An in-depth recap of Top Squarespace SEO: Exactly how I launched and marketed my first online course
Exactly how I launched my first online course: an in-depth recap of Top Squarespace SEO
Hey there, tech enthusiasts! I’m equal parts excited and super nervous to share this post with you because I truly share the good, bad and ugly of the launch of my first online course, Top Squarespace SEO.
I’m sharing this recap and detailed information for a couple reasons. First of all, I want to get back into blogging and this seems like a fun place to start. Second, I’m using this post as a way to gather all my thoughts, observations and notes in one place. Third, because maybe it’ll help someone who’s reading with their own launch effort.
Sit back, relax, and prepare to creep the heck out of my launch!
My first online course - a long time coming.
If you are new around here, I recently launched my first online course called Top Squarespace SEO!
This online course was a longggg time coming. I’ve been selling a few small digital products on my website (here and here) for over a year now, but creating, launching and marketing an online course was a totally new endeavour.
Let’s rewind back to early 2018. I was sitting on a beach in Bali enjoying a sunset beer with Paige, one of my biz besties. She was in the process of creating her first online course and was telling me all about it and I remember thinking, “I want to do something similar”. I knew that Squarespace SEO would be the natural place to start because I’d been working as a custom Squarespace web designer/developer for a while and had created lots of blog and Youtube content in my Squarespace SEO Series. I had also started offering Squarespace SEO audits and consulting, and had even several requests for an online course from people who wanted a DYI solution. Clearly, I had a small but interested audience and I knew there was demand for an online course about Squarespace SEO but for months I still dragged my feet for no good reason.
I kept thinking and talking about launching an online course but it took the better part of a year to actually put Top Squarespace SEO out into the universe. We’re all friends here and in the interest of transparency, a lot of this was because of my own issues with dealing with imposter syndrome and various blocks about being visible online. It’s fairly comfortable and easy to build custom Squarespace websites in private and work with clients one-on-one, but it’s a whole other ball game to launch and market an online course to a big audience. Most of the other people who teach about SEO online have these big, loud, “in your face” personalities and I’m obviously nothing like that - I questioned whether or not my voice and approach would find it’s place on a larger scale, not just one-on-one client work.
Fast forward to January 2019 and I decided to get over myself , ditch my hangups and just launch the dang thing already. It was scary and new and exciting and stressful but ultimately, I’m SO glad I did and am hugely proud of the finished product I have with Top Squarespace SEO!
Creating the online course
Once I committed to creating the course, I had to decide on what content and information to include. I made a detailed outline then researched and prepared the course content. I wrote out video scripts, recorded the videos, prepared the bonuses and additional resources, and then uploaded it all to Teachable (a course hosting platform).
Next, I moved onto marketing. I created a long, in-depth sales page for my website and wrote out my marketing emails (more on all that soon).
Creating the course content wasn’t as hard as I thought it would be once I had a plan in place, and it was actually kind of fun! I found the marketing part was more challenging but more on that later.
Open/close course launch
I decided to go with an open/close model for Top Squarespace SEO. In my experience, people need an incentive and a real deadline in order to whip out their credit card and purchase something online, which is why I decided against an evergreen online course model. Evergreen products are available anytime and while I totally see the value in them, I liked the idea of launching my course a couple times a year and really getting my audience involved and excited about the product.
The launch kicked off with early bird pricing period where I sold Top Squarespace SEO for $197 for a few days, then I increased the price to the normal $247 price.
The course content is jam packed with valuable and actionable materials that will help people grow their websites and build up their online businesses, so I felt good pricing based on value.
Top Squarespace SEO is an investment but it’s not cost prohibitive. I want people to feel like they have invested enough that they are incentivized to actually go through all the content, complete the course and get real results.
I also plan to increase the price for the next launch, as I improve the course content, add extra resources, and generally make the program stronger.
Marketing the online course
Okayyy things are about to get juicy, hope you’re ready for some real talk!
Creating the course was challenging but manageable, but planning out the course launch and trying out different ways to market this digital product? Ha! That was something that seriously pushed me out of my comfort zone.
Like many of my peers who love building sh*t on the internet, I’m an introvert and online marketing & sales are NOT things that come naturally to me. I talked to a few of my online biz friends before and during the launch and all of their feedback and suggestions was invaluable - I would have been a total hot mess otherwise! They gave me incredible advice about how to come up with and stick to an email sequence before/during the course launch, encouraged me to push past my fears and embrace live video, and to spend a ridiculous amount of time on the course’s sales page copy.
Let’s look at all that marketing stuff in more detail.
Real talk : I had seriously neglected my email list in the months before I launched Top Squarespace SEO. I did a deep clean (read: purge) of my list and ended up removing thousands of subscribers who were inactive and hadn’t opened one of my emails in like a year. This was scary because it meant I would be launching to a MUCH smaller audience but I hoped it would convert better because people would actually be interested in my offering. Obviously it was a blow to my ego to launch to a much smaller email list than before but on the upside, it reminded me about the importance of building and maintaining a healthy email list. This is something I will definitely keep in mind for my next launch and I hope to build my newsletter list back up over the next few months. But whatever, Top Squarespace SEO’s launch still worked well with a smaller audience!
