AMY PORTERFIELD: “When most humans come up against a challenge, a lot of them will give up, or say, ‘I'll come back to this,’ and then they never do. And maybe you're thinking you'd never do that. But if that's the truth, you're a unicorn, meaning most people will drop off when it gets tough, especially if they think they're alone in the struggle. That's the part that's important. When your evergreen students feel as though they are alone in a challenge, in a struggle, in something that's confusing, they tend to drop off because they don't know what to do or who to turn to. The beautiful thing about identifying these stuck spots is that you can do things to combat the inevitable and support your students so they can easily cross those metaphorical rough waters.”
INTRO: I’m Amy Porterfield, ex-corporate girl turned CEO of a multi-seven-figure business. But it wasn't all that long ago that I lacked the confidence, the budget, and the time to focus on growing my small-but-mighty business. Fast forward past many failed attempts and lessons learned, and you'll see the business I have today, one that changes lives and gives me more freedom than I ever thought possible, one that used to only exist as a daydream. I created the Online Marketing Made Easy podcast to give you simple, actionable, step-by-step strategies to help you do the same. If you're an ambitious entrepreneur, or one in the making, who's looking to create a business that makes an impact and a life you love, you're in the right place, friend. Let's get started.
AMY: If you love Online Marketing Made Easy, you’ve got to check out Entrepreneurs on Fire, hosted by my dear friend John Lee Dumas. He discusses things like how to live tax free as an entrepreneur—uh, yes, please—and shares inspiring stories like how a college sophomore turned twenty dollars, cell phone, and a dream into a cookie company valued at over five hundred million dollars. I mean, you got to love stories like that. He'll leave you with actionable steps and fired up. Be sure to check out Entrepreneurs on Fire wherever you get your podcasts.
Well, hey, my friend. Welcome back to another episode of Online Marketing Made Easy.
How are you doing these days? By the time this episode goes live. I will be on my sabbatical, soaking up some very special time with my family. And I just know that I'm going to come back recharged and ready with so many ideas to bring you, and I can't wait.
Now, all that being said, I hope you're finding a few moments of rest and relaxation and some time away with your family and friends. And if not, my challenge is for you to take or make some time. I know, I know. This can be tough, but we always come back ten times better. Always. After finding some rest, we come back better. So my challenge for you is to make it happen.
Now, before we dive into this episode, I want to share something extra special with you. I've been thinking about you a lot lately, and I've been paying attention to what seems to be some of the biggest pain points for you and for so many of my listeners. And one keeps coming to the surface. The winner? Content creation, and the struggle around planning, organizing, and creating it. So I get it. The struggle is real, and I'm here to help you get clarity and ease so you can keep sharing your message with the world and leaning into your purpose.
So in doing so, I've created a free three-month plug-and-play content-calendar template so that mapping out your upcoming content can feel easy and fun. So I created a content-calendar template years ago, and because it was so wildly popular, I decided it was high time I revamped it and updated it. So you'll love this updated version because not only does it allow you to seamlessly plan out what content goes out and when—so, like, your podcast, your video, or your blog, every single week—but I've also added space for you to plan out your social content. And I think when your social content and your original content is in one place, it's easier to see the areas that you can repurpose content as well.
So I'm going to give you the link. It's a unique link. I've never given one out like this before, so pay close attention: amyporterfield.com/#contentcalendar. So it's that hashtag symbol contentcalendar. And when you go there, it will take you to this free template. Now if you don't want to go to amyporterfield.com/#contentcalendar, just go to the description where you're listening to this episode, let's say on your mobile or wherever you're listening to it. Go to the description. I'll have a link to the freebie right there for you as well.
Now for today's episode, well, it's a good one, if I don't say so myself. Actually, a little behind the scenes for you: when we decided on this topic in the pitching meeting, Jaws and Kai and I got so excited. So that's my team that works on all my podcasts. We knew it was going to be a huge hit for you because in the spring of 2020 [05:24], we actually released an episode on how to go evergreen for beginners, and it was one of our most popular episodes. That was episode 376. So you can just go to amyporterfield.com/376, or I’ll just link to it in the show notes. But it was how to go evergreen for beginners [05:44]. So you can kind of consider this an extension of that episode.
