Transcript: 5 Strategic Launch Pivots That Boosted My Course Enrollments

January 26, 2023

AMY PORTERFIELD: “I want to say something that I don't typically talk about because everyone has their own opinions about stuff like this, but sometimes I do some marketing strategies that make me feel a little anxious. Like, should the calendar invite land on their calendar? Am I going to be annoying some people, or will some people find it really valuable so they actually don't miss it because they want to be there? And I think you could make the argument either way. But I am willing to get some negative feedback and listen to it and really kind of evaluate with my gut, how do I feel about this? versus just not doing it because I think maybe some people won't like it. And that's, I think, where I've gotten to be a little bit more of a confident marketer saying, ‘Yeah, I'm not going to please everyone with this strategy, but I think it could really be valuable for those that are genuinely interested and want to get on this live. So let's give it a shot, let's evaluate the feedback we get, and then from there, we'll decide what's best.’”  

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: Well, hey, there, my friend. Welcome to another episode of the Online Marketing Made Easy podcast. 

Before we dive in, can you do me a huge favor? Would you mind sending this episode, or just sharing my podcast, with three of your friends? I've been working hard to put out valuable content to support online entrepreneurs and digital-course creators and entrepreneurs in the making, and I want to make sure it gets into the hands of the people that need it most. So grab the link of this episode or this podcast, text it to three friends, or you can just click the Share button where you're listening to this podcast and send it that way. Whatever works for you. But I would be forever grateful. So just wanted to put that out there. 

And let's get to today's episode. And holy heck, it is a juicy one. You want all my marketing strategies? Well, my friend, your wish is my command, because in this episode, I'm revealing a few strategy changes that we made in my September Digital Course Academy launch that made all the difference. I'm giving you the strategic details down to the why, how, and the results, along with how you might be able to apply the lessons we learned in your own business.  

So you'll get a few marketing strategies, a few community strategies, and then, also, one customer-support strategy. The content you're about to hear is sexy, if I may say so myself. I know, spoken like a true entrepreneur, right? And I want to encourage you to listen to this episode more than once to get everything you need out of it. So I promise you, it can change your business.  

Also, if you've done, let's say, five launches or maybe one launch or zero launches, this episode is for you, meaning it doesn't matter where you are in your journey, you will walk away from value in this episode. It's one of those juicy ones that I do that's very detailed that you can implement right away. So that's what this episode’s about.  

So I want you to get ready because these strategies are going to help you enhance what you already have or gain valuable knowledge and insight for getting ready to plan your first or your next wildly successful launch. So grab a pen, paper, get focused, and let's get into these strategies that I have been teasing you about throughout this entire intro. Let's do this.  

First up, let's talk about a couple of marketing changes that we made. Number one, we moved the prelaunch-runway quiz to the top of the funnel. And then, number two, we moved away from scheduled Facebook Live videos to hosting a few surprise live videos. So let's break this down.  

Why did we move the funnel placement of the quiz? Well, in previous years, we found that some of our best ad cost are from quiz leads. This has a lot to do with people just naturally loving a quiz as a freebie, and we see people much more eager and willing to offer up their email when they get to take a quiz, which is (a) fun for them and (b) exciting to find out their results. Like, people love to learn more about themselves, and that's what a good quiz does. It actually gives insight into that person based on their responses. So given this track record of cheaper ads and the fact that people are more willing to give their email, we knew that if we put the quiz at the top of the funnel, meaning at the very beginning of the prelaunch series, we were going to be able to fill up our email list with great leads and low ad cost early on. 

We also knew that we wanted to attract new people as our prelaunch-runway leads. Of course, we have our email list, and we definitely tap into it ten times more than anything else we do in our launch. However, launching, especially when you continue to launch the same product over and over again every year, you need new people in your world. And I'm well aware that a lot of the new people that come into my world during the launch, let's say through a quiz at the top of the funnel, will not convert into a DCA sale. Many of them will not. However, it starts the conversation, and the next time I launch something, whether it be something maybe not as big as Digital Course Academy, but maybe it's List Builders Society, they're paying attention. They're in my world now. They're more inclined to start to ease into being a customer. And then by the time, a year later, when I launch Digital Course Academy again, they're more ready.  

