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SPI 791: How to Generate More Course Sales and the Crossover between Data and Art with John Ainsworth

How can you increase your profit with online courses in 2024? How do you make more sales with email marketing? And how do you grow your email list and engage your subscribers?

Today’s episode answers these questions to help you make more money without being salesy or spammy.

Joining me is John Ainsworth of,, and The Art of Selling Online Courses podcast. Operating at the intersection between the creativity and science of marketing, John is here to share his next-level tactics and strategies with us!

We discuss order bumps and upselling to enhance the effectiveness of your products, John’s eleven-step framework for email promotions, using AI to write copy that converts, shifting your mindset around selling, overcoming the most common customer objections, and more.

This incredible session looks at the top ways to increase your profit with online courses, but John’s expertise is also relevant for anyone running an online business and leveraging funnels to connect with potential clients. Enjoy!

Today’s Guest

John Ainsworth

John Ainsworth is the CEO and founder of Data Driven Marketing. They help online course creators increase revenue by 4.86x on average.

With 20 years of experience in building funnels and a degree in Mathematics, John has conducted extensive data analysis of hundreds of millions of dollars of online business to create the field of Strategic Funnel Optimisation.

Data Driven Marketing has proven this process by helping dozens of online course creators 2x – 5x their revenue and directly driving several million a year in revenue.

John is a guest lecturer at Greenwich Business School and has been featured on Forbes.

You’ll Learn


SPI 791: How to Generate More Course Sales and the Crossover between Data and Art with John Ainsworth

John Ainsworth: Sending out an email promotion every month, one of the reasons people don’t do that is because they feel salesy and spammy if they send out regular email promotions. So the trick is people think it’s either send out an email promotion and then feel salesy and spammy and my audience hates me or don’t send out an email promotion. But there’s a third option, which is send good email promotions that people like receiving and make your sales at the same time. So that’s the trick. And that’s actually where the bulk of the additional revenue for most people is available, is just sending out good email promotions on a regular basis.

Pat Flynn: What I find very interesting about today’s guest is not his awesome British accent, but rather the kind of juxtaposition between his domain name and really what he’s about plus the name of his podcast. So let me tell you both and then we’ll get into it. The name of his podcast is The Art of Selling Online Courses.

And this topic is something that is near and dear to my heart. It’s near and dear to a lot of your hearts as well, since you might be selling online courses or looking to sell an online course in the future. And of course, online courses have changed a little bit over the years. And we do talk about that a bit.

But here is the name of his website, So our guest today, John Ainsworth, is going to help us with the crossover between the two, data driven marketing and the art of selling online courses. He also has a third website where you can get an actual personalized audit of your own funnels called So, I mean, we’re kind of going through all the spectrum here, but all of it is here to help you and serve you. And online courses, winning strategies. It’s all what we’re going to talk about. So let’s get right into it. Here is John Ainsworth from Data Driven Marketing and The Art of Selling Online Courses.

Announcer: You’re listening to the Smart Passive Income Podcast, a proud member of the Entrepreneur Podcast Network, a show that’s all about working hard now, so you can sit back and reap the benefits later. And now your host, he’s not sure if a wireless mouse should even be called a mouse anymore. Because there’s no tail. Pat Flynn.

Pat Flynn: John, welcome to SPI. Thanks for being here, man.

John Ainsworth: Thank you very much. Delighted to be here. I’ve been a fan of the show for many years.

Pat Flynn: Well, I appreciate that. And I was so grateful to be on your show and everybody’s going to be grateful that you’re here because we’re talking about making more revenue, generating more sales with our online courses.

And a lot of this can be used for whatever it is that we’re offering online. Because there’s a lot of principles that will matter. And The Art of Selling Online Courses is your podcast. And like, tell me why it’s more of an art. Why isn’t it just like, oh, numbers and stuff. Like what makes it an art?

John Ainsworth: I know, right?

Because my business is called the Data Driven Marketing. So we’re totally all about the numbers. And it’s because my copywriter was coming up with possible names for the show, and she thought that one was the coolest one. And we all liked it. And that’s it. There’s no, I don’t know. There’s a bit of an art to it, right?

So there’s a certain amount of science and a certain amount of art to it. What we’ve tried to do as much as we can is like boil it down into like systems and processes and stuff that you can do repeatedly. And then within that, then there’s a certain amount of creativity that you have to do inside of that framework.

Pat Flynn: Were you always into marketing and data driven in your previous life if there was one?

John Ainsworth: So my first thing that’s kind of led me to here was I started off in sales. When I was a student, I had your typical rubbish jobs working in a factory and all that kind of stuff. And then I saw this advert for job selling.

Actually, I don’t think they said in the advert what it was. It said just like travel to America, meet lots of people, get great experience. I was like, Oh, this sounds interesting. And it turns out it was a job selling books door to door. And it was absolutely brutal. Know, 80 hours a week, commission only, they give you a week’s training, and then they kind of throw you out in the field and off you go.

And I did really well at it, and I made a lot of money in my summers when I was a student selling books door to door. But it was, it was like, oh, it’s hard, man. It’s a really hard thing.

Pat Flynn: You’re in the UK. Yeah. Yeah. And you went from the UK to the US during the summer because of an ad. I mean, that’s good copywriting, number one. To sell books, how do you do that? Like, what’s the approach when you go into a bookstore? It’s like, Hey, I see you have like thousands of books already. Like, do you want another one?

John Ainsworth: Oh, you sell it door to door. You sell it to people, like to family books, go to people.

