Online Course Not Selling ? Here is Why ( And How to Boost Online Course Sales) - Course Pursuits

Online Course Not Selling ? Here is Why ( And How to Boost Online Course Sales)

You had a DREAM !

Dream of helping others out there with your skills.

You knew you can transform the lives of so many people so you decided to create an online course.

Why not..? There are so many success stories that show up everyday in your Facebook feed and other communities. 

You heard that creating online course is the latest trend in online business.

So you jump on the train. 

You spend several days or months learning different tools, recording and editing video lectures, uploading course content to your course platform and now you're ready.

You hit the publish button and send a communication to your email list and then wait for 'payment received' notification to show up on your cell phone ( just like one below). 

Day 1 passed - 0 sales.. ..

You start to think, it's just one day. May be you sent the email at wrong time and people didn't see it.

Day 2 passed - 0 sales... 

Is your email landing in spam folder ? ................. but there are people who are opening your emails (your ESP shows that people are even clicking the links).

Day 3... No sales

then Day 4 .... same story

Day N .. (But no sales or if you're lucky 1-2 sales)

You expected this to be smooth process ..... 

You ask yourself - What really happened ?

Does this story sound somewhat familiar ?

If yes, then you're not alone. Hundreds of online course creators have same frustration and at first creating online course seems like an easy process but reality hits soon when no one buys your course. 

Just look at few of the posts from course creators discouraged and frustrated with ZERO sales.

No Sales for course Facebook Post
No Signup to Signature course

In above screenshot, Amanda even had people in the wait list for her signature course but when the time came for them to take out their wallet, they ditched. So what went wrong?

We have sold several courses in past few years and we have had the same questions in our initial years and were very discouraged by poor sales, but then we started to analyze our course creation and marketing process and found the things that worked and what didn't.

In this blog post, I will help you understand the reason why your online course is not selling and what you can do about it.

Here is why your Online Course is not Selling ? (And How to Boost Your Online Course Sales)

Creating and recording video for your online course is just one part of the selling online course and there are several other factors that determine success of your online course. 

1. You didn't validate your course idea

It's very important that you validate your course idea.

Is there even a demand for what your course is about?

How to validate your digital course idea?

  • Use Course Pursuits Search Engine: We developed Course Pursuits Search Engine exactly for the same reason. To help course creators find and validate their course idea. You can use CP search engine to find courses in your niche. When you find other courses on your topic, you can learn from them and plan a strategy for yourself. 
  • Survey your audience: You can also send survey to your audience asking them about their interests and what they are struggling with. This information will give you an insight on what your course should include and how it should be planned. 
  • Research on Social Media: Research on Quora, Facebook Group , LinkedIn Groups to see if there is some activity in your topic. Are there people talking about it? Asking questions or discussing the topic. If there is a discussion and people requesting solutions to their problem, it means there is a potential for a course. 
  • Google It: When it doubt, Google It. Do you see blogs and websites on the same topic? Are there any Google ads on the course topic that shows up in your ad results?. If someone is spending money on ads for your course topic, it usually means that there is a demand. 

2. You don't know what your customer wants

So you found that there are already courses in the market on the same topic.

Now answer this - Is it something that your audience really wants ?

Your course idea might be great but if you don't have an audience for that, then however great the topic might be, it won't sell. 

So how do you find out what your customers really want ?

Simple - Ask them (survey them)

Survey only works if you know what questions should be on it and HelpScout has few tips for you.

You know what's even better then sending a survey, segment them in different groups so you know what they are interested in and you can offer the product that matches their interest. 

Have you seen the recommendation on Amazon "What other items do customers buy after viewing this item" or "Frequently bought together".

Amazon Frequently bought together

When you see that customers in the same segment are buying a product and you're able to find something in common, you can recommend that to other non-buyers that fall under the same segment.

Just like Amazon does that.

3. Transformation offered isn't clear

You might have heard or read this already. 

No one gets up in the morning and says that 'I am going to buy a course today'. 

People don't buy courses, they buy transformation that they will get after completing the course.

What is the main problem that your course will solve for your customers that can change their life for good ?

Look at below example and you will notice that transformation is very clear in below course.

Example 1 : List Surge by Melyssa Griffin

Transformation: "Get 1000 new email subscribers in the next 90 days....."

