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You have put in so much time and effort getting your site and course content prepared: all the pieces are there, and you are ready to go! 

Launching is an exciting time for any business or course creator and as a Thinkific Plus Customer Success Manager who has worked closely with dozens of clients (and some of Thinkific’s most successful course creators) to grow their business with online learning, I want to ensure that all businesses or course creators who are about to launch avoid these common mistakes I often advise my clients to look out for when launching an online academy:

1. Forgetting to cross promote your course

Your site is up and running, but can people actually find it? As a Customer Success Manager (CSM), a mistake I often see individuals make is forgetting to link their online academy to their primary website or social accounts, making it difficult for prospective students to find their newly launched academy. The ability to search and easily find your courses is critical to help drive traffic to your Thinkific site, which in turn can help you drive enrolments. As well, this process of cross marketing can also work in reverse! Don’t forget to link your website and social media accounts to your Thinkific site. This can be done by adding your social media icons to your site or  customizing your site header to link to a website outside of Thinkific. 

2. A missing FAQ Section on your course site

It is not uncommon for students to reach out for help with some commonly asked questions once a course launches. To help reduce the number of support tickets you may receive and to mitigate confusion for new or existing students, I recommend creating an FAQ section on your site. To quickly build an FAQ section on your site you can leverage Thinkific Site Builder’s Custom Page. A Custom page is a way of adding new content to your website that is not covered by the Default pages included in the Thinkific Site Pages. This is a great tool for you to personalize your site and give your users more information — about you, your courses, and your business, and guide them towards success by providing them with the information they need to navigate your courses. Pro tip: Custom pages are ideal for including an About Us page, Contact page, or anything else that you feel like adding in your site!

Once the page is created on your site you can use the following knowledge base article as a jumping off point to address  commonly asked questions:Troubleshooting Guide for Student Issues

3. Not taking full advantage of Thinkific Payments

There are a lot of factors to consider when choosing a payment provider that will work for your business. While Thinkific does have integrations with payment providers such as Stripe and Paypal, Thinkific recently launched Thinkific PaymentsI often advise my clients to use Thinkific payments because it allows businesses and course creators to take advantage of some additional features that I’ve seen become huge wins. These features are:

  • Performance Checkout, a brand-new single-page checkout that is faster and reduces customer drop-off. This allows your customers to pay first before they  set up their account. For your returning customers, the payment experience is even smoother because their credit card details auto-populate, saving them from extra typing or the need to grab their wallet.
  • Order Bumps, a tool that suggests complementary products to your customers, just before they check out. This selling tool alone has helped creators and businesses increase their average order value by 33% and drive more sales from each transaction.

The best part? By using Thinkific payments, you’ll be able to spend more time creating a valuable experience for your students: Payments is built into Thinkific so you can spend time teaching and creating content, and less time on business admin.

Learn how you can set your business up for success with online learning by working with a Customer Success Manager

4. Launching without conducting a Launch Preparedness Review

As a Customer Success Manager, one of the key responsibilities of my role is to make sure you, as my Thinkific Plus client, are fully prepared for the launch of your course, which includes conducting a  Launch Preparedness Review prior to launch. The Launch Preparedness Review process aims to make sure your Thinkific site is fully operational before students are given access. 

I work with my Thinkific Plus clients to make sure there are no mistakes or blockers that could prevent their students from having a great experience with their site. 

To make the review of your site as simple as possible, I break down your site into separate areas and conduct an assessment of your course site while focusing on the areas that are relevant for you and your business. This may include reviewing and testing your: 

  • Site design
  • Course setup
  • Bundle setup
  • Additional learning content
  • Integrations and selling tools
  • Student Groups
  • Reviews and notifications
  • Overall site settings
  • Student user account
  • Conducting test runs and more..

For those course creators on our self-serve plans, you can take advantage of this free Launch Preparedness Review Checklist designed to help you have the most successful Launch.

5. Not using the Thinkific App Store

The Thinkific App Store allows you to create a customized experience for you and your students. Through the use of apps you can bring advanced functionality and features into your courses, sales and marketing, and business operations.

As a Customer Success Manager, a mistake I often see businesses and course creators make prior to launching their online academies is forgetting to take advantage of these apps that are easy to integrate onto their sites, and have the ability to significantly improve their students’ experience with just a few clicks.  Here are a few apps I recommend that my clients take a look at to improve their course sites:

  • Bulk Sell: the Bulk Sell checkout by Thinkific Labs makes selling multiple course seats to a single buyer easier – for you and your customers.
  • Poptin: a user-friendly leads, sales, and subscribers generation platform that lets you create engaging popups, forms, and autoresponders in minutes. 
  • Appointo: a tool that makes it easy to manage and schedule appointments with students.
  • Thinglink: this app allows you to create engaging and interactive visual experiences for your students by adding multimedia tags to images, videos, 360 scenes & 3D objects.

Key takeaway

By looking out for these five common mistakes when launching your online academy, you will already be several steps ahead of the game when it comes to having a successful launch.

Working with a Customer Success team member allows you to receive dedicated 1-1 support, industry expertise, advice on best practices, and ongoing accountability as you continue your journey of growing your business with online learning. 

Your Customer Success team will integrate seamlessly into your existing team, and offer you a roadmap to success with tactical next steps. 

Find out more about how Thinkific Plus can help your business scale and meet your new team members today.

This post was originally published in May, 2022, and was updated in October, 2023 with new information.