As an edupreneur, investing in marketing is vital for your business. With it, you can effectively reach, grow and engage your online target audience and ultimately sell online courses.
When it comes to digital marketing, there are a lot of options. All you have to do is choose the combination that works best for you.
Think of where you can find your ideal student, what is the best way to approach them and what media do they prefer to use. This article will guide you to the right way.
The Ultimate Guide To Selling Online Courses (vol 1)
Here are a few ideas to help with your marketing efforts!
1Develop a Customer Persona
Identifying your ideal customer is a top priority. It’s the very first step to business success. But, in order to deliver a more personal experience that corresponds to the needs of the customer, you have to go deeper than that, by creating a customer persona.
A customer persona is the summary of a representative sample that describes an audience – a person, that is gathered through the analysis and research on the real customer. The creation of a persona recognizes common key traits and characteristics of a group.
Gathering information about your customers is done in numerous ways including keyword research – what are the terms they search for online, social media analytics, surveys, and feedback forms.
Once you have this information, you can try out the following:
2Guest/Run a Podcast
Podcasts are an upcoming trend. From what it looks like, there are two choices with podcasts – you can either get interviewed on one or start your own podcast. Both can help you gain awareness on your course topic and online school.
Be a guest on a podcast: search for podcasts on ListenNotes and iTunes that discuss your topic and already have an audience that is more likely to get interested in what you are offering. Contact the podcast host, introduce yourself and explain why you think you would be a valuable guest. On the interview, share tips and advice to the listeners on your topic and then direct them at your course page.
Running a podcast: start podcasting about your course topic and share your podcast on any of these podcast-hosting platforms. Spread the news and gradually build a pool of listeners who can potentially become your students.
This is what Tom Libelt a Course Marketing Expert does, often talking about online courses, e-learning, and marketing in his podcast and interviewing many entrepreneurs in the process.
3Learn How to Tell Stories
Part of the podcast talk is to learn how to tell stories effectively. However, it’s not limited to that. Every successful marketer is a good story-teller. Storytelling offers an innovative way of reaching out to your target audience and eventually selling to them.
As a recent research report finds, telling your brand’s narrative a company has the power to increase the value of a product or service by over 20 times. Whether your brand’s story appears on your About Us page, your blog, in a podcast or your introductory course video is your decision to make.
4Share Customer Testimonials
Building on credibility and trust is crucial for any business, but it’s even more essential when selling online courses. Since you are offering a service and not a physical product, you are pretty much obligated to rely on word of mouth and your students’ level of satisfaction.
Gathering feedback on your courses (preferably positive!) can influence others to try out your courses. What we call word of mouth is when someone else talks about your product or service, and a real review is more convincing than any other form of marketing.
Ask your current students to provide a course review or a testimonial and add them on your course or landing page for more people to see.
5Start a Blog
‘A blog has the power to change lives’, and I am not overstating here. Through a blog, you can create, educate, sell and promote as long as learn how to do it right.
Start a blog on your course topic and create useful content for your audience. Share industry insights, complementary course material, and how-to instructions to build trust with your site visitors, to gain more brand awareness, get social media exposure and boost your web traffic rates.
6Write Engaging and Unique Content
A blog content strategy is an important pinnacle of digital marketing and your online school needs it. To get this right, you need to create unique and engaging content that matches your course subject or industry.
Whether this is text – articles, presentations, quotes, media – images, figures, tables, infographics, or video, it’s content that you can use throughout your site and within your course.
Check out the top tools for course creators to see which tools we suggest for video and image editing, and a host of other marketing tools to help you out!
7Start a YouTube Channel
It’s one thing having an online presence but quite another nailing it! Creating a YouTube channel allows you to post your educational content on there and reach out to a bigger audience.
Apart from creating instructional videos, you can also come up with tutorial videos, training videos, presentation videos, screencasts or product videos to explain how to use your online course, share business or industry news and engage with your most tech-savvy audience effectively.
It will be your own “tv channel” promoting your courses. Youtube is a great way to acquire a loyal following with small bites of information and is the 2nd biggest search engine in the world, with more people searching for information there than Yahoo or Bing!
8Answer Questions on Quora
Quora is a helpful marketing tool in terms of generating traffic and gaining awareness. As a Q&A platform, you can create an account, post a question or answer questions related to your course topic.
Search for industry-relevant discussions, share your opinion and include a link back to your course sales page.
The more you contribute on the site and provide high-quality answers which get upvotes, the more clicks you will get. Neat, right?
9Connect Your Social Accounts
A strong online presence attracts the right audience. As such, making sure that you are active and consistent on social media is powerful. Start with optimizing your profile bio on your online channels to show that you are an expert at what you do and build on credibility.
Then, start sharing your thoughts and ideas on different platforms and connect all the accounts that you manage with your website. Make sure to include your course sales page to allow your site users to browse your profile and learn more about your school and courses.
Be it Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, LinkedIn or any other platform, a social media button that links to your website is a useful addition to have on your site.
