How To Build A Successful Sales Funnel For Online Course Creators

How To Build A Successful Sales Funnel For Online Course Creators

According to Tech Jury, The US e-learning market is set to grow by $12.81 billion between 2020 and 2024.

The online course market is booming.

People are comfortable buying and using online courses unlike ever before.

This creates opportunities for entrepreneurs like yourself.

Have expertise?

You can create a course, sell it online, and potentially make thousands or even millions of dollars (many of our Two Comma Club Award winners are course creators).


But there lies the crux.

How do you sell it?

That’s what we’re talking about here. We’ll show you how to build a successful sales funnel for your online course, from understanding your target market to building your email list and getting conversions.

Let’s dive in!

Start Building Your First Funnel Now! It’s Free!

Part 1. Understanding Your Target Market

A lot of entrepreneurs make the mistake of starting with what they’re going to sell… not who they’re going to sell it to.

That’s a problem.

Because if you don’t have a target market who wants the course you created, then you’re not going to get very far.

So this is the first step.

Creating a customer avatar, with as much detail as possible.

Your Customer Avatar

Who is your dream customer — the person whom you most want to work with? What are their dreams and desires? Their fears and worries? Their wishes and wants?

Could you easily fill out the form below?

Understanding Your Target Market, your customer avatar graphic.

At the beginning of his bestselling book, Traffic Secrets, Russell Brunson tells the following story…

  • “I don’t know if Alexis will like this,” said an executive at Sally Beauty Supply.
  • Confused, my friend Perry Belcher asked, “What?” He set down his new scented hand sanitizer that he had brought in to pitch at the meeting.
  • He picked up his new UV nail polish and handed it to the group. “Okay, well, how about this product?” he asked.
  • They looked at it, opened it up, and smelled it. “Yeah, I’m pretty sure that Alexis won’t like this either,” they replied.
  • More confused than ever, and now a little frustrated, Perry brought out his third and final product to pitch to them.
  • In a similar fashion, they looked at the product, gave it a quick once-over, and then said, “Sorry, Alexis definitely wouldn’t be interested in this one either.”
  • More frustrated, Perry looked at the two execs he was talking to and finally blurted “Who is Alexis?! Is she the decision maker? Why isn’t she in this meeting instead of you two? Is she here? Can I just talk directly to her? I know that I can convince her that your company need to sell these products!”
  • There was a moment of silence, and then both execs burst out in laughter.
  • “Alexis isn’t a person. She’s our customer avatar!” one replied.

That’s the level of obsessions and understanding you should have for your customer avatar.

Try to answer the following questions.

  • What are their demographics?
  • Where do they live?
  • What industry do they work in?
  • How much do they earn?
  • What are their hobbies?
  • Where do they hang out online?
  • What is important to them?
  • What are they afraid of?
  • What do they want most out of life?
  • What challenges do they face?
  • What other products/services do they use?

The better you understand who wants to buy the course you created, the easier it’ll be to find them, market to them, and get them to convert.

Check out the video below if you want some more detail on the process of finding your customer avatar.

The Dream 100

You know who your target market is.

But how are you going to find them and, more importantly, drive them to your sales funnel so they can sign up for your email list and buy your course?

The Dream 100 is the process that Russell Brunson (our fearless leader here at ClickFunnels!) used to reach his target market en masse.

Check out the video below!

Here’s how it works.

You make a list of places where your dream customers congregate online (which is why it’s so important to know who your dream customers are!). We try to aim for 100 different places… but you can start with 20, 30, or 70… whatever works.

Try to find…

  • 10 top websites and forums where they spend time
  • 15 active Facebook groups they participate in
  • 50 influencers they follow on Facebook and Instagram
  • 30 podcasts they listen to
  • 40 email newsletters they subscribe to
  • 20 blogs that they actively read
  •  20 YouTube channels they subscribe to

Make a list!

These are the places where your target market already hangs out and by infiltrating these places, you’ll be able to drive them to your sales funnel.

But… how do you “infiltrate” them?

You can either buy your way in or work your way in…

  • Work Your Way In — This usually means cold calling, text messaging, emailing, and even direct mailing your influencers to try and build a relationship with them and “bribe” them into some sort of collaboration. For example, you might send a free version of your product to influencers and ask them for an honest review.
  • Buy Your Way In — If you want to cut to the chase, then you might consider just paying influencers to get in front of their audience. This might include getting a banner ad on their website, putting your YouTube ads at the beginning of their videos, or contacting them and asking what other paid promotional opportunities they offer.

If you want more details about this process, get yourself a copy of Russell’s bestselling book, Traffic Secrets (<– use that link for a free copy).

Part 2. Building Your Email List

We all want to be able to show our online course to the world, get tons of purchases, and walk away rich.

But the reality isn’t quite that simple.

Selling your course to cold traffic — i.e. people who’ve never heard of you before — is a lot more difficult than selling your course to people on your email list. That is, people who’ve followed you for a bit, trust you, and like your content.

