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Marketing 11 MIN READ

Top Christmas Marketing Strategies to Sell Online Courses

A gift wrapped with a red ribbon.

Christmas is the most wonderful time of the year!

The holiday spirit puts us into the mood of spending quality time with people we love, expressing our gratitude to all the beautiful things of this world, and looking deeper into ourselves. Christmas is the perfect time to evaluate our progression through the last year and offers the opportunity to seek for more happiness and personal fulfillment.

It prompts us to invest in knowledge, which comes first on the Christmas shopping list.

It’s also a great opportunity for course creators to sell more online courses.

But, to do that, you will need to prepare early. How early? Just after you are done with your Black Friday marketing, you should be planning your christmas marketing campaigns.

Invest in Knowledge

At Christmas investing in education, self-development or coaching is on a rise.

That being said, Christmas time offers to course creators the best opportunity to sell online courses. A course that helps people become their ‘future self’ is one of the best gifts to offer during this festive season.

As a course creator, it’s the perfect opportunity to promote your courses, all you need is to come up with a hook to make people interested in what you have to offer.

If you need some inspiration, here are the most effective Christmas marketing ideas that can help you do this the right way.

1Introduce Special Holiday Bundles

Why sell one when you can sell two…or more? Holiday bundles serve a great purpose and in any high-shopping season, they can generate a significant ROI. If you have more than a course, come up with an attractive offer and create a bundle of courses that gives away two or more courses at a cheaper price than buying them individually. This way you offer students the opportunity to buy multiple courses at once saving both time and money.

2Give Special Offers

Holiday or seasonal special offers can work well for those people who are after yearly promotional discounts. For instructors, December is the second best month (after Black Friday) to go big on sales. What’s great is that you can do it in multiple ways.

For example, you can offer a free course as a bonus upon a purchase or provide a reduction in the existing course to attract new students. Alternatively, you can create a limited-time coupon code to offer a discount.

3Offer a Giveaway

Give love, give a Christmas gift.

Gift cards can work for those who want to get that ‘little something’ to their loved ones, their partners, family, and friends. Knowledge is power, and those who think books are the best presents, are more likely to invest in an online course that offers valuable education, the opportunity to develop a skill, or even develop a hobby.

Gift cards have been the most requested gift for 9 years in a row! An excellent way to give out gift cards is to provide people the option to buy access to a course for those who would find the course interesting.

Gift cards can be inspired with the Christmas spirit and you can combine them with a Christmas card, an ecard or New Year promotions/discounts.

4Promote a Charity

Supporting a charity can benefit small businesses, not only financially but also in terms of building brand awareness. Research from the 2010 Cone Evolution Study shows that 85 percent of consumers have a more positive image of a product or company that supports a charity they care about.

Also, they are more likely to switch brands that are equal in quality and price. Promoting a charity can give you an advantage over other schools and attract people who want to contribute to a good cause.

5Use Social Media

Make use of social media channels like Instagram and Facebook. Let people know that you are offering a discount on online courses, and share what it’s currently on offer.

Also, search for online forums and social media groups relevant to your course topics or you think are part of your target audience and join in. Then share a link directing to a landing page (that is dedicated to your christmas campaign), where you offer free content. Strong content marketing in the form of a blog spot or a video that explains who you are, along with some promotional deals are difficult to ignore.

When using Facebook you can come up with an events page to build anticipation and a sense of urgency using last-minute Christmas deals. You can also create some countdown posts to let people know when your offers expire e.g. at the end of the year.

6Create a Christmas-Themed Webinar

A webinar can work great for those who offer step-by-step guides and tutorials on DIY and crafts creation, food, or catering services. Sectors of hospitality and retail can benefit more from this as they can be made relevant to the Christmas season.

If you are delivering video presentations, you can choose a holiday-specific subject and talk about it in a webinar giving out specialized advice at no cost.

While this doesn’t guarantee an increase in sales or higher conversion rates, it helps to engage people and encourage them to buy products that are exclusively on offer at this time of the year.

