How to Use a Free Online Course to Sell Your Premium Online Course

Hanne   17

Updated on August 1, 2022

If you sell online courses, offering a free course to both grow your audience and funnel people towards purchasing a premium course is a great conversion strategy.

However, integrating an evergreen countdown timer into that strategy can make it work even better…

Read on and watch the video to learn how combining all three of these assets (a free course, an evergreen countdown timer and a premium course) can generate a fear of missing out (or F.O.M.O.) that will grow your list and convert subscribers into paying customers — even faster.

Ready to get started? Let's dive right in.


The Tools You’ll Need to Create This Kind of Premium Course Sales Funnel

In the past, creating a scarcity marketing sales funnel to sell your online courses on WordPress was a pain in the you know what — but Thrive Suite now makes deploying this type of sophisticated marketing strategy super easy.

But to follow along with what you’ll learn in this video post, there’s a few Thrive Suite tools you’ll need to pull it off…

First, you’ll need Thrive Architect to quickly and professionally build the landing page assets in this funnel.

Then, you’ll need Thrive Apprentice to create both your free and premium courses.

And finally, you’ll need Thrive Ultimatum to generate time scarcity with an evergreen countdown timer campaign.

Of course, all of these tools (and more!) come bundled together as part of Thrive Suite, so make sure to get your copy today so you can continue with this tutorial.

Create Free & Premium Online Courses with Thrive Apprentice

First, you'll need to create both a free course and a premium course using Thrive Apprentice.

Here’s a few things to keep in mind when doing so...

1. Build Your Free, Lead Generation Online Course

This type of free online course is known as a lead magnet. That's because visitors will need to join your mailing list in order to get access.

To learn more about how to create a free, lead generation online course using Thrive Apprentice, just watch our Thrive Apprentice quick start video:

2. Build Your Premium Online Course

This type of online course is a digital product that you'll actually charge money for.

If you need help turning one of your Thrive Apprentice courses into a premium product, check out the following free course inside Thrive University:

How to Sell Online Courses with Thrive Apprentice & WooCommerce

And if you’re an aspiring info-preneur who’s looking for help on how to build online courses people will actually pay you for, check out Course CraftThrive Themes’s premium course on how to build premium courses!

Meta… we know.

Create the Necessary Landing & Sales Pages with Thrive Architect

The next order of business is to create the landing and sales pages you'll need for your sales funnel to run smoothly on autopilot.

These include a:

  1. Lead Generation Landing Page (to get people to sign up for your free course)

  2. Normal Sales Page (to sell your premium course after your evergreen countdown timer has expired)

  3. Promotion Sales Page (to sell your premium course at the promotional discount while the evergreen countdown timer is still active)

Let’s now go through each of these required pages in more detail, one-by-one...

1. Create Your Lead Generation Landing Page

You'll need a landing page so your online visitors can sign up to your free online course and be added to your email list.

Create this landing page by firing up Thrive Architect. Here, you can either build your own design from scratch or choose from hundreds of pre-built landing page templates to speed this process waaay up.

Once your design work is finished, make sure to connect your lead generation form to your email marketing service as well as create a WordPress subscriber account (so your new signups can get instant access to your free course).

You can find the relevant integration tutorial for your email marketing service of choice by clicking here

And learn how to set up a WordPress subscriber role within the same lead generation form as well by clicking here.

Finally, make sure to set your lead generation form to redirect new subscribers to the appropriate subscriber-only course overview page after signup.

2. Create Your Normal Sales Page

Next, you'll need to create your premium course's primary sales page. This is the page that will be shown after your evergreen countdown timer promotion expires.

To do this, choose from the Pre-built Landing Page templates inside Thrive Architect once again (in addition to landing page designs, there’s several sales page templates too!) to create a professional looking sales page in minutes.

Now tweak and tailor the sales page template you chose to suit your specific needs (eg: insert videos, change colors, resize images, edit the tutorialized text, etc.).

And of course, don't forget to connect your CTA sales button to your product checkout page! If you're using WooCommerce s your checkout tool, then take the following free Thrive University course to make that process simple:

How to Sell Online Courses with Thrive Apprentice & WooCommerce

3. Create Your Promotion Sales Page

Now that your normal sales page is all set up, creating the promotion sales page you'll need for this sales funnel is easy. All you need to do is clone your sales page in the backend of WordPress. After that, just add the required promotional elements to it and click save.

For example, you'll need to add promotional specific phrases like "Limited Time Only!", "Clearance Up To 75% Off!" or "Sale Ending Soon!" (as well as the discounted price) to the promotional version of your sales page.

Just note that your promotion sales page won’t be fully functional until you add the appropriate Thrive Ultimatum countdown timer shortcode to it — which we’ll cover next.

Build Your Thrive Ultimatum Evergreen Countdown Timer Campaign

It's time to complete your sales funnel by building an evergreen promotional campaign for it.

To do this, you'll build an Evergreen Campaign inside Thrive Ultimatum.

Why? Because the promotional campaign must be specific to each person who signs up for your free course, rather than being tied to a fixed set of dates.

