The online learning industry is booming. According to a study by Research & Markets, the online education sector is set to grow from $187.877 billion in 2019 to $319.167 billion by 2025. While that’s a positive thing for the industry and course creators, it will inevitably make the space more competitive.

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If you’re a course creator already established in your space, that means the coming years will bring more competition. On the other hand, if you want to enter this space and acquire customers, you’re in for an uphill battle to get established because of all the competition you face. Either way you’ll want to focus on improving your conversion rate to maximize sales.

In this guide, I’m going to show you how to utilize one of the most effective sales channels and webinars to sell online courses. To set the scene, let’s clear up why you should use webinars in the first place.

Why Webinars Are The Best Channel for Selling Your Online Course

There’s a lot to like about the webinar. Ask the marketers themselves, with 73% of them saying it’s one of the best channels to generate leads. It makes sense. Webinars are just online seminars (it’s where the name comes from).

Through a webinar, you can connect with your audience directly as you speak. That’s a lot more effective than an online email sequence that a person can easily ignore. This ability to connect with your audience enables you to sell your product or service more effectively. GetResponse is a nice case in point. Webinars are one of their most effective lead generation channels as Michal Leszczynski, Content Marketing Manager at GetResponse, makes clear.

"Webinars are certainly among our best lead-gen tools. They're very cost-effective, and once you figure out a reliable process, you can scale your webinar marketing efforts with ease.

Every month, we run one big webinar that attracts over 2,000 registrants and several smaller ones. Due to the topics we cover in our webinars, we manage to attract both existing customers who want to educate themselves, and new leads who want to learn more about what we do.

We carefully track every webinar we host and can certainly see which topics drive engagement and make our attendees more-likely to convert."

Webinars are one of the most effective lead generation channels in the eLearning space. A quick review of any established marketer selling expensive online courses reveals that webinars play an integral part in their sales funnel.

Russell Brunson, Neil Patel, Frank Kern, and Sam Ovens, are just a couple of examples of experts using webinars to sell $1,000-$5,000 online courses through webinars.

Webinar sales page examples

All of these marketers are using webinars to sell online courses; they also use a very similar sales formula that can be easily replicated for salespeople and entrepreneurs. The remainder of this guide will discuss how to use webinars to sell online courses. If you’re in the eLearning niche or plan to enter the niche, pay close attention.

Step 1: How to Research Your Audience

Any successful campaign relies on an understanding of your audience. Consequently, it’s a good idea to create a customer persona before you do anything else.

A customer persona is a representation of your ideal customer if you’ve never heard of one before. It’s your chance to get into the head of your ideal customer, discover the pain points they are facing, and learn about their goals.

Your customer persona is something you should reference as you build out your marketing campaign. It’s important also to consider why people don’t buy from you.

Generally, there are three reasons that people won’t buy the product or service you offer. They are:

  • They don’t believe that the course is the right solution for them
  • They believe what you are offering is the best solution, but they don’t think they will have success
  • There is some external factor that is holding them back from making the purchase

We’ll cover how to deal with each of these objections in the following sections of this guide to using webinars to sell your online course.

Step 2: How to Sideline Your Competition

Regardless of the course you’re offering, you’re almost certainly going to be operating in a competitive market. This means there will be other people offering similar courses to you.

Assuming you are an expert in the field that you are selling a course in, which I hope you should be, it should be easy to conduct your competitor analysis. You will know who are the important movers and shakers in your niche, how much their product costs, and what they are offering.

Pay attention to each of these factors as it will play a role in how you position your course. Crucial to the success of your positioning is the ability to illustrate why it is unique. That is unless you plan to position your course as being the cheapest option on the market, which is an approach you should avoid.

A great resource about positioning is Blue Ocean Strategy by Renée Mauborgne and W. Chan Kim.

Red Ocean Strategy vs. Blue Ocean Strategy

Source: Blue Ocean Strategy

Spend some time on getting your positioning right. A high percentage of your prospective students will have tried and failed to achieve the goals you want to help them achieve. This is an obstacle you need to deal with if you want them to become your students.

For example, here is how I’m positioning my SEO certification course:

  • SEO is easy, and anyone can do it with a system vs. There is a lot of information you need to understand (much of it technical)
  • 70% of building the links to get traffic to a site is networking vs. You need a bunch of technical tools to get traffic to a site

Positioning the course in this way removes 90% of the competition.

Framed in this way, SEO is not a skill set that requires advanced technical knowledge. The basics of SEO are pretty simple. What makes most SEO experts successful is their professional network and a proven system for getting results. This is something I genuinely believe after gaining a lot of experience in this field.

If you can position your solution as unique, your potential students won't associate your course with their previous failures. You're offering a new approach to achieving their goals.

A great example of someone who achieved success by carefully positioning his product is Clickfunnels founder Russel Brunson. He marketed Clickfunnels as a funnel builder, not a page builder. Yet, fundamentally Clickfunnels is like any other page builder on the market. By positioning the tool as a funnel creator, he managed to distinguish his solution from the competition.

Step 3: The Principles of the Perfect Webinar Funnel

As I mentioned, there are a lot of successful entrepreneurs who rely on webinars to sell their online courses. Most of these experts use a pretty standard webinar funnel that most often starts with PPC ads, and ends on a sales page.

