Growth Marketing

How We Repeatedly Launch 6-Figure Courses With Just 2 People

We just wrapped up sales for 10x Emails Mastery, a digital self-paced course on writing the most effective sales emails.

The course trains freelance and in-house copywriters, growth consultants, online coaches and digital product entrepreneurs on how to write emails that convert. W00t!

It’s probably the 10th product launch for Copy Hackers in the past 4 years (since we stopped selling ebooks)… and we’re now settling into a nice steady rhythm of about 3 course launches per year.

Keep in mind that not all our course launches involve selling brand new products.

No, we re-launch the same courses multiple times, which is really the key to steadily growing your info product business. After all, why would you put 500+ hours into conceiving, writing, recording, editing and marketing an awesome course if you only plan to sell it once? That’s just cray. Create once, launch many times.

Our last 6 launches have all been 6-figure launches, with our best-performing launch eclipsing mid 6-figures.

And I’m saying this with sincere humility: we execute these launches pretty flawlessly now.

The best part? We do it with just 2 people: Joanna and yours truly.

Yes, the courses offer huge value for buyers… and they’re priced right… and they’re marketed using the very same advice Joanna offers in the Copy Hackers courses. That said, a big part of maximizing course sales comes down to the set of tools we use to manage everything during a launch.

Choosing the right tools helps you earn more money. Getting it right lets you do more with fewer resources and headaches. The technology you use can actually feel like an additional team member – a team member that costs next to nothing. Mic drop.

It’s a great time to run an online business. But living in this age of digital products is also a double-edged sword:

The widespread availability of tools built to help you with critical aspects of your course launches comes with a hidden cost

The hidden cost?

The hard work required to select the right set of tools.

And there are sooo many tools.

You can experiment your way to finding the right combo – like we have over the past few years.

Or you can see yourself (and your course) reflected in this post… and consider our recommendations to help you get it right the first time.

Stop searching for the perfect SaaS tool

Based on my experience, searching for all-in-one solutions isn’t practical.

There really aren’t any all-in-one SaaS products for effectively managing every stage of your course launch. Trust me. I’ve looked. For years, I’ve looked.

What I’ve found is that you need a set of finely-tuned-for-the-task tools that will play nicely together.

There’s also no perfect tool for any given job.

My biggest learning about SaaS products (both in selecting them and in helping to create them) is that they always come with compromises. Always.

Accept that fact now and prosper.

Success comes down to finding tools that tick 70-80% of your must-haves, and then give you as many of your nice-to-haves as possible.

The products we use to support our course launches may have superior competitors. There may be cheaper options that deliver most of the same features we need. But we’ve battle tested this brawny set of SaaS technology and come out of some amazing launches with literally no logistical or customer service nightmares… which means we regularly get to celebrate success with no day-after-launch-completed hangovers (trust me, it’s a thing). 🎉

So here’s our list of favourite software that supports every Copy Hackers course launch. Further down in the post I’ll go into detail about how we use them, why we initially chose them, what needs improving and most importantly, why we continue to pay for them:

(Disclaimer: While we’ve never done any affiliate linking in the previous 150+ posts on Copy Hackers, we’re now affiliates for these go-to products. We believe strongly in them and we want to share in their success – by helping you be successful – and we’d love for you to support these products if you’re looking for alternatives.)

(Additional disclaimer: Just because we’re an affiliate doesn’t mean we think these tools are perfect. As you’ll see below, all of them require us to make some compromises.)

What follows is our process for continually nailing our course launches… and the tech stack we use to make it all happen.

STEP 1: Collect leads for the next course launch (Leadpages)

What we pay Leadpages: $40/month

It’s tough to sell a course without having a targeted list to notify during your launch.

When we launched our very first course, we notified our main Copy Hackers email list (and we still do this, to some extent). But it’s far more effective to build a segmented list of people who want to hear specifically about the next course launch. Hello conversions.

Here’s how we do it…

1) After we close the sales of any course – like we just did for 10x Emails Mastery – we redirect all leftover sales page traffic to an opt-in page, complete with countdown timer.

2) On our email-related posts on copyhackers.com, we point readers to the same opt-in page so they can be notified down the road.

3) As the next course launch approaches, we create more prominent ads in the sidebars on copyhackers.com… and point that traffic to the opt-in page as well.