Pat Flynn: Okay. I mean, that’s even worse.

John Ainsworth: These books were for helping people with their homework. So as families, you had school aged kids helping them with like the maths homework, English homework, that kind of thing. You know, you’ve got encyclopedias back then, you know, or the internet just kind of started to exist and that kind of stuff helped with doing like big book reports or doing like big assignments.

And this was for more like the little bits of homework, how to do algebra, how to remember the names of all the presidents, whatever, that kind of thing.

Pat Flynn: I see. So was it, was it hard for you to, I mean, you got good at it at some point where you naturally get at that at, at the start or?

John Ainsworth: Oh, no, no, it was terrible.

How’d you get better? So my first week, my first door, I remember going and knocking on it and they given us this whole script and we’d practice the script and we’d got amazing at it over the course of like a week and we really nailed it. And I got up to the first one. I’m so nervous. I just, the guy opens the door and I look at him and I just go, everything’s gone.

My whole head is completely empty. And I just look at him and I go, books?

And he’s like, no, I was like, Oh, okay. Then I moved on. But I basically, I just got obsessed with it. I was like, okay, right. I know that this is a thing that other people can do. There’s a process for how to do it. Let me learn how to do it. And they had a whole manual for it. And I’d just go home and I’d study the manual and I’d read back through it and I’d practice all the stuff and every day I’d be like, right, I’m going to get better at this one little part of it and I just get better day after day, week after week.

And then I went back like three different summers and did it again and again until I got, you know, really, really good at it. Nice.

Pat Flynn: So it was reps. It just took reps for you to get it.

John Ainsworth: Yeah, reps and like, it’s quite easy to have rubbish reps. Do you know what I mean? Like we just do the same thing again and again, but this was like, you know, really focused on, okay, how do I make this a bit better?

How do I make it a little bit better? I quite like that whole, what’s that term? Kaizen? You know, like 1 percent improvements, just a continuous little improvements kind of approach.

Pat Flynn: Yeah, James Clear, Atomic Habits, 1 percent better every day kind of thing. And I think that relates very well to, business online.

I mean, a lot of us go through our rubbish first door knocks, if you will, on the internet and like, you’ve seemed to have figured out how to do this very well. So in today’s world, you know, it’s early 2024 right now, John, what is working for generating revenue? Cause I’ve been in this business for 16 years.

There are principles that always remain the same, but things are changing all the time. It’s confusing. It’s hard. Give us a little rundown. What, what framework systems should we be worrying about right now? And then we can get into the dirty details after.

John Ainsworth: Yeah. So there’s three main elements that work for increasing revenue, especially if you’re selling courses.

The same thing applies if you’re going to be doing e commerce or selling services, but the details change between whatever you’re saying. So when you’re selling courses, there’s three main areas. One is how can you make more revenue per client? The second one is how can you make more sales to your email list? And the third one is how do you grow your email list bigger? And what most people who are in this kind of space are doing is they send out one or two bad email promotions a year. They have low revenue per sale. They have low numbers of promotions, the emails themselves aren’t good, and they’re not building their email list that much.

Now, listeners to your podcast are probably doing a better job at a lot of this stuff, because I know you cover a lot of these things. But that’s the general trend. That’s like 95 percent of people that I see. So if you can correct those and have high revenue per sale, good percentage of your email list buying, and a bigger email list, then overall you make a lot more money.

Normally, like five times more, that kind of thing.

Pat Flynn: I think it’s interesting that you started with more revenue per user. That’s really interesting to me because in most cases, I think, especially for the beginner, it’s like, okay, we need more people to just know about us, right? I mean, yes, maybe we have a few sales here and there, but we need more.

We need to introduce ourselves or get in front of or interrupt somebody else’s thing to put our thing into it. However, you’re saying no, like there are people who are already potentially buying from you. This is for maybe you had a first lunch, but there’s when you say more revenue. We’re not just saying like, okay, I should just double the price of my course, right?

What do you really mean?

John Ainsworth: Yeah. So what else can you sell those people? So the people who buy something from you are 20 times more likely to buy something else from you. That’s approximately what the data shows with our, with our customers. 20 times. About 20 times. Yeah. So if you’ve got an email list and you’ve got a percentage of that email list you’ve bought from you before, those people are 20 times more likely to buy the next thing from you than the ones who haven’t bought something from you before.

And it varies slightly, but that’s the right kind of ballpark. So once someone’s bought something, why not offer them something else to buy from you? And that could be an order bump or an upsell, or it could be, you know, ongoing membership, something like that. So the reason I put them in that order is because that’s the order that we recommend people to do them in.

Because it’s easier to make more money from an existing customer than it is to grow your email list. And the reason for that is you make more money right now when you start making more money per customer. It’s the easiest one to see the result from it. So I had someone come up to me at a conference a little while back and he said, I saw your talk at a previous conference and I implemented the order bumps and now I make 5,000 more per month.

And it’s like, that’s fantastic. Like it’s the only thing that he changed. He just did that one thing. It makes 5,000 more per month. And I was like, did you do tactic number two? He’s like, no, I totally forgot that it was anything else. That’s the only one that I remember, but I did that. And that made me five grand.

I’m like, okay, cool. I’ve got tactic number two for you. Tell me again in a year, how you got on with that. And so the ways that you do that is there’s two really simple ways, order bumps and upsells. So if you’re selling courses at the moment, this is about how do you offer an additional product to someone as they’re buying from you.

