5 Steps for Stressless Online Launch Campaign
Build your email list
Before launching a group program, membership or course, you want an engaged email list. The best way to get people on that list is by offering them something amazing free of charge (often called a lead magnet or freebie), and then asking for their email address in return. This is done using an email service, landing page and opt in form. If you’re not sure what landing pages and opt in forms are, you’ll definitely want to check out Build Your List for Launch: Landing Pages & Opt-in Forms
If you still need to choose an email service provider, you can find out more information about that here
And if you think you don’t need an email list because you have a great following on social media, you definitely need to check out this blog post: Why You Need an Email List to Have a Successful Online Launch.
Build your Brand
Branding is more than a fancy logo and high-end headshots. It’s about showing up online as a consistent and streamlined platform. You want to have a clear message and recognizable visuals… maybe even call your followers by a special name (I used to call my course members Launch Tech-ers!) or maybe you wear a fabulous hat in all of your videos. In any case, branding is what comes to mind when someone hears your name.
If you’re launching a course on a shoestring, hiring someone to help you with visual branding is probably not on your radar… but you still want some overall guidelines to stick to. Use a website like coolors.co to decide on a color palette you’re going to use on landing pages, in freebies, on images etc. And pick a font you like (and maybe a second “accent font”) for your copy.
What you don’t (really) need before you launch online…
Despite what some people think, you don’t need a fancy website before you launch something. You can use a tool like LeadPages to create landing pages to collect email addresses instead.
Frequently Asked Questions…
How long does an online launch campaign typically take?
It depends on you, and the size and engagement level of your list. If you have a highly engaged list of 300 people on your email list, you could be ready to start planning a launch.
If, however, you have an email list of 15,000 people you haven’t emailed in months or your subscribers rarely engage with your emails, you probably want to spend some time cleaning up your list or re-engaging your subscribers before they’re warm and ready to buy from you.
While the timing on a launch may vary from days to months, there are some benchmarks to give you a good idea. Download my 27-page Launch Planner to check off the steps you have already taken care of – and to make sure nothing falls through the cracks. A launch is like a big puzzle, and just one missing piece can make it all fall apart.
How big does my email list need to be before I can launch online?
Email list size depends on what you’re trying to sell. If what you’re launching is a few, high touch point 1:1 spots in a coaching program, you may not need many people on your list as you don’t have to (or want to) sell a lot of spots.
If, however, you want to launch a low price course and need a lot of conversions to make the financials work, a larger list can be more profitable.
If you have a warm list that engages with your content (i.e.; replies to your emails, clicks your links, and asks questions) you may be able to get by with as few as 300 people. Keep in mind launching is above all else a numbers game. Warm email lists with engaged subscribers typically convert at 1-3%. The number of sales you want to make should determine how big your list will need to be.
Launching Online, Step One: Deciding on the Type of Launch
There’s no one right or wrong way to market an online course. Some people like multi-video series, some use live events (either in-person or virtual), some use challenges (like a five-day challenge to tidy up your house, leading to a decluttering program) and some just go with a series of emails.
Your first launch should be something you can do easily and without spending an arm and a leg. Keep in mind that while running an online business and putting together a successful launch won’t be free, you also don’t need the biggest and best of everything when you’re just starting out.
Once you’re in the throes of the launch it becomes easy to spend money you don’t have just because you need something to get done. Thoughtful planning of what you’re capable of and how much you have to spend is going to save you from getting in over your head and will definitely help with your stress levels.
Launching Online, Step Two: Decide on the Timeline
While we’ve all heard stories of the person who sent out one email to a highly engaged list of people and had a 5-figure launch. That is not the norm.
Launches take time, and they take more time than you think they will. While there are many variables in determining your launch timeline, if you have an engaged email list of 300+ people, you should still plan on 4-6 weeks to get all of the pieces in place. If you have a team of people to help you, an existing online business, a really terrific lead magnet and a lot of the pieces in place, it could take you less time.
If you want to get a feel for all of the steps involved in launching, you may want to check out my Launch Planner. It’s a comprehensive, 27-page document designed to help you keep track of everything that needs to be done and to make sure nothing is forgotten.
Launching Online, Step Three: Map Out the Tech
Online course or membership launches can be complex or very easy.