Here it is:

This has been an effective strategy for building consistently awesome-performing launches. And setting it up is super simple with Leadpages…

Why we chose Leadpages for our course-launch tech stack 

Top of the list is the fact that Leadpages has always had a WordPress plugin – so we adopted early.

The Leadpages WordPress plugin lets us create opt-in pages using the Leadpages landing page builder and then publish them to copyhackers.com (i.e., so all our landing pages begin with http://copyhackers.com). Any changes we make to our landing pages in Leadpages are reflected immediately on copyhackers.com. Brilliant.

We’re well aware there are other landing page plugins for WordPress that we could purchase for a reasonable one-time fee (i.e., and not pay a monthly subscription), but we haven’t found anything quite as simple as Leadpages for creating and maintaining our opt-in pages.

Speaking of simplicity, we absolutely loved the idea of a landing page template library. There’s no faster way to create an opt-in page than looking through a template library, selecting a conversion-focused candidate and then customizing the copy for our purposes.

Leadpages offers some killer templates that are better designed for conversion than for pure aesthetics. We love great design, but we love getting conversions even more. 💜

Copy Hackers is a big believer in teaching and training, and Leadpages has a similar philosophy. The template library and WordPress plugin are awesome features, but knowing how to get the most from them is key.

Leadpages offers a ton of options for learning how to get the most from their platform (and even if you don’t use their platform, there’s value in their content). There are free weekly live training events like “The Conversion Journey: 5 Steps to Generating More Leads and Sales“, teaching guides, courses, ebooks, case studies and even infographics:

(Important note for your own biz: The more your customers consume your brand’s educational content, the more brand loyalty they’ll feel.)

What needs improving

I haven’t talked about Leadpages’ landing page builder, mainly because we’re focused on creating simple opt-in pages that get the job done. We’d rather spend our time crafting the course sales page and email copy than labouring too long on the opt-in pages.

Thais said, one area where Leadpages was originally lacking was their page builder’s drag and drop functionality. As the primary user of Leadpages, Joanna was often frustrated by the lack of drag and drop options in the templates themselves. But over the past year or so we’ve seen a bunch of improvements there and we expect that trajectory to continue.

Why we stick with Leadpages for course launches

As you continue to read, you’ll notice a recurring theme with the tools we use and promote: reliability.

When it comes to our opt-in pages, every email address is valuable to us. Each one is an opportunity to help someone who needs our help – so these pages can’t have any downtime.

Reliability is solid with Leadpages.

And then there’s this more heartfelt reason… 💜

During the beta period for Airstory, Joanna and I had the opportunity to chat with Leadpages cofounder Clay Collins about how he drove Leadpages’s growth in its early stages. He shared some stories with us and offered amazing advice based on what he saw in Airstory.

We may have been talking about Airstory in that conversation, but the point is this: a Leadpages co-founder was very generous with his time and even asked us for feedback about his product. Clay and his team are people who continually make us feel good about choosing Leadpages.

And finally, Leadpages continues to refine and improve their product. We can see clear evidence that they care about making our job easier, and that’s another reason we continue to pay them.

(SIDE NOTE: We have to add that we love the Unbounce landing page platform and their whole team, too. They’ve also been reliable, generous and wonderful. Unbounce is part of our tech stack — just not part of our tech stack for course launches.)

STEP 2: Host the course content (Teachable)

What we pay Teachable: $299/month

Our recent launch of 10x Emails Mastery was actually a bundle of 2 previously sold courses: 10x Emails (sold twice before) and 10x Launches (sold once before). To my earlier point about re-launching existing course content… 🚀

Copy Hackers courses are all structured similarly. That is, we don’t change what’s working. We offer a few handfuls of video lectures that average about 5 minutes in length – which are the core of each course – and the video lessons are accompanied by supporting materials such as checklists, cheatsheets, quizzes and, depending on the course, live workshops and Office Hours events. There’s a lot of meat on the bone:

Our courses are also self paced, versus forcing a specific lecture order on students / dripping out modules. There’s still a logical flow, but we allow students to move freely between lectures and modules.

And all our courses are “forever access.”

Why we chose Teachable as part of our course-launch tech stack

It was immediately obvious that Teachable understood our philosophy on create engaging courses… by allowing us to upload videos, PDFs, audio files, documents and presentation files. They get that different students like to learn in different ways.

