Case Study: The 11 steps we used to grow one client’s Course Sales to $139,560 per month… (And how you can follow these same steps to rapidly increase your revenue too!)

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About a year and a half ago, a client came to us with a problem.

They were doing great at attracting followers and website visitors.

But when it came to selling their courses… they weren’t doing so hot… or at least not as well as they knew they should be doing.

So, we put them through our funnel optimization process.

In this case study, I am going to take you behind the scenes of all 11 steps in this process.

I’ll reveal our numbers-based approach to each optimization.

And I’ll show you how this process allowed our client to consistently and reliably add over $130,000 in revenue per month — more than double the sales they were making before we optimized their funnel.

By following along with this case study to the end, you’ll learn how strategic funnel optimization works and why it works so well.

And you will discover how you can follow the same process to rapidly increase your course sales!

What Is Strategic Funnel Optimization?

Strategic Funnel Optimization sounds fancy. And it kind of is.

But it’s also a very straightforward methodology.

It’s simply a way of looking at a sales funnel from the top down.

It starts with examining the numbers and context in each key area of the funnel.

And then figuring out which improvements are likely to deliver the biggest increases in revenue.

When we do this for clients, we build them two maps.

A map of what their current funnel looks like.

And a map of what their ideal Funnel will look like.

Those before and after pictures guide our funnel build.

Every improvement we made for the client in this case study resulted from our strategic optimization process.

It was that process that showed the first and most important step to increasing our client’s course sales was… 

Step #1 – Increase the email opt-in rate by 900%

Before we started working with the client in this case study, they were adding about 100 new subscribers to their email lists per week.

Email List Growth Before

Not bad. But also not great, considering how much traffic they get.

By making three key strategic changes, we were able to increase their opt-in rate by 900%!

And now they attract 5,000 to 10,000 email subscribers every month.

Email List Growth After

(You can read a detailed breakdown of the process we use to quickly increase opt-in rates here.)

In 20 months, our opt-in optimizations grew the client’s email list from approximately 38,500 subscribers to 257,000 and counting!

Step #2 – $119K in new revenue from Order Bumps

When we are optimizing a funnel for a client, we love quick wins.

And order bumps are almost always the quickest of the quick wins.

What is an order bump?

It’s a simple add-on offer you present to your customer in the cart when they check out.

Order Bump Template

It’s different from an upsell in that you present this offer pre-purchase.

Also, it’s a lot easier to implement than an upsell.

Because all you need to create an order bump is a complementary product and two to three sentences of copy that go in a tick box on your checkout page.

It’s that simple. 

Once you identify the right product to order bump, you can set this up in an hour or two.

And it works like gangbusters.

We found, on average, 30% of customers will add an order bump to their cart.

Order bump Success Rate

For the client in this case study… over 12 months, the order bumps we designed resulted in $119,904 in revenue…. 

… revenue they were missing out on before we added order bumps!

Step #3 – 20% of customers also want your upsell!

The beauty of the upsell is it’s a post-purchase offer.

At this point, the customer has already entered their payment info for their primary purchase.

Which means, they can take advantage of an upsell offer with one click.

Also, if you already have multiple courses with multiple sales pages, upsells aren’t hard to add to your funnel.

Typically, about 10 to 20% of people will buy upsells.

Upsell Success Rate

The upsells we designed for this client added another $140,220 in sales per year.

Total Revenue From Upsell

Step #4 – Double the conversion rate with checkout page optimizations

When we first started working with the client in this case study, their checkout page, like most cart pages, was fairly vanilla.

It was missing a number of elements that A/B testing has shown us are vital to customers.

Their cart page didn’t have any testimonials.

It didn’t have a reminder of what the customer was buying and why they were buying it.

And it didn’t look or feel like the rest of the site.

So we optimized their cart page by adding all of those elements.

We also removed any requests for unnecessary information that would slow down the checkout process.

Optimized Cart

After we optimized the check-out page, the conversion rate skyrocketed.

It improved from an average of  3% to 41.38%!

Improved Conversion Rate

Yes, you read that right. 

A 38-point increase in the conversion rate from some straightforward checkout page optimizations!

And in case you’re wondering…

… the average checkout conversion rate in the online course industry is around 12 to 18%.

Our optimization allowed the client to more than double the expected conversion rate.

Step #5 – Send two email promotions every month

Before we started helping this client, they were promoting their course to their email list about once to twice a year.

That email frequency is similar to most of our clients before we start working with them.

What we discovered from interviewing hundreds of course creators is the #1 reason they cite for not emailing their list more often is their fear of annoying their subscribers.

That’s a valid concern.

No one wants to get spammy, annoying emails.