So an order bump is an additional offer that you have on the checkout page and an upsell is an additional offer that you have after the checkout page, like the confirmation page after that. Apart from that, they’re basically in concept, kind of the same thing. It’s just offer them something else, but technically they’re in different places and then there’s slight nuance to what you offer.

Pat Flynn: So how do you make an order bump, you know, this is before checkout, not feel like the aisle at the grocery store where it’s just like, Hey, okay, you’re checking out. You got your stuff that you needed, but gum, beef jerky, the little travel Advil’s, how do you make it not seem like you’re just kind of siphon as much money as possible, but how do you make it more valuable?

What kinds of things are good order bumps?

John Ainsworth: Yeah. What we’re looking for is something that makes the course that they’re buying be quicker To implement or goes along with it nicely. So for example, if you’re selling a course, you might sell additional workbooks, or if you’re selling a main course, you might have a secondary course that kind of goes along with it. As we’ve got a client who was selling a course for about 600 and it was about SEO. It’s about how do you build up the traffic that you’re getting and then they had as the order bump a whole bunch of pre research niches. So they’d gone and they’d found like there’s 30 or 40 different niches that they thought were going to be, you know, good for SEO that you could be like, but that’s the topic. That’s the niche. I’m going to be focusing my content on that. They’ve already done a bunch of the work for you in advance. So people can kind of see why that makes sense that it’s not an essential part of the main course, but it’s something else that makes it easier, makes it faster for you.

Anything that you could put as a bonus, you also could put as an order bump. I think that’s kind of a good way of looking at it. It can’t be an essential part of the course that you’ve just missed out. But if there’s an extra thing that you can come up with that makes it easier for the person to implement it or faster, then that fits really well.

Pat Flynn: How would you know whether to make something a bonus versus an order bump? That seems like it might be hard for a person to decide.

John Ainsworth: Yeah, I guess maybe that’s part of the art of it, I suppose. How would you decide with that? That’s an interesting one. So here’s what we do, right? We go through all the products that somebody already has, and normally people have got more stuff that they’ve ever made than they even realize.

So people have in their head, Oh, I’ve got this main course and this main course. Okay. What have you ever created? Have you ever done an additional Q and A webinar that you no longer have available for everybody out there? Do you have any extra training that you did in person that you recorded? Do you have anything that you’ve ever done that you’ve sold through a partner that you don’t have as a main offer?

Just list everything that you’ve got, then look through all of those things and say, which of those would make the best order bump. Now that’s not necessarily the perfect order bump, but the huge benefit of doing it this way is you can get something up straight away. And if it doesn’t convert, if people aren’t buying it, then you can go back and say, okay, that wasn’t perfect.

Maybe we’re going to try something else, or maybe we’re going to make something bespoke. But the biggest mistake that I see people make here is that they try and create, they say, ah, I’ve got the idea. I know what the perfect one would be. I’m going to make that that’s going to take me two months and then they don’t get around to it for four months because I’ve got other projects going on and then they don’t do it.

That’s not the approach. The best one is make a list of everything you’ve got and then choose something from in there and go that, let’s try that out. And I think if you’re making your course and something feels at that point, like it belongs in the course and you, yeah, call it a bonus, you call it part of the main course.

Don’t include that, but find something else that fits with it. So I had a friend actually who did had a main product was for marketing agency owners, and it was a training on how to run some specific part of their marketing. And the order bump was. A Q& A with other agency owners about the biggest mistake they made when implementing their marketing.

And so it was obvious that that didn’t have to be a part of the course. It wasn’t how to do the thing, but it fitted really well. It was really kind of nice fit with it.

Pat Flynn: That’s nice. I like that because you’re right. I mean, we can think of a good one and then we have to create it and then we’re not going to do that.

But you might already have those assets. What system or tech are you using to do the order bumps? This often will hold people back as well. They’re just like, well, it sounds like a good idea, but I don’t, I don’t know how to do that. Do you have any recommendations?

John Ainsworth: Yeah. I mean, most of the systems that people are using for either checkout software or for course hosting like Kajabi or Thinkific or Teachable have all got order bumps in there.

So as Thrivecart, so as ClickFunnels. So most systems have already got this in. If the tech stack that you are using doesn’t allow you to do order bumps, then don’t do this one first because changing tech stacks takes ages and it’s so much a form of procrastination. It’s really easy to go, I’m going to change to the perfect tech stack, and this one’s going to be exactly right, and none of them are perfect.

I’ve never seen anything that people are like, Oh, my God, every single thing about this is exactly the way that I want to be. You’ve got to make some compromises. So just go with what you’ve got. If you can’t do order bumps, but you can do upsells. Do upsells. And if you can’t do order bumps or upsells, leave that for now and focus on doing more email promotions and then come back to this at some point once you’ve implemented the other steps.

Pat Flynn: Nice. Final question on order bumps. Also, I want to throw in SamCart in there as well. That could be easy one to add on top of anything else you have to do. Order bumps, that’s what they specialize in. Last question. Order bump for additional access. Is that something that you’d recommend? It’s like, Hey, here’s a 30 minute call with me if you pay this much or get into this cohort that will allow us to connect together for a certain period of time for our course or something like that.

John Ainsworth: Probably would put that as an upsell. And the reason is, as a general rule, we found that about a third of the price of the main product is a good price point for the order bump. And about the same or more expensive is a good price point for the upsell. So if you’re offering a 30 minute call, unless your time is being offered quite cheaply, then probably that’s going to be more expensive than the course that you’re selling.