And to take you even further behind the scenes, for many years we thought that our Online Marketing Made Easy audience was made up of super-beginner entrepreneurs. And although there are some super-beginner entrepreneurs—shout out to you. High five—it turns out that there are a lot of people in this audience that are more intermediate in entrepreneurship. We found this out when we did a quiz in January learning more about you. So I know that many of you are looking for a few more intermediate strategies, and that tells me that a handful of you either already have an evergreen course or you're looking to create one. This means this episode is going to serve you well, which is my mission, after all.
So here's what this episode is going to dive into. We're going to talk about how to keep your students engaged while they are moving through an evergreen course. And the reason this is important is that with a live digital course, you're going through the journey with your students. You do this through live meet ups, live Q&As, and a community that is all going through the same modules at the same time, for the most part.
But with an evergreen course, a course that's set, and, more or less, let go, you're not doing those things. You're not live with your students. And everyone is staggered because they can begin enjoying your course whenever. And so, as you can imagine, people kind of fall off more often in evergreen than live. We’re all human. That’s easy to do, right? Which is why if you have an evergreen course or funnel, it's so important to think about how you're going to engage your students to stick with it and get to the end of your course, and more importantly, take what you've taught them and put it into action. Because the last thing you want as an entrepreneur with an online evergreen course is for students to fall off the bandwagon and then decide that what you teach or offer didn't really work for them or really didn't work at all, or even worse, not share your course with others because they didn't make it to the finish line.
Here's how I see it. When it comes to an evergreen course, keeping your students motivated is essentially about identifying where they are likely to get stuck and then supporting them to keep moving past that point so they can succeed. The ultimate goal, right? So today we're going to talk about six tactical strategies that you can use to lovingly nudge your students along their course journey to the finish line. Whether you're already rocking an evergreen course or you're just thinking about one that might be a great addition to your business, this episode is going to help you immensely.
But before we dive in, I want to extend an invitation to you. If you love these conversations and the topics I share on this podcast, you're going to love the conversation that I have over on Instagram. So I want to invite you to come on over and hang out with me. You can find me @amyporterfield, and you can bet we're going to talk about evergreen and supporting your students and everything else in between. So it's just @amyporterfield on Instagram. I hope to see you over there.
All right. Let's do this.
The first strategy I want to share with you is all about being intentional about the onboarding email sequence that you create for your students once they enroll. From the minute someone joins your evergreen course, your goal is to make them feel as though they've made the perfect decision. You want your students to feel like they're not alone in the process, that they have everything they need to succeed, and that they have someone cheering them on along the way. The content you include in these emails is very intentional, as is the number of emails you send and the timing of each email.
We tend to send out seven emails within a thirty-day span for our evergreen courses. Here's what they look like. I'd recommend sending an email immediately. This email should include a warm welcome, any login details your new student may need, and guidance around using the course platform.
After that—and we actually do this two days later—we send a little email that offers them tips and habits to help them gain instant momentum and get started on their journey. We really want them to get in the program, so that's what email number two does, just in case they didn't get started with email number one.
From there, it really depends on whether you're dripping your content, which is essentially having one module go live each week, or if you give them all the modules up front. If you're dripping, your next emails can all correspond with the new content that's going live weekly. You can send an email announcing the new module and sharing what it's all about and what they'll get out of it.
Now, if you're giving them all the content at once, which we do for both List Builders Society and Systems that Scale, my two evergreen courses, you can send them weekly emails with little tips for staying on track and carving out time or what to do if they get stuck or off track and stuff like that.
You can also send mindset emails. Over time you'll start to notice where your students tend to get stuck. So aligning your weekly mindset emails with those areas of your course is really helpful for your students. We absolutely do this for all of our courses, evergreen and live courses. And if you're dripping your content and emailing about the new module each week, I'd still recommend adding tips and mindset tools into those emails as well.
