Have you ever wondered how to collect leads to sell your online course?

If so, you’re in for a treat.

In this article we break down all the components of Ramit Sethi’s list building strategy for his online course “Find Your Dream Job”.

This course costs $1997 and is not for sale on his site… You have to be on his mailing list to get the opportunity to buy. So you better believe his lead generation game is on point.

We’ll dive deep into the nitty-gritty of what Ramit is doing and you’ll discover why these strategies are so effective. Plus, you'll see exactly how you can apply the same strategies on your own website.

Ready to discover how Ramit managed to get hundreds of thousands people to sign up? Close all other tabs, put your phone on silent mode and get yourself a cup of coffee because you’ll want to pay full attention… This is the secret to a multi-million online teaching business!


3 Rules to Collect Tons of High Quality Leads

Before we dive into the specific opt-in forms and where to display them, let’s first take a look at the overarching principles. These allow Ramit (and any other online course creator) to collect not only a lot of leads, but hot leads interested in the specific topic of the online course.

Understanding these rules is crucial because they form the foundation of any lead generation machine.

Rule 1: ABO - Always Be Offering

No matter what page or post a new visitor lands on, always show them an opt-in offer. Different people will discover your site in different ways. Some will come from Google and arrive on a blog post. Others will hear about you, type in the URL and arrive on your homepage. And still others might discover you through social media.

No matter what the entry point is on your website, always give your visitor a way to sign-up. No waiting. No searching. The opt-in offer should never be more than 1 click away.

You’ll soon discover that Ramit has opt-in opportunities just about everywhere. It’s impossible to go to his website and leave without seeing at least one sign-up form.

Rule 2: Offer Value First

As an online course creator, you’re selling information. In order to get people’s trust (and money) you’ll have to prove yourself first.

The best way to do this is by offering high value information to visitors before they sign up. And even higher value information immediately after they sign up.

Ramit Sethi reminds his audience all the time that 98% of his material is available for free on his site. In order to start earning more money, they can follow his free advice and get results before paying him anything. This is what makes people trust him enough to end up buying his courses (which, mind you, typically cost thousands of dollars).

98% of My Material is Free

I take a different approach than most "experts" out there, I give away 98% of my material for free, and I aim to make that free material better than anyone else’s paid stuff. Here you'll find all of that in one place.

Ramit’s strategy is simple: make your free content so valuable that people get their first win by putting it into action. If you can do that, the course becomes an easy sell.

Rule 3: One Size DOES NOT Fit All

The more relevant an opt-in offer is to the reader, the higher the sign-up rates will be. The same is true for converting people from subscribers (signed up for free) to customers (paid $$$ to get course). The more related the free opt-in offer is to the paid course, the higher your chances of selling the course will be.

That’s why you need to multiply your opt-in offers.

You can create multiple opt-in offers leading to the same paid course by advertising different value propositions. If you have multiple courses you should most definitely create specific opt-in offers for each and every course.

Ramit has 10 courses and, believe it or not, I counted no less than 15 different opt-in offers for just one of his courses!

Peeling the Lead Generation Onion

Ramit's lead generation onion

In order to fully comprehend Ramit’s strategy, we need to take a look at the different assets he’s using to get people into his sales funnel.

Let's start at the center of the onion: for example, Ramit's “Find Your Dream Job” is the epicenter of this whole sales funnel.

Around this core element, you have the layers: his different lead gen strategies.

In this article, we’re only concentrating on the list building strategies for one of his online courses: "Find Your Dream Job" but Ramit has more than 10 online courses and training programs around the topics of making money and living a rich life. This is important to keep in mind because many of the opt-in opportunities we’re going to discover are used for multiple courses.

Through auto-segmentation and self-segmentation, Ramit manages to get the right people onto the right email list.

Auto-segmentation happens when Ramit decides what opt-in form to show on specific content. For example, on the blog post “Why my resume got me a job offer at Google”, he shows the opt-in offer “5 Resumes That Won Top Job Opportunities.” Subscribing here will put you on the “Dream Job” email list.