We were able to tailor the look and feel of our school to the Copy Hackers brand and set up a subdomain at training.copyhackers.com.

All of the messages in the system were customizable: confirmation messages, error messages, button text, etc. This was important to us for creating a consistent brand voice across all stages of our sales funnel.

We could add students manually – one by one or in bulk. This would give us a lot of flexibility on the support side of things, because if someone was having trouble creating their account, we could step in and do it for them.

The course materials could be accessed from any device, and we knew that our students weren’t always going to be sitting at their desktop computers.

Teachable integrated with Stripe (for credit card processing), PayPal, ConvertKit and Zapier, so we could easily automate our launches and post purchase tasks.

We could also offer coupons for time-limited promotions and set up various pricing options in Teachable (one-time, payments, ongoing subscriptions).

The list of goodies continued… (And, to be fair, the list of goodies is equally strong with Thinkific.)

And there was the option to bundle individual courses into mega courses!

Teachable’s analytics allowed us to track student progress, so we could quickly see where students were getting stuck or dropping off in their learning:

We could also preview our courses as a student, eliminating the need to create “fake” accounts and continually log out and log back in to see what our students would see.

What needs improving

The built-in sale pages aren’t sufficiently flexible or attractive for us. This is the biggest reason that we use HostGator (see below) to host Joanna-designed sales pages. Of course “attractive” is very subjective, but Copy Hackers courses include lectures on landing page design as well copywriting, so we need our sales pages to look pretty stellar.

We’ve also had some gripes about the built-in checkout page design. But we were recently informed that the checkout page functionality has been greatly improved, and we’re encouraged by what we see.

Why we stick with Teachable for our course launches

We’ve discovered some cool things about Teachable along the way…

Quizzes go over really well with our students. And with Teachable quizzes, we can offer “completion badges” for anyone who scores 85% or higher across all the modules. Students love it!

On Teachable’s High Volume plan, there are no per-sale transaction fees and we get paid immediately via their custom payment gateways (Stripe, PayPal). So we keep more of what we sell. W00t!

The team listens to us. When the CEO of Teachable learned we weren’t making use of their sales or checkout pages, he responded to find out more and tasked his team to improve those features.

Additionally, our students haven’t experienced any downtime or reported slow video replay since we started using Teachable. This is huge and cannot be overstated.

Bottom line: The balance between what we get from Teachable and what we pay for it definitely swings in our favour.

STEP 3: Create a convincing sales page (HostGator)

What we pay HostGator: $16.95/month

HostGator? Really?

I know.

We’re in a bit of a unique situation… let me explain.

The Copy Hackers website is built on WordPress. We love WordPress. We also love WP Engine, the company that hosts all our WordPress installs (more on WP Engine in a future post).

Over the past 6 years, I’ve installed dozens of themes and 100s of plugins on our main and supporting websites. We’re actively running about 30 plugins right now on copyhackers.com. But what we’ve yet to find is a plugin (or theme) for creating amazing sales pages. We’ve tried a bunch and given up on them all.

Why?

They just don’t give us the flexibility we’re looking for. We’re pretty fussy about sales page design — again, we’re selling copywriting courses, so our sales pages are held to a very high standard (by Joanna and our visitors). Anything less than stellar isn’t acceptable.

The flip side of this issue is that Joanna has become very adept at building sales page “wireframes” using Photoshop. Back in the day, when she was doing contract work for clients, she’d deliver near-finished designs (much to their delight) because that’s how she’d ensure that nobody f’d around with her copy. ☀️

After investing even more time learning Photoshop over the past few years, she now has the skills to create build-ready designs for our sales pages.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Joanna is well aware that her ‘designs’ are in no way fancy. The folks at Reliable PSD, who build HTML from her PSDs, would agree.

Our current sales page launch process looks like this:

1) Joanna writes the copy and designs the page using Photoshop

2) She hands me a finished PSD for the completed sales page

3) I send the PSD to the incredible folks at Reliable PSD to be cut up and coded into HTML, CSS and JS files

4) I upload the files directly to HostGator and set up a unique URL for the page

5) I activate the URL just as we launch the course

Why we chose HostGator for our course-launch tech stack

I’ve used shared hosting services before. Primarily Bluehost. But in 2014 my youngest son wanted to develop a simple address book to learn PHP and he asked me about using HostGator. Why not, I figured.

