Stay In
The Loop

Get free expert insights and tips to grow your knowledge business sent right to your inbox.

By submitting you agree to receive our monthly "The Creator's Playbook" newsletter as well as other promotional emails from Kajabi. You may withdraw your consent at any time via the “Unsubscribe” link in any email or view our privacy policy at any time.
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.

Follow Us:

How to pre-sell your online course


Dec 10, 2020
Read Time: X Min
Kajabi Hero Live
Stay In
The Loop

Get free expert insights and tips to grow your knowledge business sent right to your inbox.

By submitting you agree to receive our monthly "The Creator's Playbook" newsletter as well as other promotional emails from Kajabi. You may withdraw your consent at any time via the “Unsubscribe” link in any email or view our privacy policy at any time.
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.

Follow Us:

Learning how to pre-sell a product can make a huge difference in your online course sales numbers and brand recognition. Pre-orders give you cash flow while you develop your course.

You can start a presale at any time before you launch your course. Maybe you haven’t even begun to develop it, or perhaps you’re halfway through the process.

Whatever the case, you’ll make your online course available for sale in advance of the launch date. Interested consumers can sign up and pay for the course ahead of the official launch. 

Then, when you launch your course, you can feed it to your customers in drips, which gives you even more time to create and perfect your course.

What Does it Mean to Pre-Sell Digital Products? 

A presale allows you to market and sell your digital product before its official launch date. You give your audience a deadline by which they must purchase the course if they want to participate.

When you pre-sell your courses, you give your audience the chance to become first in line to learn whatever you plan to teach them. You also give yourself more time to create your course materials, but you won’t lose any time when it comes to sales.

If that sounds like a win-win proposition, you’re right. It works out well for everyone involved.

When done right, this strategy combines urgency and standard marketing practices to increase conversion rates.

You’ll need to give people incentive to buy the product early. Offering them a discount on the price is one of the most effective ways to do this.

Online presales allow you to: 

  • Ramp up momentum for your digital products 
  • Secure cash flow 
  • Gauge interest levels among your audience

In short, they offer a powerful way to launch an online course.

After the deadline arrives, you can either close the course to new customers or increase the price for people who didn't take advantage of the presale. Either way, you can then launch the course that you’ve already sold to your audience.

10 tips on how to pre-sell a product

A person using a computerDescription automatically generated

It’s clear that pre-selling your online course offers numerous benefits, but how do you get started?

We’re going to walk you through the process of organizing a presale so it goes off without a hitch. If you follow this simple strategy, you’ll enjoy more sales and better word-of-mouth advertising.

Keep in mind that you always need to keep the product in the back of your mind. Even though you’re pre-selling your online course, you must make the course available by the deadline you’ve set for yourself.

Don’t overestimate your abilities. Give yourself enough cushion so you don’t disappoint your customers.

1. Outline your product

Start by outlining your online course. What topics will you cover? What problems will you solve? What goals will you help your customers meet?

You’ll use this outline to inform the content on the landing page for your presale.

You don’t need a 30-page thesis on the subject, but you should add enough meat to your outline that every stage becomes clear. This isn’t just for your organization and peace of mind. 

In addition to outlining what your course will help your customers accomplish, you should also describe the mediums through which you’ll teach. For instance, will most of your content be text-based? Will you record a video, host a live webinar, or share a screencast with your customers?

2. Identify your course’s unique benefits

Using your outline, make a list of the benefits that your course will offer your customers. Go into as much detail as possible, then boil down those benefits into a few succinct phrases or bullet points.

Try to identify bullets that are unique to your expertise or teaching style. What about your online course differentiates you from the competition?

Let’s say, for example, that you’re creating a cooking course. The benefits could look something like this:

  • Learn to create delicious, healthy meals that take fewer than 30 minutes each.
  • Experiment with Asian spices, herbs, marinades, and other flavors to give your go-to meals more excitement.
  • Build a recipe book to rival your grandmother’s and pass down those meals to your children.
  • Wow your family every night with fresh ingredients, wholesome sides, and fabulous entrees.

You’ll notice that we started each benefit with a powerful verb and included sensory-based adjectives to help urge customers to buy.

You can do the same thing with any online course. Figure out why your customers would want to join you in the course, then speak their language.

3. Create a presale page 


Every product needs a slam-dunk sales page that converts visitors into customers. It should include several sections that are designed to move your prospects through the sales funnel.

Think of your sales page as your elevator pitch. You have just a few minutes (or even less) to convince a visitor to click on the “buy” button. Spend that time wisely.

Below are a few elements that your sales page should include. Remember that each course deserves its own page.