At first, it’s a good idea to stick with software and tools you know and understand. Will you be shooting videos with your phone? Who will edit them? What will you use for your email service?
If you’re lost on what you should be using and it’s all new to you, download my tech roadmap here. It comes with a short email series telling you everything you need to know about software and tools you need to launch.
For your first launch it’s a good idea to look at the platforms and services you already have and figure out if there are features you’re not using that could fill a need you have.
Leadpages, for example, is a landing page hosting platform. Not only does it do landing pages and opt in forms, it also offers a checkout process which eliminates the need for a separate shopping cart. If your launch is going to require a piece of tech you don’t currently have or know how to use, consider going simpler the first time around. Here are some ideas on how to save money on your launch tech.
If you don’t want to be doing the tech part of launching yourself, consider outsourcing it! Having your tech set up correctly by an expert saves days or weeks of work trying to figure everything out… and an expert will be sure your foundations are set up correctly.
Want to know how I can help you set up the backend of your launch? Schedule a call to talk about it!
Launching Online, Step Four: Plan Launch and Pre-Launch Content
Whichever way you choose to market your course, you need to have a plan before you start.
What will your pre-launch content look like? What content will you use to build the buzz? How many parts to the launch will there be? How will your training unfold through the launch to keep people engaged and ready to buy?
Great launches lead people up a path.
1. Awareness: Know they have a problem needs solving
2. Understanding: Believe the problem is solvable
3. Realization: Your product could well be the answer to what they’ve been looking to solve.
Planning your content well will lead them up that path and prepare them to buy.
Launching Online, Step Five: Set Up your Sales Page & Checkout Process
Creating your Sales Page
Create your sales page before you start writing emails helps to craft clear sales copy & to see where it’s all going. Before you launch an online course you want to be sure you have a clear and concise message. If you create your sales page first using a proven template, you’re guided into what types of language you’ll want to use and what you want to include in your copy. Landing page frameworks can help you stay clear and to the point.
Getting Paid with a Simple but Solid Checkout Process
Ironically the most important step, getting paid, is often the one that people forget when they are planning their online launches. You probably have a monetary goal for the launch but do you know how you’ll get paid at the end? In many cases you’ll need both a payment processor and a shopping cart service.
This is an important step to consider early on in the process, as it can take some time to get your payment processor and shopping cart set up. There are verification steps to go through and perhaps even bank accounts to set up. You can find out more in Online Shopping Carts & Payment Processors Explained
Whether you’re trying to launch a coaching business, create a course to launch online or launching a membership site, there are a lot of moving pieces to keep track of. My Launch Planner is one way to keep track of all of the steps, but if that’s more than you need, if you just want a checklist, I can help you out with that as well. Get my course launch checklist here.
Launching Online, Step Six: Create Marketing Materials
When it comes to marketing your online course, you’ll need to develop landing pages for your videos, a sales page that allows people to buy what you’re selling and thank you pages that not only thank people for buying but also reminds them to check their email inboxes for more details on the program.
These landing and sales pages can easily be created with a program like Leadpages. For more information on what landing pages are and how to create them, check out How to Build High Converting Landing Pages.
Launching Online, Step Seven: Draft your Emails
Writing launch emails can be a daunting process. There are a lot of emails in an online launch even if you’re using videos or live events to do most of your teaching and selling. You’ll still need to tell people about those video trainings and live events.
When you’re launching online, you can expect to need 20 or more emails over the course of the several weeks you’ll be in official launch mode. Those include pre-launch emails, open cart emails, close cart emails, an onboarding sequence, and even occasionally an off-boarding sequence.
While the emails for launching don’t have to be long, they do need to be strongly written so people will actually keep opening them. Each email has a specific purpose, and that purpose shouldn’t be “buy my stuff.” You can get more info about which emails you need to launch in Email Sequences for Launching.
Launching Online, Step Eight: Launch!
Now you’ve got everything in place, all you need to do is get everything running. Start sending those emails, post the social media content, promote your pre-launch content…
This article is a simplified version of my PDF launch planner – if you need a companion guide to lead you through every step of your launch (and make sure you don’t drop any balls along the way), download the launch planner here!