So your online membership program is nearly finished. Now it’s time to start thinking about how to go about launching a premium online course.
In some ways, your product launch plan, and how you execute it, is the most important aspect of creating a successful premium online course or membership site. There’s no doubt that your course must have content that delivers real value. But if you can’t get your site in front of your target audience, then all of your hard work will come to nothing.
That’s where this guide to launching a premium online course comes into play. In this article, you’ll find advice on what you should be doing during the course creation process, what to do on the big day, and how to maintain momentum after your premium online course goes live.
Your Guide: Launching a Premium Online Course
Having a checklist to follow when working on the launch of your premium online course can really help. Whether you use all of the options in this guide or just focus on one or two, your chances of membership site success will be greatly increased compared to if you simply take the “if you build it, they will come” approach to marketing.
So let’s get started with our premium membership site launch checklist.
Create a Marketing and Promotion Plan
In the run-up to launch day, you’ll need to create a marketing and promotion plan and then start working your plan. Thankfully, there are many different ways you can catch the attention of your target audience:
Content Marketing and Search Engine Optimization
While you’re creating your course content, you should also be actively blogging on your website as part of your membership site SEO strategy. This gives you the opportunity to share information about your forthcoming course, while also attracting new visitors via search engines like Google.
Social Media Marketing
Then there’s building a presence on the appropriate social media networks to think about. While being everywhere has its merits, its best to focus on just a few social networks when starting out. Either choose the social networks where your audience is, or stick with those you’re already comfortable with. Then start sharing content your target audience will find useful.
Reaching out to your contacts, thought leaders, and influencers in your niche or industry can yield great results when launching a premium online course. Part of your outreach strategy can include offering to write guest posts on popular blogs, giving away review access to your course, providing prizes for competitions, being a podcast guest, or any other way you can offer real value to your prospective partners’ audiences in exchange for exposure.
Most of the “free” marketing methods, such as blogging, SEO, outreach, and social media marketing can take a lot of time to implement. Therefore, if you don’t have the time to spare or you want to get instant results, investing in paid advertising is the way to go.
Facebook marketing is a great place to start when it comes to paid advertising. The Facebook user base is huge and they have some very sophisticated marketing tools to help you effectively promote your premium membership course.
No matter how small your marketing budget, you should definitely consider paid social media advertising as part of your membership site launch checklist.
Create a Sales Page
You could use the homepage of your website as the sales page for your premium membership course. On the other hand, you might be better off creating a specific landing page for the course you’re launching – especially if you have multiple products in your portfolio.
You might even want to create different landing pages for different traffic sources. For example, your Facebook adverts could drive traffic to a specific sales page while a guest post on a certain blog could link to a landing page optimized just for that audience.
Creating multiple landing pages gives you the option of developing highly optimized sales content that is laser focused on specific segments of your audience. Part of this can involve highlighting different elements of your course on specific landing pages, as well as offering different lead magnets to build your pre-launch email list.
Your WordPress theme might include a landing page template. If not, you could use a purpose built tool such as Leadpages to manage the sales pages for your premium course.
Thorough Course Testing
Before you sign off on your premium online course and start promoting it, it’s vital that you carry out thorough testing on your content and membership site infrastructure. If you are using a high-quality membership plugin for your course then you shouldn’t have too much to worry about when it comes to user registrations and managing access to your premium content. However, it never hurts to run through the process a few times yourself or get friends to help.
Some other items to test before launching a premium online course include:
- Proofread marketing materials such as landing pages and sales copy
- Course registration and login procedure
- Ability of website to send out email notifications to new users
- Payment processor account configuration
- Run through the course content
- Check any integrations, for example between course registration and email list services
- Website backup and monitoring solutions running correctly
Create an Affiliate Program
There are countless benefits to creating an affiliate program for your membership site. Not least is the no results, no fees way an affiliate program can help you get new members for your premium course. Therefore, it’s highly recommended that, at the very least, you sketch out the terms and put the infrastructure in place for offering your own affiliate program.
Choosing the right WordPress affiliate plugin makes taking care of the technical aspects very straightforward. Then all that's left for you to do is define how you will reward your affiliates and start promoting your program.
You might be too busy launching your premium online course to think about promoting your affiliate program as well. However, if you set it up, or at least define the terms now, if you are approached by potential affiliates, or you want to reach out to influencers in your field, your affiliate program will be ready for action.
Clear Your Schedule on Launch Day
Finally, it’s a very good idea to be available on launch day. Hopefully, nothing will go wrong, either on your end or that of any third party solutions you are working with, such as payment processors or email marketing providers, but if it does, you want to be able to give the issue and your new members your full attention.
The process of successfully launching a premium online course should start around the time you begin creating your product, if not before.
By planning how you are going to market your course before you start creating it, you can be sure you’ll have the ability to catch the attention of your target audience when it’s time to launch. The earlier you create your marketing plans, the earlier you start on some of the important promotional tasks that can take a while to come to fruition, such as content marketing and building a social media following.
Once you’ve worked your way through this guide to launching a premium online course, you should check out these three marketing strategies for successful membership sites. This will give you some more ideas of what you should be doing, on an ongoing basis, to make your project a continued success.
If things aren’t going as well as you’d hoped, then this article covering six reasons why your membership marketing and sales efforts will fail can help you turn things around after launching a premium online course.
What will your membership site launch checklist include? What does your premium online course launch plan look like? Please share your thoughts in the comments below.