How Jeff Sauer Grew His Digital Marketing Company to Mid-6-Figures/Year

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  • Who: Jeff Sauer
  • Website: datadrivenu.com
  • Course Topic: Digital Marketing
  • Interesting Stats: 50,000 students

Who are you and what digital training company have you created?

The company I’ve created is called datadrivenu.com, which has a wild background on our way to 50,000 students who have enrolled in our online courses.

Before teaching online full-time, I started teaching in the classroom in 2011 at a trade school and eventually at the University level in 2014.

In order to travel the world full-time, I moved my business online and gradually built up a successful academy teaching data-driven digital marketing skills.

Jeff SauerWhat market does your digital training serve?

We teach marketing professionals and service providers to be more comfortable using data to make marketing decisions, deliver insights, and get better results over non-data-driven marketers.

We do this by diving deep into the world’s leading-edge digital marketing platforms and teaching them inside out while mixing in strategies that are employed by the most successful marketers.

What’s the biggest benefit of taking your online courses?

The biggest benefit to taking our online courses is that you become comfortable and confident in how to use data and technology to outperform your peers and find new employment, get more responsibility with an employer, or even start a business as a freelancer or agency.

How did you get into the market?

I have been a partner in a 5-time Inc. 5000 award-winning digital marketing agency since 2008 and was a freelancer before that.

While we were growing like crazy (even during a recession), I couldn’t find enough talented individuals to fill our open job postings. So I started teaching the skills we needed in our local area and found my true passion and calling.

Why did you decide to create a digital training company?

While I love teaching in-person in Minneapolis, I noticed that I could only reach less than 1% of my global audience at a time… and I can’t be everywhere at the same time. So teaching online was the only real option for me to move forward. Teaching has allowed me to reach students in over 100 countries and learn about new cultures, customs, and techniques. It’s made me a more well-rounded person and instructor.

Did you have any moments of doubt before you launched your training company?

It took me 3 years to finally launch an online course after saying I would do it. I had no idea how to record teaching, didn’t know how to edit or host videos, and was afraid of being on camera. It wasn’t until I pre-sold a course and had a few enrollments that I finally got my act together.

If so what made you turn it around and do it anyway?

Those first few (barely) paying customers were the perfect motivator to get started.

When someone is paying you to learn, you know you need to deliver on all your promises and then some! - Jeff Sauer Click To Tweet

Jeff Sauer's site

What are your online courses like?

My online courses are delivered mostly via PowerPoint and live demos of digital marketing tools. There is some on-camera work as well, depending on the course. The point is to outline a platform and break it down into small parts that are easy to understand and digest. Videos are 10-20 minutes long on average.

How long does it take you or your team to create a new course?

My team and I spend around 3-6 months producing a new course. That involves 1-2 months of planning/outlining, a test lesson or two, and then full-out production mode for 1-2 months where I record 1 lesson per day until the course is done. Each outline is unique and thoroughly researched. All lessons are edited by my long-time editor who is based overseas.

Tell us a little about the process of launching your first course and getting your first enrollment(s).

My first launch involved sending an email to my list of blog readers with 7-course titles for them to vote on. The winning vote-getter (around 10 votes) was the first course I created, and I gave a discount to all the readers who voted on the course idea. From there, I went into production mode and released 28 videos in 28 days to complete the course. Finally, once the course was launched, I went right into sales mode, trying to fill the course with new students.

Do you have a lead magnet?

I’ve tried them all and still have lead magnets. Free courses used to work well, but have declined as more courses are available online (stealing attention). Lead magnets are a great way to get an email address and start a nurture program to bring in sales. The more relevant the lead magnet is to the user/blog post it shows up on, the higher the conversion rate. Some lead magnets have 50% conversion rates when they are highly relevant!

Jeff Sauer

What’s the traffic strategy that works best for you?

Whatever I can do to get them on my email list.

90% of revenue comes from email marketing, so I use my blog and freebie sites/promos to build up the list for future sales. - Jeff Sauer Click To Tweet

My whole business started as a blog, and courses eventually became an efficient way to increase the value of each blog visitor.

What online course platform are you using?

We had a homegrown course using LearnDash for many years but recently moved to Kajabi as we outgrew the capabilities of a self-hosted site when it came to performance.

Do you like it?

All course software has major flaws, so you just have to decide what you can tolerate. I chose Kajabi because it had the best balance of features that I needed when compared to building my own.

Are there any features you wish it had?

Customized upsell pages, better email marketing/delivery, customizable receipts, and more settings to control things around selling digital products. More customization of course/learning templates.

What made you decide to use your chosen platform over others?

It was the least bad of the options I saw in my research.

What other tools do you use to run your digital training business?

Email from ConvertKit, Helpscout for support, Chargedesk, Stripe, PayPal, Slack, Airtable, Vimeo Pro, and Camtasia.

Jeff Sauer's site

What books or training programs have you found useful on your journey to a successful business owner that others might find valuable too?

Good to great, $100M offers, and E-myth revisited.

Do you have any big mistakes you’ve made along the way that you’d be willing to share?

Yeah, all of them. The biggest thing I learned is that if you are successful in one area, it doesn’t mean you’ll be successful elsewhere. Don’t be too cheap and do not invest in education/learning… if you believe in the business, learn as much as you can from the best in your field to get an edge on the competition.

Please share some idea of revenue for your digital training company.

We are in the mid-six figures annually, with several product launches over 6 figures.

Please tell us a little about what the money you’ve earned from running your digital training company has done for you.

I had a successful career and business before creating the company, so my expectations may be different from others. The best accomplishment is creating jobs for my team and empowering them to grow in their careers and finances.

In addition to revenue are there any numbers you would like to share?

42,000 email subscribers, nearly 50k blog visitors each month, and tons of momentum.

Jeff Sauer's site

What has creating your digital training business done for you personally?

It allowed me to travel the world for 4 years as a digital nomad and live out my dream of traveling the world while building an online business.

What advice do you have for people just starting out?

If you believe you’ll be successful, make an investment in yourself and get a coach to help you make the right choices earlier. You can waste a lot of time, and while money can be tight, the investments you make in yourself as a business owner will pay off way more than the money you save being mediocre.

Learn more about Jeff Sauer of datadrivenu.com:

Lisa Parmley
Lisa Parmley

Lisa Parmley is the founder of coursemethod.com. After gaining a Master's degree in Biology, she worked in research for about 7 years.

Lisa decided to start her own training company in 2001, helping people pass a professional exam. In that time, she created online courses as well as books, DVD's, CD's, and testing software. That course has earned multiple 7-figures throughout the years.

She created SEO and authority site building training around 2007 which went on to earn well into the 6-figure mark.

She has 21+ years of experience in the trenches doing both creating and selling online courses. Download her 7-figure Online Course Success Blueprint here.

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