1. Create & Customize Your Countdown Timer Designs

For this kind of Thrive Ultimatum evergreen campaign, you'll need to create 3 different countdown timer designs, including a:

  1. Ribbon countdown timer (targeted to show on relevant blog posts and site pages)
  2. Shortcode countdown timer (to be displayed inside your free online course content)
  3. 2nd shortcode countdown timer (to be displayed on your promotion sales page)

Feel free to customize the content you add to each of the 3 countdown timer designs as needed, including:

  • Promotional elements (eg: text, images, video)

  • Actual countdown timers (to instill F.O.M.O. and create an urge to sign up or miss out forever)

  • A sales button (not needed on the promotion sales page design)

Remember that this content will disappear once the promotion has expired, so make sure the surrounding page content still makes sense after the countdown timer designs are gone.

2. Program Your Ribbon Design Display Settings

After creating your evergreen campaign, take a look at your display settings (which will only apply to your Ribbon style countdown timers inside the campaign and not your shortcode designs).

In the display settings, assign which pages and posts (e.g. "All Posts") your Ribbon style countdown timer will display.

For clarification:

  • A shortcode design can be added to any page with either an Ultimatum Countdown element or a shortcode.

  • A ribbon design can be displayed with surgical precision on any post or page of your website using the display settings logic.

3. Choose Your Lockdown Campaign Settings

In order for your lockdown to be activated and fully functional, you'll need to assign the following 3 pages inside your Thrive Ultimatum evergreen campaign:

Assign the Pre-Access Page

The Pre-Access Page is where your subscribers will be sent if they try to access the promotion sales page before the countdown timer has been activated.

Good page options to assign for this include your site homepage or premium course overview page.

Assign the Expired Page

The Expired Page is where your subscribers will be sent if they try to access the promotion sales page, but the evergreen campaign already expired.

Good page options to assign for this include either your normal sales page or a premium course waiting list page.

Assign the Promotion Page

The Promotion Page is where your subscribers will be sent when the evergreen campaign is live.

Simply assign the promotion page to be your promotion sales page.

4. Important Steps To Complete Your Campaign

In order for this campaign to function as intended, make sure your different countdown timer designs (whether they be ribbons or shortcodes) have been added to the appropriate sales page and free course lessons.

They must also be set to display at the correct times during the campaign as assigned in the evergreen campaign timeline area.

Additionally, you can take your evergreen campaign to the next level by creating a confirmation or thank you page that premium course customers are redirected to after purchase. With this confirmation page created, you can assign it as a conversion event inside your Thrive Ultimatum evergreen campaign — automatically ending the campaign for subscribers who land on that page.

And finally, don’t forget to, set your evergreen campaign status from Paused to Running inside Thrive Ultimatum to actually put it to work!

Your Turn to Generate Some FOMO

And that's how simple it is to set up a fairly complicated funnel with an evergreen countdown timer, using Thrive Suite. Are you eager to create this type of sales funnel to boost your premium course sales?

Then make sure to get your copy of Thrive Suite today so you can get started.

Have any questions about how to create and launch this type of evergreen scarcity marketing campaign using Thrive Ultimatum on your WordPress site?

Make sure to leave them in the comments section below so we can get you answers!

by Hanne  August 1, 2022


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Leave a Comment

  • Thanks for the tutorial – can I ask what happens with this funnel what would happen if you already have subscribers and an existing subscriber wants to signup for one of your free courses – would they just see the regular price and not the promotional course?

    • If this is set up in such a way that they have to sign up again via a special landing page to get access to the course you could make sure they see the promotional price.

      If you have 1 signup and several free courses with open access then they would at some point be outside of the promotional window.

      So in short the answer is: it depends what you prefer and both are possible 🙂

  • Super tutorial Hanne, I always enjoy your clear and efficient teaching. I have two questions: I found out that I need to exclude the promo landing page from the caching in order to work properly, so I’m trying that now. Is that something worth saying in the tutorial? And secondly, I’m wondering about what to do with the actual sales price in WooCommerce. I solved this by duplicating the premium course product and changing the price for that new version of the product to the sales price, then I copied the id number of the promo price into the promo page link to woo commerce. Is that a correct way of doing it, or do you have a smarter solution you would recommend for this? Because a change of the price in the woocommerce product will be necessary, or the customer would be very dissappointed if the sales price is not what ends up in the cart.

  • Well, excluding the promo page from W3 Total Cache didn’t work, it still says “shortcode could not be rendered”. I probably need to watch your tutorial again, to find out what step I missed.

  • Hanne! Wow! This is a really compact tutorial with everything one needs to know! OMG. I think even if I know all tools you mentioned, I will have to check up the video three times because it is so full of tips. Thank you so much for sharing!

  • Is there a way to set this up across subdomains? I like to have my courses separate from my main site and I also have my landing pages separate as well so they load fast. If there is a way to have all the sites and Thrive products talking to each other, that would be so helpful!

  • I made the campaign step by step just like in your video and ran into errors:
    1 – when the user creates a password and enters the confirmation, he is redirected to the course and then requires logging in. unfortunately, the generated password does not match and you need to use the password reminder sent to the email. How did you make this password fit for you?

    2 – another thing, when I log in to my account after resetting the password and go to the course lesson, it did not send me the time until the end of the purchase which I set in the short code in the ultimatum.

    • Could you please contact our support team. It’s almost impossible to debug without seeing the whole setup and understanding what’s exactly going on on your site.

  • {"email":"Email address invalid","url":"Website address invalid","required":"Required field missing"}