10Build an Email List
Email communication offers the best and most widespread advertising tool in its use. That’s why email marketing matters, and continues to be relevant to the online business.
Using it effectively for your online school requires that you build your own email list of contacts to which you can frequently forward your promotional or learning material. Through an established email marketing strategy, you can:
1) Send out useful course information to your audience with newsletters, course announcements, offers/discounts, customer or brand stories, and tutorial emails.
2) Maintain an active relationship with them through welcome emails, engagement/ re-engagement emails, transactional and receipts emails, and cart abandonment emails.
Check out 3 Email Sequences to Launch Your Online Course, you can copy them and start selling your courses to the people in your list right now!
11Give Away a Free Course
Most people like to play safe when it comes to buying online courses. This means that they want to ensure you have something of value to give out.
Offering a free mini or email course – course material wrapped nicely in a series of emails, allows potential students to get an insight into what your courses are all about. Such a small sample can help them make an evaluation and can convince them to purchase more from you in due course.
12Host a Live Webinar
By the end of 2019, the video will be in charge of 80 percent of web activity on the entire planet. Yes, you heard that right. Grasping on this opportunity would mean to start creating your own webinars, like…today!
Creating webinars is a way of saying that you know what you are doing. It’s also a digitally engaging tool that allows you to interact with your students either in one-to-one or a group to share course insights, offer free material or even deliver a lesson.
13Promotions, Discounts & Bundles
Once you have created multiple courses, you can bundle them together to create a promotional offer and upsell upsell to your new customers. Upselling is the act of having someone pay more than the initially intended, it is the same when supermarkets give offers of buy 3 for the price of 2.
So, let’s say if you have 3 courses at $100 each, you can offer a course bundle or package to your audience at the discounted price of $200, saving this way $100 off the original price for your customer.
This technique is useful for when you see a drop in your sales or want to regain the interest of your audience for your courses.
You can also have limited discounts or offers during the year for people who haven’t bought at the original price.
14Publish an Ebook on Amazon
One of the best ways to repurpose your course content and generate more interest in your courses is by creating an ebook. With the tools that are currently available online, you can self-publish your own ebook within just a few steps. Amazon Kindle for example, allows you to create yours in a digital form or paperback and offers plenty of advice and assistance for it to help you out.
Amazon is an enormous marketplace, and you can get in front of millions of people just by being there!
15Get more Organic Traffic with SEO
Out of the main components of creating good content for your course material that is intended for online use, is SEO optimization.
Making sure that you come up with relevant keywords to use, write good course descriptions, blog posts and guest posts on other blogs to increase your visibility on Google.
Check out how to do SEO for your courses, in our guide.
16Speak at Local Events
Public speaking is a great way to get in front of a crowd (yeah, kind of obvious!), this is the perfect time to put your speaking skills at practice. Creating an online presence is huge in terms of branding, but you have to balance that out with an empowering offline presence as well.
Appearing at local events, conferences, seminars or group gatherings in your industry won’t hurt. On the contrary, it can get the word out there, help you network with other people and create opportunities to promote your online courses further.
To make the schedule of meetings easier, more fun and interactive and create a group of people with the same interests, you may use Meetups to find local events and people.
17Build a Facebook or LinkedIn community
Social media isn’t dying and has proven it so many times in the past. Engaging with people on social platforms is an effective way to stay in touch with your audience. This is part of building awareness on the very existence of your courses.
If there is initial interest in your courses, create an online community through a page or group either on Facebook or LinkedIn and keep your audience engaged and up-to-date.
Encourage them to comment, like, share or simply express their own opinion and interact with each other. Also, you can participate in other subject-related forums or communities to contact other potential students who might be interested in.
18Write for Other Blogs or Publications
Guest posting is another way of getting the word out there. Come up with unique articles that relate to your topic and find the common ground between your subject and the topic that the external blog or website is interested in.
Research well before you start writing a guest post and make sure your article has everything it needs to include so that it meets the requirements of the publisher.
Relevant publications, bloggers on the same or complementary subjects or anywhere your audience will be reading is a great place to start pitching your article ideas!
19Become a HARO Source
Alternatively, you can ‘Help a Reporter Out’ by becoming a member of the HARO service. This offers you the opportunity to share your insights on a topic and get quoted on your expertise.
The way it works is simple. You sign up and you get media opportunities delivered to your email throughout the day (up to three times). Reply quickly and if you are lucky, you will get chosen to be quoted in an article that includes your bio and a link back to your site.
20Work with Other Instructors
It’s not a bad idea to consider working with other online instructors. Find the ones that offer courses complementary to yours and combine your services and products together to offer a unique deal to your students.
This way, you are expanding your business network and at the same time helping out a friend.
21Create a payment plan for students
There is always going to be someone who isn’t able to pay for their full membership or course access up front. Especially for high-ticket courses, payment plans are incredibly useful!
For these cases, you can make an exemption and come up with a payment plan.