Your email list lies at the heart of your marketing efforts.

Grow your list, build trust with your subscribers over time, and periodically invite them to purchase your course.

That’s the long-term game.

And it’s crazy effective.

How do you do it?

Let’s talk about that.

The Lead Magnet

The first thing to understand about building an email list is that people aren’t going to just give you their email out of the kindness of their hearts.

You’ve got to give them something 100 times more valuable in return.

Specifically, you’ve got to create a lead magnet.

This is an offer that’s so valuable that your target market won’t be able to resist giving you their email address in order to get it.

Here’s an example from Smartblogger…

The Lead Magnet example.

And here’s an example from Jacob McMillen…

These resources are free…

And they promise to provide something that the target market really wants.

All you — or rather, your target market — has to do is provide their email address.

But how do you create a resource that is irresistible to your target market?

First, understand that this resource should be easy to consume and easy to create. Challenge yourself to create this resource in just 30 minutes — it can be an email course, a video series, a PDF, or something else.

Keep it simple.

Ask yourself, What is something that my target market DESPERATELY wants to learn? Then create a simple resource to scratch that itch.

If you want to learn more, we have a full guide on how to create a lead magnet over here.

The Lead Magnet Funnel

Creating your lead magnet is one thing.

You’ve also got to…

  1. Get your lead magnet in front of the right people. 
  2. Get the right people to convert.

This is where your Dream 100 comes in.

Look at the list you made detailing the places where your target market congregates. Then infiltrate those places with your lead magnet.

You’ll want to build a Squeeze Page Funnel to collect email addresses. This is just a two-page funnel…

The Lead Magnet Funnel, squeeze page funnel.

And you can get started building your Squeeze Page Funnel by clicking here.

To get people to convert, make your sales copy simple and compelling.

Look at how simple the copy on this page is…

That’s what you’re aiming for.

Get in, tell people what you’re offering and why it’s awesome, then get out.

If you want to learn more about writing sales copy for your Squeeze Page Funnel, check out our copywriting guide over here.

Part 3. Creating Your Online Course Sales Funnel

You understand who your target market is.

You also are now working to grow your email list.

In Part 4, we’re going to talk about how you can sell to that email list you’re building. But before you sell to your email list, you’ve got to have a sales funnel to send them to…

… a funnel that’s built to sell your online course like clockwork.

So now we’re going to show you three different sales funnel templates you can use to sell your online course.

Choose the one that you like the most and run with it.

You’ll need a ClickFunnels account to build your funnel — it’s free to get started.

The Tripwire Funnel

The Tripwire Funnel is all about attracting people with a low-ticket offer and then upselling them to your mid- or high-ticket online course.

The first step of the tripwire funnel is a landing page with a video or sales copy on the left and then a shipping form on the right. This page is promoting your no-brainer low-ticket offer (usually $5 to $50).

Creating Your Online Course Sales Funnel, two-step tripwire funnel.

Once the prospect enters their information, they’re taken to what we call the OTO page. And this is where the real magic of the tripwire funnel happens.

OTO stands for One Time Offer. On the One Time Offer Page, you offer an exclusive upsell to your online course for the buyer to add to their purchase before checking out.

They can add this to their order with a single click.

Creating Your Online Course Sales Funnel, One time offer page example.

Finally, they go to your order confirmation page.

Creating Your Online Course Sales Funnel, confirmation page.

Here’s an example of what the entire funnel looks like…

Creating Your Online Course Sales Funnel, full funnel diagram.

The genius of the tripwire funnels, and the reason that it’s crazy effective for our members, lies in its chronology.

The prospect enters their shipping info and their payment info typically to get something very cheap (create another lead magnet, for instance, and sell it for $5), which makes them more willing to take those two commonly abrasive steps.

Only after they enter that information do you pitch them your online course as a one-time offer upsell.

Now that the hard steps are out of the way, they’re more likely to add your upsell to their cart. Finally, the OTO page always comes before the “Thank You” page — if it were the other way around and the OTO page came after, then very few people would stick around for your upsell.

This sales funnel maximizes the amount of money you make per conversion and gets the prospect used to buying from you.

Start Building Your Tripwire Funnel Now!

The Webinar Funnel

Running webinars — that is, live or recorded educational videos — has become a household way to generate leads and sell products over the years.

And for good reason — 73% of B2B marketers claim that webinars are the best way to generate high-quality leads. After all, if someone is willing to sit through a 45-minute presentation, then they are very likely willing to buy from you as well (time is more valuable than money!).

They work great for selling online courses!

Our webinar sales funnel is crafted to get as many people signed up for your webinar as possible and, more importantly, to get those leads to actually attend your webinar.

First, you have the landing page where prospects can sign up to watch your webinar.

Then, you have between three and five indoctrination pages that are meant to indoctrinate the new lead with your brand messaging and story.

