What to do when your online course doesn’t enroll enough people — scrap it or move forward?


Today I’m going to answer a reader question.

Which goes a little something like this:

“You talk about launching a sales page as a way to know if there’s any interest. I love this idea, but… What if there is some interest, but not quite enough to feel confident moving forward, so you scrap the product/program. If you actually opened sales – how do you handle what you did get, just refund and explain why? Or if you don’t actually open sales, but collect opt-ins, how do you then communicate the program/product isn’t happening?”

The answer to the question above is pretty simple –

If you only collected opt-ins, but there wasn’t enough interest to follow through on making the course, take a look at the feedback you collected and see what would make a better solution for your customer’s problems. What would they actually be interested in?

On the other hand, if you did launch the sales page and only got a few sales, you’ve got two choices — scrap it and refund the money or move forward with the idea.

Here’s what I would do.

I would still run the course and look it as a beta round so I can create the content, tweak and relaunch in the future.  You’ve got real live people, so why not take advantage of that to improve on your concept?


Besides that, I think the more important thing here is looking at WHY you didn’t get as many sales as you wanted.

If you launched your sales page and got a few people to sign up — CONGRATS!

You may not feel super inspired as you didn’t hit your goal, but you should be celebrating, because now you’re going to be paid to do research and create your course. By no means does this mean that you should abandon your idea. It may just need some refinement so you can nail it next time.

You have an golden opportunity to run the course and test a few key things in the process that will be game changers when you launch it again.


Here’s what I recommend testing so you can fine tune for your next launch: 

1. Was the price too low?

It’s easy to think that with a low price, you’ll get more sign ups. But a price that’s too low can actually mean less people will purchase.

Why? When a price is too low  people may automatically assume that the value isn’t high and write it off as a not-so-great product.

Make sure you’re pricing your product according to: a) your brand position, b) the value of the content and c) what people are willing to pay for it.


2. Was the price too high?

Paul Jarvis talks about a course he created on a recent interview on the Being Boss podcast about how he launched a course last year on writing your first book and only 10 people bought it.

He could have scrapped it because of low numbers, and assumed it was because of the content that it didn’t enroll as many people as he hoped, but he tweaked the price, kept the content exactly the same and relaunched it through a different venue. The second time he launched… he got XXX new members.

The lesson is that every market, every product has a sweet spot when it comes to pricing. Sometimes you’ll need to experiment with it to find the perfect price that works for you and for your audience.


3. Did you give yourself enough time or create enough content to promote it?

Too many times people get caught up in the excitement of launching and don’t do enough to prime their audience for what’s coming. Having a clear launch strategy with multiple pieces of content promoting your course will be such a lifesaver when it comes to launching your course the next round.

Here’s some suggestions for your launch content:

Step 1: Brainstorm 5-8 pieces of launch content you can share during your launch. These can include blog posts, webinars, emails to your list and so on.

Step 2: About a month before your launch, schedule these into your calendar. Schedule them even sooner, if you can. The sooner you schedule them, the more likely they are to happen.

Step 3: A couple weeks before your launch, write all of your launch content and schedule. If you’re doing a webinar, write the outline. Don’t play last minute roulette here as the quality of content may suffer, and you’re a total pro who wants to nail this!

Do this and you won’t be running around frantically trying to create new content to help promote your course. You can keep your sanity as you launch.


4. Did people see the offer multiple times?

During your first launch, how many times did you email your list? Did you run FB ads? Did you do a webinar? Did you share your launch inside of Facebook groups and communities you’re a part of?

How many times did people actually see and get the opportunity to sign up for your course?

Don’t underestimate the need for repetition. I’m sure you’ve heard the standard marketing rule that a person must see your offer at least 7 times before they sign up. Of course, there will be a select few that are familiar with your work, love you and will be willing to sign up

Here are the most important things you need to do so people see your offer multiple times:

  • Send multiple reminder emails about enrollment closing. So many people forget (or don’t want) to do this one, but it’s vital for grabbing those last minute people. This helps to  create urgency so they actually follow-through and purchase.
  • Test out FB ads for your next launch. Tip: Sending people to a landing page to download something free and then nurturing them into buying your online course tends to convert better than just sending someone to your sales page.
  • Submit a few guest posts to related blogs so you can expand your network and reach new people during your launch.


5. Do you have social proof?

If you had a few people sign up to the first round of this course, despite your higher enrollment goals, use this opportunity to gauge feedback and deliver an awesome customer experience so they can’t help but tell all their friends about it.

Being able to demonstrate clear results and outcomes from your course will make a world of difference when you launch your next round. You’ll have much needed testimonials to help with your sales page copy.


So while you may really just want to scrap it, you have an amazing opportunity to regroup and gathering research and other key elements for you to have a stronger launch the next time round.

Have you ever scrapped a course after a less than stellar launch? Stuck it out and learned directly from your customers?  Share in the comments below.

Scroll to Top
Read previous post:
The #1 thing you should invest in when you’re building your own membership site

You’re launching an online course — you’ve spent hours upon hours on writing the content, designing your own sales page,...