The sales emails were the most important part of my course launch and marketing efforts. I basically worked off a hybrid of 2 launch sequence templates but didn’t follow either exactly. To be honest, I sort of rushed through the emails and marketing content faster than is recommended, which is something I would slow down or space out better for future launches.
I sent out a total of 10 emails over a 14 day period : 3 emails during the “pre-launch” period and 7 emails during the “launch” period. These emails had between 29.4% and 43.1% open rates which I think is a little higher than normal, but I attribute this to the fact that I had pruned down my email list and removed so many of the inactive subscribers. I sent these marketing emails to my entire email list, not just the subscriber segment who had opted in from my Squarespace SEO Checklist freebie (which I had created as a lead magnet for the course).
I was nervous about sending out so many emails, especially because I had been so sporadic (read: inactive) with my newsletter over the past few months. Back when I was doing a better job at emailing my list on the regular, I sent out an email every Wednesday but those newsletters were always educational and not sales-y at all.
I was worried that all my launch emails would be too sales-y or heavy on promotion for the 2 week launch period but I figured the worst that would happen is people would unsubscribe and that wasn’t the end of the world. As predicted, a few people unsubscribed but to my surprise, not as many as I expected! In fact, I actually got good feedback and replies from my marketing emails. This showed me that the content of these emails was resonating and that I had achieved a good balance between value and promotion. #winning
The one issue that came up with the sales emails is that I didn’t properly sequence people who bought the course during the launch period. This meant that a few people bought the course but still received sales emails when they shouldn’t have. Whoops! One student let me know how annoying this was and I totally agreed with them. All I could say is that I’m a human who has mastered web development but not email marketing LOL! I couldn't figure out the workaround for this in my email marketing platform so I ended up just “unsubscribing” course students and then re-subscribing them once the launch was over. It wasn’t the best hack but it worked haha! In the future, I’d love to do a better job segmenting course students from my email list so that they aren’t receiving redundant sales email for a product they’ve already purchased :)
Overall I’m happy with how the sales emails turned out. The content is great and was a nice mix of text and visuals. In the future I would definitely fix the timeline and maybe even add another email or two to the sequence, but this was a solid first effort that paid off. I’m also going to focus on growing my email list and actually sending out regular weekly emails over the next few months so that my subscribers stay interested and remember who I am and what I’m all about.
I hosted 5 live videos on my Youtube channel during the course launch and WOW, what a wild ride that was! The screenshot below shows the Top Squarespace SEO playlist I created to house all the live videos on my Youtube channel.
This was a totally new experience for me and I’ve never done live video in this format. I had a serious block about it at first but I knew how valuable live video is so this is where I pushed through, got over myself and just did the dang thing haha!
I brainstormed topic ideas, wrote out outlines and notes for each video, and learned how to go live on Youtube. I sent out reminders of the live videos in my sales emails so my audience could check me out there and learn more about the course topic as well as see my pitch in action. I basically taught a lesson for the first part of the training then moved into my sales pitch, invited viewers to check out the course enrolment page for more details and the call-to-action was to sign up and join the course (duh).
Not going to lie, the first few live videos were a bit rough but I definitely got better and more comfortable as the week went on! I reminded myself that everyone has to start somewhere and done is better than perfect, and this helped me to just hit “go live” and stop taking myself so seriously :)
My online biz friend Mariah also shared these video trainings in her Facebook group every day, and I am so thankful for her generosity and support! I’m not sure how many people watched the video from her FB group versus my own audience but either way, it was definitely helpful!
In total, each video received less than 100 views but that wasn’t surprising considering how inactive I had been on Youtube over the past few months and the fact that these trainings kind of came out of nowhere haha.
For my next launch I would probably do a few more live videos during the pre-launch period and then tighten up the video topics during the launch period to make sure that they are in line & synched up with what I’m sending out to my email list each day during my launch.
In the future, I’m also interested in trying out live webinars and not just live videos on my Youtube channels. Webinars can feel a bit more intimate than a live Youtube video and they are also a great way to collect email addresses, screenshare (i.e., can demo, not just talk at the camera), etc.
All in all, I’m so glad I pushed past my fears and did these 5 live videos during the course launch!
Pardon me for stating the obvious but wow, writing sales page that have great copy and converts is not joke! I was humbly reminded just how difficult it is to create a sales page that really hits home and speaks to potential students, it truly is a skill.
For the Top Squarespace SEO sales page, I didn’t exactly reinvent the wheel. Instead, I looked at what other successful online course creators had included on their sales page, referenced Teachable’s best practice guide, and tweaked my own content as I went. I wrote all the info out in a Google doc to start then built up the sales page in Squarespace. The first draft of this sales page draft was a solid effort but there was room for improvement. I broke up each section and added lots more photos and backgrounds for visual elements which helped a TON with flow, readability and presenting all the content in the most persuasive way.