Getting the account set up was really straightforward, and before long he was uploading and editing his files in pursuit of building the ultimate address book.

Given my pleasant first use experience, and based on what we actually needed to host (a single page) and for how long (a week or so), the stage was set to host our sales pages on HostGator’s servers.

What needs improving

Since we only use HostGator for the hosting (and not the dozens of additional features it offers), I only have a few minor quibbles related to its “cPanel.” That’s the control panel that most web hosting companies use, btw (initially launched 21 years ago!). So the niggles aren’t even really specific to HostGator.

Why we stick with HostGator for hosting our sales pages

In all honesty, these inexpensive hosting companies are selling a commoditized product – hence the very low prices. They tend to distinguish themselves with service rather than with product features.

Even still, I haven’t had to lean on HostGator’s support very often. It all just works. We have a dedicated IP address and an SSL certificate that bring the price up to nearly $20/month, but we’re okay with that. 🙃

We’ve yet to (knock on wood) experience an outage of any kind during a launch, during which time we drive 1000s of visitors to a single sales page. If we’d seen or heard about any issues along the way, we would’ve switched long ago.

Keep in mind that we have a rather special set of circumstances (i.e., our copywriter is also a webpage designer!), so I’m in no way suggesting that you should avoid using WordPress for your sales pages. Hardly. If you’re searching for a performance- and customer-focused host for your WordPress site, please do take a look at WP Engine or LiquidWeb.

The important thing here is that you spend time creating a sales page that can communicate all the goodness that you’ll deliver in your course… in an easy-to-grasp and believable manner. Wherever you choose to host.

STEP 4: Market the course (ConvertKit)

What we pay ConvertKit: $379/month

Awesome copywriting course ready and waiting to be sold. ✔️

Sales page ready to persuade visitors. ✔️

Now we need to tell people about the course.

It’s time for an email marketing platform to join the party. 🎉

For a very long time – going back to our first subscriber to the Copy Hackers newsletter – we used MailChimp as our email marketing platform. It was our go-to to notify people of new blog posts and our ebook promotions. (FYI, those ebooks have been permanently replaced by our courses. You can get a copy of Book 1 here for free, though.)

When you’re starting from scratch, you don’t need a lot from your email tool. MailChimp had a good reputation and it was easy to figure out.

But then we began to notice it was missing some features we wanted. Like A/B testing of the body, which it didn’t have at the time… that, and its tiered pricing became a giant pain in the ass because we’d get pushed into a higher monthly charge the moment we crossed a new tier threshold by just 1 subscriber. And then there was the tragic few days where Joanna needed support from MailChimp and got very stock, not-at-all helpful responses. Given that we were paying $150+ per month at the time, we didn’t appreciate the lack of help.

We decided we’d gone far enough with MailChimp. We’d outgrown them. Hey, it happens.

But our decision to move was hampered by MailChimp’s sticking power. “Sticky” not because of any specific features, but because of all the stuff we’d set up in MailChimp over time – like tags and email campaigns.

We probably would’ve left MailChimp sooner had it not been for the anticipated aggravation behind changing providers. Talk about a high switching cost.

Why we chose ConvertKit for our tech stack

Unlike the other products mentioned in this post, we chose ConvertKit for reasons beyond the product itself.

I mean we didn’t ignore the product specs. Upon initial review, ConvertKit appeared to offer the features we felt we needed but were missing from MailChimp, like forms, tags, segments, sequences. It didn’t have A/B testing at ALL when we moved, which shows you just how ready we were to move. ConvertKit was missing some things, but it was still better than where we were. That might not sound like high praise. But if you’ve struggled with tech you’re paying for, you know how desirable “better than what we’ve got” really is.

The final decision came down to the people behind ConvertKit.

This says a lot about relationship building when it comes to selling.

There were 3 people-specific reasons that sealed the deal for ConvertKit:

1) Nathan Barry (CEO) was persistent in getting us to use ConvertKit. He followed up with us until we said we’d switch. And, while the switch was happening, he followed up more to make sure we stayed focused on getting things set up in ConvertKit. There are a lot of distractions in running online businesses, and savvy SaaS entrepreneurs know that distractions often get in the way of sales. So Nathan stayed on us.

2) Nathan also promised to assign us a migration specialist to take care of the dozens of small details that surround a move from one email marketing tool to another. We knew a migration would be a massive headache, and Nathan addressed our objection head on.