Self-segmentation happens when the reader decides which opt-in offer would be most helpful to them. For example, in the last chapter of the ultimate guide to making money, the reader finds 3 different offers, each one related to a different online course. The “Get A Raise” opt-in form will put you on the “Dream Job” email list, while the other will put you on a different list for a different course.

Readers can self-segment by signing up for the most interesting opt-in offer.

Going back to our onion, we can consider that the self-segmentation happens in the outer layers of the onion. Ramit doesn't know yet what’s most interesting to the audience and let’s them choose.

The auto-segmentation happens in the inner layers. Ramit already knows that the person who is on that page, reading that specific content, would make a good customer for the “Find Your Dream Job” course so he only offers to sign up for that list.

Both of these strategies (self-segmentation and auto-segmentation) need something to make them work: an enticing opt-in offer.

Over time, Ramit created a ton of different opt-in offers to get people onto the “Find Your Dream Job” email list.

The paid course is an in-depth training that covers different aspects of how to find and get your “dream job”. This gives the opportunity to create an opt-in offer specifically targeted to the different aspects of finding the perfect job.

For example, finding a dream job means you’ll have to:

  • Find the best job offers
  • Write a good resume
  • Present yourself well in job interviews
  • Learn the best techniques for negotiating a raise.

Everybody who is interested in one of the above topics could be a potential customer of the “Find Your Dream Job” course.

We found no less than 15 different opt-in offers around the topics above, all leading subscribers onto the “Dream Job” email list. These opt-in offers are a mix of video, PDF’s and mini-ecourses.

You might think that’s plenty of list building opportunities, but Ramit takes it one step further and each of these opt-in offers have multiple opt-in forms featuring different value propositions.

Let’s have a look at the opt-in offer “The 80/20 Guide to Finding Your Dream Job” so you can see what I mean. The opt-in offer is a video and is advertised on the blog as follows:

One opt-in offer presented with different value propositions

  1. “Choose a career you will love. Sign up below to get instant access to my exclusive video, The 80/20 Guide to Finding Your Dream Job” and the button “Yes send me the video”. Here the offer is clearly advertised as a video and the copy will attract the type of person who is looking for a career, maybe even their first job. 
  2. “Escape to a job you love” and the button “Show me the 80/20 guide to landing a dream job”. In the second opt-in form, the “guide” is not advertised as a video and the copy will attract a different audience. The word “escape” will speak to someone who is unhappy in their current job and is looking to get out.

Even though this is the same opt-in offer, the copy and the format will attract different subscribers. This gives Ramit a seemingly endless stream of opt-in offers and therefore seemingly endless opportunities to get new leads into the sales funnel.

Now, there is one very important element that connects the layers (the opt-in offers) to the core (the “Find Your Dream Job” course): the email follow-up.

The email follow-up is carefully crafted to convert an interested subscriber into a customer.

Analyzing the email follow-up sequence(s) that convinces subscribers to buy the “How to Find Your Dream Job” course is outside the scope of this article, but if you share this article, you can get a PDF download of his email follow-up.

Get Ramit's Email Follow-up Sequence:

8 List Building Strategies on the “I Will Teach You to Be Rich” Website

I Will Teach You to be Rich is massive. Google discovered 2880 pages on the site, which has been online since 2004. This means there is a lot of content on the site and there are a lot of different opportunities to add opt-in forms.

As mentioned before, there are pages on his website (such as the homepage, menu items, blog overview page, etc.) that are more general. Ramit doesn’t know yet if the visitor of that page would be a good fit for “Find Your Dream Job”. He’ll do everything to have them self-segment. And then there are pages (such as specific blog posts, ultimate guides and category pages) where he already knows that the reader would benefit from following his “Find Your Dream Job” course. Here he’ll only present one offer without segmentation possibilities for the visitor.