One thing I want to highlight about the Top Squarespace SEO sales page is testimonials. I didn’t beta test this course which meant that I didn’t have any student testimonials to include, so I relied on testimonials relating to my general Squarespace SEO content. This was better than nothing but I’m excited to update the sales page (and marketing emails) to include course-specific student testimonials! There’s no denying the value of social proof and I look forward to adding the positive student feedback and takeaways to the course sales page!
Quick note about the sales page: when the course is not open for enrolment, anyone who views the Top Squarespace SEO page will just see a basic “not open for enrolment, join the waitlist” page as opposed to the full-length sales page. Then when I move into launch mode, I’ll display the full sales page again!
For the next launch, I want to try…
Affiliate programs are a very popular way to reach a wider audience and increase product sales, so it’s something I’m interested in trying out the next time I launch Top Squarespace SEO. I’m also hosting the course on Teachable and they make it very easy to set up affiliate programs, so why the heck not haha!
I might partner with past course students and/or other online business owners in my niche as affiliates for Top Squarespace SEO. I already have a few biz besties who want to participate in the next launch and I’m so excited about that! I’m planning to reach out to these people in advance, help them with their email marketing during the launch period, and hopefully even host a joint webinar or live video! Man, I love collaboration.
As mentioned, I was totally inactive on the blog leading up to the Top Squarespace SEO launch which is something I would not recommend haha!
For the next launch, I am going to create lots of blog (and Youtube) content around course topics in the weeks leading up to the launch period. This will help to grow my email list, provide more information and value to prospective students and and my audience.
I’ve already started planning out blog content leading up to my next launch but using a good old fashioned content calendar - hardly revolutionary but it’ll keep me focused and on track.
Much in the same way that I plan to keep up regular, on-topic blogging between now and the next course launch period, I am also going to focus on my email list. This launch reminded me how important it is to keep up with my weekly emails so that my list stays “warm” and interested in me and my content. Plus I just love hearing from my community and reading all the replies to the emails I send out, so I definitely want to keep up with those emails!
Straight up, I have no clue how Facebook ads work because I’ve actually never played around with the platform myself. But from what I’ve heard, facebook ads can pay off extremely well so I’m open to trying it out on the next launch! Hopefully I’ll have more to say on this topic in a few months :)
I’m still a bit on the fence about social media. I don’t have public/business Instagram or Facebook accounts so I obviously didn’t actively launch Top Squarespace SEO on those platforms. I haven’t decided if I want to stick with just email and Youtube or embrace other social media channels, because there’s definitely value in nurturing my audience on other platforms.
Since this was the first time I’ve ever launched an online course, it didn’t even cross my mind that I should create unique URLs so that I could track sales better. For my next launch, I plan to use a tool like Bit.ly to create unique, trackable links so that I have better data and information to see which links and platforms are performing best. Meaning, do sales come directly from the sales page? Email newsletters? Youtube? Can’t wait to find out!
I learned soooooo much launching Top Squarespace SEO and I can’t wait to launch the course again in a few months because I already have so many ideas of ways I can improve! As I mentioned above, online marketing isn’t something that comes naturally to me, so there was a lot of trial and error this time around - but that’s ok! I still saw great results even though I was flying by the seat of my pants on this course launch, I know that I can do even better next time because I learned so much.
Most of this comes down to organization. I plan to follow a better and longer launch period and not rush the email sequence. I can also tighten up my marketing efforts, keep practicing live video so that I’m more at ease on camera and better at delivering educational content, etc.
Alright, my friend, there you have it! I hope you’ve enjoyed this recap of the launch of my first online course, Top Squarespace SEO.
I had a BLAST creating and launching this course. I learned so much (like seriously, so much!) and it was a whole lot of fun working on a completely different type of project.
If you want to stay in the loop about the next launch of Top Squarespace SEO and get insider early access, you can enter your email below and I’ll make sure you’re added to the list.
You may also be interested in:
If you want more SEO goodness, be sure to check out the Squarespace SEO page on my website - it’s got it all.
You can also sign up for my newsletter (right here or below), where I often share Squarespace SEO tips, tricks and high-quality exclusive content. I send out emails to my list every week and while I don’t talk about SEO every time, I can guarantee that you’ll still find the newsletter topics interesting, entertaining and worth your time.
Finally, shameless plug : hit me up with any specific questions you have about Squarespace SEO and your website because I’m your girl. You can reach out to me directly if you’re interested in working together on your website and we can talk about whether or not you would be a good fit for my consulting and ongoing services. I can’t take on every request to do SEO consulting but I do pick a few websites and businesses to work with every month and I’d love for you to be one of them.Phew, I think that covers everything!
Have a question or comment? Enjoyed this recap? I’d love to know so be sure to leave me a note in the comments down below!
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