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How to Launch an Online Business From Scratch
How to Launch an Online Business From Scratch >>
The Beginners Guide to Starting an Online Business
How to Scale Up Your Online Business
If you completed all the steps from the previous 6 chapters, it means you now have an online course based business up and running.
You built your WordPress website, an outcome-oriented course, and launched it to get your first batch of sales. You even started building a mailing list to nurture your new leads into fans eager to consume your content.
So what’s next for your business?
How do you take what you’ve already built and grow it into a more substantial business that works to serve your customers better while putting more profit into your pockets?
Well, here’s some important targets to shoot for:
Of course, depending on what market you’re in, the steps necessary to scale your business will vary, but this final chapter will give you the broad brush strokes of what you need to do to expand upon your current success.
Just remember that it took a lot of work to build and sell your first online course so results won’t be overnight when it comes to growing your business. But with the right strategies and processes in place, you stand a great chance of scaling your online course business into a real info-product empire.
So let’s now discuss how to go about achieving that...
Grow Your Audience To Get More Leads
Of course, now that you actually have a live product and a working sales funnel to promote it, one of the best ways you can make more sales is to focus on growing your email audience.
That’s because as you grow your email list, you’ll have more opportunities to get new leads into your sales funnel.
So what are effective ways in which you can grow your audience to sell more copies of your online course? Well first of all, you need to...
Create More Content
As a course creator, content creation will be one of your most important assets. In fact, content marketing is probably the most important lever you need to pull to grow your business.
Whether it’s writing consistent blog posts, creating epic ultimate guides or guest posting to get in front of other people’s audiences...
...filming YouTube videos, free lead generation courses, or various promo shorts...
...the work of creating valuable, high-quality content that solves important problems for your target audience will help more of the right people find your online course products.
But the content you create shouldn’t be random. It needs to be fueled by strategies that get you results in the form of more visitors and a growing number of subscribers to your email list.
So here’s some important methods to consider when it comes to deciding on what content you'll create to grow your audience.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
Regardless of what you’ve previously heard about SEO, nothing beats it (when done right).
Because Google accounts for over 57% of the world’s online traffic referrals — that’s waaaay more than the referrals from Facebook, YouTube or Instagram combined! Simply put, the web pages that end up on Page 1 of the Google search results for key search terms usually get the lion’s share of internet traffic.
So how does a small online business like yours make its way up the Google search results ladder?
By creating relevant content that actually answers the search queries Google users are actively looking for.
But to do that as a small business solopreneur, you need to learn an 80/20 SEO approach that won’t consume your time and distract you completely from the important work of running your new business..
And that’s why Thrive Themes now offers a special SEO Program designed specifically for online course creators and solopreneurs called SEO Sprint. Make sure you're on the SEO Sprint waiting list so you can be notified the next time we launch this course:
Ready to learn solopreneur focused SEO skills to grow lasting organic traffic to your online business?
Write Guest Blogs on Other People’s Sites
Like we discussed in Chapter 6, one of the best ways to grow your audience is to get in front of someone else’s.
A great way to do this is by writing high-value guest posts that can be given to online partners for free in exchange for a backlink to your website.
This is a great deal for both you and the website you’re writing for. They get amazing free content while you get to position yourself as an engaging expert in front of someone else's audience.
And not only do guest posts get your name, content and website address in front of more eyeballs, but the backlink you receive boosts your relevance in the search engines as well.
Social Media Content and Promoting Social Shares
One of the easiest — but lowest return — content strategies you can use to help grow your online business is social media marketing.
Unless you’re in a market like fashion where platforms like Instagram are integral to business, it’s important not to spend an excessive amount of time creating content for your Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter or Instagram accounts.
Because organic reach on these platform becomes increasingly limited as the platform grows.
Although some amount of posting on social media can help attract more social sharing of your content (like promoting a new blog post by announcing the content on your various social media feeds), you shouldn’t expect to get much of a bump from it.
That’s why taking an automation focused approach to your social media efforts is a smart idea. It allows you to do some basic marketing of your content in the social media space with very little time invested to keep it all going.
If you’re interested in learning more about how you can automate your social media efforts in order to spend more of your time on business critical tasks, check out this blog post here.
Paid Traffic (Proceed with Caution!)
If your online course business has achieved a level of stability in that it's making sales and generating revenue, you may want to start using Paid Advertising as a way to boost more targeted traffic towards your sales funnel.
Be careful though! Paid advertising can go pear-shaped on you quickly if you don’t know what you’re doing.
