The Perfect Customer Onboarding Sequence to Turn New Students Into Repeat Buyers
Pop quiz - what's the most important moment in your relationship with a new student customer?
Most people would answer: it's the moment they hit the buy button or say "yes" in a sales conversation.
Yep, a pretty important moment, but not the most important.
And it's not even the moment they decide to buy.
The most important moment in a customer relationship is actually the moment right after they buy.
Because it's the moment of truth. It's the moment that you meet their expectations of you.
It's the moment when your customer decides if you are who they think you are... or if you're "just like all the others."
It's the moment when they decide whether to dive in, play full out, engage and become your customer for life.
Or withdraw, disengage, refund or disappear.
Some people call this "onboarding" -- and you can make this moment a magical one when you understand exactly how to craft a powerful onboarding sequence.
Are you ready? Let's dive in.
The "Make It or Break It" Moment...
So what is on "onboarding sequence" anyway?
An onboarding sequence is a series of communications and events that happen right after your new customer buys from you. It's the sum total of the messages, actions, videos & anything else that you share with your customers immediately after they purchase your product, program or service.
Most people give barely any thought to their product or program onboarding.
So it's underwhelming at best. At worse -- it can actively work against you, killing whatever enthusiasm your excited new customer or client might have had. Sending them for the hills. Requesting a refund. Assuming the worst of you.
But when you do it right, your onboarding sequence can build momentum and motivate your new customers into action from Moment 1 of Day 1, and have them keep taking action all the way to the finish line of your course or program.
Unfortunately, that rarely happens -- not because we don't care, but because we just don't know a) how important it is, and b) how to do it right.
So let me tell you what typically takes place when a customer buys the typical program or training.
She hits the buy button and adrenalin kicks in.
While the order is processing, she feels that thrilling excitement and possibility. This could change everything for her. For a moment at least, she feels more hopeful, enthusiastic and optimistic when she thinks about how things could be. She can't wait to dig in.
Then, in most cases, within minutes ... or in the space of a day or two, the rose-colored glasses come off and she feels bad about the whole thing.
All the Ways You Can Lose Them
Perhaps buyer's remorse kicks in? Or perhaps she wakes up wondering what she was thinking the night before? Maybe her spouse tells her she's crazy. Or perhaps the next steps are either boring or overwhelming.
Procrastination, fear, doubt and uncertainty creep in and pretty quickly she starts thinking, "Crap! Did I just throw money down the toilet? Can this actually work?? Can I actually do this? Or is everyone right?"
Or, maybe another situation...
Perhaps your all-important "Welcome" email ends up in their junk or spam inbox, and they're sitting there waiting, and wondering. This in-between time works against you, hard.
In this situation, people will immediately begin to disengage emotionally and withdraw. Maybe this just wasn't for them after all? Or maybe you're a scammer? Or maybe a million other things. By the time you're even aware there's a problem, you've already lost them.
Or perhaps they get your "Welcome" email, and they click on the link and land on your membership site. They log in. What's their first reaction? Do they see a "wall of content" and immediately opt-out mentally? "Whoa! That's a lot of stuff. I'll come back to this later." And for 90% of people, "later" never comes.
The 6 Horsemen of the Apocalypse
These are all cases of the Downward Death Spiral -- and in some way or another, it affects 97% of course creators out there.
Most courses and programs fail at the first hurdle and lose most of their new customers right away. They either never log into the membership site. Or fail to get through more than a handful of lessons, videos or exercises.
The Downward Death Spiral (DDS) will begin the moment an online course or program stops giving students one of six key things:
- A big vision to strive for
- A reason why we're doing it
- The feeling that we're making constant progress, no matter how small
- A clear sense of focus or direction
- An overall sense that we're "winning" this game
- A clear understanding of how the actions we're taking now contribute to the bigger goals
Sooner or later, unless you're actually focusing on a great onboarding experience, the DDS will take most people out of the game.
They "check out" mentally and emotionally and eventually, sooner or later they quit.
The industry average for online courses and programs shows that a full 97% of people who buy online courses and programs will either not log in to what they bought, not complete it or not commit enough to get results.
97% of your hard-won customers who give up somewhere along the way, and disappear. You can't grow a successful business when just 3% of your students get results and become repeat customers.
BUT it's not all gloom and doom. What if I told you that in this article, you'll discover a way to boost that 3% number by 10-30X with a few simple but effective changes to your onboarding sequence?
These tweaks will save your customers and clients from the DDS by giving them something I like to call Experience Escalation (EE).
How to Create an Experience They'll Never Forgot
Let's start at the start. You want the moment right after your customers invests to be an extraordinary experience.
You want them to feel valued, celebrated and most importantly, you want to do everything you can to ethically "hook" them on taking action right away so they’ll stick with your program long enough to see the results they want.
So, with new students who come into our bestselling, signature program — the Experience Product Masterclass (EPM) — we create an awesome “moment after they buy” experience that:
- Celebrates the person for their great decision to purchase the program
- Gives a quick rundown on how it’s going to work
- Sets them up for a quick "win" that leads to the next win and the next
- This starts to create the momentum that will propel them all the way to the finish line
We do this in a special way that includes a few different touchpoints - a Celebration Video, a Welcome Video and a "Quick Win" Video.This works like gangbusters for our students and we have an unbelievable track record to prove it:
- More than 1,650 students have gone through EPM in the last 3 years
- 97.7% engage in the program in some way
- The average student completes 79% of the program
- 37% of our students make it all the way to "Mission Accomplished" and submit their success story
- We've collected over 649 pages of success stories and testimonials from students who are beyond thrilled with their EPM experience
- 25-50% of them purchase our next program, which starts at $13K! (this skyrockets our profitability)
Compared with the industry average of a stunningly low 3% completion rate, can you see how powerful this 10-30X improvement in student results can be to your business?