And so I'm all about attracting new leads in a launch that I know won't all convert. The majority of them will not. Now, many of them will. So that's always good as well. But I just kind of wanted to put that out there.  

Also, we knew that if we did the quiz earlier on in the launch, we were going to gain valuable insight into who we were attracting for this specific launch. So this allowed us to pivot if needed in terms of some of the messaging we planned once the sales page was live and the webinar was live and all of that.  

Like, for example, we now had insight, based on the quiz results, where our audience was struggling and what they cared about, and we could segment our email list by these results for the remainder of the prelaunch runway, all the way through cart open through cart close, to make sure that we were serving them in the best way possible. 

So, like, for example, if someone answered a question in a very specific way in the quiz and it identified them as, let's say, having a digital course but not having success with it, we could send a very specific email to that subset, talking about the fact that they already created a course, but here's how DCA could help them actually make more money with that course if they came in with a beginner's mind. That kind of stuff. So the quiz gave us so much incredible insight to not only tweak our messaging if needed, but also to segment our emails.  

So this year, I launched the quiz eight weeks before the cart opened and drove traffic via email, via pop ups on my website, social media, podcasts, and then, of course, paid ads. And because we had this so early on in the prelaunch runway, based on where we were in our launch cycle when my students took the quiz, I used the results page to promote different calls to action, like different lead magnets or my Course Confident boot camp; then, my masterclass; and finally, to enroll in DCA.  

So to be clear, early on, when I launched the quiz, if you took the quiz and you got the results, the final page you would see, I might invite you into my Course Confident boot camp that was just starting up. But once the boot camp was over, if you took the quiz, because we promoted the quiz throughout the entire prelaunch sequence, if the boot camp was over but the masterclass was starting, we would change out that page and say, “Okay, your next step is to get on this masterclass.” So we gave them their marching orders depending on when they took the quiz in the prelaunch sequence. So timing here was everything. That always has worked for us, so I just wanted to put that out there.  

So I ended up generating close to twenty-two thousand leads during my prelaunch runway, so it was a huge list builder for me, and I definitely think that—and that wasn't just the quiz. We did a few other things—but I definitely think that moving the quiz to the beginning of the funnel allowed us to make the whole experience much more intentional and personal for each new lead that came into our world.  

Okay. This next thing, I'm really excited to share with you. We—I mentioned this earlier—we swapped out the Facebook Live videos that I have done for years. I'm going to say five, six, seven years in my DCA launches, or any launch of my courses, I would always do weekly Facebook Lives in the prelaunch runway. So even when the cart was open, I would continue to do them, but I definitely did them. So usually, I'll do, like, a sixty-day prelaunch runway, and so every week for two months, I was doing Facebook Lives. And that has worked really, really well for me until it didn't.  

So in our last DCA launch, our attendance numbers were on the struggle bus, for sure. I would show up, prepare these really good trainings, and then I'd be lucky if a hundred people were on live. So we thought, “This is not the best use of our time.” So we put our brains together and knew we needed a new approach.  

Now, we knew we wanted to keep some aspect of the live-teaching experience. I teach this in DCA, and I deeply feel that being able to connect with my audience and teach them in this prelaunch runway is invaluable. It builds trust. It introduces new leads to your teaching style so they can make the decision if you're the right teacher for them. So showing up before you sell online video teaching and giving value is invaluable. So like, I didn't want to get rid of that. I just wasn't loving Facebook Live specifically.  

So what I did is I offered three different surprise lives. They were hosted on Zoom, and each one had a different call to action at the end. Now, here's the coolest part of this. Because of where we placed the quiz, meaning the beginning, and all the insight we gained from that and from my other lead magnets in the prelaunch runway, we were able to be super intentional and segment out the email invites to our leads that best aligned with the topic of the surprise live.  

So let me give you an example. We promoted a lead magnet all about list building, and in my surprise live, I basically took what they learned in that lead magnet and I expanded on it. So a lot of the people that were on the live, they had the list-building lead magnet, so I could reference it. So if they haven't dug into it, I could encourage them to get into it, but then I could expand on it. So we made sure to segment out the invites for those who opted in for the list-building lead magnet to get them on the surprise live.  

