that will help you deliver an unmatched customer experience. 

Tune your idea and course flow.

The first thing you should do is think carefully about the course you want to create. You can't pre-sell something if you have no idea what the final product will look like for customers. 

The easiest way to complete this process is to work backward. Start with the goal you hope to achieve, and then figure out how to make it happen. Once you've decided what you want to teach people how to do, it's time to work on the course flow. There will be customers that sign up and have no idea where to start. Creating a comprehensive flow will ensure that both new and experienced users can follow along and get value from your lessons. 

If people can clearly see your vision before it comes to life, they are much more likely to invest in your idea. 

Create a coming soon page.

It's possible to pre-sell your course by simply creating a coming soon page. Coming soon pages are popular for businesses that want to show the world their idea, which helps get people excited for launch day. 

Your coming soon page should include an overview of your lesson plan, an estimated release date, and options to subscribe and follow your brand on social media. Your page should build connections with your potential audience.

Build an email list. 

Email marketing is an extremely effective way to reach potential customers as your project develops. You can give them updates, offer beta programs and gather feedback on your idea that you can implement during design. 

If you're in this position, tap into your network on social media. Your existing followers are more likely to subscribe to updates and buy your course when it hits the market. 

The social media platform LinkedIn is an excellent way to start building your email list and pre-selling your courses. Send personalized messages to people across your network, explaining your course concept and including an actionable step that you want them to take next.

Once you get responses from people showing interest, ask them to subscribe to your email list and consider supporting your project. Remember the golden rule of sales: Every no is one step closer to a yes. 

If you want to offer courses online for free as part of your SaaS, you probably already have an email list. Send out a message to existing subscribers and ask them if they are interested in the course you want to make. Segment the users who give a positive response and build around their feedback, pain points and goals. 

Don't forget to include elements of personalization in your initial email. Adding a user's first name or detail about a past purchase can improve your click-through rate by 14%. Including these factors will result in more people opening your emails, which leads to additional pre-sales. 

Launch a pilot course.

You're likely familiar with pilot episodes on televisions. When a network gets an idea for a new show, they put out a pilot episode to see how consumers respond to the characters, plot and setting. The executives consider the results by looking at viewership and social engagement, and decide whether they should film more episodes or cut their losses. 

Creating a pilot course is an excellent way to gather feedback and see how many people are interested in a full-fledged lesson. If you worked through your plan as we mentioned in our first tip, you could send out your beginner course to all of your email subscribers and encourage them to buy the complete package if they enjoyed their experience. 

Use this opportunity to fine-tune the rest of your lessons before you put them out. The goal of a pilot course is to set the stage for interested consumers. Show them what they can expect to learn in upcoming lessons, and explain some of the basics in a format similar in structure to the rest of your course.  

Meet deadlines and deliver on your promises. 

Finally, I can't stress the importance of meeting deadlines and delivering on your promises. It only takes one missed deadline to see a surge of refund requests and negative feedback. 

Before you make an official announcement about the launch day, make sure you know that it will be ready to go. At this point, you should have your lessons complete and organized, as well as the page design mostly wrapped up. I recommend waiting a little bit longer and make your statement when everything is basically done.

It's clear that online courses are here to stay. Some people want to sell online classes, others want to offer lessons as a way to complement their existing products and services. If you consider these tips before you start, you'll have a much easier time generating pre-sales and getting your audience excited for launch day. 

Image Credit: apichon_tee / Getty Images
Thomas Griffin
Thomas Griffin
business.com Member
I'm president and CTO of OptinMonster, a powerful lead generation tool that's installed in over 700,000 websites.