The 80/20 of Online Course Funnels

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Do you sell online courses? Would you like to make more money from your current leads and website traffic?

Then you’ve come to the right place.

Over the past few years (and after a LOT of A/B testing), I’ve refined a bulletproof system for selling more online courses to your existing visitors and leads through automated funnels.

People have been using it with great success and I’m super thankful and thrilled to see their amazing results.

Let me give you a quick example. Seonaid is a friend of mine who has one of the most incredible online courses I’ve ever seen. Her materials and tips are excellent. However, her website wasn’t converting enough traffic into sales.

Excellent course, a bunch of visitors to the website… but not enough sales.

I see this all the time. In fact, some of the top online course creators have struggled with this very same situation.

So I told Seonaid that there are a few simple things she could do to make more sales. For two months, I tried to get her to implement these ideas to improve her funnels. Instead, she just kept writing new courses.

It felt like I was her teacher – nagging her about getting her homework done.

Until one night, over beers in the Royal Academy of the Arts in central London, I mentioned something to Seonaid that made her sit bolt upright.

So just what did I say for her to react like that? Why was this so different from anything else I’ve told her before?

I said that I’d created a tool that calculated how much money you can make from building one of these funnels.

Seonaid immediately asked me if she could check out this tool herself.

After she saw how much more money she could be making every month, she was thrilled. That was all it took for her to suddenly get interested in all the tips I had been trying to give her in the past 2 months.

I just hadn’t told her how much more money it could make her. That was it.

The very next day she took action and put one of these tips to the test.

The results? Seonaid was able to do 10 minutes of work to her funnel and make $1500. That’s $9000/hour!

I’ll give you full details of what she did in a moment. It’s not complicated – you’ll easily be able to see why it works. I can’t promise that it will make you $9000/hour. But it might.

Today I want to share the 80/20 of online course funnels with you. The 3 proven methods that work the easiest and will get you the quickest results. By the end of this article, you’ll be able to understand:

  • How to quickly get more sales
  • How to increase your customer’s lifetime value

But before I start going through these methods, I’d like you to have access to the very same tool that helped Seonaid make her decision.

You need to know if this is worthwhile for you before you decide whether to spend your precious time on it.

OK. So…

How much more money could a funnel get you?

What I’m going to share could make you hundreds of dollars or it could make you tens of thousands of dollars, depending on your traffic, list size, offers and more.

Hundreds – maybe it’s not worth it. Tens of thousands – yeah, I’d say go for it. 😁

But how do you know which it is?

I’ve created a calculator where you can figure out a ballpark number of how much more you could make per month by building one of these funnels.

>>> Find out how much money your website traffic & email list could be making you

The answer you’ll get out should give you an idea of whether this is worth focusing on or not.

Ok – so assuming you’ve checked out the calculator and realized that this is worth doing – let’s get into the 3 methods.

METHOD #1 – Send more offers to your list without being a pain in the ass

This method is stupid simple (and effective). But it’s also one of the most overlooked and misunderstood by business owners in general.

Tell me… How often are you emailing your list about an offer?

Most course creators I talk to send out emails promoting their stuff about once a month. And then maybe when they have a new course for sale, on Black Friday and a few other rare occasions.

The rest of the time they just sit there, relying on the fact that surely their email list knows they have courses and could go buy them.

If any of this sounds familiar to you, then you’re leaving money on the table.


Because it’s your job to help your prospects get the right course for them (in a non-pushy, natural way), as it is your job to tell them “hey, here’s how our course can help you out”.

Think about it. When you email out an offer to your list – what happens? You get a lot of sales. You make a bunch of money.

So what do you think would happen if you sent more emails about offers? More of them would buy and you’d make more money.

I can’t stress this enough – you’ve got to let your audience know (or remind them) that you have something they might want.

Because if you don’t, they won’t buy. That’s why it’s so important that you take action and start sending out those emails.

But I know what you’re thinking…

You’re concerned that if you send out more promotional emails then people on your list will get annoyed and unsubscribe. And I get that – it’s a valid concern.

But there are ways to send promotional emails without being annoying. In fact, you can do this while still looking like a hero and have LESS people unsubscribe.

I’ll explain.

I’m in a mastermind with Seonaid (from earlier in the story, remember?). She sells English Grammar courses for non-native English speakers. Brilliant material, as I mentioned before.

Seonaid used to send out one set of promotional emails per month, about her monthly challenge, which led to her usual monthly revenue.

But then in November, she had finished a brand new course. So, in that month she sent two sets of promotional emails – one about the monthly challenge, and another promoting the new course.

And guess what? In that month, she doubled her revenue.

Go figure. Twice the number of promotional emails and twice the revenue. 

Needless to say, she was absolutely delighted.

But not long after, she got depressed. She had no idea how she could ever replicate that. It would take her months to develop another new course…

After hearing her frustrations, I suggested to her that she could just send two sets of promotional emails every month. But she had two issues with this.