I think that as a course creator—and this is the mistake I made early on—as a course creator, I thought my only job was to teach the strategy. Like, back in the day when I taught Facebook marketing, my job was to make sure that they knew how to navigate Facebook, they knew how to set up their Facebook page, they knew how to get engagement, all of that. What I didn't do in my early days, because I just didn't know better, is that every course creator should be building in or baking in mindset shifts or mindset support or mindset transformations, identifying where someone will get stuck, what they're thinking, what they're feeling, identifying that, making it known, and then helping them shift that while they're going through your course. Because no matter what your course is about, I can promise you that many of your students feel as though they are not capable of getting to the finish line, or they get stuck and feel alone, or they start getting in their head that maybe life's too busy and this is not the time. Like, all these mindset traps come up no matter what your content's about, and you have to address them. And that is what the email sequences are for.
Okay, I'm going to jump off my soapbox and tell you about the final email that you'll send in this email sequence I'm talking about. I recommend offering a celebratory email. So get them excited about their accomplishment. Or maybe they fell off, but you celebrating even their small wins get them excited to get back in. Or if you're celebrating, “Hey, by now you should have made it to the finish line,” and they're not there, maybe when you're celebrating, say, “And if you haven't made it, I still want to celebrate you. So get back in here, get into the course, get it done” kind of thing. But celebrating is a really fun thing to add to your entire experience of someone going through your course, but sending that final celebratory email is always a good idea.
And I personally love to add a little video for them in that last email to make it feel really personal. And I’ll, of course, address those that did finish and those that didn't finish.
And in that last email, I'll also remind them of the resources that I have for them. So, like, if there's an FAQ or resources section in your student portal, before I send them off on their own, I'll remind them, if they get stuck, if they need more questions answered, here's what to do.
Now, if you have a community that they can join, say, a Facebook group, you'll want to mention that Facebook group in the very first email, get them into that community. And then I like to remind them of getting back into the community through the other emails. I might say, “Hey, jump into the Facebook group and share x, y, z,” just to constantly bring them back to the community.
And lastly, if you have student-success stories that you can share, adding them to your email sequence even throughout, just reminding them of what other students have been able to do, to inspire them and reminding them if these students can do it, so can they, that’s always a great thing to include in those series of emails. And remember, the whole goal, the whole goal of this email onboarding sequence is to get them in the course and get them to take action and get them to the finish line.
Okay, we are moving on. So this one is actually a strategy that I'm guessing you might not expect to hear, and that is to offer a really great Q&A process. Now, you're probably wondering, “Amy, what the heck do you even mean?” Well, let me break this down.
In all my years of being an entrepreneur, in all the courses I've offered, I have always, always found that one thing students want more than anything else is to have a place where they can ask questions and where they can hear directly from you, the course creator, what those answers are, or how you approach the situation they're asking about. And because you're not going live with a Q&A, like you would with your live-launch digital course, it not only adds immense value to offer a place for them to access common questions and answers, but also it keeps them engaged. Because here's the deal. If you're multitasking, come back to me, right now. If you started to think about something else or you're doing something else, come back to me. I want you to hear this. If you answer questions that are tied to where students most commonly get stuck, which is something I'm going to talk more about in just a bit, then they'll be able to get the guidance they need to move forward. And you can do that through a curated Q&A process.
So here's what ours looks like. Before we even release an evergreen program, my content team sits down and thinks about everything in the course and asks, “Where will students get stuck? What areas, strategies, or requirements might hold them back from moving forward if they don't have everything they need at the moment?” And then we start compiling a list of questions associated with those areas. Once your students start going through your course, you'll begin to notice what questions are most often asked, and you'll start to build out your Q&A vault that way as well.
So the way we organize these questions is actually by module. For example, for my evergreen course List Builders Society, we have them broken down into three modules. So module one is all about defining your value, finding your sweet spot, and knowing your ideal-customer avatar. And module two is all about creating your weekly content, creating your lead magnet, creating your opt-in page, creating your newsletter, and how to write copy for all of that. And then module three is all about attracting your audience and really building up that email list.
So why do I tell you all this? Well, a common question we get is, “How do I handle my email list when I have two different audiences?” which is a great question for module one. Another question we get is, “What if I've created what I thought is an amazing lead magnet and no one is opting in?” Great. That's a great question. Putting it into module two. So I want you to either take this process that we use and replicate it for your product, or create one that works for you. But either way, you must you must have a way to answer commonly asked questions in an evergreen program.