3) Nathan is about as publicly transparent as you can get with his company’s business metrics, and that carries a lot of weight with us. (Yep, those are ConvertKit’s actual revenue numbers.) Back when we started with ConvertKit, their revenue was closer to $50K monthly recurring revenue (MRR), and seeing him grow and expand the team has factored into our decision to stay with ConvertKit.

So with a migration specialist ready to go, we made the jump from MailChimp to ConvertKit.

There were a few bumps along the way, but the ConvertKit team made it happen. We ran both email marketing tools in tandem for a short period (ConvertKit did not charge us during that time) to ensure that everything was working as expected.

What needs improving

There’ve been times when ConvertKit’s strong growth has negatively impacted our ability to get timely support. During this last launch, we couldn’t schedule a downsell email to save our lives; this happened on a Sunday morning; we did not get the support we needed, and we couldn’t send the last-day-of-downsell sales email. That means ConvertKit cost us real money. Not good.

But that was an anomaly. We’ve sent 100s of sales emails without issue.

That, and they followed up with a handwritten apology. ❤️

How to apologize
When things didn’t go smashingly with ConvertKit, they apologized. How refreshing.

ConvertKit’s growth curve has also impacted their servers’ performance on several occasions.

Hitting the send button carries with it a certain expectation that the emails will be sent. 🤓  It’s so critical when course sales are closing soon and we need to remind recipients of a looming deadline. Deadlines are a very big deal with product launches.

Thankfully, ConvertKit’s growing pains are largely behind them (while they’re still continuing to grow).

ConvertKit needs to give us a way to archive email broadcasts and campaigns that we no longer care about, so we can more easily find the campaigns we do want to see. Right now we have 37 pages of email broadcasts to sift through. #nightmare

For the longest time there was no delivery data reported for each email broadcast, so we could only see open and clicks. ConvertKit now offers the full view.

There are plenty of opportunities to improve their dashboard reporting, too:

See all those vertically-stacked bars? Each section shows the number of subscribers for each opt-in form currently running on copyhackers.com. To see the numbers, you have to hover over each section. We’d much rather have a filter to see the data and growth for individual forms, because the aggregate view doesn’t tell us a whole lot.

And if we had our druthers, there’d be a way for us to compare growth over specific periods, like year over year or week over week.

Why we stick with ConvertKit

We love ConvertKit’s sequences… drip campaigns that allow us to space a series of emails out over time:

The time between emails is set per email. So when someone purchases a Copy Hackers course, we can send them a welcome email immediately, a reminder to start the course 3 days later and an offer to help 5 days after that. Set it and forget it.

But ConvertKit’s killer feature is its automation.

Automations are simple rules that ConvertKit follows… basically an “if this then that” engine:

When someone opts into a Leadpages form, we assign them a specific tag in ConvertKit.

When someone clicks a particular link in an email, we tag them accordingly (e.g., “Interested in copywriting courses”).

When someone completes a purchase in Teachable, we automatically put them into a drip sequence – and also tag them as a purchaser.

You can get really creative with automations by stringing multiple triggers together with multiple actions. It’s a playground for smart marketers.

Automations have greatly improved over the past year. The entire product has gotten stronger.

There’s always a risk in signing up for a newish SaaS tool that’s only been in existence for a year, but Nathan’s transparent product vision and ConvertKit’s pace of improvement have made us believers.

STEP 5: Answer questions from sales page visitors (Pure Chat)

What we pay Pure Chat: $25/month

So now the sales emails are ready for broadcast, but before we hit “send”, we need to make sure that our live chat tool is ready.

Adding live chat to our sales pages is probably the single biggest conversion optimization we’ve made for our course launches. I consider live chat a killer app and we’d never launch without it.

In fact, the sound of Pure Chat’s “Incoming Chat” chime triggers a Pavlovian response in me (I can’t speak for Joanna there). Nearly without exception, a chatting visitor is an engaged sales prospect… and something to get excited about.

Some people wonder if we’re “bots” and some are skeptical that it’s actually me or Joanna on the other end of the chat. But for the most part, we end up responding to questions that help close sales.

If you’re not already using live chat for your launches, start.

Why we chose Pure Chat for our course-launch tech stack

Like web hosting, it seems that live chat tools are becoming commoditized. And like web host pricing, live chat is very cheap relative to the potential payoff.