The Outer, Self-Segmentation Layers

1. The Homepage

Ramit's homepage is a quiz landing page

Ramit’s entire homepage is a quiz landing page. The only thing you can do on the page is click on the “start the quiz” button or head up to the navigation menu. When you click on the yellow button, you’ll see the first quiz question appearing on a separate landing page.

The quiz is set up with only 7 questions but for each question you have to choose 3 times the statement you agree with most. This allows Ramit to ask a lot of segmentation questions.

For example for question 5 “Are you settled or still searching for a dream career?” you can choose between:

  • “I spend most of my time working on interesting projects at work.” or “I’m often bored by the work I do” 
  • Followed by “The work I do is fully appreciated” or “I don’t think my workplace values the work I do”
  • And finally “I would describe my current job as my “dream job”” or “My current job is not my “dream job””.

The answer on the above statements will help decide whether or not you're a good fit for the "Find Your Dream Job"-Course

The statements allow for segmentation.

After finishing the quiz and before seeing your results, you’re greeted with this:

Quiz opt-in gate

It’s an opt-in gate prompting you to sign up.

Only when you give your name and email do you get your “full report to increase your earning potential”.

This is a smart thing to do because now the quiz taker is invested. They are much more likely to give their email address than before, when they were just a general visitor on the homepage with no direction.

Remember, this quiz is on the homepage so Ramit can find out what type of person the visitor is and which follow up and offers are most relevant to them.

You can imagine that if you stated that “My current job is not my dream job” you just segmented yourself on the “Find a Dream Job” list.

When I took the quiz I pretended to be someone who was unsatisfied with my job, but not looking to start an online business and on the results page, the first recommendation is to “negotiate a raise”. Not surprisingly, the first email I received was entitled “How to Find Your Dream Job”...

Personalized quiz results page

Why This Works

This works because of the principle of micro-commitments paired with the promise of valuable information.

The visitor just answered a ton of questions. They might be a little annoyed by the opt-in gate but they are probably too curious to see the results NOT to opt in. After all, they just spent the last few minutes answering questions...

In this case, an opt-in gate works because people are promised something valuable: a full report to increase earnings, based on their results.

Who doesn’t want to learn how to earn more money?

How You Can Do This Too

2. The Menu Button “Free Tools”

Free tools menu item

When you click on the button “Free tools” in the menu bar, you’ll arrive on a landing page offering you a “Free Insider’s Kit”.

Free Insider Lead Generation Page

Signing up for this will give you access to a bonus area rather than to a specific opt-in offer because at this point, Ramit doesn't know yet what topic the subscriber is most interested in.

Ramit Sethi's bonus area

On top of the page, you have a menu with 3 items: “Jobs”, “Freelancing” and “Personal Finance”.

The “Jobs” page groups many of the opt-in offers used to promote “Find Your Dream Job”. People who are interested in these topics will be able to go through the different pieces of content used to promote the Dream Job course – at their own pace.

This is not a member area or anything password protected. These are simply pages that are not linked from anywhere else on the site. You need to know the URL in order to access it.

Why This Works

The menu bar is a very visible element on your website, many visitors will skim the menu to see if there is something interesting. By adding the word “free” to the menu item, Ramit arouses curiosity. Who wouldn’t want free tools?

By grouping multiple opt-in offers in one bonus area, Ramit is sure to give valuable information to all of his subscribers (even though he doesn’t know what their main interest is at this point).

How You Can Do This Too

3. Products Page

You can't buy any product from the products page.

In the top menu, you can also see a “products” button. This leads to a page with all the different online courses. I told you earlier that these courses are not actually for sale, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t show people what you’re offering.

Ramit knows that, because of the quality of his free material, people will be looking to get more (a.k.a. buy) but instead of a normal sales page he does something different...

Each one of these links goes to a separate landing page where you can sign up for something related to the course.

When you click on “Find Your Dream Job” you’ll arrive on this page:

The Find Your Dream Job lead generation product page

On this lead generation page, you can sign up for the “Dream Job Secrets”. This is a bundle of opt-in offers.