You'll also want to pay attention to any new questions you hear coming in, because you can always add them. So to be clear, I just want to make sure you understand, that we've created a Q&A vault. So it's in our membership portal, and you can go to the Q&A vault, and by module you can go into the module, and you'll see all the questions that are likely going to come up for you while you go through module one. And if you have one of those questions, you click on it, and you get the response, and it’s a written response. So this is a Q&A vault inside our members’ portal, so you can find it by navigating across the top with all the different options. And then we've got the written question and the written response. This makes it really easy to add to. So we're always adding to our Q&A vault. When we see a question pop up enough, we're like, “Okay, this is one that we need to add to the vault.” So that's how we continue to serve our evergreen students.
And one thing that's important is once you create the vault, you have to constantly put it in front of them, remind them that they have access to it. Heck, you could put it in the P.S. of all those onboarding emails. “P.S. If you get stuck, don't forget about our Q&A vault.” I always say we've answered over a hundred commonly asked questions, broken down into each module, so they're easy to navigate. So that's something that we have been doing for a really long time. I do it for all my courses, but it's especially helpful in an evergreen course.
I don't know about you, but I often find myself reflecting back and thinking about where my business was just a year ago. And to be honest, growth hasn't looked exactly like I thought it would. Like, last year was a really tough year for me mentally, but I came out of that more clear and ready to take on the world. So that minor setback was actually what I needed.
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Another strategy that I honestly think might be one of the most important is to sprinkle pep talks and mindset videos throughout your product and your email sequence. Now, I've already talked about this a little bit, but I want to get very specific so you know what the heck I'm talking about. So I mentioned earlier that you'll want to pay attention or identify ahead of time where your students get stuck. So you're going to take an educated guess in the beginning, before you have any students, but then once you have students, you pay attention to what they're frustrated with or the kind of questions you're getting that they're really saying, like, “This isn't working for me.” The reason it's so important to do this is that these tend to be the exact spots where students fall off.
Think about it. When most humans come up against a challenge, a lot of them will give up, or say, “I'll come back to this,” and then they never do. And maybe you're thinking you'd never do that. But if that's the truth, you're a unicorn, meaning most people will drop off when it gets tough, especially if they think they're alone in the struggle. That's the part that's important. When your evergreen students feel as though they are alone in a challenge, in a struggle, in something that's confusing, they tend to drop off because they don't know what to do or who to turn to. The beautiful thing about identifying these stuck spots is that you can do things to combat the inevitable and support your students so they can easily cross those metaphorical rough waters.
And you're probably picking up on this. The one way I love to do this is through mindset videos or pep-talk videos. So here are a few ideas for where to use these and how to create them.
So I record a few of these videos while I'm recording my course-training videos. That means that for some of them I actually have a script. I like to put them throughout the course, in the modules that might be a little heavier or more difficult, like, modules where my students, again, might get stuck because I'm challenging them to do something out of their comfort zone; or maybe there's just a lot of steps, so it's going to feel a little overwhelming to them. That's another area where I identify where to put a mindset video.
So I'll actually do a mindset talk, like a short pep talk, in an actual lesson, and maybe I'll teach the lesson and say, “Look, this is one area where a lot of my students get stuck. Here's why. Here's what we're going to do about it.” So I'll literally bake it into the lesson. But I've also created these videos off the cuff just to throw in an email. And the cool thing is that you can use the video or email over and over again for your evergreen email sequence. So these videos go a long way. And I tend to do this when I notice that my students are at a halt somewhere, or maybe something heavy is going on in the world that might hold them back from moving forward. This can be a good time to hop on video and just let your students know that you see them, you're there for them, and you have a solution to help them keep moving forward.
And one thing I like to do is remind them of what moved them to enroll in your course in the first place, and encourage them to dig deep and just remember their why and keep coming back to it. Focus on their goals. I always say, “Remember how excited you were to hit that button to enroll? Let's bring back that excitement.” Sometimes they need that feeling in the middle of your course. They've lost that lovin’ feeling, and they need to bring it back. Well, you’ve got to remind them to do so.
So I'll do off-the-cuff videos on my iPhone and just put it in an email. Some of the cool ways to do that is through a tool called BombBomb. So B-O-M-B-B-O-M-B. That's a great tool to embed video into an email, and it looks like the video’s playing right when they open the email. It's really cool.