So I probably wouldn’t put that in. I’ve got a friend who he does that as I don’t know if you know him, Jack Hopkins. Oh, yeah. He runs Piano in 21 days. And he’s got, I think, two free sessions with him or something like that as the order bump. And it kind of works for him because not that many people actually ever book those sessions.

But then that’s not great for his customers. So he’s like, is that good? Is that not because if people aren’t ever booking that thing, well, I’ve just spent money on something. They’re not actually using, which doesn’t, you know, it’s not amazing, but if everybody booked them, he’d almost definitely stop doing it because.

He would just be booked up with all of these one on one sessions with people. So, I think you need to be charging a good amount for any one to one session. And the same thing with, you’d said about like, you know, get access to me through whatever, a cohort or an ongoing session. That’s probably going to be more expensive.

I think you talked when you came on my podcast about it being maybe 300 bucks if you’re buying the course and 500 bucks if you’re also buying the access for the cohort kind of process to go through.

Pat Flynn: Exactly. In general, your time is valuable. You don’t want to cheapen that, right? And that anchors the other things too, that you have going on.

You don’t want to cheapen, in fact, you kind of want to also just keep that higher. That’s premium so that everything else will feel like, okay, well, I can’t get access to Pat or to John because it costs a lot. So I’m going to, you know, this course sounds like a great deal versus the other way around.

That’s really great. Okay. So that’s order bumps and upsells. You obviously talk a lot about this on your podcast. There is some art to it. There’s a lot more science behind it as well. The more you do something, the more data you get and the more you can analyze what is working and what’s not, and continually making changes over time.

When you. Are looking at the data. I’m curious. How often are you looking at data and what kind of data is important to you when it comes to sales? You know, obviously, revenue is important. But beyond that, what are we looking at? And how do we analyze that best?

John Ainsworth: Yeah, we break this down into a lot of small steps.

And then we know what the benchmarks are for each one of those steps. So therefore, you can tell exactly where you should be focusing. So most of the revenue for course business comes from sending email promotions. So we’re looking with that with how many emails were sent. Yeah. How many were opened and what was the open rate?

How many were clicked and what was the click through rate? How many of those people actually got to the sales page? So you might lose some people between the click and the sales page, especially if it loads slowly. Then how many people got from the sales page to the checkout page? How many people went from checkout page to buying?

And then what percentage of those people who bought got the order bump and what percentage got the upsell? So it’s a funnel. It’s like the numbers in a funnel. That’s exactly what we’re always looking at every single time. So every email promotion that we do, we’ll track all of those numbers and then we’ll analyze them and go, How did it do?

Was there any step in there that wasn’t good, that needs improving?

Pat Flynn: How do you track easily? I know a lot of people get flustered by that and it’s like, Oh, now there’s like five different tools and there’s numbers from each of them, right? Your email service provider, and then it’s like the click through rate, but then they go from there to the sales page. And so you have to look at traffic, but then. traffic to conversion into the sales page and then checkout, it just again could be very overwhelming. Can you simplify this for us?

John Ainsworth: Yeah, so we do it all in the spreadsheet. We don’t use any fancy software for it. So we’ll be using, let’s say it’s ConvertKit, right?

We’re going to be using ConvertKit for what was the open rate, what was the click through rate? How many emails were sent? And then we’ll be using Google Analytics typically for what was the conversion rate from the sales page to the checkout page from checkout page to buying is easy, right? Because that will be in whatever software you’ve got for the sales.

You have the number of sales in there. How many people bought the upsell will be in there as well. How many people bought the order bump will be in the checkout software. We put that all in the spreadsheet, and then there’s a formula that calculates the conversion percentage. We don’t ever do it in anything more complex than that, because that is the simplest possible system that can get you the result and that keeps everything under control.

Pat Flynn: I like that. It’s kind of, it’s just raw at that point. There’s no connections and APIs. And I mean, I know a lot of, there are tools that are available that try to help you see the funnel and those can work too, if, especially if you’ve figured it out, but if you or a small team or a solopreneur, it’s going to be much, much easier to just kind of go to the raw data for important metrics.

So there’s a lot of conversion points here, right? There is the conversion point of just open emails from email to click, click to sales page, sales page, to. Of the entire funnel, where do you think is the biggest opportunity for people to generate more revenue?

John Ainsworth: The way to look at this is what steps are you currently not doing?

So let’s say you already got email promotions going out and they’re going to a sales page and you’ve got a checkout page. Now you can make your sales page convert better and you can make your checkout page convert better. But if you don’t have an order bump at all, then it’s the easiest win is to just put an order bump in because you’re guaranteed it’s going to do better when you’ve got something versus when you have nothing.

So the first thing to do is go through and actually just put all of those steps in place. So anything that you’re currently missing now what most people are missing completely are having an order bump, having an upsell and then doing email promotions regularly. Most people only do email promotions like once or twice a year.

So for example, Black Friday is one time when everybody does it. And then everybody has this giant spike in sales when they do the email promotion. And then the rest of the year, they’re not sending email promotions out at all. And then they don’t have that spike in sales. So one of the things there is sending out an email promotion every month.

Now, if you’ve only got one course, that’s tricky. But if you’ve got, let’s say, three courses, then every month you could do a promotion for a course, and then after three months, you cycle back through again and start again. One of the reasons people don’t do that is because they feel salesy and spammy if they send out regular email promotions.