Although the goal of paying for online advertisements seems simple enough, there’s no guarantee you can make it profitable. In fact, if you set up paid advertising campaigns that target the wrong people without proper spending limits, it’s easy to find yourself in the red.
That’s why it’s a great idea to make sure that your sales funnel has been optimized and your target customer dialed in first before you wade into the waters of paid online advertising.
But once you are ready to pursue paid advertising as a new marketing channel for your business, learn up on it with the following resources to make sure your ad campaigns always turn a profit:
Facebook Ad Resources:
Upgrade Your New Subscriber Nurture Email Sequence
One of the most powerful ways to turn new leads into paying customers is actually to revisit and upgrade your automated onboarding email sequence that gets sent out to your newly subscribed email followers as soon as they sign up.
This is commonly called a “Nurture Sequence” and you should already have a version 1.0 running if you completed all the steps laid out for you back in Chapter 5.
Likely, you opted for simplicity when you created your first nurture sequence, which essentially worked to welcome new subscribers and present them with super useful information (including a few links to your best content) over the course of a few days or weeks.
But now it’s time to go back and upgrade your new subscriber email sequence by soft selling your online course towards the end of the automation.
Perhaps you can craft a story arc across your nurture sequence that not only provides lots of valuable and engaging information, but also identifies an important problem your target reader experiences. And of course, your online course turns out to be the perfect product to solve that problem, am I right?
In this way, version 2.0 of your nurture sequence will work to welcome new subscribers, build a trusting relationship with them, and then soft promote your online course to increase the number of new leads that convert into paying customers.
A great 10 email nurture sequence template can be found in this blog post to help you quickly upgrade your current nurture sequence into a conversion boosting winner.
Create New Products
And although upgrading your current marketing strategies is important, one of the best ways to grow your business is to actually — offer more products.
Well for starters, returning customers are waaaay cheaper to make repeat sales to compared to the costs of acquiring new customers. In fact, this study says that a measly 5% increase in your customer retention rate earns you anywhere from 25% to 95% more profits.
That means if you create outcome oriented courses that really deliver for your customers, the chances they'll come back and buy your next course is pretty high. That's why you should always take care of them so they'll be your customers for life.
And happy, repeat customers not only find themselves returning to buy all your future products, but quickly join the ranks of your 1000 true fan base, who then promote you by word-of-mouth to their friends and family — the most powerful form of marketing that's ever existed!
So when you’re ready to start growing your online course based business, the real question you need to ask yourself is:
What’s the next online course you can create to help your customers achieve the subsequent step on their journeys?
Once you've got an answer, get started delivering on that.
Add New Pricing Tiers
If you’re not quite ready to build and launch a new online course yet, a less intensive strategy to grow your business is to find ways in which you can add fresh pricing tiers to the online course you already have.
You just need to find ways you can expand the value of your current online course — with perks such as special access to personal coaching or “office hours”, exclusive support groups, or even additional premium content not available in the standard pricing tier. Once you do that, you’ll instantly be able to charge more for the increased value that your new pricing tier(s) provide.
Upsell and Cross-Sell Offers
Another great strategy to increase your per-customer revenue is to create smaller, but related products that can accompany your online course. Once created, you can deploy these products as upsells, cross-sells or one-time offers during the checkout steps of your sales funnel.
Let’s look at each one of these product strategies individually...
Simply put, an upsell product is a more-expensive version of the thing you’re trying to sell.
At a burger joint for example, an upsell is the offer to jumbo-size a drink for just a few cents extra. Think upgrade.
But for your business, an upsell might be an upgraded version of your online course that provides extra bonus content and/or exclusive 1-on-1 coaching calls.
Now, we know what you’re thinking… “Wait a minute, that sounds an awful lot like the pricing tier example discussed above!”
And you’d be right. But the difference with an upsell offer has to do with WHEN you ask for the upgrade. Upsells appear after the initial “Buy Now” button has been clicked, or as an upgrade after the initial course purchase has been completed.
Just like the burger joint asks you if you’d like to upgrade your drink to jumbo after you asked for the regular, you’ll ask customers to upgrade their course purchase after they already indicated they wanted the standard version.
Technically speaking however, it’s much easier to setup pricing tier options on your sales page than trying to deploy upsell offers during or post-checkout. Even so, it may be a revenue boosting strategy worth testing at some point since it’s psychologically easier to get a second “yes” from customers after they already agreed to buy your primary product.
If we go back to the burger joint analogy, a popular cross-sell we’re sure you’ve heard before is “You want fries with that?”