For example, if you are offering a $900 course, you can give your student the option to pay you in 6 installments spread throughout the year at the price of $150. This way, even students who can’t afford to spend $900 immediately, can join your course and pay slowly.
It’s also a good idea to give a small discount to anyone who pays at a one-off. For example, if your course is $900 the payment plan might have a premium addon. This is to reward students who pay in front rather than in small doses.
22Run an Affiliate Program
Get other people to promote your courses through an affiliate program. Reach out to people in your industry and ask them if they would be willing to become your affiliates. Give them access to a course and allow them to understand what you are doing.
With this knowledge, they can provide a product review and create more awareness for their own audiences.
23Ask Bloggers to Review Your Course
Another option would be to ask bloggers to review your courses and spread the word for you. Bloggers who have big audiences, a portfolio of online work to show and write for popular sites can easily get you ‘out there’.
What you can do, is give them free access to your course offering them the chance to take a peek inside. Then you can ask them if they want to be recruited as your affiliates as well.
You can first approach smaller bloggers and then move to bigger “fish” with more audience.
24Write a Press Release
A press release can help spread the word and reach out to a bigger audience. It won’t sell your online course, but it can create awareness around it through the distribution of news. So, whether such an ad takes place online or offline it increases your chances of getting seen.
25Join Online Marketplaces, Deal & Coupon Sites
There are many sites you can sell your course by using coupon codes to give access. One example is Groupon, you can list your course at a discounted price and load it with unique coupon codes to give access to anyone buying from there.
26Webinars, Go Live on Facebook and more …
Creating webinars and offering tutorials are great initiatives that show you are not afraid to go the extra mile for your students.
But, would you be up for taking another step and go live on Facebook or Instagram?
Not many people do it but that’s one of the reasons why it can be successful. Apart from Facebook and Instagram stories, you can use the Live video feature to talk directly with your audience and share updates with them.
This type of direct communication reveals a hidden part of your personality, people get to know you better and it builds on trust that nurtures the existing relationship you have with your students.
27Translate your Course in Other Languages
If you want to increase your course sales at large, you can translate your courses in another language. Unless you are fluent at it, hire a translator to translate your learning material, PDF documents, and notes into your chosen language.
This way, you can expand your current network and create more opportunities for the foreign speaking world, expanding your geographical borders.
Another country or language can be your vehicle for a whole new market for your course and refresh the sales with less work than building a new one!
28Create and Optimize your Sales Funnel
A sales funnel is the process which your site visitors go through and helps them grow from strangers to friends and hopefully recurring customers. For an online instructor, creating an effective sales funnel is huge.
This includes taking your site visitors through the different phases of relationship building – catching their attention, engaging with them at the right time, nurturing them with useful information, giving out top tips and advice, offering them discounts and closing the deal.
Always improve your funnel, make small tweaks in an email, adding a nice hook or changing text/images to test the effectiveness.
29Offer a Recorded Webinar
Running a webinar for all timezones, schedules and availability is very difficult. You can very easily record a webinar and edit it with a video editing tool and upload it as a free course.
Your visitors can give your their email in exchange for access, and can enjoy the webinar in their leisure. You can easily create a button or call to action after the recorded webinar to join your full program.
30Use Facebook, YouTube, Twitter and Instagram
Paid advertising in social media is a great way to get in front of a lot of people. If you can’t scale more with paid ads, try recruiting influencers in each of the social media. Depending on your budget, you can pay micro-influencers (with small audience) or celebrities to endorse your course to their audience.
Be sure to find relevant people to pitch your course. If you are selling acting lessons, a local actor or minor tv celebrity might be a good idea and if you are selling fashion or make up courses, you might want to look for models!
Buy Tweets and Facebook costs: buying posts sounds a bit funny, but it works. Apparently, there are people who would promote your message to their Facebook and Twitter followers. Search for those who have a large fan base – industry influencers, and have developed an interest in the topic of your course. Tell them what you want them to post and if they agree, wait to see your post on their profiles.
Buy shoutouts: Use Shoutcart to browse Instagram accounts with a large following and contact the users. Ask them if they would be willing to post on your behalf to promote your course and place a temporary link of your site on their bio. Since they can’t provide a link in the post, they would have to encourage them to click on it with a relevant post that directs them to it.
Use YouTube ads: With YouTube ads, you can promote your courses to people who are watching course-related video content and choose to target specific geographical areas.
As you can see, gaining exposure for your courses is all about appearing in front of people’s faces at the right time and place.
Don’t forget, this is your course business that we are talking about, and it’s worth going the extra mile or spending a little more money to get people on board!
Good luck with selling online courses and remember to check out our resources to help you sell more courses.
The Complete Checklist To Selling More Online Courses
Kyriaki is a Content Creator for the LearnWorlds team with more than three years of experience in digital marketing. Graduated from the University of Huddersfield with a Guidance degree, she has equipped herself with hands-on experience in education management and career guidance.