So as you start to get students through your course, or maybe you already have students going through your evergreen course, you can have them fill out a survey and ask them point blank, “Where are you getting stuck? What modules or strategies are keeping you from moving forward, and why?” So this is how I really identify where my students are getting stuck. News flash: I ask them. So you can do a survey halfway through or where they might be halfway through.
I'm well aware that when you have evergreen, you don't know where anybody is throughout the course, but you can say, okay, if they join, let's say, on May one, by the middle of May, they should at least have gotten through two modules. So I'm going to just guess where they might be, that kind of thing. It's all you can do with evergreen.
So that's how you can kind of preprogram these emails that you want to go out.
So once you start to see patterns in their answers from that survey, you'll know exactly where to put these mindset videos and what to say. So just know it gets a whole lot easier once you start asking.
Okay, another strategy we use is to offer content updates. So my team and I update our programs every two years. But remember, I also have a team to support me. So if your eyes just went wide, like, “Oh my gosh, every two years, that feels like a lot,” do what works for your business. The cool thing about my course updates is that my students get lifetime access to the program, so when we update it, they get that new content.
Now, they don't get the new bonuses. So I want to be clear about that. But whenever we revamp our core program, it's a great way to reengage students because we'll send out an email letting them know that there's new, fresh content in their course, and that now is a great time to jump back into the course if they’ve fallen behind. Plus, this is honestly no skin off our back to offer them content updates. So it really adds a ton of value without much effort. We were going to do it anyway. So it's a lot of work to update your program, but it's always such goodwill to say, “Okay, you've been in the program for a long time. Here are the updates.”
One thing we've learned along the way, though, is if you're going to give alumni, people who already have your course, a brand-new, updated course—like, we are rerecording List Builders Society this year, and we're rerecording, from the ground up, Digital Course Academy. So for all of my alumni, if you have either one of those courses, if I give you the updated course, I should tell you what's been updated. So we will literally in that email say, “Here's what to pay close attention to. Here’s what’s really changed.” Even though all videos are new, not all content is new. So we'll really point out where we've updated the content so if you just want to go right there as an alumni, you can. So it's a great strategy, giving alumni the updated course to reengage your students who have maybe fallen off.
All right. The next strategy is one we use for my List Builders Society program, and it's been a huge hit. As one of my bonuses, my List Builders Society students—actually, if you're multitasking, come back to me, because this is something that I think most people should do with evergreen. It's going to be a little different than you're thinking because it's not totally evergreen. There's a live aspect. So come back to me. Stop multitasking, because you're going to want this one—okay, here it is. So again, I do this for List Builders Society, so if you're a student of mine, you already know this. But one of my bonuses in List Builders Society is that my students get access to a monthly live Q&A with me on Zoom for one year, meaning they get twelve live sessions with me. So we started this about two years ago, and my goodness, it's been a hit. My students love it, I actually really enjoy it, and it definitely gives a human element to an evergreen program. We've also heard from our students that if they were on the fence about List Builders Society, this was the bonus that helped them jump off that fence and get into the program.
So if you have the bandwidth and ability to do this, I highly recommend it. Here's what we do. We use a Google form where students can submit their questions. And then every last Tuesday of the month—I keep it at the same time, every last Tuesday and the exact same time of day—and I go live and answer as many of those questions as possible.
Now, to make sure we make the most of the time, I have my content team go into our Q&A document and add the most common questions from the Google form. So often, we'll see similar questions pop up, and I make sure to address those.
Now, after each live, we download the video from Zoom, which is the platform that we host the live video, and then we upload it to our course platform along with an audio recording and the chat transcript. So they get the video of it, the audio only of it, and a chat transcript so they can see the questions that people said in the chat.
And then they have one month until the next live to watch or download the video, and then we've tagged them in our system to stop receiving the notification emails with the live details one year after they join the evergreen course. So once they've gotten twelve of these, we remove a tag so they no longer get emailed about an upcoming live, because we want to make sure that it's in some kind of container and it's not indefinitely so that they really take advantage. Like, “I've only got twelve, so I better be there.”
And another reason why we decided on just twelve is that if I let anybody, like anybody who enrolls in List Builders Society, have unlimited access for as long as they want to those Q&As, then the group's going to get too big for the Q&As, and I'm going to get too many questions, and the new people might not get their questions answered. So that's another reason why we capped it.