Signing up here will give you access to the same bonus area as the “Free tools” opt-in form from strategy 2, but instead of seeing the general overview page, you’re taken to a more focused page on dream jobs: “The 80/20 Guide to Finding Your Dream Job.”

Why This Works

Even though the courses are not available for sale on the site, you still want to give interested people the opportunity to find out more about the different courses.

The products page does exactly this and leads more people to raise their hands and sign up.

These people are not just looking for a free opt-in offer, they were actually looking to buy the course.

For subscribers in this situation, how much more likely do you think they’ll be to buy if you then send them an email telling them the course is available and on sale, but only for the next 5 days? 

Share this article to see how Ramit is using email follow-up to sell Find Your Dream Job.

Get Ramit's Email Follow-up Sequence:

How You Can do This Too

  • Create a new page and call it "products". If you only have one product at the moment, this can be a lead generation landing page. If you have multiple products, put an image with a short description for each course and link out to each lead generation landing page.
  • Select one of the lead generation landing page templates from Thrive Architect to create an opt-in page per product.

4. The Blog Index Page

When clicking on the "blog" menu item, this is page you're seeing

When somebody clicks on the menu item “blog” this page is what they’ll see first, a list with your latest blog articles. In the sidebar there is a call to action to take the quiz from the homepage which we already know, allows Ramit to segment his list and add people onto the “Find Your Dream Job”-list.

There is a call to action to buy his book (which leads to an opt-in offer for a free chapter) and links to the different ultimate guides which you’ll soon discover, are list generation machines and allow him to get the right people onto the “Find Your Dream Job” list.

Why This Works

Following rule number 1: Always be Offering, an opt-in offer on the blog overview page can capture some leads who are ready to commit. The sidebar is visible on each and every blog post and even though it’s not the “hottest spot” on your site, you can still capture some leads from there.

How You can do This Too

  • Use a widget text element with the HTML code <a href="URL OF YOUR LANDING PAGE"><img src="URL OF YOUR IMAGE"/></a> to show an image in your sidebar. Replace the URL OF YOUR IMAGE by the link to the image source and the URL OF YOUR LANDING PAGE by the link to your landing page or your quiz page. You can find more detailed instructions here.

5. Site Wide Exit Intent

Quiz exit-intent lightbox

Ramit uses an exit-intent lightbox on the whole website to try to capture visitors who are about to leave. Of course he sends them to the quiz, which is his segmentation strategy and if you qualify yourself as “looking for a dream job” you’ll end up on his “Find a Dream Job” list.

Why This Works

Exit intent lightboxes will never be the highest converting opt-in forms on your website (after all people didn’t find enough value to opt-in before and are about to leave) but it’s one last chance to capture them before they leave.

By offering to take a quiz rather than to opt-in immediately, you can take advantage of the micro commitment that takes place as soon as somebody clicks the button.

How You Can do This Too

The Inner, Auto-segmentation Layers

6. The Ultimate Guide Strategy

The Ultimate Guide to Getting a Raise & Boosting Your Salary

After 13 years online, Ramit has at least 10 ultimate guides available on his website. The Ultimate Guide to Getting a Raise & Boosting Your Salary is the guide most closely related to the Find Your Dream Job course.

An ultimate guide is exactly what the name describes – it’s an online resource that delivers in-depth content around a specific topic. It's different from a typical blog post or opt-in freebie by being much more detailed and higher value. It’s usually multiple pages long and nicely designed.

These guides are freely accessible on Ramit’s site and you can go through them without giving any contact information. But because they are typically multiple chapters long, they offer list building opportunities at every turn.

First, for each guide, you can download a “PDF version” of the full guide. This makes it convenient to read and to refer back to.

Download the guide as a PDF

On top of that, each chapter offers a different opt-in offer.