Create a strong headline

No surprise here. It’s widely known that a good headline can entice people to stay on the page, while a bad headline can quickly repel them away. The best headlines for presale pages:

  • Are short and to the point
  • Identify a problem and solution
  • Evoke emotion

Provide a short course overview

Provide a brief overview of your course that includes the benefits we outlined earlier. Make it punchy but full of action verbs and language that your customers will appreciate.

Ideally, your overview should be only a paragraph or two. You might use photos or a video next to the description to entice your customers even further.

Don’t forget to use your unique voice and tone to connect with visitors. Dry, boring language will only send them away. Write exactly like you speak, with plenty of personality.

Use a compelling call to action

This is the final sentence of your sales pitch — the wow factor that will convince visitors to click through and pre-order your course.

Use urgency and exclusivity in your calls to action so you can capitalize on both logic and emotion. It’s common knowledge that if customers feel they have a limited time to take advantage of an offer, they are more likely to convert. 

Get them to “act now” and remind them that the offer “expires”. If you are pre-selling an online cooking course, your call to action might read like one of these:

  • Don’t miss out on your chance to pre-order [Course Name] and be one of the first to get these amazing materials.
  • Pre-order today to lock in your price and ensure your spot in [Course Name].
  • Take advantage of our special pre-order pricing and become the master of [Course Topic] when our course launches on [Launch Date].

You can shorten or lengthen the call to action based on what you think your visitors will respond to better. The goal is to showcase the benefits of pre-ordering and inject a hint of urgency into your prose.

Feature glowing testimonials

Social proof can convert visitors faster than any branded marketing message. People trust other consumers more than they trust brands, so capitalize on that fact by including testimonials on your sales page.

Customer testimonials on Graham Cochrane’s website
Kajabi Hero Graham Cochrane features student testimonials on his coaching website (Source)

Even if you’ve never launched a digital product before, you can use testimonials that refer to you specifically. Have you consulted with someone or worked with a boss who has given you a glowing review? Include it. Use full names, photographs, or video testimonials if you can.

4. Launch an email campaign

Now it’s time to get your presale off the ground. You’ve laid the foundation, but you need to let people know about it and convince them to buy your course.

How do you do this? You generate buzz. You want as many people talking about your course as possible.

Launching an email campaign will get your subscribers excited about your course and help you secure an initial customer base for your new offering.

Pre-launch email

Your presales marketing starts with a pre-launch email that lets people know about your online course. Provide a deadline for the pre-order price and let your subscribers know that they have a limited time to take advantage of it.

In this email, don’t forget to mention the benefits you outlined earlier. 

Get right to the heart of your course. How will it benefit the end user? Why should someone who has never worked with you sign up?

At the end, use a similar call to action to the one you’re using on your sales page. You don’t want to leave any room for confusion about what the customer should do next.

For some tips on successful email campaigns, check out our post on the 10 ways to improve your email open rates.

Reminder email

Your reminder email should look very similar to your pre-launch email, but you’ll want to ramp up the urgency. Explain that the deadline for signing up for your online course is fast approaching.

Use short, punchy sentences and strong verbs to get your point across. Make your call to action as visible as possible in the email and add a F.A.Q. at the end that addresses any obstacles your prospects might confront about buying your course.

Last-chance email

The opportunity window is fast closing. Your prospects have very little time to sign up for your course, so send a last-chance email that makes the situation clear.

Mention that you don’t know when you will host the course again (if ever) and that interested consumers should jump on the chance now.

You might even include a last-ditch coupon or discount code to push fence-sitters over the edge.

5. Write a blog post

Email marketing works great for converting prospects, but your entire audience won’t find its way onto your subscriber list. That’s why you have to branch out with your marketing efforts.

Creating a blog post about your presale can generate buzz and help convert people who haven’t signed up to join your email list. 

It also offers you a chance to expand on what you have to offer in a way that you can’t on your sales page or in a short email. Describe the benefits of the course and include a big call to action at the end.

6. Create an eBook or white paper

Nothing sells digital products faster than educational content. After all, customers sign up for online courses because they want to learn.

If you make educational content available for free, you might convert more prospects because they’ll see your authority over the topic and your expertise in your niche.

An e-book or white paper can work wonders for this purpose. Make it available for free or use it as a lead magnet to generate more email signups. Either way, you’ll convince your audience that you know what you’re talking about.

7. Post a video on YouTube

As of 2016, 1.3 billion people use YouTube and those users watch 3.25 billion hours of footage every month. Those are incredible statistics.

If you want to broaden your audience base, create YouTube videos. You might post several shorter videos that each address a small problem. Include a call to action in the description of each video to sign up for your online course.