So we did this a few different times. I feel that this resulted in me being able to really meet my audience exactly where they were and serve them at the highest level. I won't get into this strategy, because I've talked about it a lot, and if you're in any of my courses, you know it. But I talk about this invisible bridge, meeting your audience where they are, and walking them across the invisible bridge with your content, your lead magnets, your messaging, to the point that when you open your cart, they are ready to buy. These surprise lives, that were very targeted to specific audiences and specific topics, was an example of me walking my audience across that invisible bridge.  

Now, I never want someone to just download a lead magnet, and then that's the end of the journey. I want to make sure that they get into action. So these lives were able to support them in doing so. Again, like I said, encouraging them to get into the lead magnet if they haven't—the guide, the PDF, whatever it is—but then really teaching beyond it so they got the concept. I want them to feel as though I am their teacher by the time I open the door to my courses. So this is how I do that. 

And listen. The numbers speak for themselves. On one of these live videos, we had almost 75 percent of attendees take the call to action, meaning that at the end of a live, I'll give another freebie or an invite into the boot camp or whatever it was that was the next step, 75 percent of them actually took me up on the call to action. For another one, a little bit later, it was 45 percent, which is still fantastic. So this was a big improvement from actually doing a Facebook Live.  

And also, I don't know if you all have noticed, but last year when I was doing these Facebook Lives, really random, totally uninterested people were in the comments causing havoc. They were asking really rude questions, they were not there to learn, and they threw off my vibe, like, right away. So I didn't have any of that because this was off social media—it was on Zoom—and they had to have a personal invite to get there.  

Okay. Also, one of the things I want to mention is the invite went out, like, the day before and then, of course, the morning of. We didn't invite people, like, a week early or anything like that. So it was, I think the show up was so good because it was, like, a little bit of last minute, but like, “Let's do this now.” So that was helpful.  

Now, one insight that we learned after this launch that we’ll be changing next year is that we didn't introduce the idea of a digital course early enough in the prelaunch runway. So this was a mistake. And you might be like, “Amy, you’ve been in the business for fourteen years. How would you make that kind of mistake?” Well, we wanted to try some new things.  

In 2022, it was my year of experimenting. I was willing to take risks, try things I hadn't. I didn't want to get in a rut of old Internet marketing and not explore some new things. So here's the deal. We had the quiz, which was geared towards general entrepreneurship, and then we offered list-building support, like a guide about list building, which is still very important because it's part of setting up your audience to be ready to get into Digital Course Academy and create your course. So we did a quiz about general entrepreneurship, and then we did a list-building PDF, and then we offered something around mindset. Again, really important, like, the mindset of an entrepreneur.  

However, what we should have done is that, like, if we did this for two months, the month leading up to cart open, so the last thirty days before I opened up my cart, we should have geared the content more toward digital-course businesses. So we focused a little bit too general. We focused a lot on building a side hustle and entrepreneurship and list building. But—I know, you're going to be very amazed when I say this—we did not have one lead magnet in my prelaunch runway that was 100 percent focused on building a digital course, like how to choose a digital-course topic, or how to get started with digital courses, or are you right for a digital course? We did not have any of that.  

Now, we did have a boot camp that was called Course Confident, and that was all about digital courses. So we definitely focused on digital courses in the prelaunch runway, but we didn't have enough focused, intentional lead magnets in the sixty days leading up. So I really do think we missed the mark on that one.  

So in hindsight, shifting the focus to a digital-course-based business a little bit earlier on in the conversation would have been good. So in the future, we're going to fix that.  

All right. Now that I've shared some of these marketing changes, my question for you is, could you apply any of these to your business? Like, maybe looking at your prelaunch runway, and as you get closer to cart, are you really focused on the right things? Or if you're doing Facebook Lives and you feel frustrated like me, maybe you want to try some surprise lives. I won't get into all the details about how we did it, but one reminder I wanted to put out there is that we used this strategy where we sent out the calendar for those surprise live, and it actually appeared on their Google calendars. So they actually saw it on their calendar. I know not everyone loves that, but it actually did help immensely, and people can just take it right off. But that was something that we experimented with as well.  

