As a Launch Specialist on the Customer Success Team, I have helped dozens of clients successfully build and launch their first online academies using Thinkific Plus. Over time, I have come to learn the key things that course creators can do to ensure a successful online course launch, and our team has developed a framework for helping our clients do it in the span of just 90 days.
If you are looking to grow your business with online learning and you want to launch your course on Thinkific in a fast and efficient manner, here is some of the best advice that I can offer that will set you up for a successful launch in just 90 days.
- Phase 1: Project Planning Session and set your expectations. (Days 1 – 30)
- Phase 2: Build your online course content and design your site. (Days 30-60)
- Phase 3: Test your project and prepare for launch. (Days 60-90)
The first thing you need to do in order to ensure a successful launch is to host a project planning session. A project planning session involves spending an hour of time with members of your team mind mapping absolutely everything that you can possibly think of that will get you from idea to launch.
Some key questions your team can consider are:
- Are you building a new course? What is your course creation plan?
- Are you migrating your course from another LMS? What is your migration plan?
- If you are migrating from another LMS, how will content and existing students be transferred onto Thinkific?
- When is the date of the launch?
- Do you have an enrollment target?
- Which strategies will you employ as a team to achieve your enrollment goals?
Next, it’s important to outline the details of your student user flow. Student User Flow is a term that refers to the journey that your audience will take as they transform from prospects into students.
Some key questions your team can consider to outline your student user flow are:
- How do students find out about your course?
- What happens next after they find out? Which landing pages and links do they visit? What is the student experience like?
- How does enrollment occur?
- Once students enroll in your course, what happens next? How will you support them as they consume the content?
- Will students be able to use SSO (Single Sign On) to access other courses from your academy they have previously enrolled in?
- Will students SSO (Single Sign On) from another platform into Thinkific to access Courses?
- Are there any key integrations you need to be aware of? Examples include email marketing, CRM, analytics platforms and external payment solutions.
- Are there any resources, knowledge base articles, or FAQ lists that you can prepare in advance so you can provide your students with additional information to improve their experience?
Once you have outlined everything that you need to do in advance of your launch, it’s time to set deadlines and get to work implementing all of the different components of your project: building your course content and designing your site, and preparing all of the necessary details and tasks you outlined in your project planning session for a successful launch.
Our Customer Success Team likes to call days 30-60 of the launch journey the “Project Implementation Phase”. During this phase, you and your team are off to the races following the plan that you mapped out during your project planning session.
Take this time to upload your course content, work on your site design, look at other examples of other academies in your use case for best practices, and implement key integrations you might need such as Zapier, automating student enrollments and engagement, and setting up any type of Email Marketing you will be using.
If you are on a Thinkific Plus Plan you will have a Launch Specialist by your side, and be able to check in with them when needed to receive additional support if you encounter any issues or hurdles and they’ll provide you with best practices.
In the last 30 days of your online course launch journey, at this point you will likely have your initial version of your Thinkific course and site almost ready to go and will be focusing on User Testing.
An integral part of ensuring that your launch goes smoothly is ensuring that your student’s experience with your course site is seamless and that there are no issues when users are interacting with your content and site.
That is why a Launch Preparedness Review is an integral part of your launch journey.
If you are on a Thinkific Plus plan, before the launch of your course and site, your dedicated Launch Specialist will block off time to conduct a Launch Preparedness Review: They will learn more about your launch plans, and then conduct a site audit, thoroughly evaluating your site to ensure that your launch goes off without a hitch.
Make use of this time to ensure your entire team and any necessary stakeholders understand your launch day plans and future plans (New Site, Integrations, Courses, etc).
To make the review as simple as possible, the Launch Specialist will break down your site into 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 Test Runs
If you are not on a Thinkific Plus plan, you will have to conduct this launch preparedness review yourself or internally within your team. After your launch preparedness review, you can head into your launch day feeling excited and confident about your course site and online learning offerings.
Your journey as a course creator will be just getting started!
Download Thinkific’s LMS launch preparedness checklist to ensure you have everything in place before you launch your new system.
Don’t forget to host regular check-ins with yourself or your team throughout the launch journey to ensure you are on track to achieve your goals. If you are on a Thinkific Plus plan, you’ll be able to attend these check-ins with your launch specialist and receive expert support. Aim to have at least one:
- 30-day check-in
- 60-day check-in
During each meeting, ask yourself or your team: Are you on track to achieve your goals? If not, why and how can you solve it?
If you followed the steps in the 90-day launch journey correctly, the launch day should be smooth sailing! On Launch Day, make sure to celebrate your accomplishments and hard work with your team.
Your growth journey as a course creator doesn’t stop at launch. After the launch of your course site, you will have a Post-Launch Debrief with yourself or your team (and your Launch Specialist if you are on a Thinkific Plus plan) to go over your launch, gather insights and feedback about what went well and what can be improved on for your next launch, celebrate wins, and discuss next steps so you are able to have long-term sustained growth in your business.
Following your debrief, you will have an opportunity to continue improving your content, site, and offerings by working closely with a Customer Success Manager. You will be introduced to them and work closely together to create a Success Plan.
Receive dedicated launch support from an industry-leading Customer Success Team
If you are new to the Thinkific Platform, you will be paired with a Launch Specialist like myself at the very start of your journey as a Thinkific Plus customer. As a Launch Specialist, I am here to support you with everything you need as you get comfortable with the platform, begin to build your course and site, and prepare to have a successful launch.