Inside EPM, a Great Onboarding Experience You Can Model
Okay so let’s take a behind-the-scenes look at what the EPM onboarding sequence looks like for brand new students. (Normally you would have to purchase to experience this!)
The moment somebody makes a purchase, they’re immediately taken to a Purchase Confirmation page. But not just any PC page.
At the top of this page, the 1st thing they see is our Celebration & Welcome video.
In that video, the first thing we do is celebrate the student, congratulate them and give them a crystal clear picture of what to expect over 10 weeks of the program.
You might notice that big gray, arrow that encourages students to keep moving down the page, and go to the next step, which is to watch the first small training from the EPM program.
I call it a "Quick Win" video and I've actually pulled it out of the program and made it available here, right on the Purchase Confirmation page without requiring them to go to the Membership Site.
Why is this important?
Remember the Downward Death Spiral?
Anything that gets in the way of immediate action can have a demotivating effect, and cause the DDS to begin.
That's why I wanted to make sure that they didn't have to go find an email in order to figure out how to log in somewhere to get started.
Because, the inbox is a nightmare deathtrap of DDS where your students can lose themselves in a Tsunami of distractions.
We want our new students to have zero barriers to entry. We want them taking action right away, within minutes of signing up.
The reason this training is special is because:
- They're taking action within minutes of registering (without having to go to their email inbox or log-on to the EPM membership site)
- The training is super duper easy, yet incredibly exciting to do. ?? (I create templates for setting their minimum, target and stretch goals so they can quickly complete the training and get their first win)
- It reinforces the big Mission of the EPM program and creates a powerful "future self" vision (of money in their pocket ??)
Together these 2 videos form a series of touchpoints that takes our students into higher and higher states of excitement and commitment to complete our program.
The 3rd thing we do on that page is give them 1 specific action to do -- in this case it's to join and post the results of the exercise they just did in the previous step.
The reason this works so powerfully is simple -- we aren't giving them just a vague invitation to join and do anything they want. We're directing them to do 1 thing in particular, which reinforces the power of the previous exercise.
Taking It to the Next Level
In 2020 we took this to the next level in terms of reducing points of possible friction, disengagement and Downward Death Spiral,
- We now redirect students straight into our Membership site without requiring them to find their confirmation email and login. And of course, the Home Page of the Membership site has the same elements I revealed above
- As well as giving students a traditional login and password, we also give them a "magic" link which bypasses the login and takes them straight to their dashboard. We're simply planning for what we know will happen: some students just aren't strong with login/password stuff, and we don't want them EVER to feel frustrated about anything in our program!
To sum up, great onboarding is when you can anticipate the points of friction -- where the DDS might be hiding -- and remove them so that they experience only Experience Escalation.
Make Them Feel Good About Choosing You and Your Offer
Psychology suggests that there are only 2 basic things that people are on the immediate lookout for when they buy an online program:
#1: Constant validation that they made the right & safe choice
#2: Literally any reason to opt-out (so they can give up on their new, scary commitment and return to the way things were — before they signed up)
That's why we put all of our energy and focus into crafting an onboarding sequence that gives people that 100% validation, all the time.
We celebrate and validate new students with a Celebration Video.
We dissolve overwhelm and uncertainty by showing them the ropes with a Welcome Video (in our case, part of the same video).
Finally we get them into immediate action and give them their first win with a "Quick Win" video.
Because we’ve set them up for success from the get go, this gets them feeling much more confident about their decision.
And the BIGGEST reason why we have one of the highest completion rates of any online program, anywhere is because we're constantly thinking about how to give students Experience Escalation -- from Minute 1, Day 1, all the way through the program, and to the very end.
Your Mission, Should You Choose to Accept It, Is to Create Your Very Own Onboarding Experience...
The results we've seen and our clients have seen are clear.
Your students are 10-30 TIMES more likely to stick with you if they're taking action, achieving goals and getting results.
So when you’re crafting your own powerhouse onboarding sequence, focus on creating an “after they buy” experience that gets them into action from Moment 1 of Day 1.
Think about how you can introduce them to how things are going to work and don’t forget to celebrate them from the very beginning so they’ll feel good about choosing you and your offer.
What’s a “moment after purchase” experience you’d like to create for your customers? Something that will have them feeling confident and happy that they made the right choice buying your product or program?
Don’t be shy… share in the comments below, I’d love to know ??
One Final Note…
While an awesome onboarding sequence is just the beginning, it's obviously incredibly important that you continue that momentum all the way through to the end of your program.
That’s when you’ll see your completion rates go through the roof.
And it’s how you get a TON of awesome testimonials and word-of-mouth recommendations that attract more and more happy customers every time you launch… just like we do ?? Not to mention returning customers…
And if you’d like to know exactly how to get there…
If you’d like to learn how to:
- Put together a SUPER powerful onboarding sequence,
- Design, market and deliver online programs & trainings that take your customers to the finish line so they can
- Actually get the results they want...
Then check out Xperiencify -- the first and only Membership site platform that builds 8 powerful psychological triggers into your course or program so that you can engage more students, reduce drop outs & refunds, create 10-30X more repeat buyers!
You’ll finally see how your course or program can be a profit center for your business -- a powerhouse generator of repeat customers that can't wait to buy from you again and again.