But cheap isn’t why we chose Pure Chat.

We chose Pure Chat because it looked simple to deploy and use. Its visual design is slightly retro and charming. There weren’t a lot of bells and whistles, and that was appealing. Remember, we’re only using it a few weeks (3 launches x 1 week per launch) out of the year.

We liked that Pure Chat handles multiple operators, makes it easy to set ourselves to available and lets us customize all the customer-facing messages and prompts. An email form is available to visitors when we’re not.

Simple.

There’s automatic scheduling and canned responses that we initially thought we’d use, but it turns out we rely exclusively the big “Available to Chat” button and we tailor all our responses.

What needs improving

It’s kinda nitpicky, but the “Close Chat” link is hidden behind an Actions menu. After I click that link, I then have to “x” out of the conversation to clear my chat window. And I have to do that every time. It turns out that many visitors don’t close the chat from their end, so we have to do it (or it’ll appear as though we have more active chats than we really do).

After all, speed matters when you’re chatting – especially when you’re keyboard challenged like I am. Sometimes Joanna and I will have 3 or 4 active chats going at once, and the product’s UI can either help or hinder our ability to keep the pace. Pure Chat mostly helps. 👍

Why we stick with Pure Chat

Like what often happens with SaaS products you try, there’s a bunch of endearing stuff you discover after you dig in.

For us, one of those endearing qualities is seeing how many visits to the sales page each person has made, which is incredibly helpful to know when you’re in selling mode.  Early visit chats tend to be longer… involving reassurances about the content, the instructor and the guarantee… later visit chats are more rapid fire… where we get questions like “For how long do I have access?” and “How long will it take to complete everything?”

The more you know about your visitors – like how many times they visit the sales page – the better. A prospect on her 8th visit to the page is very warm. If you’d like, you can initiate a chat with her using Pure Chat. You don’t have to wait for her to ping you. 🙌

You can also see where a visitor is located, so it can be fun (time permitting) to fire up Google Translate and copy/paste salutations in that visitor’s native language. Or you can mention a recent trip to their country (only if it’s true). It’s great for engaging people who are considering spending $1000+ on your product.

In terms of working together as a team with Pure Chat, I can see how many chats Joanna has on the go and take that into account when I’m less busy. Balancing the load becomes easier.

Sometimes Joanna is in the middle of a chat and needs me to pitch a customized course plan or price (e.g., multiple licenses for the same company). With Pure Chat, she can immediately notify me that she’d like my assistance, and with one click I can join the conversation – and then hop out again if I need to.

Analytics such as average response times and chat satisfaction ratings are a bonus in Pure Chat – features that bring out the competitive nature in me and Joanna. 💪 We dig it:

STEP 6: Accept payments – wheeee! (SamCart)

What we pay SamCart: $199/month

Then there’s the money shot.

See those Join Now buttons below? They have to lead to some sort of payment page, and there are lots of such “cart pages” available.

For awhile we tried using simple Stripe payment forms that pop up in a clean, friendly way. But they’re a little too… clean. You can’t go into any detail about a guarantee. Or remind readers what’s included. Or show off your favourite customer testimonials. Those are the kinds of details and proof points that help close the sale in the critical final moments.

So we moved away from Stripe checkout forms. (BTW, we still use Stripe as our payment gateway on the backend. Just not their checkout forms.)

For our initial course launches – and back when we tried to use WordPress plugins for our sales pages – we relied on WooCommerce plugins to handle the entire cart and checkout process. It worked pretty well, but there were some downsides…

WooCommerce integrated nicely into our WordPress theme, but there weren’t many options to display social proof and other supporting copy on the checkout page. (So important.)

To make everything work, we needed WooCommerce plus WooCommerce Groups, WooCommerce Advanced Notifications, WooCommerce Stripe Gateway and WooCommerce Subscriptions. That’s a lot of Woo. It’s also a lot of stuff to keep updated… and sometimes updates didn’t always go to plan, requiring me to uninstall and reinstall everything. 💩

In late 2016, after hearing me drop a few post reinstallation f-bombs, Joanna suggested that maybe we take a look at using a SaaS checkout solution, SamCart. She chose the right time to bring it up. I was definitely open to ideas at that point.