7Consider Affiliates

Promoting your course on other sites can be equally effective. With affiliates, you can share your Christmas deal with a custom-made content going out to the most active students in your school. This way you would be giving them incentives e.g. performance awards and prizes.

Alternatively, you can create an exclusive coupon to distribute to your affiliate’s audience and refer them back to your site.

8Offer limited-time bonuses

Along with other promotional deals, you can use limited-time bonuses that can add more value to the course subscription. Bonuses could take the form of consultation calls, one-to-one or video group coaching, access to private social media groups, or other e-learning materials such as e-books, PDFs, videos, etc. These are more likely to encourage people to think about your offers more seriously and take action.

9Offer a ‘Physical’ Present

For those who have a more traditional mindset and prefer to feel that their money is not ‘thrown away’ to a non-physical present, you can offer a free physical product along with their online purchase to satisfy their requirements.

These products should be relevant to the course or the subject you teach.

Run a quick search on Google to find other gift ideas that might be suitable for the course topic you are teaching.

For example, a typical gift guide related to a gardening course that can come up in a search may look like this:

Such presents can give potential customers the incentive to enroll in your course. The best part is that you don’t need an online store or invest too much in eCommerce to do this.

10Send a Promotional Email

If you have a ready-made email list (if not, click here) of your students or even those who have just created an account on your school, you can send out newsletters and other promotional material. Each email should entice students to visit your site and/or upgrade their subscription. To do this, make sure to present and explain the offer in detail as well as the benefits they can get out from it.

At the same time, it’s a good idea to create some urgency e.g. with limited-time offers or introducing a deadline, and some ‘social proof’ while sharing examples of past students who used your product and got something valuable from it.

Also, check out our 3 email marketing sequences for selling your online courses.

11Invest in Email Marketing

Here at LearnWorlds, we are huge fans of email marketing because through emails you can reach out to your engaged audience clearly and directly. The secret of success though is in building your own email list and optimizing your email content.

The three types of emails that are ideal for your holiday marketing campaign are:

Welcoming emails: you send out to new subscribers welcoming them to your company or school community. These have a 45.7% open-rate which is far greater from promotional emails at 18.8%, and it’s worth looking more into it.

Ways to optimize: (a) send the welcoming mail immediately after subscription, (b) ask people to do something through CTAs e.g. complete a survey, a quiz, talk about opt-in benefits and rewards (e.g. a discount code for future purchase), (c) include branded media, (d) make it human-friendly instead of writing a default message saying ‘Your subscription is confirmed’.

Example from Birchbox:

Birchbox email example

Promotional emails: aiming at completing a purchase or making another conversion and usually end with a CTA that leads to the desired action e.g. buying, downloading, signing up to an event, etc. Focusing on the relationship you build with your customers and explaining who you are – not just stating the obvious, is important for this type of emails.

Ways to optimize: (a) segment your audience and go beyond the price/discount focusing on the underlying needs of your customers (need for intimacy, esteem, success, self-realization, freedom which the offered product can offer) and the level of security that can influence them to take the next step (b) be wary about the frequency of the emails you send out – too many of these may bring the opposite result (c) experiment with different formats/designs and types of promotional emails such as mystery offers, limited time offers, newsjacking, contest/competition, new products release, freebies, sales, selective promotions.

Example from Gone in a Flash:

Upsell: after-purchase emails aiming to increase your sales. They can suggest more courses, another one of your products or a bundle, or even send a coupon for their next time or to gift to a friend.

Ways to optimise: (a) create an atmosphere, say thank you and welcome your new students by showing them their next steps, (b) give them a gift, coupons or discounts, (c) gifts for family & friends are a wonderful surprise after their first purchase from you, send them a coupon to share.

Example from Digital Marketer:

As you would expect, each type has its own characteristics and is wise to learn more about them. This should help you use the power of each to your benefit and reach out to your audience in the best possible way.