Pat Flynn: Yeah, the pitchforks are gonna come and get me if I promote too much.

John Ainsworth: Yeah, and they feel uncomfortable about it. And they’re worried that their subscribers will unsubscribe, which are all fair, yeah, fears, right? That’s all things that could happen. So the trick is it’s not a, it’s a false dichotomy. People think it’s either send out an email promotion and then feel sales can spam me and my audience hates me or don’t send out an email promotion.

But there’s a third option, which is send good email promotions that people like receiving and make you sales at the same time. So that’s the trick. And that’s actually where the bulk of the additional revenue for most people is available is just sending out good email promotions on a regular basis.

Pat Flynn: So define good email promotions.

John Ainsworth: So it has to be really, really valuable content for those people who aren’t going to buy, because in every single email promotion, about 99 percent of people are not going to buy from that promotion. So you want them to actually think the content was valuable and want to stay on your list.

So we’ve got a structure of kind of framework of how we always do this. But I would say that you want at least half of it to be useful content, even if someone doesn’t buy that thing from you. And even if someone never buys from you, they should actually be getting value from receiving all of these emails.

Pat Flynn: It’s funny because when I do a webinar, it’s like, Oh, it’s got to be 45 minutes of incredible value because I want it to be worth a person’s time because their time is valuable. And then I can go into a much easier, not even pitch, but it’s just the end of the conversation is, Hey, if you want to work more with us. Like here it is. Yet when we think about emails, we don’t think about it in the same kind of way. Although we are still asking people to spend time reading that email, why not make it valuable? So what is a valuable email to a subscriber related to a topic look like? Is this a listicle? Is it a story?

What’s in that email specifically?

John Ainsworth: So we’ve got a framework that we use where it’s 11 emails that go out over two weeks. And the Framework for it is pain, agitation, solution, gain, logic, fear, future casting, frequently asked questions, going, going, gone. So that’s the overall framework and kind of break down if you like what all of them are, but that’s the kind of the overall structure.

Pat Flynn: Yeah, I mean, we don’t have to go through necessarily all 11, but let’s go through the first one pain. So the first email that goes out that then talks about a course or something that we’re offering. What do you mean by pain?

John Ainsworth: Yeah, so we’re not mentioning the course at this point. at all. Oh, not at all. No, the first week is just value.

So what we’re trying to do is so pain, agitation, solution emails is the pain is talking to them about this is a pain point that you’re currently feeling and you’re trying to make sure that they understand their own problem more clearly than they previously did. If they believe that you understand their problem, they’re more likely to believe that you might have a solution for them.

If they don’t believe you even know what their problem is, why should they think that you can solve it? But we’re not just trying to show them that we know what it is, we’re trying to help them understand their own problem at the moment. And then the agitation, when we’re talking more about, okay, this is what that might mean in your life.

This is what emotions you might be feeling because of this is what knock on effects that might have in your which they probably don’t even realize because they’re too day to day within their own stuff that’s going on. Let’s say they’ve got a new puppy and their puppy pees on the carpet and they’re just like frustrated because they haven’t managed to train their puppy first.

So first of all, your email, you’re talking about the pain of what that’s like. And then the agitation you’re talking about, okay, here’s how that might affect you in the future. Here’s how six months later you is going to feel because of this thing, which you know, and they don’t know, you know, because you’ve gone through it.

That’s a separate email, right? The agitation is like email. Yeah. Okay. Got it. So as a sequence, and yeah, that’s great. And then the solution is, well, let’s give them a tip. Let’s help them to actually solve that problem right now. Even if they don’t get your course, we’re just solving, we’re just giving them a tip on how to solve it in the solution one.

Pat Flynn: I like that. I talk about quick wins all the time. And sometimes I go into the quick win way too fast. It’s like, Hey, if you’re dealing with, you know, a puppy that pees on the carpet, here’s a quick win for you. Because I want to give as much value as fast as possible. But I think it’s so important that I need to be reminded often that we really need to lean into the pain and the just relatability.

And this is where story comes into play. This is where a case study might come into play or data like studies, like 68 percent of people who don’t take care of this end up either getting rid of the puppy or, you know, having fights with the other people in the house because of it. And we don’t want that to happen to you too.

And it’s like the more care you take into setting things up, the more a, the solution is wanted. and B, the easier it is to just bring it up in a conversation like manner where it doesn’t become salesy. I think almost it’s salesy if you don’t do the pain and agitation part. It’s like you’re just trying to jump into what you have to offer.

You’re not really trying to be relatable, right?

John Ainsworth: Yeah. One of the things that goes wrong, I think, in people’s psychology with this is that they’re so worried about how they feel about themselves that they don’t think enough about how does the audience member actually feel when they’re reading us. So the starting point for this has got to be this person has got a problem. You have got a solution. We want to help them. We’ve got to forget about ourselves. We’ve got to get rid of our own thoughts about our own insecurities. And what if someone thinks this about me, what have you? And really focus on this audience that I’ve got. Some of them have got a dog that is peeing on the carpet.

We’ve got to help these people. And we’ve got to think about like, how’s that affecting them? How’s that affecting their life? And I’ve got a solution, which is I’ve got this course, which is going to help with that. And with training their dog overall, if they buy the course, their life will be better. So it’s my duty to try and get that across to them and not like force it down their throat, but to actually like, see, can I help this person to see that this thing can solve their problem?

And when you start to look at it like that, it, Gets a little bit easier because your own fears and worries and concerns don’t get in the way so much.