Chapter 2: “How to get paid what you deserve” offers the reader a sign up to learn how to avoid the top 7 “Dream Job Killers”

Dream Job Killers opt-in

Chapter 3: “Psychological triggers that multiply your success” offers a 60-minute BJ Fogg Master Class. BJ Fogg is a persuasion master and if you’re interested in psychological triggers, this is very valuable.

BJ Fogg Master Class opt-in

Chapter 4: “ In the hot seat: Watch salary negotiations in action” gives you the opportunity to learn the career secrets of top performers.

"Career secrets of top performers" opt-in

And finally Chapter 5: What's next? Advertises yet another opt-in offer to boost income.

Final opt-in form

And if you thought that 10 opt-in offers (5 times the PDF offer and 5 specific offers) throughout the guide were enough you’re in for a surprise.

2 Step exit-intent lightbox

If at any time you try and close the guide, you get hit with a multiple-choice exit-intent lightbox.

Smart Ramit... trying to maximize conversions until the very last second.

Why This Works

No one shares opt-in pages because there's no value in sharing an opt-in page. Ramit takes a much smarter approach by keeping all of his ultimate guides "ungated" (meaning you can read them without opting in first). We call this an 'Open PDF'.

Each one of his ultimate guides are shared hundreds of times.

And because the quality of the information is so high and the the opt-in offers are always relevant, people willingly give their email address to get even more in depth information.

This creates an opt-in loop. People love the content and opt-in to get either the PDF version or more in depth information but they can also share this completely free resource with their network, who would then check out the guide and sign up if they like it.

Now, this only works if:

  1. The information in the guide is really valuable
  2. You already have traffic allowing you to get the initial sharing boost you need to make this work.
  3. The opt-in offers are enticing. Having the guide available as a PDF is nice, but many people don’t want PDF’s gathering digital dust on their hard drives. That’s why offering complementary opt-ins such as videos, cheatsheets, mini-courses, etc. (like Ramit does) is key to getting lots of leads.

How You Can Do This Too

  • Create Thrive Leads short codes for each opt-in offer so you can insert the specific opt-in form anywhere in your ultimate guide.
  • Create your ultimate guide with Thrive Architect. You can either create this as a normal page on your site, or use a landing page to create your guide.
  • Set up an exit-intent lightbox on your ultimate guide (landing) page. You can use Thrive Leads to set this up, or if you’re not using Thrive Leads, you can use the page event manager in Thrive Architect to trigger an exit-intent lightbox.

7. Category Page

Optimized page for "Find Your Dream Job" category

After clicking on the menu item "blog" you'll see Ramit's categories (or you can find them in the footer of the website too). When you click on one of these categories, you arrive on a “blog category page”.

Normally, these pages are auto-populated with the latest blog posts in that specific category.

But Ramit uses this as an opportunity to highlight his best content and to create even more list building opportunities.

When someone clicks on the “Find Your Dream Job”- category they’ll presented with one of his ultimate guides (which offer tons of list building opportunities) and the actual information links to individual blog posts (which you'll soon discover offer multiple list building opportunities each) and you’ll even find an opt-in form at the bottom of the page.

All of these will lead people onto his “Find a Dream Job” email list.

Why This Works

Someone just clicked on a category item because they were interested in the topic. Showing them a relevant opt-in offer rather than a random list of blog posts will help you get more leads.

How You can do This Too

  • Use a Thrive Theme, Thrive Architect and Thrive Leads Shortcodes to create category specific (landing) pages with your best content and relevant opt-in offers.
  • Go to posts >> categories in your WordPress dashboard and click on “edit category” you’ll see the option “redirect category to landing page” choose the page you’ve created in step 1. Now whenever you link to the category page (from within your sidebar, footer, sub menu, etc.) it will be linked to the optimized landing page. Note: this is a feature only available in Thrive Themes.

8. Individual Blog Posts

Targeted opt-in offers after each blog post

At the end of each blog post there is a specific opt-in offer or a call to action to take the quiz (which we already know has a opt-in gate).