Last, there’s the webinar confirmation page or the webinar replay page (depending on if you’re doing the webinar live or recorded).

The Webinar Funnel diagram.

Webinars have helped us sell more products here at ClickFunnels than any other type of sales funnel.

Just create a presentation that’s compelling and exciting to your target market (similar to creating a lead magnet!), use the above sales funnel, and watch the magic happen.

Need help writing the script for your webinar to turn leads into customers? Click here to get access to our proven webinar script for just $7.

Start Building Your Webinar Funnel Now!

The Product Launch Funnel

This funnel is intentionally crafted to build suspense and excitement around your upcoming online course to maximize the number of people who purchase it on launch day.

It all starts with a squeeze page that introduces the product and encourages the prospect to enter their email address to stay updated on its progress.

The Product Launch Funnel, squeeze page.

Then, over the next few days or weeks, you send the lead to between three and five pages which provide additional information about the upcoming product and its progress — building suspense and attention.

The Product Launch Funnel, product launch page.

Finally, on launch day, you send the prospect to the product launch order form.

The Product Launch Funnel, product launch order form.

Here’s what the entire funnel looks like…

The Product Launch Funnel, product launch full funnel diagram.

This works really well in syncing up with your Soap Opera Sequence (see below) and is a great way to build excitement around your upcoming launch.

By the way, need help writing sales copy for your sales funnel? Click here to get access to our free copywriting course now!

Start Building Your Product Launch Funnel Now!

Part 4. Marketing to Your Email List

In Part 2, we talked about the importance of building your email list.

And we shared some tactics for doing that.

Because your email list is your golden ticket to selling your online course like hotcakes.


What type of content should you send new subscribers after they sign up?

What should you send them going forward into the future?

How often should you send emails?

That’s what we’re talking about here — how to get as many sales as possible from your email marketing efforts.

The Soap Opera Sequence

Imagine this.

Someone opts into your email list through a lead magnet on your website.

Then what?

After you’ve delivered the thing you promised, the person should be added to a 5-7 day email sequence that introduces your business, builds trust, and ends by offering them your online course.

This is a sales funnel of my own.

And we call it a “soap opera sequence”.

Because, like a soap opera, the emails guide the visitor irresistibly from one “episode” (email) to the next… and eventually to buying your products/services.

Here’s a great breakdown of how this email sequence works from Ryan Wegner…

The soap opera sequence consists of 5 emails sent over 5 days (one a day).

You set the stage, create high drama, share your epiphany, discuss hidden benefits, and then use urgency to push the lead over the fence.

The Soap Opera Sequence diagram.

If you want a more detailed explanation of how this works, get a free copy of Russell Brunson’s bestselling book, DotCom Secrets ← just pay shipping.

Daily Seinfeld Emails

Once someone has finished going through a soap opera sequence… what’s next?

Whether they buy or not, you shouldn’t stop emailing them.

After all, just because someone didn’t buy five days after they signed up for your email list certainly doesn’t mean they’ll never buy.4

49% of businesses say that most of their leads require “long cycle” nurturing, according to Ascend2.

So it’s worth your time to keep emailing people who’ve bought before… and people who’ve never bought.

But… what do you send?

Daily Seinfeld emails — check out the video below!

Basically, Seinfeld emails are just daily emails that catch the recipient’s attention, tell a story, and make an offer relevant to the story that was told.

Now you might be nervous about emailing every day, but you could use the same strategy and email just a few times a week or even once a week.

The important thing is to stay in contact with your entire list — to continue building authority, and to continue making them offers.

Once you get in the habit, writing these emails should just take 15 minutes or so every morning — you can use the hook-story-offer format to write them…

  • Hook — Get the recipient’s attention with a curiosity-inducing subject line.
  • Story — Tell a compelling and interesting story.
  • Offer — Offer a product or service that’s related to the story you told.

Here’s an example…

And here’s another example…

Daily Seinfeld Emails, so busy example.

Russell Brunson (and many other online marketers) have found that you can make about $1 per subscriber per month… and that number increases when you email more often.

Seinfeld emails are a great way to nurture your leads, build trust, and keep your email list actively buying.

You can learn more about Seinfeld emails in Russell Brunson’s bestselling book, DotCom Secrets ← use that link to get it for free.

We recommend emailing once per day. But if that seems like too much, you can start by emailing once per week and gradually increasing.

Final Thoughts on Sales Funnel for Course Creators

Online courses are a great way to make money.

Creating them is easy — you’ve already got all the expertise you need.

But selling them?

That’s where the rubber hits the road.

In this guide, we’ve shown you how to build a successful sales funnel for your online course — from understanding your target market and building your email list to creating your sales funnel and marketing to your email list.

You’ve got the knowledge you need.

The next step is action.

Click below to start building your sales funnel!

Start Building Your First Funnel Now! It’s Free!