Melyssa Griffin List surge

Melyssa Griffin List surge

Example 2 : Smart from Scratch by Pat Flynn

Transformation: ".... Find a Winning Business Idea & Land your First Customer"

Smart from Scratch Pat Flynn

Pat Flynn's Smart from Scratch Course

Spend some time to figure out the transformation that your course will bring into your customer's life and then communicate that message clearly to your audience. 

4. Course Price is not optimal

Is your Course price too high or too low ?

Keeping a course price too low is not a good strategy in most of the cases. But is your priced too high? 

Of course you can charge whatever you want for your course but you need to research and find an optimal price for your online course. 

If you're selling your course for the first time and you haven't sold anything to your audience in past, it's not recommended to sell it at a premium price. 

Here are some of the pricing strategies you can use to price your online course

5. Your customers don't trust you 

This probably is one of the biggest reason why I think your online course is not selling. 

Your customers don't trust you. 

At least not yet. 

doubtful person

They don't trust 

.....  that you can get them the results they want.

..... you with their hard earned money.

..... that you're genuine.

..... that you can deliver quality material.

Try to be in their shoes and recall when was the last time you bought any online course or other digital info product from someone.  

Now ask yourself why did you buy it from that person?

Answer probably is that you trusted them with your money and you knew that you will at least learn few things from them that will help you become better at something. 

You need to start building the same trust with your audience. Easy to say (or this case type) but a little hard to implement. 

Here are few tips that you can use to build trust with your online course audience. 

  • Show them you're a real person : People connect with other people. Don't hide behind a brand or your organization name. When you send emails to your audience, include your name. Give them a little insight into your life, share your personal stories. Be vulnerable and treat them like your friends and be nice to them.
  • Impress them with your free material: Create Impressive free material such as blog posts, emails , videos and lead magnets. When they will notice that your free stuff is far better than paid stuff offered by others, they will start to trust that your paid stuff will be top quality as well. 
  • Offer them something of low value first: Online Courses are usually priced higher so it might be a little difficult for someone to buy who have never bought from you. In that case, you start by offering them something of low value first. Once they buy that product and notice that quality of product is very good, they will start be ready to invest in other products. You can even try to upsell your online course after they buy low priced item.
  • Show Testimonials from other students: Testimonials work very well in converting someone to buy an online course. If you can show that other students who bought the course are getting great results, it will reduce the doubt from your customer's mind and they are more likely to buy the course. If you haven't sold any courses and don't have any testimonials, then try to get few recommendation from any of your previous clients you may have helped. 
  • Create free preview videos for your course: You can also make few of your course lectures as free preview so your potential customers can watch those without having to buy first. If they like your style and able to connect with you and get value, they might convert into a paying customer.
  • Invite them to webinars: Inviting your audience for a a webinar is also a great move that can get more people to buy your online course. During the webinar, invite them to ask questions and interact with them. When their doubts are cleared, they will start trusting that you can really help them with their problems. 
  • Offer Money Back Guarantee: Always offer money back guarantee with your online course. This will completely eliminate any doubts from your potential customers' mind. 

6. You haven't segmented your audience

Segmentation or grouping your subscribers based on their interests is really important for success in online business. 

When you know what category your audience falls into, you can offer them products or online course that matches their interest. 

There are few things you can do to segment your subscribers.

  • Tag them based on lead magnet: When someone joins your email list by downloading a lead magnet, that shows their interest area.
    If you have a course about 'Growing Email list' and one of your lead magnet is '10 tips to grow your email list' , then someone who downloaded this Lead Magnet is a good candidate for your online course. You can tag them as 'interested_in_email_list' and then pitch the course later.
  • Ask them during email signup: When a subscriber is providing their email to join your email list, you can ask them about what they want to learn. It can simply be done by creating a new field in your signup form and then integrating it with your ESP (email service provider). Then use this field to tag your subscribers. 
  • Based on email open and clicks: Send an email to your subscribers and give them the choice to click on links that best describes their interests or learning goals. Based on what links they click, they can be targeted for future course related promotions.
    You can even ask them to click on a link if they are not interested in an online course. Use this to avoid sending them something they don't want and it will result in less subscribers and less spamming.

7. Your Sales copy is bad

You may have great online course but if your sales copy is bad, it won't sell. 

Stories are a powerful copywriting tool. Stories fascinate. And stories are memorable. - Neil Patel

Your email headline, email body & sales page, all are very important to convert your subscribers to convert into paying customers. 