Pat Flynn: That’s so true. A lot of things are coming to mind where we kind of jump to trying to be problem solvers so quickly that we forget to do the listening part up front.

That helps a person realize that you know what they’re going through, right? I’m sure you could talk to my wife about that, in fact, about me. Anyway, what goes after sharing the solution? So that’s like email number three. You mentioned a bunch of other letters and we can pick apart a few of those.

John Ainsworth: Yeah, so gain logic fears the next one.

So this is reasons why someone should solve this problem more deeply. So our first few emails have talked about the problem and got them thinking about it and make him giving them that tip. Now we’re starting to launch the course and tell them yes, you can actually go and buy this course, it’s available, it’s going to help you to solve this problem.

But the content of the email, the gain logic and fear all about why should they solve the problem. So the gain one is about what benefits are there going to be to them, by solving this problem, whether it’s through getting your course or through something else. The logic is all stats, figures, examples of like specific numbers, studies, whatever about people who’ve solved this problem, how much better their life has been or have you.

And then the fear one is about the emotions of it. What are someone concerned about losing if they don’t manage to solve all of this? So each of those they’re going to appeal to each person to a certain extent, but some people will gravitate more towards one of those angles or more towards another.

Some people are more fear based and some people are more logical and some people are more gain based.

Pat Flynn: That’s really great. Now, I know you go deeper into this in your podcast and you have a website called Pimp My Funnels?

John Ainsworth: No, Pimp, Pimp Your Funnel. Pimp Your funnels. Pimp Your funnels. Yeah, I went to buy Pimp My Funnel and I found that Russell Brunson had already had the same idea and he bought it before me.

Pat Flynn: I mean, great minds think alike, you know. No, that’s cool. So yes, definitely check those places out and you go much into deeper detail about each of these things. But one thing that I’m thinking of, that like none of this works if we’re not getting people to open our emails. Yeah. So what are we doing and how do we get a person to see our email and click it when literally that’s what everybody else is trying to do at the same time?

John Ainsworth: Yeah. So I think this is really just about trying to provide as much free value as you can. And I think most people who certainly a lot of people who I’m talking with are making lots of great content on a regular basis. They’re creating a podcast or they’re creating YouTube videos or they’re writing blog posts and the simple version of this is just sending out useful links to all of those things and saying here’s what’s great about this video.

Here’s what I’m covering and then sending out somebody a link to it and so that most of what those people are receiving from you is either useful educational content or entertaining content or what have you so that they are used to seeing stuff from you that is good and they want to click on it and go open and it builds up your authority and it builds up your your open rate I don’t have any kind of magic, clever tricks on that.

It’s just send those out on a regular basis and make sure they’re really good content.

Pat Flynn: I mean, it sounds like the regular basis part of this is really important so that you can almost in a way, train your audience to know that every time they open one of your emails, every time they see it in their inbox, that there’s going to be something worth their time in there.

John Ainsworth: Yeah, absolutely.

Pat Flynn: And then I know that it’s really important that once you get a person to click on that email, it almost becomes sales page, like in the sense that you’ve got to hook a person in the beginning of that email or else they’re kind of out, right? They got to understand that that is for them.

So in, for example, the, the pain email or the agitation email, how are you starting those emails?

John Ainsworth: A lot of it’s based around either stories or stuff that’s based on what your audience have told you. So one of the things that we do as an essential starting point, whenever we’re working with a client, is that we do a survey of their audience.

We do a customer avatar survey. So we will send out a lot of questions like what is the benefit that you got from the course if they bought it or what benefit are you looking to get in your life? What problems are you currently facing? We ask them stuff about, you know, age and gender and we’re trying to understand what kind of people are in our audience and we’re learning as much as we possibly can about what their problems are, what their desires are, what they would do to solve this if they didn’t get the course from us, et cetera, et cetera.

And we do two things with that. We make a customer avatar from that. So we’re saying, okay, this is the kind of person who we’re targeting. It’s much easier to write for one person, even if they’re an imaginary amalgamation of everybody in your audience, than it is to write for 50,000 or 100,000 people.

And the second thing we’re doing is we’re making a customer language document. So we’re taking specific words and phrases that are repeatedly used by our customers, and we’re including those in the customer language document. And we can also use going through forums or comments on YouTube videos or whatever else anywhere their audience has been participating to pull that information in from.

Once we’ve got that, that’s what we’re using in the emails. So we’re talking to them about their pain points, not what we think their pain points might be, but what they have told us their pain points are. So that’s all the stuff that we’re taking and we’re, we’re saying back to them. And then we obviously might talk to them about how they’re going to be solving that, how our understanding of that pain point, but our starting point is the raw material of what is our audience saying to us.

Pat Flynn: That’s such a great tip. It almost becomes like you don’t have to necessarily even guess anymore. Like, you know what the words are. You just kind of have to put them in the right order and, and try to hook them. Are you using or are you and your team using any AI or tools like Chat GPT to help you with coming up with this stuff?

And if you do, like, what are the things we should make sure to do so that it’s just not like generic content that we’re putting out there?

John Ainsworth: Yeah, we’re testing it. And sometimes it’s good. And a lot of the time, it’s not at the moment, we’re still working on, you know, which different tools might give us better results, the best process we’ve got so far that has worked the most reliably is we take all that data, I take our customer avatar and we tell that ChatGPT, we’ll paste that into ChatGPT and we’ll get it to say it back to us. So summarize this customer avatar back to me to show that it’s got that in the memory that it’s understood. And then we’ll say, okay, and here’s the customer language document.