Issue #1: She was worried she would annoy her subscribers and end up losing them

Issue #2: She didn’t have new courses to launch

She was not alone in this – many other course creators think the same way. And that’s OK. There’s a solution to both issues.

Let’s start by covering the bit about being annoying first.

Dealing with Issue #1 – How to send more emails without being annoying

Simple version – Send lots of emails with FREE valuable information

Maybe you’re already doing this. If not, then this is the absolute simplest way for you to earn the right to send more promotional emails.

By sharing valuable information that speaks directly to the pain points of your audience, you’ll build up your right to send more promotional emails.

Speak to your list as if they were friends in need of some advice. Simple, right? This way you’ll earn their trust and they won’t mind receiving an offer from you every now and then.

Here’s a good rule of thumb: if you send 3 useful emails you have the right to send 1 promotional email.

Here’s what it looks like:

Advanced Version (recommended)

In this version, the emails you send with valuable content are linked to a promotional offer.

This is a way smarter version of the previous tactic and it yields better results. (But hey – there’s nothing wrong with getting your feet wet with the simpler version. You can switch to this version at any time!)

So, this time you’ll be giving away tips from your courses in the emails, and then let people know they can buy the full course.

When you give away tips from that course, some people in your list are going to read it and think “this is helpful, I wish I could get more tips like this.”

When they notice you’re offering a full course that will meet all their needs, they’ll be ecstatic. And you’ll become their knight in shining armor.

This is much more aligned and it no longer feels like you’re annoying them with offers. Instead, everything is set up in a much more natural sequence. The free content and promotional content line up really well.

Seonaid loved how this sounded. So she decided to try it out.

The next day, Seonaid sent one tip from an existing course by email. In the P.S. she mentioned that if people wanted to get the full course, they could – they just had to follow the link.

That took her 5 minutes to write and send the email. And it made her $600. That’s the equivalent to $7200/ hour!

That’s a pretty great 5 minutes if you ask me. (I know I said at the start that she made $9000/ hour not $7200/ hour – but that’s a different method, more details to follow).

But the important lesson to take from this is… do you know how many people will get upset and unsubscribe because of that P.S. in her email? None.

No-one will ever mind, because the offer came after her being super friendly and useful (and it’s placed at the very end of the email anyway).

She can send a few more emails like that with other tips from that course – all of them with P.S.’s linking to the course. 

Then she can also then send a straightforward promotional email about the course.

Here’s what it looks like:

Dealing with Problem #2 – How to send offers when you’ve only got 1 or 2 courses

What about if you’ve only got one course or only a couple of courses?

I know quite a few people like this. They have one amazing course, and they do launches for that a few times a year. What else can you promote?


OK. And just what is a tripwire?

A tripwire is a cheap offer that your audience can purchase without thinking too much about it. Something that feels like a no brainer for them.

And you don’t have to create a new product to make your tripwire. You can splinter out something from your main course and use that.

For example – if you’re selling a course for $500 then you could splinter out one module for $49 or maybe $99.

The whole purpose of the tripwire is to give your list a taste at what they could be getting from your full course.

We did this recently for Fabian Reinhardt for Paintable. We took a course that he’d given away before as part of a launch, made it available again for $37 and ran a promotion for that to his list over Christmas. He made over $7000 in sales just from the tripwire, and that’s not including the upsells behind that (I’ll explain upsells more later on). 

So now we’ve covered how to be able to send more promotions to your list without being annoying. Let’s look at the next of the three methods. 

METHOD #2 – Set up a tripwire product after your lead magnets

There is one page on your website that is the least leveraged page in your whole sales funnel.

I bet you one beer that you’re not doing anything with it at the moment, and it’s one of the most valuable pages on your site.

What is this magical page? It’s the confirmation page after someone signs up for your lead magnet.

Everyone who builds funnels knows how important the confirmation page is. When you go to “funnel school” this is one of the first things they teach you. And funnel builders use it to great effect.

But maybe you don’t build funnels for a living, so you didn’t know how important it is. Except now you do because I’ve got your back. Lucky you. 😁

Ok – so what makes this page so magical?

When someone has just signed up for something free from you, then a percentage of those people (somewhere between 1 and 5%) are ready to buy something from you.

They are well aware of the problem that they want to solve and have gone through a series of steps that ultimately led them to your website. Then, they trusted you enough to sign up for your lead magnet. That means they’re primed for action and want your help to solve their problem.

That 1-5 % of people are ready to buy something RIGHT NOW. So RIGHT NOW is the perfect moment for a tripwire. So what do you do when someone just signed up to your lead magnet? 

EXACTLY! I knew you’d get it.

Offer them something cheap, something they simply can’t refuse (A.K.A. your tripwire) and that 1-5 % will buy it from you.

It’s all about waiting for the right moment and following the right steps. However… If you don’t offer them something at the right time, then you will have missed your one shot and they might never buy. 🙁

Here’s what it looks like:

This is something you should be able to get live in about a week. Some people have managed this in a day. My point is, anyone can do this.

