Episode 72. Why Most Digital Courses & Memberships Fail


Listen on:

Apple PodcastsSpotifyStitcherGoogle Podcasts



Today, I’m going to share with you the three reasons why most digital courses and memberships fail — and most do fail or never get big results.

There are a lot of opinions on the best way to build a successful digital product, and if you’ve ever thought about building a digital course or membership or adding passive income to your business model, then you’ve probably seen these opinions in your feed every day. One person is advocating for launches, another is claiming evergreen funnels are the golden ticket to scaling; someone is telling you webinars are so 2019 and small offers are the best way to attract buyers; or messenger bots are better than email; memberships bring in money every month, so they must be better than courses…the list goes on.

With all of these opinions constantly showing up as we scroll through social media when you don’t get the results that you want or the sales that you were expecting, you think it’s because you didn’t choose the right type of product, have the right sales funnel, or the best software.

But after building my own successful digital products and working with clients who also sell online courses, memberships, and programs, I’ve seen that most of the time these things are not the reason why you aren’t getting the results that you want.

It doesn’t matter if you have launches or evergreen funnels, they both can be successful. Challenges and webinars can both can be successful. Small offers or freebies both can be successful. All of it can be successful, but the problem is, is that when you’re not seeing the results that you want, you think that we didn’t choose the right thing — but that’s not why most digital courses and memberships fail.


Reason #1: You’re not putting your digital product in front of enough people to make it successful

No one likes to share the real stats of what it takes to make a successful digital product. A lot of times when you think you’ve failed, or you didn’t get the sales that you wanted, it’s just because you didn’t put your digital product in front of enough people. So here’s a stat that you need to remember:

On average, 1-3% of people who show interest in your digital product will actually buy it — and that is a high converting digital product.

Yes there are definitely outliers and exceptions to this, but on average in the industry, 1 -3% will buy what you’re offering. When I say 1-3% will buy, I’m not saying 1-3% of your followers, I’m saying 1-3% of the people who opt-in to your freebie or your small offer. That is why most digital courses and memberships fail: because the average solopreneur doesn’t have hundreds of thousands of people to launch to.

If only 1-3% of the people who opt-in to your freebie or your small offer actually buy what you’re offering, you typically just don’t have the numbers that you need to reach your goals.

Let me give you an example: let’s say you add up all of your followers and email subscribers and see that you have an audience of 5,000 people to launch your digital course or membership to. You have a super engaged audience so 500 of those people opt-in to your freebie, whether that’s a free guide, a free webinar, or a free challenge. So you have 500 people who have shown interest in what you are about to sell them.

Even though you have 500 people who are interested in your offer, you’re only going to get five to 15 purchases — and again, that’s from a high converting digital product. That is the big thing that people don’t understand: the numbers and the data that go into reaching your big goals. If you want more than five to 15 purchases, you need to get your offer in front of more people.

The problem is every time you launch, your audience isn’t going to grow all that much each month. You might have 5,000 people to launch to right now, and then three months later you might have 5500 people to launch to — but those are the same people who have already said they don’t want to buy right now. They might buy in the future, but if your goal is to really scale your digital product, then you just have to put your product in front of more people.

The best way to do that is by using Facebook and Instagram ads. I know Facebook and Instagram ads can be super intimidating, but if you look at any successful digital product creator, I can almost guarantee that they’re running ads.

The reason why is because they see these numbers, they know their numbers, and they know that if they want to get more sales, they have to get their product in front of more people.

In my program Powered by Passive Academy, I help you see that Facebook and Instagram ads actually are not that hard, especially when you’re only spending a little bit of money each month, and show you how using data can almost guarantee that you will make back the money you spent on ads plus more so that you have confidence in investing in them to grow your digital product and business.

It really boils down to having the right expectations. If you have an audience of 1,000 people, you’re not going to have a $100,000 launch. Again, there are exceptions but this is the industry standard for these types of products.


Reason #2: You aren’t giving your customers a reason to buy.

I went in-depth on creating urgency and why it’s so important in this post, so I highly recommend giving it a read if you haven’t already.

I see a lot of digital course and membership creators who are hesitant to give people a reason to buy their offer. As humans, we need a reason to take action, and every single type of business uses this strategy. You cannot expect to build a product, put it out on the internet, and then have people running to you ready to buy. You have to give your customers a reason to buy now.