And then we put that in and get it to say some of those phrases back to us to make sure that we’ve added it in. Right? Is it? And then we say, now what we’re trying to do is we’re trying to create this kind of an email. Now we’re doing the pain email. Here’s an example of that email. Now pretend you’re a copywriter and write a version of that email for this audience.

Promote it. And we’ll also tell it like, this is the course that we’re promoting. This is the topic. And so feed all of that data in at the beginning and then get it to write the email back for us. With our current copywriter, we’re finding that is getting her stuff that it takes it just as long to go through and redo as it would do if she just did it herself in the first place, but if you’re not any good at writing emails, that process might be the starting point that you need, you know, feed all that data in and then tell it to give this a try, create a draft one for you.

Pat Flynn: Yeah, that makes sense. I mean, you got to train the system and what are you going to trade it on all these things that we just talked about? And I think that’s really smart. And then over time, like, hopefully you get to pick these things up and they just become a part of how, you know, you, you know, your audience.

Well, you know, and then just those micro improvements over time and with every email. So we talked about a few things we talked about order bumps and upsells really important. Start there. It’s quote unquote low hanging fruit, as they might say, to send more emails, but not just more emails, good emails using the system. We talked a little bit about the framework, and we featured a few of those. And then the end of that sequence, before we move on to the last bit, was the going, going, gone. Can you speak to that, and what that actually means, and what that might look like in terms of an email sequence?

John Ainsworth: Most people procrastinate on making a decision about most things.

So what we’re doing in the going going gone is trying to deal with what is it that’s stopping them from actually going ahead and getting the course. The standard way of doing these, the more salesy way of doing going going gone emails are saying it’s 48 hours till the sale is over. You must get it now, otherwise there’s discounts never going to be available again. That kind of thing. What we’re trying to do in the ones we’re sending is understand what is the actual problem that’s stopping somebody from buying. What is the actual issue that’s getting in the way? Is it procrastination? Is it fear that they’ll never be able to actually achieve this result themselves?

What is it that’s their blockage? And then we’re addressing that head on and saying, you know, if you buy in the next two days, you’re going to get a discount on this course. But the real thing is that if you make a decision now, you’ll actually have the course and that’s going to help you to deal with X.

But you’re probably feeling Y emotion, right. Let’s address that and talk to you about why that’s not a valid reason not to go ahead and actually do this. And that might be procrastination or fear or whatever else it is.

Pat Flynn: So uncover any known objection that might be there stopping a person. So I know a common one, you know, I’ve done courses for a while is, Oh, I don’t know if I’m gonna have enough time right to do this.

Like, this sounds great, but I’m already busy. I don’t have any time. How do you refute that?

John Ainsworth: Yeah. So there’s a beautiful approach to dealing with this. It works really, really well, which is you say to someone, okay, let’s imagine that you’ve only got, let’s take an imaginary scenario, one hour a week to deal with this.

You’re not going to go through the whole course because you’re not going to have time to do that. You’re just going to choose this module, one of these three modules. And here’s how you’re going to decide which module it is that you’re going to go through. And you’re going to do one hour a week. This is the minimum amount that you might put in, and this is how your life might be different in a day, a week, a month, three months, six months.

If you do just that amount, if you do the whole course and you put five hours a week into it. Man, it’s going to be phenomenal. But just that one hour, you still can have a real difference in your life. And it’s actually going to be worthwhile. And here’s how it’s going to look for future you. And he’ll be so glad, or she’ll be so glad that you did that.

And here’s the emotion that that future you is going to feel.

Pat Flynn: That’s really good. I really like that position. Let’s do another one. This seems expensive. Like the price is, you know, I know this is a common one as well. It’s like, that’s a lot of money, John. I don’t know if I could, I can get it for maybe cheaper elsewhere.

It’s not, it just costs a lot.

John Ainsworth: So there’s a couple of different angles on this depending on what you’re selling. So if you’re selling something that’s B2B, you’re selling something that’s going to help them to make more money. Then it’s possible to break that down and give examples of, okay, this percentage of our clients who went through and did this made X amount more money.

Here’s how that all works out in terms of it actually being worthwhile. And it depends whether they’re saying it’s just a lot of money or it’s a lot of money compared to doing something else. Because there’s something else, for example, might be going and just learning all from YouTube or listening to podcasts or what have you, which they absolutely can do.

That’s like a totally valid argument. And the answer there is yes, you totally can do that. And if you have the time and you don’t have the money, you Great, go do that. I’ve been making the podcast for three years. Go download all these episodes, knock yourself out. It’s going to be fantastic. But what I’ve done in the course is I’ve put all that information in the correct order to make it really easy for you to be able to implement this.

And I’ve added in all of these additional resources to make it quicker and easier for you to be able to actually do everything. And you know, for definite that what you’re getting in here is up to date and it is valid and correct. It’s from me right now in 2024. So this is going to save you an enormous amount of time by buying the course and actually implementing that right now.

And if time is not the issue and money is, then I totally understand don’t buy it. But if you just don’t have enough time available, then probably it’s worth spending the money on it because it’s going to save you X number of hours.

Pat Flynn: Masterful. That is great. Let’s do, let’s do one more. These are good.

Actually, why don’t you tell me what is a common objection that a person might have that we can address in our emails during our campaign?

John Ainsworth: Yeah. One of the things is that people just don’t believe they’re actually going to get the results. You know, they’re not actually going to implement it. They’re not going to follow through and do what they’re supposed to do.