Here’s what that looks like in practice.

Webinar funnel

There’s a great case study on Connectio that takes apart the webinar funnel used by Sam Ovens to sell his consulting course. The post covers the entry point to his webinar funnel; specifically, the copy used on the Facebook ads, the Opt-in page, and the Thank You page.

Source: Connectio

If you want to use PPC ads to promote an online course, I recommend you set aside 10 minutes to read the case study.

So, that leads us to the central point of the funnel, the webinar. In the next section, I’ll cover how to create an effective presentation that draws in leads and generates sales.

Step 4: How to Turn a Warm Lead Into a Piping Hot Prospect

At the beginning of this guide, I gave a couple of examples of marketing experts who use webinars to sell online courses. Each presenter has their unique approach to selling, but they generally follow a similar framework.

Many of these experts share their frameworks through expensive online courses. A notable exception is Russell Brunson. In his book, Expert Secrets, Russell shares his turnkey formula for running a successful webinar. If you’re serious about using a webinar to sell your online course, then I thoroughly recommend you make the $5 or so investment.

Here’s a snapshot of the webinar formula he uses:

  • Start with your origin story. Your origin story covers who you are and a bit about your background. Through your story, you should establish your expertise, and make yourself relatable. This generally follows some kind of rags to riches story or novice to expert.
  • Your vehicle framework. In this section, you talk about how you discovered the secrets you’ll share through your course. This provides the context to the value your course had, and the pain you had to go through to learn these lessons. Think Karate Kid waxing cars until he learned the Crane Kick.
  • Testimonials of success. Inspire your audience with case studies of people who have graduated the course and achieved success. It’s about showing how they can achieve their goals with your course.
  • Discuss their external beliefs. Attack the external doubts that might hold your audience back from making a purchase. External limitations are things related to the student’s end goal. For example, if you were selling a blogging course, you might believe you are a great writer, but you don’t think you’d ever be able to master SEO.
  • Make your convincing close. The final section of the webinar is where you sell the value of your course. If you’re following Russell’s formula, then this is the part where you share all of the time-sensitive bonuses that they would get if they purchase.

That’s the formula in a nutshell.

You’ll notice that you don’t really attendees at any point. Rather, this sales strategy involves convincing attendees that the program you are selling will help them achieve their goals. This is done by first creating a connection with the attendees, establishing why your solution is different, and then knocking away the things holding a person back from purchasing the course.

How to Present Like a Pro

Presenting a webinar is a nerve-wracking experience, especially if you’re not a naturally outgoing person (I definitely fall into this camp). Like most things in life, though, if you jump in and try, it’s rarely as bad as you think.

Even if it is a disaster, and I’ve run a few terrible webinars in my time, it’s not the end of the world. Dust yourself off and get back in the ring.

If this is going to be your first webinar, here are a few presentation tips you should follow:

  • Try to relax. Aim to do something that will help relax you 30 minutes before your webinar, such as some deep breathing or meditation.
  • Incorporate humor so you can make your audience feel you’re approachable. This helps them better connect to you and your story.
  • Use pattern interrupts throughout your webinar to get people to pay attention. These can be silly looking slides or goofy unexpected phrases.
  • Engage your audience by asking them questions. You can get them to actively respond by typing the number one into the group chat if they agree with a statement.
  • Give your attendees an incentive to stay until the end. Usually, you offer some freebie to those who participate through the end of the presentation.

You might naturally be a great presenter if that’s the case, then great stuff. However, even if you’re terrible the first time, practice makes perfect. By the fifth time you’ve presented the same webinar, you’ll feel confident making your pitch. You’ll also have the chance to learn from your mistakes and improve the webinar based on attendee feedback.

Step 5: Sales Page and Retargeting

The end goal of your webinar is to send piping hot leads to your sales page, where they can buy your course. Since this is the last page in your webinar funnel, you can think of this page as the one that gives the final nudge. Simply put, if it’s effective, you get that conversion.

Your sales page needs to create some FOMO and provide an overview of what your students will receive if they purchase your course now.

Your sales page should follow a copywriting formula. Remember, the more expensive the course, the more bonuses you should provide, and the more testimonials you should add. I suggest you check out this guide if you’re not familiar with how to write a long-form sales copy.

The final step is to set up a retargeting campaign for people who attended the webinar but didn’t make a purchase. Whether you should do this depends on how many people attend the webinar.

Final Thoughts

What I tried to provide through this guide is a framework for selling an online course through a webinar that I’d want to bookmark. This framework covers everything from coming up with your customer persona, positioning your course, through to creating your webinar funnel, and the perfect webinar script.

There’s no way that I could cover everything you’d want to know in a 2,000+ word article. Rather than pretending I can, I provided resources you can refer to when creating your webinar funnel. This includes books like Blue Ocean Strategy, and Expert Secrets, alongside useful blog posts.

Using webinars to sell an online course won’t be for everyone. However, if you put in the work and research the theory, I promise that the strategy I outlined in the post will deliver results. Best of luck.

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Originally published Jun 9, 2020 8:30:00 AM, updated June 11 2020