Kajabi Hero Graham Cochrane generates buzz and excitement around his free training with an educational YouTube video in the example below. Notice how he includes a CTA at the end of the video, encouraging people to sign up for his training:

You can also embed those YouTube videos in your blog posts, emails, social media posts, and other marketing channels. Spread the word as far and wide as possible — and show off your personality at the same time.

8. Share your course on social media

Don’t stop with email, blog posts, and videos. Get started with marketing on social media. Post about your presale on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and other platforms to get the word out.

Sophia Amoruso does a great job of pre-selling her business course on Facebook. Take a look at this Q&A post she created to connect with potential students and remove any obstacles to enrollment:

A little promotion goes a long way. Don’t overdo it. 

For every promotional post you write, create at least four non-promotional posts. Connect with other users, respond to messages and DMs, and answer questions that potential customers might have.

9. Close your offer

A presale works best when it’s available only for a limited time. This creates a sense of urgency that encourages consumers to convert on your offer.

When you close your offer, that’s it. Only the people who pre-ordered your course will get access to it.

While this might seem like a funny way to sell online courses, it actually works well. Yes, you’ll limit the number of people who can buy it by including an end date, but you’ll encourage more people to convert on your initial offer.

If you’re uncomfortable with closing the offer entirely, you can bump up the price. For instance, if you sold your pre-ordered online course for $129, you might let other customers buy it after the cut-off date for $159.

It’s completely up to you. And don’t forget that you can replicate this strategy each time you open or create an online course. It’s all about creating momentum and selling as many courses as possible.

10. Think of your current customers

Online presales can be a great way to gain new customers. However, presales work especially well with an established audience…your previous and current customers.

They are the people who are going to be eager to get their hands on your latest project. They are your fans. Take this to heart when launching your presale.

You should be thinking of this audience when implementing all the tips listed above.

Why did they sign up for your newsletter or online course in the first place? What are their pain points and main motivators? What specifically do you offer your current customer base that no one else can?

Of course, they aren’t the only people you’ll want to target. Presales are also a great way to get your brand out there so that you can get even more awareness of your company and products you have to offer.

8 benefits of running a presale for your online course

A person looking at her cell phoneDescription automatically generated

Online presales are a simple and effective tactic to drive brand awareness and sales.  Let’s dive a little deeper into the benefits you’ll enjoy from pre-selling your online courses.

1. You don’t need a pre-built digital product

Developing a digital product, especially one as complex as an online course, takes a long time. You don’t want that delay to stop you from generating sales.

Maybe you’re blogging about your niche, offering lead magnets to build up your email subscriber list, and participating in social media. While all of those pursuits have value, they’re less beneficial when you don’t have anything to sell.

While you build your online course, you can use your presale to start stacking cash. With money coming in, you may even be able to build a course of higher quality in the end. 

2. You won’t waste time and resources

An online business needs to run like clockwork. Every ounce of effort you put into that business’s growth should work toward a specific goal.

In your case, you’re probably hoping to generate money. For that, you need customers.

Instead of wasting time and resources on tasks that don’t lead to sales, you can optimize every second of your workday. presales let you start collecting not only cash, but also data about your audience, prospective customers, and customers.

If you wait until after you complete your online course to offer it for sale, you’ve already lost momentum. A presale lets you multitask without any extra effort. You just set up your sales page, prime your prospects, and start selling.

3. You can start testing faster

Testing is an integral part of any business plan. You can’t assume that a particular tactic will work until you test it and examine the data you produce.

For instance, you might segment your email subscriber list and send two different presale emails. Determine which email converts the most subscribers into customers, then use that version from then on.

Additionally, since you’ll already have customers when you launch your course, you can start testing different course materials to figure out which ones resonate most powerfully with your audience. From there, you can refine your courses until there aren’t any missing or extraneous modules or factors.

4. You’ll generate buzz

A person standing in front of a computerDescription automatically generated

Why do you think that Apple markets the new iPhone models long before they’re actually released to the public? Such marketing tactics generate buzz.

Apple knows that if it markets its products in advance of release, it’ll sell more units and get more people excited about the product.

It works for books, movies, software, and tons of other products. It can also work for online courses.

With a presale, you can generate interest through social media, your blog, and other marketing channels. Email marketing works particularly well for this purpose.

5. You’ll build cash flow

Every business needs cash flow if you want it to survive. Without cash, you don’t have the resources to create new digital products.

We recommend pre-selling your online course so you can start generating revenue right away. In fact, you can use the profits from presales to fund the development of your online course.

For instance, you might need to buy camera equipment to record videos and webinars. You could also use the money to hire writers, graphic designers, and other professionals who might help you create the most professional course possible.

Most importantly, you’ll begin to develop a revenue track record. Who knows? You might find yourself wearing one of our coveted Kajabi Hero T-shirts. That’s a great start for an online business.