The other thing I see with this is that oftentimes when you launch something new, you might get some sales because it’s a new offer, but then as your product just hangs out on the internet, the sales fade away. As much as you want to talk about it and promote it, if you don’t give people a reason to buy now, then it’s just going sit there; you’re just going to be an open window in their browser that they come back to two weeks later and wonder why they were even looking at it. You have to give them a reason to buy now.

Now the exciting thing is, 1- 3% of those people are going to buy now. Then you’re going to have a whole list of warm people that you can launch or promote to again in the future. So just because you’re giving people a reason to buy right now, it doesn’t mean that they’re never going to buy from you at some point, but if you want to get people to buy, you have to give them a reason. It’s not sleazy, it’s not salesy; it’s just a part of marketing and running a business.


Reason #3: You aren’t selling what people really want

This is why in Powered by Passive Academy, the very first thing we do is figure out what you’re going to be selling. More often than not, if your offer isn’t selling, it’s because you’re not offering something people want to buy. It’s not the funnel, it’s not the membership or course, it’s not even the price point. It’s just because you’re trying to sell something that people don’t really want to buy. Again, that’s why the very first thing we focus on in Powered by Passive Academy is your offer or the result that your product is going to help your customers achieve.

That’s the big thing that most course and membership creators fail at doing: they fail at selling what people really want. Let me give you an example:

If I sold my program Advisori insiders Pro as an offer that would help you learn how to build your own Facebook and Instagram ads business in six weeks, it wouldn’t perform the way it has over the last three years because no one actually wants to start their own business. No one wants to learn how to run Facebook and Instagram ads. No one wants to manage clients. What they do want are the things that owning your own business gives you. What they want is extra income to get out of debt. What they want is to feel like they’re making an impact and have a purpose for what they’re doing — not just sitting in a cubicle at a corporation.

That’s the thing you have to remember: when I’m selling Advisori Insiders Pro, I’m also selling the ability to make more money, work from home, make your own schedule; the ability to do something on the side to earn extra income that doesn’t require you to drive for Uber, or whatever it may be.

You have to give people the next step. If you sell how to grow your Instagram following, why do people want to grow their Instagram following? They want to grow their following because they will then have a bigger audience to sell to, and it’ll be easier for them to get clients. They’ll have more consistency in their business, which means they’ll have more consistent income and they can quit their nine to five then or travel around the world and not worry about it.

That is the biggest thing you need to think about when you’re selling something. You’re not just selling your offer, you’re selling why people want what you’re offering. That’s what you need to understand when it comes to selling any product or service. No one wants to buy things — they want what those things are going to help them achieve.


If you’ve launched your offer and haven’t seen the results you want, this is what you should do next

I want you to go back and see if you hit that 1-3% number. Did 1-3% of the people who opted-in to your freebie buy? If they didn’t, that it’s probably because you’re not giving your customers a reason to buy now, or you’re not selling what they really want.

If you had zero sales, go back and see, if you just didn’t put your product in front of enough people. Did you only have 50 people opt-in to your freebie? Then you’re probably statistically not going to have any sales. So in that case, your lack of sales isn’t because your offer is destined to fail, or you don’t have a product that people want, it’s just you haven’t put it in front of enough people.

If you haven’t launched your digital course or membership yet, I’m not sharing all of this to overwhelm you, but because I want you to be successful from the beginning. Adding passive income to your business model is completely life-changing. If you’re a service provider, that means that you have a second source of income, which empowers you to only say yes to dream clients. It truly is the path to having ultimate time location and financial freedom.

If you want to learn more about how to build and grow your own digital course or membership in a successful way, a truly successful, scalable, and profitable digital product, then make sure you check out my free training right here.


This post may contain affiliate links, which means we receive a tiny commission from the seller at no additional cost to you, if you purchase from them. We only share products and services we have used, tested, and love ourselves!

Konchar-Anna-26 (1)

hi, i'm Anna!

I went from $200,000 in student loan debt to running a multi-million dollar online business in less than 5 years. Along the way, I realized Mondays can be great, stress doesn’t equal success, and you’re capable of more than you think. Now, I have the privilege of helping other ambitious individuals realize their potential and build their dream business and life.


My Favorite Things:

All My Courses and Sales Funnels run on Kajabi!

Use prerecorded video to stand out and create a more personal sales experience for your leads

Get all the templates you need for your opt-in pages, sales pages, webinar funnels and more!

My Favorite Books

All the books I recommend for online business owners!

Healthy food from top-selling, organic brands at wholesale prices.