Are you using the right power words to sell your online course ? 

Is your email headline inviting people to open your email ?

Is your email body is structured in such a way that encourages the reader to go one step ahead and click on link to your sales page?

Does your sales page have all the important elements to convince your customer that why your online course is THE PERFECT SOLUTION for their PROBLEM. ? 

Review your sales copy and if needed hire a copy writer to design your sales page so it can convert better. Even few right things can make a huge impact on the course sales. 

8. No Urgency

If there is no urgency associated with your online course, it may not do so well. You must create urgency with your online course that triggers people to take action NOW.

If they see that your course is always available at the same price, they will ignore your offer and will buy whenever it suits them. 

And believe me, in most of the cases that never happens. 

But when they see your urgency, they fear that they will loose your great offer if they don't take action. This fear works in your favor and will surely boost your course sales. 

‚ÄčHere are more tips on how to create urgency for your online course.

9. You're not promoting your course enough

People won't come to know about your course, if you don't tell them.

You have spent so much time, effort and money in creating your online course so instead of waiting people to find it themselves, take the action and promote it as much as you can. 

Want to know how to promote your online course. Get started with below tips:

  • Post on your blog: Add banners on your blog or website to let the visitors know about your online course. Use tools such as Thrive Architect to create landing pages and add timers and create multiple ads that can show up on your website. 
  • Write a blog post: Many people might be getting your blog posts in their feeds but they never visit your website so they won't come to know about the beautiful ad, you placed on your website. So you write a blog post about your online course.
  • Post on Social Media: Share your course on social media platforms such as Facebook. LinkedIn, Twitter, Reddit, Quora. If you've any Facebook groups or Facebook page, post it there. 
  • Talk about it on Podcast: Have a podcast ? Wonderful. Talk about your online course on the podcast and create a promotion calendar that aligns with your online course launch. Create podcast episodes that highlights some part of your online course. 
  • Appear as guest on other Podcasts: You can also appear as guest on other podcasts, share your expertise with others and then tell about your online course. 
  • Paid Ads: Run paid ads for your online course. Invest in Google Ads, Facebook Ads, Bing Ads or wherever your target audience is found. 
  • Create YouTube videos: Create YouTube promo videos about your online course and publish it on your channel. 
  • Facebook Live: Do Facebook Live on your personal profile or Facebook group. Invite people to join and ask questions and then tell them more about your online course that solves their problem. 
  • Free Webinars: Conduct free webinars related to your course topic and then offer attendees special discount to register for your course. 
  • Partner with Other Course Creators: Find other course creators who have courses on complimentary topics and partner with them. Partner for a join webinar or work with them so they can promote your course to their audience. But why will they partner with you ? Answer is in the next point.
  • Affiliate partnership: Offer affiliate partnership for your online course allowing others to market your course and get commission for the sales made using their link. Most of the online course platforms allow you to setup someone as an affiliate. Here is how you do it to Teachable (the one that we use for our online courses).
Affiliate commission on Teachable

Setting up Affiliate Commission on Teachable

10. You're not sending reminders 

How many emails have you sent to your email list about this course ? 

If your answer is 1 - 2 , then you're not doing it right. 

You need to send multiple reminders to your list as people get busy with their day to day life. Even if someone is interested in buying your course but they were busy when you sent an email, they might not remember it later. 

As an online marketer it's your responsibility to send multiple reminder to your email list.

  • Re-send the email to those who didn't open it. 
  • Send custom email to those who opened your email but didn't click on the link. Change your email body accordingly so they take action of clicking on the link. 
  • Send another custom emails to those who opened your email and clicked on the link but didn't buy. Their interest is higher than someone who just read the email. These people are even reading your sales page so they fall under high interest group. Track these people and send personalized emails to them. 


Creating an Online Course is just one part of running an online course business. If your online course isn't selling or not selling well, you need to review all the factors I mentioned above and see if there is any room for improvement and implement the tactics I shared above.

Most of the course creators fails because they expect that once they have created the course, their job is done & customer will start buying it.

Don't be that course creator.

Take control of your online course business and do whatever it takes to succeed.

Click to Tweet

Have you implemented any of the tactics discussed above or plan to implement. Share it in comment section below. 

If you like this article, share it with others who might benefit from it.