That’s right, a cross-sell is just an offer to buy a related product after the primary order has been made.
You originally ordered a burger and drink so why not ask if you want to upgrade your beverage size (the upsell) and add an order of fries with that (the cross-sell)? The customer either says “no” and keeps their original order or says “yes” and the restaurant earns a few extra coins.
But when you talking about online courses, a simple cross-sell you could experiment with might be offering a premium template, guide or eBook that complements your online course for just a few extra bucks.
Again, cross-sells don’t have to be mind-blowing, just add additional value that compliments the primary product. Deploy one in your sales funnel and it’s a good bet you’ll start to see your revenue grow.
Improving Your Conversion Rates
Finally, an important skill you’ll need to learn to grow your business is Conversion Rate Optimization, otherwise known as CRO.
Essentially, CRO is the practice of looking at key steps in your sales funnel and developing clever experiments that will result in an increased number of site visitors:
- Signing up to your email list, and/or...
- Buying your online course(s).
The most important tool in your CRO toolkit is called A/B Testing (also referred to as a Split Testing). This is just the experiment of pitting two variations of a thing against each other by sending 50% of a site’s traffic to one variation and the remaining 50% to the other.
A/B Testing for you will usually come in two experiment types for you:
By directing traffic to the two different variations running in an A/B test, you begin to measure which variation succeeds at better achieving the desired conversion goal (e.g. more subscribers for opt-in forms and more sales for landing pages).
When an online visitor loads an opt-in form or landing page variation in one of your A/B tests, the testing software records it as an impression. If a visitor then signs up to a mailing list or buys a product, the testing software records that as a conversion.
With that data, you can then compare actual conversion rates between the variations to select a winner.
And once enough impressions and conversions are recorded over a meaningful amount of time (usually a minimum of 2 weeks), a statistically significant winner can be crowned. The A/B test winner is then seen by 100% of the visiting site traffic to benefit from the conversion rate optimization bump you uncovered.
However, the main issue for most CRO beginners is deciding on what to test.
To keep things simple, the important rule of thumb to follow when trying to create any meaningful A/B Test is:
Test two obviously different things against each other… like a “bowling ball vs. a paperclip".
This means you shouldn’t waste your time testing minor differences against each other in your A/B tests (like button color variations or slightly different word choices in a headline), but instead test significantly different things against each other (like entirely different headline angles or a sales page that showcases a sales video vs. one that doesn’t).
We know that A/B Testing can be super intimidating so that’s why we created a free Thrive University course for you called The A/B Testing Quick Start Toolkit.
Make sure to run through this free course if you want to learn the principles of creating effective A/B tests for both your opt-in forms and landing pages.
And here’s some even better news…
If you become a Thrive Themes Member, you can start using the power of opt-in form A/B testing with Thrive Leads (our opt-in form and list building plugin) and landing page A/B testing through the Thrive Architect + Thrive Optimize combo (our landing page A/B testing plugin combo).
Lead Generation A/B Testing: Earn More Subscribers
We discussed the Thrive Leads list building plugin back in Chapter 5 of this guide when you first started building your email list.
In it, we discussed how you can use Thrive Leads to not only build irresistible opt-in offers, but also how you can use it to quickly launch opt-in form A/B tests.
If you happened to skip the Chapter 5 task of creating and launching your first opt-in form A/B test with Thrive Leads, make sure to check out the following free Thrive University Course where opt-in form creation and A/B testing is covered in detail:
Landing Page A/B Testing: Boost Your Sales
Thrive Optimize is an add-on to the Thrive Architect page builder plugin discussed in previous chapters of this guide.
Once activated, it gives you the power to quickly create landing page variations that you can then A/B test against each other.
This means you can easily create meaningful variations of your online course sales page to test what will bring you more sales — a massive leverage point for your online business!
Watch the video below to see just how quick it can be to create a real landing page A/B test on your WordPress site using Thrive Optimize:
This Guide Is Now Complete, But Your Online Business Journey Has Just Begun
Well, here you are… at the end of this guide.
Congratulations on making it this far and creating your very first online business.
Here at Thrive Themes, we’re all rooting for your success and want you to remember that whenever a question comes up about online marketing, solopreneur business challenges, building a WordPress website, or crafting premium online courses...
...our blog, Thrive University, and Youtube Channel are always here to help you.
We know that being an entrepreneur is hard work — but done right — it can be very rewarding.
Hopefully this online business guide will be a lasting asset empowering you to achieve your business goals.
Thanks for reading and best of luck from all of us here at Thrive Themes!
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