And I want to say something that I don't typically talk about because everyone has their own opinions about stuff like this, but sometimes I do some marketing strategies that make me feel a little anxious. Like, should the calendar invite land on their calendar? Am I going to be annoying some people, or will some people find it really valuable so they actually don't miss it because they want to be there? And I think you could make the argument either way. But I am willing to get some negative feedback and listen to it and really kind of evaluate with my gut, how do I feel about this? versus just not doing it because I think maybe some people won't like it. And that's, I think, where I've gotten to be a little bit more of a confident marketer saying, “Yeah, I'm not going to please everyone with this strategy, but I think it could really be valuable for those that are genuinely interested and want to get on this live. So let's give it a shot, let's evaluate the feedback we get, and then from there, we'll decide what's best.” And we got very, very, very little negative feedback about the calendar invite popping up on their calendar, so I would absolutely do it again. But I was nervous.  

So if you feel nervous sometimes about doing things, you know, do a gut check. As long as you're staying in your own integrity, being a little risky, trying things, being a little bit more maybe aggressive than you typically are, I don't think there's anything wrong with that, as long as you do a gut check and you do what feels right for you.  

All right. So for you, you might want to reexamine the placement of some lead magnets you have. Maybe you don’t yet have a quiz, so you want to actually create a quiz. And also, don't be afraid to change things up. Like, I saw with, like, the Facebook Live attendance tanking, and I needed to do something different. I think it's really important that we shake things up and we don't get in a rut with our marketing. And being an entrepreneur and an online marketer, it's all about trial and error, so we got to put ourselves out there.  

All right. So now let's talk about some updates that we made when it came to our community. So there were three big changes we made in our community. First, we shortened our boot camp from five weeks, which we had done in the past, to only two weeks. That was a big change. We also started charging for the boot camp, which I spoke all about in episode 532. So if you want a more in-depth dive into all things boot camp and what worked and what didn't and why charge for it and how I felt about charging for it, go to  

Okay. But about the boot camp, what I wanted to share that we changed is that we decided to close our boot camp the day before the cart closed for DCA. So I want to talk about all this. First, why did we shorten the boot camp? Well, in 2020, when we first created our free boot camp, people were at home. They weren't out and about, due to the pandemic. So doing a longer boot camp, it worked fairly well. So I didn't have any complaints after 2020.  

But then, in 2021, this strategy tanked because people were socializing again. They were starting to go back out into the world and get into their normal routines, at least to an extent. And we didn’t really take that into account.  

So we ran the free boot camp for five and a half weeks. So that means five and a half weeks of free content. That's a lot of content. It was so overwhelming to my team and to the people in there because it was just a different world. We weren't in 2020 anymore. So I think a lot of marketers, including myself, obviously, kind of had a shake up in 2021 because 2020 for digital-course creators was a very good year for us. Across the board, I've heard it. And so then we thought, “Oh, that worked so well. Let's take those strategies into 2021.” Well, the world started to look different, especially near the end of 2021. So the strategies that worked in 2020 so freaking well, not necessarily as well in 2021. This is not for everybody. But I heard it enough, and I experienced it. So that was a little bit jarring for us. Like, whoa, hold on. That didn't work as we thought it would.  

So now, since we had promoted the 2021 boot camp as a thirty-day boot camp, and then actually it went a little bit longer, it brought us right up to when the cart opened up, and then we did a surprise extension of the group, which got us into five and a half weeks during cart open. And the idea was to support our group members during cart open to help them further decide if DCA was right for them or not.  

However, what we noticed was that when we did this, engagement declined drastically because people were either joining DCA and leaving the group to go into the DCA brand-new community; or they had left because they had gotten the free value, they weren’t going to buy DCA so they didn’t need to hear about everyone else buying it. So by the end of the 2021 boot camp, because we left it open too long, because we provided way too much content, there was a huge tank in engagement during cart open, which is not what you want for a boot camp that you're selling a course in.  