And that might be time or it might be something else about them. Right. So let’s say it’s around weight loss and everyone thinks, well, I’ve already tried all these other programs and they didn’t work for me and they didn’t stick. Well, presumably you’ve got some kind of a model, some kind of a mechanism that is different that you think is better.

So for example, I’ve got a friend, Ollie, who teaches learning languages through stories. And his angle is, you might not want to learn this, you might get bored learning these languages, you might find that you never stick with anything because it’s all so dull. And therefore, what I’ve done is I’ve come up with this method called story learning.

And it’s fun, and it’s entertaining, it’s interesting, and you can learn through reading books in other languages that you like, or learning through watching TV shows in other languages that you enjoy. Or I’ve got another friend who sells language learning courses, and she teaches people perfect English grammar.

It’s called Shona. And her audience are people who want to get the grammar exactly perfect, they don’t want to get it nearly right. They want to get it exactly correct because they tend to be academics and someone who’s done really well in school, but in a different language. And so her angle is you haven’t managed to be able to do this before because other people aren’t focusing on getting the grammar perfect.

They’re saying, go and just try out the language and talk to people and walk out into the world and just have a chat with people. And that frustrates you because that doesn’t fit with what you’re after. Well, in my classes, we’re going to focus on making sure that you get the grammar exactly correct because I’m teaching this in an academic fashion that fits with exactly the way that you work.

Now they have completely different audiences to each other. Neither one’s audience would buy the other ones course, but for their audience, they can say, this is why this thing is going to work for you for the kind of person that you are, this is why it’s going to work for you. And that helps address that fear of Oh, I’m not going to do this.

I’m not going to implement it because I didn’t manage with all these other ones.

Pat Flynn: That’s really great, John. Thank you for those examples. Lastly, again, we talked about upsells and order bumps, and then we talked about sending more emails and we broke those down and we went into just a beautiful exercise here with the objections for the going, going gone part, et cetera.

The last one, correct me if I’m wrong, was just build your email list up, right? This is, and this is often where people start, which is why I love we started kind of in reverse order. But if John, you only had today one method available to you to grow your email list, what method would you choose today and why.

John Ainsworth: There’s a very simple thing that most people aren’t doing, and it’s actually doesn’t take terribly long to implement it, which is to take whatever your best lead magnet is, so you’ve, I’m assuming someone’s already got a lead magnet of some sort, some free resource that they’re giving away in order to get someone to the email list and just actually promote it everywhere. So if you’re blogging, put the lead magnet, put adverts for your lead magnet, top, middle, and bottom of your blog post, put them in the sidebar, put them as a pop up, put them on your homepage.

Everywhere on your site, put those promotions for it. And what we typically find is about 0.5 percent of people’s website traffic typically converts to joining their email list. That about 95 percent of the people I talk with, it’s between 0.5 and 1%. And if you just do this, you can typically get to about 2%.

And the same thing with YouTube videos. If you’ve got lots of YouTube videos, but you never mentioned the lead magnet in the description or the pinned comments, just put it in every single video you’ve ever done go in and put a link to that lead magnet in there. So it seems so basic, but most people just aren’t doing it.

And therefore, that’s the easiest win is just to go and implement that.

Pat Flynn: I like that. You know, we often are hoping for the magic potion to do a lot of this stuff for us. And more often than not, the real answer is the thing that it was always in front of us and available to do. And this is another example of that.

So, John, this has been absolutely incredible. Thank you so much for the breakdown today. And if people wanted to go deeper with you, where should they go and shout them out?

John Ainsworth: Yeah. So if you want to learn about any of those specific tactics in more detail, then go to The Art of Selling Online Courses. We’ve got a YouTube channel with that name and a podcast with that name.

And if you just want the direct link, go to or If you want us to do a personalized breakdown for you of what tactics should you implement and link you to some free training, then go to and fill in the form there, and we’re going to ask you for a bunch of numbers about what you’ve currently got in place. And we’ll send you a link saying, this is what you should be doing. This is training on how to go do it.

Pat Flynn: Amazing. John, you’re incredible. Thank you so much for coming in today. I appreciate you. And hopefully we’ll get a chance to chat again soon.

John Ainsworth: Thanks, Pat. Really appreciate it.

Pat Flynn: All right. Take care.

All right. I hope you enjoyed that interview and conversation with John. Super smart. And I cannot wait to see what implementations you take away from this particular episode. Again, The data driven stuff, knowing your number is really important, but there is an art to that.

There is sort of a, of an understanding that it can only come once you do. And once you implement, and of course, if you’ve implemented and you need some help, you can go over to to get a personalized audit for your specific business and brand from John and his team. Or And check out his website as YouTube. And of course, this podcast, The Art of Selling Online Courses. I love how niche and specific that is. Yes. I said niche, not niche is I’m sure he would say it, but anyway, John, thank you so much for coming on today. I appreciate you. Thank you for listening all the way through and make sure you hit that subscribe button so you don’t miss out on some of the upcoming episodes coming your way to help you in your business and with your brand as well, we’re here to serve you. Thank you so much.

Thank you so much for listening to the Smart Passive Income podcast at I’m your host, Pat Flynn. Sound editing by Duncan Brown. Our senior producer is David Grabowski, and our executive producer is Matt Gartland. The Smart Passive Income Podcast is a production of SPI Media, and a proud member of the Entrepreneur Podcast Network. Catch you next week!

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