Your online course landing page needs to capture attention, quickly convey the value it offers, build trust in you as an authority, and turn visitors into paying students. Let’s take a look at the key elements to make all of that happen!
We send a survey out each year to our WP Courseware WordPress learning management system users to better understand how course creators are utilizing the plugin, how we should prioritize our development roadmap, and what issues or challenges course creators are facing in general.
In our last survey, we asked…
“If you could learn more about any aspect of the course creation process that you struggle with, what would it be?”
We mistakenly assumed that the leading response would be something technical in nature…maybe how to edit videos or what video storage platform worked best for online courses.
However, almost 20% of the survey responses we received were from folks who didn’t need help with course creation at all.
They needed help with what happens after course production is finished…
How to market and sell more courses!
We began creating our own courses almost 10 years ago and we’ve learned a thing or two along the way, so our plan over the coming weeks is to publish content designed to help you do just that…sell more courses.
And it all begins with an online course landing page with all of the right ingredients.
You never get a second chance to make a first impression!
I’ve no clue who first coined this phrase (apparently it’s often attributed to both Oscar Wilde and Will Rogers), but I’ve most often heard it used as sage advice for interpersonal introductions.
However, since your online course is very likely a direct extension of your personality, experiences, communication style, and knowledge, nothing could ring more true! That being said, your online course landing page needs to capitalize on the opportunity to make that first impression by doing a few things…
- Remind your prospective customer of the problem they’re facing
- Clearly demonstrate that you have a solution to that problem
- Prove that you’re the one to help alleviate that problem because you’ve done it
- Show them how much brighter life looks after the problem is solved
Sure, I could go on and on about how you need to convince them that your price point is a steal for the value they’ll receive or that you need to proactively overcome their hesitations and objections.
But at the end of the day, it all comes back to these four storytelling elements. And your online course landing page needs to do just that…
Tell a convincing story…and quickly.
The Foolproof Formula for Online Course Landing Pages that Convert
Let’s take a step-by-step look at how to build this story.
We’re going to assume that you’re starting from scratch and that you have the motivation and ability to design a custom landing page for your online course. We use the Beaver Builder page builder plugin to create all of our WordPress pages and can’t say enough great things about it, but there are a number of alternatives such as Elementor, the Divi builder from Elegant Themes, and even the native WordPress “Gutenberg” visual editor.
1. Identify who your course is intended for
While we’re going to be identifying a problem and convincing a prospective customer that we have a solution, we’re also going to be using written copy to speak directly to that prospective customer. So we first need to know who they are so we can use language and phrasing that resonates with them.
- What is it exactly that they’re struggling with?
- How is that affecting their life?
- How old are they?
- What type of work do they do?
- Where do they spend time online?
- What other solutions might they have tried before?
- What are they willing to sacrifice to solve this problem?
2. Craft an attention-grabbing headline
Remember that first impression quote? Well, the headline is the online course landing page equivalent of a first impression.
This is your chance to convince a casual visitor to read on, so we need to make the headline count!
Your headline needs to:
- Speak directly to the visitor
- State that you have the answer to their problem
- Create hope that this transformation will improve their life in some way
I’ve been taking courses with online entrepreneur Corbett Barr since 2012 and the most recent incarnation of his academy to help others begin their own entrepreneurial journey is called Fizzle. And Fizzle has a great example of how to craft an online course landing page headline…
Earn a living doing something you love.
First, this headline speaks directly to a specific persona. If you’ve stumbled upon Fizzle, you’re likely looking for ways to break free from the constraints of a job and empower yourself to transform your work into something you actually look forward to.
It also makes a bold claim about exactly what a Fizzle membership can do for you. It can teach you to not only get paid to do what you love, but to make a living! This bold promise easily convinces a casual visitor to the site to read on.
After all, who doesn’t want to get paid to do something they love?
3. Qualify and drive home your headline with a descriptive subtitle
Now that we’ve captured our visitors attention, we have a few more seconds to draw them in a bit further with our subtitle.
We still need to keep the copy of our subtitle tight and clear, but it gives us a chance to more specifically state the value that our course has to offer. If you haven’t read our guide on how to create a unique selling proposition for your online course, this is a good time to walk through that exercise as it will really help you distill your course’s solution down to a few words.
Pat Flynn is another online entrepreneur who I’ve personally worked with during my entrepreneurial journey. In fact, my Fly Plugins co-founder, Ben, and I met in a private mastermind group with Pat back in 2011. Pat has one of the most popular business podcasts around and his current podcasting course, Power-Up Podcasting, provides us with a really great example of how to put our subtitle to work…
A Step-By-Step Course to Launch a Successful Podcast that Gets Found and Grows Your Online Brand
Let’s break that down…
Podcasting is technical and I’d be willing to guess that one of the biggest reasons people who want to start a podcast never do so is that they think they’re not tech-savvy enough to pull it off. Well, guess what! Pat’s got your back and he’s going to hold your hand all the way through the process…step-by-step!
