How To Use Social Media To Pre-sell Your Online Course

Picture of Rachel Burns

by Rachel Burns

When you’ve put in the work to create an online course, the last thing you want is a disappointing launch. After all, one of the main goals of online course creators and other information product entrepreneurs, is to get content in front of those who need it.

However, you don’t have to wait until launch day to get the word out about your new online course. By pre-selling your online course on social media, you can build momentum leading up to your launch and reach more potential students. 

Keep reading to learn how.

Why pre-sell your online course?

Pre-selling – generating sales and pre-orders before your online course launches – can help build excitement and buzz around your course before it goes live. You can even start marketing your online course before you’ve finished your course content.

When you pre-sell your course, a lot of the work – content creation, marketing, sales – is already made before launch day. That takes you one step closer to earning passive income, one of the most significant benefits of selling information products.

Social media is an excellent tool for pre-selling because users can discover new products on social channels. In fact, 59% of Gen Z and 55% of millennials find products on social media:

Statistics of where young people discover products

That’s likely why so many entrepreneurs use social media to sell digital products.

Pre-selling your course also allows you to validate your course content. You can better gauge what your audience is looking for in your practice and adjust materials accordingly rather than going in blind.

Your audience wants to share their feedback with you, too: 75% of consumers have said that a brand asking for their input on future product ideas would make them more likely to purchase from that business.

In the next section, we’ll cover five strategies for pre-selling your online course on social media leading up to your launch.

5 ways to pre-sell your online course on social media

1. Share a preview of your course

Start building excitement for your online system before it launches. Give your social media followers a sneak peek of what they can expect from your upcoming course. 

When you share a preview of your course, your post shouldn’t sound like an ad. Instead, make sure to include valuable information and helpful content.

In turn, that content helps you build trust and credibility with your audience — if they find value in your course preview, they’ll be more likely to sign up for or pre-order the full course. 

One great way to share a preview of your course is by sharing a video of you speaking directly to your audience.

Watching videos is one of the main activities people do on social media, making video marketing a powerful strategy across social channels:

Social media activities stats

And on Twitter, tweets with videos see 10x more engagement than those without video.

Take a look at this course announcement on Twitter from web design expert and entrepreneur John D Saunders:

John D Saunders tweet

In May, John tweeted a video announcing his new course, Web Design Studio Accelerator. He then pinned the tweet to keep the promotion highlighted at the top of his Twitter profile.

The video lets potential students know what they can expect from the course and introduces them to John’s presenting style.

The results?

As of October, John has earned $100,000 selling online courses.

If you want to get started even earlier – say, before you know exactly what your course will cover – you can engage your audience in conversation long before your course launches.

2. Open up a conversation with your audience

To drive engagement on social media, you first need to figure out which platforms your audience spends their time on. For example:

  • LinkedIn for a B2B audience
  • Twitter for bloggers and solopreneurs
  • Pinterest for people interested in lifestyle content, cooking, and wellness 

This infographic from creative agency Leverage offers a helpful breakdown of each central platform’s demographics, benefits, and unique features:

Breakdown of social media channels

Once you know where to find your audience, start talking to them — and listen to what they have to say. Ask them what they most struggle with in their businesses or daily lives, then build your course to help them overcome those obstacles. 

By having these conversations, you do more than gather valuable market research – you build an engaged community. Once your course is open for pre-orders, you can let them know that you’ve created something that will help them solve those challenges.

Here’s a real-world example. Developer and entrepreneur Ryan Kulp tweeted to his network to gauge interest in a potential course:

Ryan kulp tweet 1

With over 30 replies, 185 likes, and several retweets, Ryan could tell that his audience would sign up for his course — he just had to create it first.

Once he created and launched his How to Buy, Grow, and Sell Small Companies course, Ryan announced the course’s launch on Twitter and offered a discount for the first 25 students:

Ryan kulp tweet 2

Ryan also replied directly to the users who responded to his initial question, sharing the course landing page with them now. He made it easy for them to sign up while showing that he considered their feedback when creating his course content.

Linking to a dedicated landing page is a crucial part of promoting your course on social media, whether it’s pre-or post-launch – and that’s exactly what our next tip is about.

3. Link to a dedicated pre-launch landing page

If you’ve ever used social media as a lead generation tool, you know the power of a well-crafted social post combined with a compelling landing page. Collecting signups for your online course is no different. 

A pre-launch landing page is a sales page on your website dedicated exclusively to your new course, intending to collect pre-orders or email list signups.