But there is also an obvious solution to this problem.

Don’t send spammy, annoying emails.


Using the email promotion system we designed, we found that when we increase the number of emails we send, unsubscribers go down for our clients.

Email Promo Funnel

And at the same, their revenue goes way up!

For the client, in this case study, our bi-monthly email promotions netted approximately another $65K per month in sales

Two Email Promotions A Month

Step #6 – Improve the Offer with Bonuses and Guarantees

We didn’t track the data on this optimization because…

…we’ve done it so many times we know it always works!

I know that sounds like a cop-out. But it’s not. 

If you want to improve your overall conversion rate, bonuses and guarantees are key.

Bonuses help your prospect feel like they are getting something extra when they sign up for your course.

Guarantees are about risk reversal.

They remove your prospect’s fear of making a “bad purchase.”

They also increase your prospect’s confidence that your course will deliver.

When they see you have enough confidence to stand behind your course, they feel confident you can help them.

No Risk Guarantee

Step #7 – The 15 sales page elements that improve conversion rates

When we first started optimizing sales pages for our clients, there were 21 elements on our “must-have” list.

Through testing, we’ve been able to reduce that number by 6.

Here are the 15 Sale Page Elements we’ve identified that increase conversion rates:

  • Call Out To Your Audience  – Who do you help? Call them out!
  • Compelling headline – There are loads of headline frameworks out there. No one type of headline works all the time. When in doubt, lead with the problem you solve. Say it loud, and make it clear.
  • Sub-headline – Compelling subheadlines stop the scrollers in their tracks and get them to read
  • Clear CTA – Your sales page should have clear visible CTA buttons at least every two screens
  • Problem, Agitation, Solution – This is where you identify your audience’s problem, empathize with their pain, and show that you have the solution they need!
  • Speed to results and/or Future cast – Show them how fast your course can get them the results they desire
  • Meet the instructor/Your credentials – Let them know who you are and what makes you the expert on what you teach
  • Talk about the benefits – Show them how much better life will be after they have your solution
  • Social Proof – Show off your testimonials and endorsements
  • Offer in detail – Make sure your offer is clear by showing them everything that comes with your course
  • Bonuses – Feature and explain your bonuses
  • Guarantees – Reverse your buyer’s risk with a straightforward guarantee
  • Close with a reminder – Summarize the offer and the value of your course
  • FAQ – Answer all their questions before they have to ask them
  • Scarcity/Urgency – Show them why it’s important to start your course now.

The client in this case study had only a few of the 15 elements on their sales page before we optimized.

Since we had to re-design the entire page, I can’t reference a true A/B improvement number.

What I can say is that using these elements improved their overall conversion rate.

And in combination with our email campaigns, our sales page optimization led to monthly sales numbers that far exceeded anything the client had achieved before.

Step #8 – Two New Offers added $200K in sales in less than 2 Months

New offers help bring your best customers back for more.

For this client, we helped them create two new courses they could offer that used their existing content.

And those two offers produced over $200,000 in sales in less than two months!

Step 9

Step #9 – Build a Tripwire Funnel

The next optimization we made for this client was to add a Tripwire Funnel to the front end of their sales machine.

A tripwire is a compelling, low-priced offer that’s designed solely to turn a prospect into a customer. 

You can read a detailed explanation of how to build a Tripwire Funnel here.

Adding the Tripwire Funnel helped this client go from making zero organic sales every month to 1077.

Tripwire Funnel

Also, 40% of people who bought the tripwire offer also purchased an order bump.

And 12% of those customers took the upsell as well!

Step #10 – Prepare and Optimize the Funnel for advertising

After we rebuilt the client’s funnel, we went back and made a few more optimizations.

We added some follow-up emails to the Tripwire Funnel.

And we tightened everything up to get the whole funnel ready for advertising.

Step #11 – Scale with Advertising

With the entire funnel in place and any potential holes plugged, the client was ready to advertise

Having the whole funnel optimized also made the advertising strategy simpler.

The client sent the majority of their ad traffic to their lead magnet (email opt-in page).

And within 30 days, the sales funnel we built was producing ROI-positive results.

So that’s the whole process, top-to-bottom.

It starts with a strategic game plan.

And it ends with a complete sales funnel that can help our clients scale as far as they want.

Sales Funnel Success

Do you want to see if Strategic Funnel Optimization can help you double to triple the revenue your courses generate?

If you do, I’ve got good news for you.

You can find out quickly.

Our personalized and private Profit Increase Report will give you an estimate of just how much more revenue an optimized sales funnel will produce for your courses.

And it will show what the next steps are to capture those sales.

You can sign up to get your personalized Profit Increase Report here:


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