Tips for Christmas Marketing & Social Media

Make this Christmas offer a special one with the following tips:

Come up with an interesting subject line

The subject line introduces people to the email, and it’s the first thing they get to see. To make a good impression, your subject line needs to be funny, clever, and engaging, otherwise, it won’t have any of the desired results.

Here, don’t be afraid to use humor, seasonal emojis like a Christmas tree – 🎄 , a snowman – ⛄, the Santa – 🎅, or anything else that reminds the festive season, and experiment on messaging, mode of contact, and timing.

Let’s check out some cool examples featured at Hubspot and Vero.

Subject lines to use for welcoming emails

On this note, there are many types of welcome including ‘Get Started’, ‘Hello’, ‘Thank You’, ‘Offer’, or using special media/video that use relevant CTAs at the end of each email.

Subject lines to use for promotional emails taken from MailCharts and OptinMonster:

Tip: Top phrases to use in any of these emails – new, free, off, sale, now, holiday, save, day, more, up to, gift, shipping, only, Christmas, last, get, today, win, special.

Share User-Generated Content

Posting user-generated content on social media is a winning strategy to get additional course sales especially during holidays whether it’s Halloween, Black Friday, Cyber Monday, or Christmas. To get more of it, encourage people to tag your brand’s name on their social media posts or stories and then share them on your business profile. This may include reviews, photos, videos, texts, or images that position your business – and your products, in a positive light.

Remind them of the benefits of getting your emails

Explain the benefits of why people should keep receiving your newsletter saying something like ‘Our newsletter is full of cool cooking tips’ or ‘Stay in touch to learn about our secret gourmet dishes’. This way, you are reminding your customers why they should keep receiving your newsletter, and at the same time, you are providing them with a valid reason to continue doing so. This email accompanied with a small discount, or a free course can give a great boost in your Christmas sales.

Encourage your audience to get involved

An excellent idea to try out is to invite people to get involved in your marketing campaign. For example, you can increase participation by inviting people to share their experiences while using your product, taking part in a competition through social media e.g. Facebook posts or Instagram photos to reveal the ‘Best Christmas Photo’ or by sharing their own Christmas wishes and cards with you using hashtags. This way you can lure more people in and find out who your real loyal followers are.

Another fun activity is creating a video featuring your product like Cinnabon did, infographics with cool statistics related to Christmas or any other eye-catching media.

Example from Starbucks:

Starbucks email example

Preparation is everything and even more so for the Christmas sale. Before you start sending out emails, create your own Christmas checklist, and think of your emailing schedule. First, ask yourself when it is the best time to send your emails.

Recent research statistics show that most companies send out their first email 7-12 days before Christmas which indicates that it’s the most appropriate.

In more detail, the MailCharts report finds that:

Sending your email before Christmas gives your customers plenty of time to decide whether to buy or not and builds up the excitement. Also, don’t forget to remind customers of the final deadlines so that they can get their packages on time.

For this, you can use the ‘X days to Christmas’ email template. Check out the following examples for inspiration:

Example from the Early Learning Centre:

Example from AVON:

So, if you want your Christmas marketing campaign to be successful, you need to create holiday campaigns that are fun, festive, and directly relevant to your audience.

Well-optimized and personalized emails that hit the right ‘chord’ of your customers can help you achieve a higher click-through rate and an increase in your course sales at large. And, remember to use promotional templates on your website too!

Now it’s Your Turn!

When it comes to marketing, promotion, and sales, timing is important. If you want to make sure the upcoming Christmas will be great Christmas, you want to make sure that you are giving to potential learners what they need and at the most appropriate time they need it.

Customizing the theme of your school so that it fits the needs of your students and shows a glimpse of the holiday season is crucial and you wouldn’t want to waste this huge opportunity.

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Content Creator at

Kyriaki is a Content Creator for the LearnWorlds team writing about marketing and e-learning, helping course creators on their journey to create, market, and sell their online courses. Equipped with a degree in Career Guidance, she has a strong background in education management and career success. In her free time, she gets crafty and musical.