Why we chose SamCart for our course-launch tech stack

From the outset of my exploratory phase, it was clear that the SamCart team had done its research about its target market (= people like us!).

They offered a ton of checkout page templates to use as starting points – and we love templates!

The templates included all the things we teach about how to optimize checkout page copy for maximum conversions.

While Pure Chat’s UI looks a little dated, SamCart’s interface was clean and modern. Its simplicity (not to be mistaken for an absence of features) was certainly a big factor in our final decision.

In fact, the list of SamCart’s features was huge:

  • fully customizable messaging,
  • 1-click upsells,
  • multiple payment and subscription options,
  • robust A/B testing (on pricing, copy, images… everything),
  • integrations with our favourite tools and refund and
  • dunning management — and so much more.

Dunning. A funny word. Not a funny thing.

We always offer one-time and monthly payment options for our courses. Monthly payments come with their challenges: on any given month, there are always a bunch of expiring cards and declined payments. Keeping track of these card issues and following up with customers is a real time sink, so the fact that SamCart automatically retries payments and notifies customers of issues was huge.

SamCart’s sandbox feature meant we could deploy and test any of our checkout pages with real credit cards, but without incurring real charges during our tests. Yay!

I loved the fact that you can control which fields are required on the forms, along with the length of guarantee we offer.

Product content, bullets and testimonials are all customizable. After about 20 minutes of configuration, we ended up with a checkout that looks like this (screenshot below is from our most recent launch):

Do these pages convert? Our one-time payment option (shown above) for 10x Emails Mastery converted at 35.19% – a number we’re very happy with and we’ll continue to optimize.

What needs improving

The sales and subscription receipts could use more customization options. Our European customers often request that we include their business info and VAT number and copy multiple people on the receipts. Right now this requires some time-consuming hacks. A big “Notes” field would do the trick.

SamCart’s reporting options are vast. But the date selectors are fussy when you want to choose a custom date range.

And of course, more template customization options would be welcome.

Why we stick with SamCart for our course launches

Support. Awesome support. SamCart uses Intercom (a SaaS product we love and use daily for Airstory) to manage customer communications, and it works so well. They appear to have a big support team with big hearts and plenty of knowledge about the product they’re supporting.

The product-y stuff…

If a customer tells us in a live chat that they want to purchase a multi-user license for a course, it takes me mere seconds to hop over to SamCart, duplicate an existing product, tweak the price and send the customer a link to purchase… right then and there.

If someone abandons our checkout page after having completed the email field, SamCart captures their contact information and creates a Prospects Report for us. This is perfect for sending a quick reminder for them to complete their purchase process or for reaching out to them to answer any remaining questions (remember, they were sooooo close to buying!).

On the last day of a launch and in the last sales email of the launch, we can link straight to our SamCart page. Just bypass the long-form sales page entirely. The prospect is very warm / hot at this point, so a shorter SamCart page moves them faster than a long page designed for low-awareness prospects.

SamCart integrates nicely with ConvertKit. I quickly discovered that we can manage the addition or removal of ConvertKit tags automatically – so we can tag new purchasers in ConvertKit and then suppress their emails from subsequent launch emails; conversely, if we refund someone’s purchase, they’ll be automatically removed from the list of course purchasers. This. Is. Huge.

These are the types of automations that really save us “thought energy.” Between the two of us, there are just so many things to remember. The less we have to think about, the smoother it all goes.

We haven’t even tapped into SamCart’s affiliate management yet. A little research indicates that we’ll be able to recruit affiliates to help sell Copy Hackers courses, and SamCart will handle the signup process, campaigns, commission structure and payouts… something we plan to explore for our next launch.

I think it’s fitting to end here on SamCart because if we were to choose one product in this list that we couldn’t do without now, it’d be SamCart. We love every product on this list, but for us, SamCart is indispensable.

Can we help?

If you have any questions about (1) how we execute our course launches or (2) how we use the tools above, Joanna and I are happy to respond below in the comments.

Here’s to your future successful course launches!

~Lance

About the author

Lance Jones

Lance Jones is a CRO and SaaS growth expert.

  • David

    Lance – I have always had a question about re-launching. Why? Why not just continuously have it for sale? Is it to generate scarcity/urgency? If you have a course that’s selling well why cut it off?