…Launch a Successful Podcast…
This tells me a couple of things. First, it reassures me that this course won’t end with me having a bunch of polished and well-edited audio files saved to my hard drive. It’s actually going to get me out there live in the podcast feeds where folks can actually find me.
Second, Pat already knows that you probably already know that there are hundreds of dormant podcasts out there with no reviews that probably only received a handful of downloads before their creator decided it wasn’t worth the effort. So he’s reassuring you that you’re going to be different by launching a successful podcast!
…that Gets Found…
Here’s another likely objection that Pat is addressing right off the bat before you’ve even hit the sales copy. Sure, I can create a podcast, I can figure out how to publish it, and I’m willing to stick to a consistent production schedule. But who’s ever really going to listen to it anyway?
Fear not, future podcaster! Pat’s not only going to get your podcast polished up and published, but he’s going to help you find an audience to listen.
…and Grows Your Online Brand
Again, this little bit of wordsmith wonder does two things at once. It lets me know what the end result is going to be. After all, if I’m interested in starting a podcast, I’ve probably heard that it’s a good way to build authority, trust, and exposure in my niche. Knowing that Pat’s course is designed to help me grow my business tells me that I’m going to benefit from the investment.
Second, this also helps the visitor self-select and decide whether or not this course is right for them. It makes the statement that the course is designed to help grow an online brand, so if I don’t have a product or service to offer online then it probably isn’t for me. On the other hand, if I’m an SEO consultant and I want to create a search marketing podcast to offer helpful advice for webmasters who might eventually hire me, then I’m in the right place!
4. Choose or create an eye-catching and relevant hero image
This step is optional, but can go a long way to either 1) break up your copy so that it doesn’t feel like a traditional long-form sales page or 2) convey a tangible benefit to a digital product through the use of a product mockup.
Let’s look at each of those approaches…
One of our favorite ways of using an image at the top of an online course landing page is to drop a high-quality, relevant, and high-contrast image behind the headline and subtitle.
You’ll want to select an image that isn’t so busy that it distracts from your headline and subtitle and which also contrasts with the font color you’re using. You can find high-quality, banner-size images in any stock photo marketplace such as Dreamstime, DepositPhotos, or Envato and you can easily adjust the contrast or coloring of the image with a free image editing site such as Canva.
In this example from Clutterfree, a course which teaches how to de-clutter your living space, the header background image provides a refreshing reminder of how things might look if we take action. The foreground is slightly out of focus and the contrast is darkened a bit to provide some depth from the white font used in the course title, subtitle, and call-to-action button (more on that in a moment).
Alternatively, since online courses are digital it can also give a boost to the perceived value of your course to use the header image space for product mockups. For the last several years, we’ve been using a site called MyEcoverMaker which allows you to take a logo image and have it placed on three dimensional placeholders, such as book covers and laptop screens.
5. Summarize your course’s landing page in a video
This is also optional and I’ll be honest, it takes a bit of work. However, some of your visitors may not have the time, patience, or attention span to sift through the entire online course landing page you’re creating.
We can capture the attention of those visitors and also give a sense of personality to our course offering by using a video summary here. And if your course will primarily consist of video content as around 90% of our WP Courseware users’ courses do, this is also an opportunity to showcase the quality of content prospective customers can expect.
I generally recommend keeping this summary video somewhere between 2 and 4 minutes in length. That’s long enough to provide a pretty detailed summary of your course, but short enough that most visitors will have time to watch it from start to finish.
It doesn’t have to be much more complex than maybe a logo reveal intro clip, some catchy background music, and you speaking over animated slides. Again, Canva is a great option for slide templates and of course you can use Keynote or PowerPoint as well. I’ve actually outsourced this task by hiring on Fiverr, too. I sought video editors who specialized in Adobe AfterEffects and paid about $200 for the production of a 4-minute long course summary video.
6. Place eye-catching call-to-action (CTA) buttons at the top, middle, and bottom of the page
Our call-to-action, or CTA, buttons are what our visitor would use to add the course to a shopping cart. This sounds pretty simple, right? After all, it’s just a button!
But spend some time researching the psychology of “buy now” buttons and you’ll find that there are entire bodies of research dedicated to finding the most optimal form of CTA button to use.
We won’t get into that much detail here, as the key elements of a successful CTA button are pretty straightforward. Your buttons should:
- Use an eye-catching, contrasting color to stand out
- Use strong action words, such as:
7. Tell a story that your visitor can relate to
Now it’s time to get a bit more personal. The next element of a successful online course landing page is your story. This is where you have the opportunity to convey to your prospective customer that you understand their pain point, that you’ve been there, too, that you finally figured it out, and that life is most certainly better now because of it.
Our friend, Joseph Michael, at Learn Scrivener Fast does a great job at this. His course teaches writers how to use a very handy and powerful software that, it turns out, is really difficult to figure out how to use properly.