When you post about your course on social media, link only to the dedicated landing page – it makes it easier for your customer to move through your marketing funnel, as shown in this graphic from Unbounce:

Marketing Funnel

Your pre-launch landing page should do these four things: 

  1. Announce your online course. What is it called? When will it start?
  2. Convey the course’s benefits — and who can benefit from it — using convincing, conversational sales copy. Follow the PAS framework:
    • Problem: State the problem that your course solves.
    • Agitation: Remind the reader of the problem caused by those pet peeves..
    • Solution: Explain how your online course solves that problem.
  3. Include a clear call-to-action (CTA) to encourage your readers to take action. If you want them to sign up for your email list, make your CTA something like “be the first to know when the course launches” or “sign up for updates.” If your goal is to collect pre-orders, your CTA can be as simple as “pre-order now.”
  4. Share customer testimonials. If you have quotes from previous customers, including them on your landing page can help you boost conversions — especially for higher-priced products like expensive online courses. 

Research shows that conversion rates rose by 380% when reviews were included on a higher-priced product’s landing page.

Conversion growth due to reviews

If you don’t have testimonials from past customers, don’t worry — you can start gathering them once you launch your new course and bring in new customers. And you’re even more likely to draw them in if you offer them an incentive to sign up early. 

4. Offer a discount for pre-orders and early birds

People love discounts. In fact, a projected 145.3 million people in the United States will use digital coupons in 2021. 

And we love coupons even more when they’re exclusive because FOMO – the fear of missing out -is a powerful force. 

60% of people make purchases because of FOMO, and 48% say an exclusive offer would make them purchase sooner:

Use of exclusive offer

When you pre-sell your online course on social media, consider offering an exclusive discount on pre-orders or for the first several people who sign up.

What does this look like in practice?

Ryan Kulp, who we discussed above, offered 25 coupons for 50% off of his course, How to Buy, Grow, and Sell Small Companies. All of them sold out within the first hour, bringing in $1,875. Over the next 23 hours, he made over $10,000 in course enrollments.

John D Saunders asks for something more than early enrollment in exchange for a discount — he asks his audience to invest in the online course even before he creates it.

John presents the course idea to his audience on social media, telling them, “Hey, if you’re interested in enrolling, I’ll create a landing page for you to fill it out and pay $7.”

Those who invested $7 received 50-60% off his course’s full price on launch day, when he charged the remaining fee. And this strategy works: John earned $10,000 on his course launch day.

Plus, he gathers that valuable feedback we discussed earlier, validating his course idea before putting the time and effort into creating all of the content.

Another way to make your course more appealing to your social media audience is by bringing in some outside help in the form of influencers.

5. Partner with influencers in your niche

Influencers are experts or leaders in a specific niche. They usually have a targeted, engaged social media audience with specific interests in common.

Like FOMO and social proof, influencer marketing can be an effective way to drive pre-orders and word-of-mouth around your course launch. A survey by Mediakix found that 80% of marketers find influencer marketing effective:

Influencer marketing effectiveness

Influencers can be particularly beneficial if your audience skews young. A reported 61% of consumers aged 18 to 34 have been swayed in their decision-making by digital influencers.

Before you can work with influencers to promote your online course, however, you need to find the right social media influencers for your product and audience. 

Ask yourself:

  • Who are the most trusted experts in my niche?
  • Who does my audience look to for advice and expertise?
  • Who do they follow on social media?

Once you have a list of influencers in your industry, reach out to them and build a relationship before you ask them for help promoting your new course – especially if you don’t have a high influencer marketing budget.

Unless you pay to promote any of the posts we’ve talked about so far, influencer marketing is the most expensive strategy on this list.

Many influencers charge one cent per follower per post, which comes out to $100 for 10,000 followers. That said, influencers with smaller, niche audiences often offer pricing plans to work with brands’ budgets.

Also, keep in mind that you don’t need to partner with too many influencers to promote your course effectively. 37% of marketers worked with one to 10 influencers in an average influencer program:

Influencer use stats

Finally, we recommend that you pay influencers directly or offer an affiliate agreement instead of exchanging a free course for promotion.

It’s too time-intensive to ask influencers to complete your course before promoting it – unless, of course, they want to.

You know your audience and your course the best. Adjust each of these five pre-selling strategies accordingly, and you will be well on your way to a successful online course launch.

Use social media to set your course up for success 

All in all, social media can be a powerful tool to gather pre-orders, reach more potential students, and set yourself up for success leading up to launch day.

To recap, here are five ways to pre-sell your course on social media: 

  1. Share a preview of your course. A video works best here. 
  2. Open up a conversation with your audience and get their feedback on your course content.
  3. Link to your pre-launch landing page to collect pre-orders or email addresses.
  4. Offer a discount for pre-orders to reward early bird students.
  5. Partner with influencers in your niche to get the word out about your course. 

By building momentum early on, you can create buzz around your course and get in front of a bigger audience — so you can share your expertise with even more students.

You can leverage some of the best social media scheduling tools to create a consistent flow of promotion on multiple social media platforms from a single dashboard.

Picture of Rachel Burns

Rachel Burns

Rachel Burns is a content marketer for Podia, an all-in-one platform where online courses, digital downloads, and membership websites -- alongside their creators -- thrive. Check out our guide to creating online courses, even if you’ve never done it before.

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