6. You’ll develop a list

You can build an email list using many different tactics, from social media to lead magnets, but consumers who buy your online course also go into your database of email contacts.

The more subscribers you attract to your business, the more potential customers you have. Adding customers to your email list allows you to target them with emails about future products that build on the one they’ve already bought. 

You might create subsequent online courses that could benefit existing customers. Those customers could also express interest in other digital products, such as e-books and video series.

7. You’ll collect more data

We’re a big fan of data here at Kajabi. That’s why we’ve built analytics into our platform. If you’re not collecting data, how do you know how well your marketing plan is working?

The simple answer: You don’t.

If you pre-sell your online course, you’ll start collecting data right away. From email metrics to social media engagements, you can track how your customers interact with your brand once they buy your forthcoming online course.

Furthermore, you’ll get more actionable data because you’re tracking customers instead of prospects. These people already believe in you enough to hand over money, so they’re far more qualified than someone who just provides an email address in exchange for a lead magnet.

8. You’ll enjoy more motivation

If nothing else, presales of your online course will motivate you to get to work. You’ll see the money rolling in and realize that you need to deliver the best possible product for your customers.

When you let down your customers, you lose future sales. That’s not a good business model.

Many entrepreneurs thrive under pressure. Deadlines can motivate professionals more effectively than any other incentive

Why? Because you’re working toward a rigid goal. Pre-selling your online courses adds another layer of accountability to the equation.

In other words, you’re not just relying on your own, self-imposed deadline, but on a deadline that you’ve announced to your customers.

Create, market, and pre-sell your online course using Kajabi

A person sitting on a tableDescription automatically generated

Now that we’ve gone over the ins and outs of learning how to pre-sell your online courses, it’s time to put all that knowledge to work for your business.

Start by signing up for Kajabi. Create an account and start learning the platform. Our handy assistant will help you learn what each module does and how you can use it to boost course sales.

Start building an email list so you can market your presale to your subscribers. Begin outlining your online course and creating lead magnets so you can build your email list even further.

Once you have everything in place, create a sales page on Kajabi and open your course for the presale period. That’s all there is to it.

Before you know it, you’ll have sales for a product that doesn’t even exist yet. You’ll have information from your customers and subscribers that you can use to make your online course even better.

Of course, you still have to create the product. Kajabi can help you with that, too. With a variety of blueprints to choose from, creating digital products is quick and simple. 

After you close the offer, you need to deliver the goods. Start dripping course content to your customers so they can begin benefiting from your expertise.

Pre-sell your online course and make money today

We’ve established that learning how to pre-sell a product using Kajabi can vastly improve your online business. You get sales before you even launch your product.

Start by outlining your course and figuring out exactly what it will include. You don’t need to create your digital product, but you need to know it inside and out.

Determine what benefits your course offers your customers. What will they get out of the deal? Use this information to create a sales page with a compelling call to action.

Then you just need to launch your offer. Create a series of emails for your subscriber list to build momentum and boost conversions. Write a blog post, create a lead magnet, make a YouTube video, post on social media, and host a webinar. You might even launch a podcast.

By that time, you’re ready to close your offer. The people who signed up get to enjoy your online course as soon as it launches.

At Kajabi, we make creating, marketing, and selling your online courses as easy as possible. You have all the tools you need under one digital roof.

It all starts with that valuable presales period. Just as people love to pre-order books and gadgets, they might also want a shot at your presale period.

Have you learned how to pre-sell your online courses? Have you tried it? What works and what doesn’t?

Table Of Contents
How to pre-sell your online course
FREE One-Page Business Plan Template!

What are you waiting for? Develop your one page business plan with our lean canvas template so you can see your success mapped out.

Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.
Choosing Your Niche
Define Your Niche in 10 Minutes

Download our FREE niche worksheet to discover how you can make a profitable business.

Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.
Digital Product Idea Validation 101
Validate Your Product Idea!

Use our FREE idea validation worksheet to identify your ideal customer and the solutions you can offer to make money.

Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.
AI Prompt Playbook
Get Your FREE AI Prompt Playbook

Download free AI prompts for social media, email marketing, website copy, and digital products to 10x your productivity!

Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.
Monetize Your Following
How to Monetize Your Social Following

Got followers? Download our free guide on how you can turn your social media following into paying customers.

Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.
The Perfect Sales Page
8 Steps to the Perfect Sales Page

Get your free worksheet to help you write the perfect sales landing page to convert leads into paying customers.

Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.
Email Performance Tracking Sheet
FREE Email Performance Tracking Sheet!

No email marketing experience? No problem. Download our free performance tracking sheet so you can refine your strategy.

Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.