    • Hi David — it’s all about creating a buzz over a short period (offering social proof that lots of people are buying) and generating urgency to drive a LOT of sales. Most of our courses also have a live component, and cutting off sales allows us to deliver those live sessions in one go (i.e., 2 weeks after the course sale ends)… versus having to do them continually all year long… or not doing the live pieces at all. This method really works well for us. 🙂

      • David

        Thanks for the response Lance. That makes sense, especially with a live component. My wife and I are working on courses now. Her course makes more sense as an evergreen type of course as it deals with writing resumes and interviewing. The audience looking for those things are likely looking for a job right then or have an interview coming up. They likely won’t be prospects in 3-6 months when a course would relaunch.

        On the other hand, I am working on a course for paid search and it makes more sense, especially with as often as things change.

  • Melissa

    This was really helpful as I am in the tearing my hair out stage you described of ready to change both email and shopping cart providers! Curious to know if you have tested Ontraport and how you would rate them compared to the tools you’ve mentioned in this post? Thanks!

  • Dennis, ListsUK

    One of the most helpful and forthright blog posts I’ve read in a while, thank you; lots saved for future reference 🙂

    • That’s fantastic to hear, Dennis, thank you!!

  • Damon Gudaitis

    I’m pretty sure that you can just upload your files to WordPress on WP Engine because WordPress is configured to kick in after the server has checked whether a static file is there. No need for HostGator.

    I say pretty sure because I did it but that was maybe six years ago.

    • Hi Damon — I’m definitely going to look into that! Thank you for the tip!

  • Marylou Tyler

    Love this post! The information provided has saved me hours of time researching and second-guessing the ‘online education stack’. I have almost all the stack except one – teachable. I’m using LearnDash and offering both instructor-assisted and Do-It-Yourself (DIY) classes (based on my two books on prospecting).

    As a student in ‘most’ of your courses, I find it challenging that I cannot download audio (mp3) or video (mp4) of the classes. Many times I am out and about (not sitting at the computer) and want to absorb all the great Joanna/Lance/Ry education in ‘offline’ mode.

    A suggestion for those reading this post is to plan who your targeted student is (avatar | persona) and how they like to consume information.

    Make all modalities available – on & off-line (if I want to listen whilst pulling weeds in my ravine, I can do that… if I want to watch Ry whilst waiting for my kids at gymnastics, I can do that…).

    Another suggestion that has helped me: If you offer multiple classes, create an intake survey, incorporate the student’s responses into course curriculum that outlines the success path you offer to get them from where they are now to where they want to be, and include the timeline it takes, on average, to get there. The book called “ASK” – cannot remember author, but his name is also Ryan – gives you a step-by-step way to set up these surveys (along with tools). You only need a few canned ‘success paths’ created and ready to deliver as part of the sign-up process.

    • I’m glad it’s saved you time (as most of us are time poor!). Thank you for your book recommendation and your comments about downloadable content in our courses… we may revisit it in the future.

      • Marylou Tyler

        PS: I just bought an EXCEL BI Course that had 2 price options. One was internet only (materials), the other Internet + download (audio, video, materials). The download was priced at a higher price-point. I gladly purchased that option. I don’t think I’m in the minority here.. wanted to share this.

  • Thanks for an informative and well thought-out post. I use a few of the services you mentioned, recently stopped using LeadPages, and have Teachable & SamCart on my radar for a time when I’m ready to head down that path. I appreciate the insight on things these services could improve, which doesn’t mean that they aren’t worth using. It’s great to see a review that mentions both sides of the coin.

    • In our offices, in the dark of night, we praise these products far more than we curse them, but writing only about the former wouldn’t be accurate. 🙂

  • Thanks for the great post! I love Teachable and use it for everything right now. But at some point I may outgrow their sales pages etc, and this will be good info to have.

    BTW, I used to work for cPanel. If you have problems or feature requests, you could try contacting my friends on their support team—which is really awesome. I think they’d love to hear from you. https://cpanel.com/support/ and on Twitter at @cPanelCares.

    • Thanks Melanie — very cool! I appreciate you sharing that.

  • DM

    Hi Lance,

    Great post you’ve got!

    Just to check, how did you integrate samcart with teachable, via zapier?

    Thanks!

    • Hey DM — thank you! You got it… I set up a zap from SamCart to Teachable. The trick is to use a Zapier filter on the name of your SamCart product to ensure Teachable knows what course to give the student access to.

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