Selling an Online Course or Membership: Evergreen vs Closed Cart Method

How to Choose a Sales Strategy for Your Course or Membership

When it comes to selling a digital product (whether it’s an online course, a membership or something else), there are two main ways you can go about it.

You can launch it just once, then leave it out there and open for people to enrol or buy whenever they want to. You can make a sale at any time. This is called an “evergreen” product; because it’s always available.

If you want to sell as many products (enrolments, or signups) as possible in a limited amount of time, then you’ll want to build up anticipation before you “open your cart” (i.e. let customers start buying); then close it again pretty soon afterwards. This is what we call a “closed cart” system; you’re “closing the cart” for further enrolments, and no further sales can be made (unless you decide to open the cart again.)

Both methods have their benefits, and it really depends on you and your product as to which one you choose.

Let’s take a look at both in a little more detail.

I originally talked about this in a Facebook video, watch it below if you prefer that to reading!

The Benefits of the “Closed Cart” Method

1. The launch process itself can be fun

The process of launching a course or other digital product is quite a bit of work, because of the build-up and anticipation created beforehand. If you only have three to five days to enrol your students, you’ll have to “warm them up” in the lead up to your launch.

This involves creating content to promote your product, providing information about what it includes, answering questions from potential customers, and getting people excited about it.

This is the main reason why many people love the “Closed Cart” system!

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2. Get higher revenue by creating a sense of scarcity

Another reason to choose the “Closed Cart” system, is that you’re more likely to get higher revenue from it.

Why?

Because the sense of urgency created when there’s a limited time to enrol encourages potential students to decide faster about whether or not they want to take the course. And of course, the same goes for other digital products.

Basically, it leaves little room for procrastination.

If you leave the cart open, potential students may postpone buying the course or signing up for the membership in the hope that they’ll find something better or cheaper, that’s more suited to their needs.

Leaving the cart open means potential buyers can get distracted and end up not buying your product at all.

Having a set deadline to apply for a course spurs people into action and creates higher conversion rates and higher revenue.

3. A “live” course can’t be sold as evergreen

The third reason why you might choose to have an enrolment deadline is if you have a live element in your course.

For example, if your course is about growing seedlings in February, then you may run it live in February. You’ll want to close your cart at the end of January in preparation for the live elements of your course; doing live tutorials, sending people relevant information, etc.

Also, this way, you won’t get any newcomers coming in halfway through, which could mess up the whole process and confuse your students.

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Why opting for an evergreen funnel can be the smart choice

So, we’ve had a look at when a “Closed Cart” method is useful, but before deciding to go for this approach, let’s see why you might opt for an evergreen system instead.

1. It’s easier and less time-consuming

The evergreen system is the easiest way to launch your course.

You only have to launch it once - so you’ll set up your funnel and just leave it out there for people to sign up. There isn’t much work to do on it once everything is up and running.

You may get questions via email, in your Facebook group or through other platforms, but it isn’t as much work as warming up your audience as you’d have to do with a “Closed Cart” launch.

If you’re super-busy, doing a one-time launch and then turning the sales funnel evergreen will save you time and effort too.

2. The course is up and available for whoever needs it

Another reason for choosing to sell your course year-round is that although it’ll have lower revenue than a course with an enrolment deadline, your course will be available anytime for potential customers.

You’ll have people dropping in and taking your course continuously whenever they need it.

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Create your own online course

Interested in creating your own course but don’t know where to start? Check out our Course Creation Master Plan

Which sales strategy are you using?

So there you have it- two very different approaches to selling your digital products. In the end, you’ll need to decide on which one will work best for you.

If you’re thinking of giving your course or membership a discount to boost sales, you might want to read up on giving discounts and how to do so without undermining your product!

Once you’re ready to launch your digital product, take a look at our Ultimate Launch Checklist, covering everything you’ll need to do before, during and after your launch.

Have you got an idea for an online course or digital product that you’d LOVE to bring to life?

Tell us all the details in the comments below!