So instead, what we did is we actually left the boot camp open while the cart was open, but we closed it before the cart closed. So what that did is it had people make a decision, are you in or you out? This group is closing, and if you want to be a part of the new DCA community, you've got to make a decision and come over there. So having the community for the boot camp close helped people make a decision like, “Ooh, I miss the engagement. I miss the group. I want to be in the trenches with other people. This was taken away from me,”—they knew it was going to close—but “This is gone. I still want the momentum. I'm going over to the DCA community,” which means they enrolled in DCA. So actually having an absence of a community for a moment is a good thing to help people make the decision, are they in or are they out?  

Now, the important thing I want you to hear is that we made very clear guidelines around this. They knew when the group was going to close. And in fact, we actually kept it open a little bit longer than when they thought it was going to close. So we didn't take anything away from them and surprise them. That would have been frustrating to people because remember, they paid for the boot camp, and so they had expectations of having access to it. So we made it clear when the boot camp would close. So nobody was upset about it closing, but it did have them in a position of making a decision.  

So in 2022, our goal for the paid two-week boot camp was to get an average of 65 percent engagement because engagement genuinely matters to us. It's not all about the sales. So in comparison, in 2021, for the five-and-a-half-week boot camp, we had a goal of 55 percent engagement. So in 2022, we wanted to go for 65 percent engagement. We ended up hitting 66 percent engagement in 2022. And in 2021, we only hit 46 percent engagement overall. So that's a huge jump. We went from 46 on average to 66 percent. And I really do believe it had to do with, in part, to a smaller group that was, like, “Let's get the work done. Let’s all come together,” knowing the group was going to close quickly. So I think that helps.  

And then on top of all of this, because this was a paid boot camp, we attracted people who were genuinely interested in building a digital course. That's not to say that people that couldn't afford the boot camp weren't interested in digital courses. However, the people that did pay to be in the group, they genuinely had an interest of creating a course in the next year. That made all the difference for engagement. So that resulted in a 25 percent conversion from the boot camp to actually welcoming people into DCA. And that's a big deal. That's much higher than a webinar.  

But when I talk about conversion numbers and explain these things, I think it's important for me to point out that, yes, the boot camp converted at 25 percent. Yes, my webinars usually convert between 10 and 12 percent. However, in the boot camp, we did a personalized masterclass for only our bootcamp members. I did masterclasses outside of the boot camp, but I did a very special masterclass geared toward what my boot campers had been learning all week, and so they did see a webinar. So that 25 percent conversion included two weeks of a boot camp and a webinar.  

So what we've noticed in doing a lot of our analytics is that the more touch points people have during a pre launch and cart open, like, “I got this PDF. I was in this boot camp, I watched this masterclass,” the more touch points, the more likely they are to buy. And so that's why boot camps to me are so valuable, because you can offer value, you can teach, you can do contests, you can have fun, you can do a masterclass, and you're emailing to them, and they're seeing stuff on social. It's such a great layering technique when you do a boot camp.  

But all in all, I'm just grateful that we were able to build a community to support these people that were interested in creating digital courses into the transition of actually starting to create with DCA.  

So now let's flip these changes over to you. I want you to take what we just learned here and consider utilizing some of these lessons in your next launch. Maybe you think about charging for a boot camp versus giving it away for free. Or maybe you want to shorten up a boot camp that you have. So don't be afraid to experiment. Try some new things. I promise you, it goes a long way.  

All right. So now let's talk about a customer-experience pivot that we made on the fly. So here's another change that we did. But literally this was on the fly. And this pivot was made while we were in a launch.  

So when I say, “Leave room for magic,” which I say all the time to my team, and I sometimes mention that on these podcasts, this is the kind of magic that I was talking about. So my director of customer experience was keeping me up to date on how our concierge-team calls were going, which I talked about that in another episode, but we got on calls with people, and if they were on the fence about joining DCA, we would talk to them about it to make sure that they were a good fit. And we were finding that people loved getting on the phone with an actual person to make sure DCA was right for them. Now, these weren't salespeople. They were people on my team that knew the program well, knew who was right for it, so the calls were really incredibly valuable. Now, just the idea that people could speak to someone in real time that was on my team while they were making a decision, that in and of itself was incredible.  

