We know that “the tech” of an evergreen funnel can make people want to ugly cry over their keyboard.
But we want to change all that.
In this post, we’re going to discuss the 3 main software tools that you need to efficiently run and SCALE an online course business.
If you’ve found yourself Googling, “best online course software” or “best platform to sell online courses” then keep reading because we’re diving right in!
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Choosing the best platform to sell an online course
When it comes to deciding which is the best platform to use to sell your online course, there are a few things that you’ll want to keep in mind.
1. Branding capabilities
Before signing up for anything, make sure that the platform that you’re considering gives you the ability to design and edit your own branding into the platform.
We realize that branding is a whole conversation in and of itself.
But when it comes to deciding on an online course platform, having the ability to create a cohesive experience not only elevates the look of your course (and therefore the perceived value), but it creates all kinds of feel-good moments for your clients. (…how’d you feel opening the box for that new iPhone?)
That said, we also don’t want you to get stuck here thinking that you have to have a course design that would make the folks at Apple feel jealous.
We want you to aim for progress over perfection, everytime. So when it comes to this conversation, you want to at least have the ability to customize the basic stuff like fonts, colors, and lesson images.
2. Future Uploads
It’s not uncommon for your course to change over time.
As you understand your audience more and more, there may come a time where you want to add more to the course you’ve created.
So the best course platform would be one that gives you the flexibility to upload multiple videos and content at a later time or easily move things around.
3. See the data
We love our data around here and so it’s extremely important to poke around the metrics dashboard and get an idea what kind of data is tracked.
Let’s consider something like the rate of completion.
As much as you hope for a 100% completion rate, there are times that life gets in the way and some people won’t complete your course. That’s normal.
But other times, a low rate of completion could indicate a problem. And unless you’re tracking this, you wouldn’t know about it or be able to fix it.
The online course platform we love
There are as many online course platforms as there are flavors of ice cream. And while we haven’t tried every ice cream out there, we can say that we’ve looked at SO MANY online course platforms and software.
There was even a time when we created our own customized membership area and built it out on WordPress.
(👆 something I DON’T recommend, by the way. The upkeep was miserable, things broke constantly, and trying to juggle all the parts and plugins was about as fun as scrubbing grout lines with a toothbrush.)
After looking at all the options, we chose Thinkific. And while we don’t have a hard and fast rule, like “you HAVE to use them,” Thinkific’s customer service is what sets them apart.
As an online course business, if you’re having a problem with your software, you NEED to be able to get an answer RIGHT AWAY. Based on our own great experiences with Thinkific, we knew that we could count on them to support our clients quickly and efficiently whenever they needed it.
Choosing your email service provider
If you’re an established online business owner, it’s likely that you’ve already got an email list of some sort.
But when it comes to creating a course, there are certain features that you want to be sure to have in your email service provider (or ESP).
Here’s what to look for:
1. Automated sequences
Remember, your email service provider will be used to send marketing messages and it needs to give you the capability to send customized emails and engage in what we call behavior-based automation.
Using behavior-based automation, you can ensure that each of your prospects sees the right message at the right time.
That means it doesn’t matter if someone registers for your webinar during a Monday night dinner, or a Friday night movie, behavior-based automation will lead them through their own personal journey to shift beliefs, show them what’s possible, and build connection as they make their way to the Enroll Now button.
2. Easy to use
Whether it’s segmenting your list, sending bulk emails, or tracking the performance of every email, you need an email service provider that feels intuitive and easy for YOU to use.
This might mean trying a few out before you land on the right one.
But because email marketing is such a lucrative (…hello, BIG ROI) and important part of your marketing and sales funnel, it’s worth taking the time to find something that works for you and your course business.
3. Can the Spam
Imagine spending loads of time and energy creating a beautifully designed and written email sequence… only to hear things like, “…I couldn’t find it in my inbox” or “…yea, you were in my spam folder.”
And even though you can do everything “by the book” here’s what you might not realize…
…your email service provider has a rating of their own by the SPAM powers that be. This means that if you’ve teamed up with an email service provider who’s been given a low rating, your chances of getting sent right to spam are higher, simply because of who you’ve chosen to work with.
So when making your choice, research your chosen ESP’s deliverability rates so that you can bypass the cold, dark Spam folder and show up shining bright in your prospect’s inboxes.
The ESP we love
Inside our multi-year group coaching program, Scale with Success®, we recommend that our clients use ActiveCampaign because it allows them to:
- Create and send highly targeted email sequences that leverage behavior-based automation.
- Gives them total control over their segmentation and tagging abilities so that they can organize their list in exactly the way they need.
- Get in-depth insights into all aspects of their email marketing strategies.
Beyond that, ActiveCampaign gives US the ability to create automations FOR our clients.
This means that if tech stuff makes your eyes twitch, the Scale with Success® program cuts out the overwhelm by providing you with the exact behavior-based automations that you need in an importable format – saving you many steps (and headaches) from the tech setup.
All you have to do is upload into ActiveCampaign and voila! you’re done.
Choosing shopping cart software for selling online courses
As an online course business, you need a way for people to pay that’s automated and easy to use, and that’s where shopping cart software comes into play.
I’d even go so far as saying it’s one of the most important pieces of tech in your online course funnel.
Not only does it allow you to get paid easily for your online course, but it creates a polished experience for your customers which ultimately, builds their trust in your course and in your brand.
Here are a few things to look for in your shopping cart software.
Any shopping cart worth its SSL should give you the ability to accept payment from a variety of vendors.
From Apple Pay to electronic check, having a wide range of payment options makes life easier for your clients.
And honestly… you should always try to make it as easy as possible for clients to pay you!
Your shopping cart software should have a straightforward and intuitive analytics backend that allows you to know exactly where your money is coming from (like sales) and where it’s going (like refunds).
3. Convert prospects
Have you ever been directed to a webpage that had a mess of background colors, used Comic Sans for EVERYTHING, and looked like the digital version of a Dr. Bronner’s soap label?
Now how willing would you be to punch in your credit card info to purchase something off that site?
Yea… that would be a big, fat NOPE.
That is the kind of experience you DO NOT want your prospects to have either.
So by choosing a shopping cart software with a proven design, your shopping cart is a confidence-boosting final step in your prospect’s buying journey.
The shopping cart software we love
Inside Scale with Success®, we recommend SamCart to all our clients.
Their cart pages are customizable so you can include things like testimonials that give your customers that extra confidence boost when making their purchase decision.
They also do a really good job of tracking revenue.
We believe in making data-informed decisions and Samcart’s reports allow our clients to track their KPIs so that they can ALSO make their own data-informed decisions.
To sum things up…
We know that evergreen funnels can get a bad rap because there’s a lot of tech involved. And we know that it can even stop some people from ever considering going evergreen with their online course.
But with the handful of tools that we talked about today, you can create the foundation for an evergreen funnel that’s easy to manage and brings in revenue 24/7.
1. Find an online platform, like Thinkific, that allows you to customize your course to your brand, continually add new content, and track your course metrics.
2. Choose an email service provider with a good reputation that will allow you to easily create automated sequences for various segments of your list. ActiveCampaign is our go-to choice.
3. Lastly, use a proven shopping cart software, like Samcart, so that payment is a seamless process for both you and your clients.
Today’s blog post is brought to you by Scale with Success® — a group coaching experience designed to help you generate scalable and predictable revenue month after month. If you want to learn MORE about our proven method for success, click here to watch my free masterclass. See you in there!