This method works wonders. Here are some outstanding results from people using it:

  • Uwe Dreiss heard our talk about at three different conferences, and then he took action and set up a signup page for his InvoiceBerry SaaS app on his confirmation page. His free trials went up 40%.
  • Jonathan Green is a client of ours, he was making hundreds of dollars on autopilot from this within days of setting it up with his Serve No Master business.

What’s next?

Alright. I’ve shared quite a lot with you this far, so let’s recap:

If you follow the previous methods, then you will be sending more emails to your list with promotions in them. You’re going to be making a lot more sales. Awesome!

You’re also going to be offering your tripwire product after people sign up for your lead magnets. Now, lots of people are seeing those tripwire offers. And lots of people are buying them. Super awesome!

So, what’s next?

Now comes the really good bit. Are you excited? You should be excited. I’m excited for you. 

METHOD #3 – Sell your full course on the confirmation page of the tripwire offer

So, I already explained that the confirmation page for your lead magnet was a magical place. But now there is another page that goes beyond that.

A place of unicorns, rainbows and glorious pots of gold!

Can you guess what that page is?

That’s right…  It’s the confirmation page for your tripwire.

So the next step is offering a course for sale on the confirmation page of whatever tripwire you just offered.

Let me say that again – it’s crucial that you get this.

You’re going to offer your main course for sale on the confirmation page, just after they buy the previous offer.

In case you have multiple courses for sale – then whatever one makes the most sense. You’ll know this by intuition (it’s your course after all).

This method works perfectly with the tripwires from the previous section.

I’ll talk you through this, step by step.  

First, you splinter a section of your main course as a tripwire – maybe one module. Then you share some valuable and useful tips from said module as emails – and in the P.S. you mention they can buy that module and point people to the sales page.

Then, you send 1-2 promotional emails about the module and point people to the sales page again. 

You also put that module for sale on the confirmation page of your lead magnet.

By now you’ll be making sales of that tripwire offer…

Finally, on the confirmation page of that purchase, you offer the whole course as a one-click upsell. It’s so perfect!

By the way, a one-click upsell is a feature in funnel software which allows the customer to buy the second item just by clicking a button, and without entering their credit card details all over again. *Click*, done. Very slick.

About 10-40% of people who bought your tripwire offer are ready to buy something else from you at this stage. The conversion rate depends mostly on how good a fit that upsell is for your audience, and how good of an offer it is (e.g. price reduction, bonuses included, guarantee, etc.).

Depending on what technology you’re using it could be really, really easy to set up this one-click upsell (ClickFunnels, Teachable, and others) or a complete pain in the butt.

But this isn’t a tech support article. This is just to explain the overall idea.

The point is this method alone can potentially double your average order value. Imagine what that would do for you if your average purchase value was doubled.

I showed Seonaid this too. As I mentioned earlier, she’s got a monthly challenge she promotes to her list.

She added an upsell of one of her courses on the confirmation page. And that month she made an additional $1500 from selling that course as an upsell. I kid you not.

$1500 for 10 minutes work on her funnel. Nothing else. Seriously. (By the way, this is the $9000/hour I’ve mentioned at the start of this journey).

It upsets me when people don’t do this. Why would you not do this? Maybe because you didn’t realize how important it is. Well, now you do.

You’re welcome. 

Here’s what it looks like:

Case study – ZenMaid 

Amar Ghose from ZenMaid makes a couple of thousand dollars a month from his Tripwire plus Upsell funnel. And it’s not even his main offer. He runs a SaaS. This is just a side funnel for him.

Who else does this? 

I didn’t invent this. It’s not even a new method or idea. Upsells have been around for thousands of years.

In fact, now that you are aware of this, you’ll probably see it everywhere, every day. For instance:

  • McDonald’s offers you fries with your burger
  • Amazon offers you other books from the same author
  • Car companies offer you the leather seats and the better stereo

It’s just normal stuff in business. “Normal”, but extremely powerful – if you’re not using it you’re definitely missing out.

Funnelytics have something called the Funnelytics Vault and in it, you can see that pretty much everyone does this with their online course funnels.

Here’s a video where I show some more examples:


Damn – that was one hell of a ride!

I have gone through 3 methods that you can use to increase your revenue for your online course:

1. Send more offer emails to your list (without being annoying)
2. Put a tripwire offer behind every lead magnet
3. Put an upsell after every offer

Numbers 1 and 3 can each potentially double your revenue.

If you didn’t check earlier then you probably want to know how much it could make you. So check out the calculator to estimate the money you could be making.

>>> Find out how much money your website traffic & email list could be making you

God damn – I’m so excited for you!

You’re going to get your fabulous courses in the hands of so many more people. When you do it please email me ( and let me know how you got on. I’d love to know. 

It warms my heart when Data Driven Marketing clients implement this and get great results. Or comment here and inspire others to implement these methods too.


Picture of Mikael Dia

Mikael Dia

Founder & CEO @ Funnelytics Inc.

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