Now, again, if you want more details on this concierge-team strategy, I actually talked about it for the first time on episode 447. So And it was called “This Sales Strategy Converted at 44%, & Now I'm Teaching It to You.” That's the name of the episode, 447. 

Now, the problem was we only had a handful of people on our concierge team and their time slots were filling up quickly, so we needed extra hands. So we didn't want to leave anyone out that wanted to get on a call with us, so we decided to do what we called a Zoom-athon experience. So that means that we offered ten-minute calls instead of the fifteen- or twenty-minute calls we were doing. We decided to put some ten-minute calls on the calendar, and we enlisted as many people on my team that would do it. And we asked our leadership team to get on these calls. Like, everybody got on the calls. And we were able to take on more calls during a very concentrated period of time, and they were just ten minutes, so they went quickly, and these calls got booked up within minutes.  

So the thing is, I can't take everybody off of their duties to put them on calls for a long period of time. So we're talking, like, a two- to three-hour period when it was all hands on deck, people getting on these calls. And this was kind of like an on-the-go strategy. We didn't really set any goals for it, but we just wanted to make sure that we could have a concentrated time that was very close to cart close to say, “If you're on the fence, get on the ten-minute quick call just to make sure that you are a good fit.” So we did—actually, we just did it for one hour. I said, like, two to three hours. We just did it for one hour. Again, because I couldn't take everybody off their responsibilities they were working on. So we did an additional twenty-five calls within that hour, and that's a lot of calls. And so we felt like this was a huge success. And what we learned is that a Zoom-athon, where we did twenty-five extra calls, but that's on top of the hundreds of calls we were already doing, so it was in addition. 

And is this something that we absolutely will do again next year, where we will have our concierge calls throughout cart open, but we're going to have one day where we take a concentrated time. We'll plan for it now so we can actually do even more than twenty-five calls. But we're going to have a concentrated time. And the secret here is that it's close to cart close. People have been on webinars, in the boot camp, watching all my videos, getting my PDFs, hearing me talk about it on social. Nothing is new to them; they just want to talk to somebody. And that means something to people, especially coming out of COVID. They wanted to make that connection. They wanted to make sure they were going to be taken care of if they did join.  

So I just wanted to put that out there because now this was a fun strategy, very effective, but it was very hectic because we did it last minute and we were bringing in people that weren't ready to do it. So what I love is next year we can plan for it, and we can make sure that we're ready for it. But don't be afraid that during a launch, if you want to try something new, especially if you see you’re behind in your goal and you're like, “We need to add to this. We need to change. We need to pivot,” go for it, because I felt like at the end of DCA launch, we did reach our goals, but at the end, even if we didn't, I felt like I left everything on the table. There was nothing I didn't do or tried that I wanted to do, and that felt good. 

Okay. Talk about revealing all the good stuff. I know I just gave you a lot of behind-the-scenes information, and it might feel like a lot. But remember, you don't need to do all the stuff that I shared with you. Maybe just take one thing that you really loved hearing me talk about that you think could really work in your business and ask yourself, “How can I implement this into my business for this year?” Like, maybe you're not going to do it for another six months, but it's something that you absolutely want to do. And I want to remind you that the fact that some of these things I have been doing with a bigger team, you can tweak some of these strategies. Like, you likely don't have twenty people on your team, but let's say you have three people, and one of those people would be willing to do two hours of calls a day during your launch. If you plan for it, you can absolutely make it happen, even on a smaller scale, until you start scaling and building your business.  

So whether you're making some marketing adjustments or changing up how you run your prelaunch-runway community or you want to do something off the cuff, like a Zoom-athon, you can't go wrong, my friend. It's all part of the game of seeing what works for you and your audience and your business. All in all, I just hope you found this valuable and it gave you some new ideas and got you excited for your first or future launches.  

So thanks for joining me for another episode of Online Marketing Made Easy. Please share this episode with a friend that you know would find it valuable. And I'll see you same time, same place, next week. Bye for now. 

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