For the “Find Your Dream Job”- course I’ve counted 15 different opt-in offers and these are used on specific blog posts to be closely related to the topic of the article.

For example, the article “Why my resume got me a job offer at Google” shows the opt-in offer about winning resumes. And the article “How to turn negative performance review phrases into a 30%+ raise” shows an opt-in offer about… negotiating a raise.

Now, all of these opt-in offers still lead you into the “Find Your Dream Job”-course. But the different opt-in offers are used wisely to stay as close to the topic of the article as possible and the different value propositions per offer allow Ramit to multiply the hooks to get the reader on his list.

Another list building technique that is happening in the blog posts is within the actual article. In the blog posts, you can find “bonus downloads” (aka “content upgrades”). When you click to get the bonus, you’ll be shown an opt-in form.

Step 1 and 2 of the in-content bonus offer

And off course, the bonus offered on a blog post in the "Dream Job" category will add you to the "Find Your Dream Job" list.

Why This Works

If someone reads a blog post to the end, they’re probably interested in learning more about the topic. By offering a related opt-in offer at the end of each blog post, you’ll be able to capture those leads.

The bonus downloads (content upgrades) work because they are highly targeted for one specific blog post. As you can see in the screenshot, in order to get access, you must first click a link (micro-commitment) in order to submit your information to get the bonus.

Two-step opt-in offers like this, allow to present an opt-in opportunity before the reader gets to the end of the post without visually cluttering the article.

Opt-in forms can sometimes suffer from “banner blindness”. People see them but don’t really look at them anymore. The two-step opt-in offer doesn’t suffer from this phenomenon because it is hidden at first and only when someone pays attention, and clicks, the opt-in form is shown.

How You can do This Too

Where Should You Start?

I warned you that Ramit was serious about list building… But let’s be clear: this didn’t happen overnight! Each opt-in strategy has been added over time as he created new courses or added extra promotional material for an existing course.

If you have only one course:

  • Make the main focus of your homepage lead generation.
  • Create a killer opt-in offer that leads into your paid course and advertise this opt-in offer on your blog posts (as a light box and as post-footer opt-in forms)

Once you have these two pieces in place, you can start A/B testing different value propositions for your opt-in offer, create more opt-in offers, create a free e-course and more.

If you already have multiple courses:

Think about how you can apply auto- and self-segmentation to get the right people onto the right list.

  • Create one opt-in offer per course.
  • Use a self-segmentation offer (such as a quiz) on your general pages and auto-segment on specific pages (with the specific opt-in offer).

This will already allow you to have interested leads onto specific mailing lists. Next you can add more opt-in offers, start A/B testing, etc.

Key Takeaways

There are a few very important lessons you should take away from this article:

  • Don’t be shy to ask for the opt-in: Ramit has amazing free content and he promotes the heck out of it. He’s not worried about people being “annoyed” with a lightbox or another opt-in form because he knows his content is worth it. And this goes hand-in-hand with the next point.
  • Create value first: Don’t be afraid to give away too much… Aim to make your free stuff better than your competitor’s paid stuff
  • Use the same freebie multiple times: When you create an opt-in offer you can use it over and over again to get people on your mailing list. Try re-framing the value proposition, changing the image, packaging multiple opt-in offers, …
  • Segment your list: Different opt-in offers lead to different online courses. The more relevant the opt-in offer is to the course, the higher the chances of getting the sale.

Now I would like to hear from you.

What were your biggest takeaways? What are you going to implement on your site?

Let us know in the comments.

In the 2nd part of the 'Learn from the Master' series, you can learn about how Ramit uses evergreen funnels to sell his product on autopilot. Make sure to check it out to have a better overview of how to set up a successful business.

About the Author Hanne

Hanne knows exactly what companies have ever retargeted her (she keeps an updated file). And when she's not busy discussing high-level funnel design over cocktails with the equally geeky, you'll find her discovering a place for the first time

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