And I think that if you follow my program and you do what I teach you, you don't need more than twelve. Heck, you don't even need more than probably three Q&As. But if you want to keep coming back to them, great. But after the twelve months, I'm hoping you've got your list building locked in and you're moving on to, say, Digital Course Academy. So we hope that it works that way. So again, if you have the bandwidth to add this as a bonus, I highly recommend it because it really engages your students and keeps them on track.
Oh, and this is also a valuable resource to consistently add to your Q&A vault. So if you see questions keep popping up in your live Q&As, you know to add it to a vault. When I'm in a live Q&A, I usually have one of my team members, Jilly, helping me. And when I see a question pop up a lot, I'm like, “Jilly, let's write this out and get it into our Q&A vault because it keeps coming up.” Like, I'll just say that publicly. My students will hear me say it, but it's important.
Okay, moving on, the next strategy. This strategy is to create a community to support one another. Now, I want to be completely transparent that this is a strategy I do not use. I have in the past, and it works well, but it's also a lot to keep going, so hear me out here. There are a variety of ways that you can host a community, and I think the most common would be a private Facebook group, right? They pay for your course. They get access into a private Facebook-group community. And I know that a lot of people also use Kajabi as their community, so that's an option, too. The benefit of this is that your students can engage with other students who have the same goals and the same interests, and they're doing the same thing in your course. So you're really providing them with an opportunity to build a community of like-minded people.
Now, if you choose to do this, I'd recommend that you encourage your students to seek out others to build, let's say, an accountability group or some kind of mastermind. That's something I do with my membership experience, and it allows my students to get real-time and quick feedback on things. Plus, it's a great way to keep them on track. So I encourage my students in a private Facebook group to get together, to take it beyond just the Facebook group, get into accountability pods or create their own little mastermind so they're actually helping each other.
Now, if you choose this route, you'll have to decide if you're going to curate the content in this group and manage it. So for some, this is totally worth it. For others, it's a huge time commitment. So you got to make that choice. Like, what are you going to do in this group? Are you just having the group so they can support each other, or are you going to actually create content for it as well?
I want to be honest that there are a few things that I find to be unattractive about hosting a community for your evergreen. And, one, because it's evergreen, the community can quickly become extremely large, and comments can get lost, defeating the purpose of finding support, because remember you're constantly adding to it.
(B) is that it can also cause an issue that people will be coming in at different times. So you'll have people done or almost done with the course mixed with people that are starting on day one. Now, this actually might be a perk for some. They like having people at all different levels. But my students at the beginning of my evergreen courses are asking very different questions than those that are kind of moving on to Digital Course Academy, and so that always was a struggle for us.
And also, maintaining private communities are a lot of work, so I try to be selective. I may go back to a community for my evergreen, but right now I don't have one. The only thing I have is those live Zoom Q&As once a month. So it's a strategy to look into, but it's not for everyone. So there you have it.
Okay. So for my evergreen-course-building friends, we got to the end of all of these strategies. And this was a beefy episode because I have been doing evergreen for a really long time, and I know what works and what doesn't work. And I wanted to flood you with ideas, but by no means do you need to do all of them. That's a lot. So just choose one or two that you think would be really valuable, and I want you to go for it.
Like I said, the last thing you want is for them to not get through your program, not get the benefits of it, and then not move closer to their desire or their dream or their goal.
So here are your action items. Like I said, choose one or two of these strategies, start planning for them, create a project plan so you actually implement them step by step. And if you're listening to this episode when it goes live, we're almost at the end of quarter two. So by the start of quarter three, I want you to have your project plans laid out so that you can work on these strategies in quarter three and, hopefully, complete them. Just a suggestion.
So head on over to Instagram—remember I'm just @amyporterfield—and tell me which one of these strategies you're going to implement by quarter three. I want to hear from you. Really, go do it. Follow me on Instagram and send me a DM.
Also, you know what I always say at the end of my episodes. If you love this episode and you think a friend would really enjoy it as well, grab the link, text it to them, share it with a friend. My goal is to support as many entrepreneurs on their journey as possible.
All right, so I'll see you again, same time, same place next week. Bye for now.