He tells the story of trying to escape the nine to five life and become a writer, which is his real passion. However, every time he sits down with a creative idea in mind, he wastes precious time fumbling around with Scrivener’s functionality as opposed to writing.
8. Provide a course description stating exactly what’s in the course
We obviously can’t sell a course with just a story and a promise. After all, the proof is in the pudding, right?
While it’s not completely necessary to give a detailed look at your actual course outline (which could be an easy cheat sheet for copycats), your prospective customer will want to know what topics you’re going to cover in the course. After all, they may be too advanced or too inexperienced for where your course falls on the learning curve. They also may have tried similar courses and found that certain elements were missing, so this is your opportunity to convince them that you can fill in the gaps.
I generally recommend writing out course descriptions by module, or groups of lessons, and then hinting at the solutions you’ll be offering in each section of the course. Again, Joseph does a great job with this as you can see in how he breaks down each module of Learn Scrivener Fast.
Pay close attention to the phrases used to hint at solutions…
A subtle trick you can use…
The amazing tool that will…
He doesn’t come right out and say what these tools and tricks are, but he does a great job of creating intrigue and curiosity.
9. Include testimonials from students who have been through your course
When selling online courses, social proof can go a very, very long way in convincing prospective customers to hit that CTA button. With so many review options available to us these days (Amazon, Google, Yelp), we almost expect to hear from someone else who has already purchased something before we purchase it.
If your course is already live, this is simple. Just reach out to your students who have completed your course and ask them to write a sentence or two about how the course has helped them. As you build out your online course landing page, include this testimonial along with the student’s name, image if they allow, and, if applicable, where they’re putting your advice into action (a personal brand, online business, etc.).
If your course is just about to launch, you can still solicit testimonials even if it isn’t live yet. I suggest reaching out to a handful of influencers in your niche if possible and allowing them free, unrestricted access to your course in exchange for some honest feedback. This may sound intimidating, but having done this before I can say you’ll likely be surprised at the positive responses you receive. And worst case scenario, you’re generally going to get a message back saying, “I’d really love to, but I’m just too busy at the moment.”
10. Craft your instructor bio to share more about you and your expertise
This is one of the most important elements within an online course landing page. Your prospective customer needs to know that you’re the right person to help them solve this pain point they’ve come seeking help with.
This doesn’t need to include much more than a couple of sentences about you and why you’re qualified to teach the course you’re selling, along with your image. If you’d like to share an interesting or fun personal fact or two, that’s alright as well. Just remember to stay away from the usual friction points like politics or personal views that might turn off a prospective buyer.
11. Put together an FAQ section to overcome objections
Before we mention price, let’s go ahead and put to rest any of those nagging questions and concerns which might have arisen from reading this far. An FAQ, or frequently asked questions, section is a perfect place to do this in a conversational format that’s upbeat, friendly, and reassuring.
Think about what the top 10 questions or objections might be for your specific course. Sure, there are some questions which are common across ALL courses, such as “Do you offer refunds if I’m not happy?” But think through what objections might be unique to your niche, content, or promise of transformation and address those now.
- Do I need a Mac for this video editing course?
- Will this dog training course work for my chihuahua?
- Is this public speaking course going to require me to make a speech?
Frame your responses honestly, yet positively, and with reassurance that you know they’ll be happy with the decision to buy your course.
12. Include pricing details, along with any guarantees you’re offering
Now, I actually teach courses on creating courses and I can honestly say that I’m confident that I could create an entire course on pricing online courses. There really are that many factors to consider, so we won’t get into that here. We’ll just assume that you already have decided on price points for your course.
And in this section, we’ll state that price along with a few other important details. Here are a few elements to consider using in your pricing details:
Displaying your price as discounted
A common, and effective, strategy with pricing boxes is to display an “original price” and a “discounted price”. I know, you may think this falls on the sleazy, used car sales side of things and if you’d rather just display your price as your price, that’s ok. However, it works.
Countdowns or limited-enrollment periods
Over the past 10 years, I’ve almost always been enrolled in at least one online course. These have ranged from free to $2,000 in price. For the most expensive course I’ve taken (which was with a very successful entrepreneur with a very effective system), there was a 7-day, limited enrollment period during which I had to submit an application stating why I should be accepted into the program, as only a certain number of student would be accepted.
At the end of the day, it’s highly likely that no one who was willing to pay for the course was turned away. However, for 7 days I was continually checking my email hoping for my official welcome email. The creator of this course had me begging for them to take my payment.
That, dear course creator, is the power of scarcity and urgency at work. It doesn’t work in every niche and for every instructor, but it’s worth considering the placement of a countdown timer or limited-enrollment period when you're create your pricing section.
Outline any bonuses you will include
This is a great opportunity to repurpose any existing content or digital products that you’ve already created. In addition to the value your prospective customer will receive described in your course outline, consider sweetening the deal with other valuable resources. This might mean combining a few blog posts into an e-book or providing a free 30-minute, live one-on-one coaching call.