Awesome, today we’re going to get into a topic we like and work on every day: marketing tips for online courses. We are talking about educational content in general.
Your first online course is ready if you’ve been following our blog. There’s no point in creating amazing content and not thinking about how to distribute it.
The marketing part for online courses is not exactly different from any marketing – after all, we use the same strategies and channels – but you already have some cards up your sleeve: as ready-to-use content, you can deliver value and, of course, you already have videos and texts ready. This differs from many products and services, where you must create content to promote it.
Here are many ways to promote and 14 marketing tips for online courses.
Preparation: create free content!
Before starting your plan and looking at marketing tips for online courses, first consider creating or extracting a mini-content that you can use to spread the word to grow your audience. For example, it can be an excerpt, some single classes or the conversion of content to ebooks. This first piece of content is something you’ll give away for free in exchange for an email, for example.
When selecting a free content topic, you should always start with scratch. Instead, you should work from your main course – so don’t lose that content, but rather repurpose it. Start there if there’s a specific section in your main course that would be a big transformation to free content.
Taking advantage of the reused topic, you can take the content of your online course and turn it into texts for blogs, ebooks or even audios. So that you can reuse content and publish it in different places to attract more audience to your course.
Plus, they’ll be eager to learn more once they get a taste of your online course. By offering a portion for free, you can use it to hook your audience and increase your conversion rates.
Let’s move on to marketing tips for online courses.
14 marketing tips for online courses.
If you want your course to have students, you must start by promoting it. Unless you’ve put it on a platform that advertises for you, you’ll unlikely have students coming in organically and buying your course.
One of the most common mistakes I see, including within my clients, is creating educational content, whether courses or other formats, and believing that, with an announcement post on social media, the audience will come. No, you need an integrated marketing strategy for online courses.
This involves thinking on different fronts simultaneously, having a cadence of campaigns and observing the results well. So you only repeat and improve what has shown potential or is giving return. Gradually you will test new channels.
We will discuss 14 marketing tips for online courses here, but you don’t have to and should only do them some at a time, okay? Focus on what is easiest for you and what you believe will engage your audience most.
Why do you need an audience?
As you may have already realized, even the most attractive course is only useful if you need more people lined up to buy it.
You can use a few people following you on social media. While this can help, it’s possible to have tons of people following you who don’t actually want to buy your course.
What you want is a particular audience who has already expressed an interest in what you offer. Ideally, you want these people to be subscribed to your email list so you can stay in touch with them, deepen your relationship with them, and ultimately sell them your course.
But how do you find and attract these people?
Here are marketing tips for online courses to build and grow an audience of people eagerly waiting to buy your online course.
- Understand your target audience.
Here’s some marketing advice you’ll get in every similar post you browse. We’ve even talked about it a few times.
Why does everyone advise you to select an audience and focus on it? Because that’s the only way you’re going to be profitable in any online business, especially if you’re selling educational content.
Consider it: Why would someone interested in real estate (for example) buy an online course that teaches you the basics of Excel? Or why would you, as an individual, buy something you don’t need?
Defining your target audience is like finding demand for your offerings—the most basic premise of marketing: demand creation.
If you still need to start creating your course, you should define and understand your target audience before investing time and money into your product. Optimizing your audience selection and marketing is always possible if you’ve already created it. Here are some good tips for doing this:
Start with a brainstorming process. Ask yourself questions that will bring up relevant answers. For example:
How old are they?
Where are they online? (Facebook? LinkedIn? Pinterest? YouTube?)
What are your goals?
What are they dealing with?
What are your interests and values?
You should only ask questions once you have a complete characterization of your ideal target audience. This is called a persona. If your course is aimed at a wider audience, you can create more personas and focus your marketing campaigns on specific audiences.
2) Define your value proposition.
Each online course has a value proposition. If 10 competitors were selling 10 courses that teach students how to use Excel at the same difficulty level, the student would choose the course with the most relevant and promising value proposition. For example, “Excel for accounting”, or “Excel for dashboards,” and so on. That’s why it’s so important to define your audience.
Your value proposition is simply the promise you make to your potential customers. You promise benefits in exchange for their money and time. So, particularly in saturated markets, you must differentiate your value proposition from the rest of the competition by thinking outside the box.
How do you do it?
Ideally, you should always study the market and potential competition before developing the course. However, if you’ve already created it, you can at least work on your presentation and marketing to attract more attention (without lying or exaggerating the benefits). We call this clothing.
It may be that your Excel course is “basic”, serving multiple audiences. But if you give him a characterization that appears to solve a more specific problem, you’ll gain an audience.
The key is to identify what other courses offer and define what they do not offer. Every course promises to teach you something.
So, if your competitors need to pay attention to an important part or detail, you can turn your attention and course content in that direction. And, of course, show this in your marketing pieces.
3) Optimize your site for search networks (SEO).
SEO is the technique of optimizing your content for Google indexing. The first results are the ones that attract the most attention from users, so a site that appears on the first page will be more likely than one that appears on the second, third or fourth page.
Therefore, having a page that ranks well is in your best interest.
Google is always scouring the web for content to recommend people in their search, this search process is called crawling. When a website allows Google robots to index it, Google analyzes which keywords are common to your website.
So people who are SEO experts understand how to structure the site (looking at the programming) and also the content itself – optimizing the site for certain keywords. This is an important concept: keyword or keyword.
For example, is your site a cooking site, gaming site, makeup tips site, or customer service course? Of course, a site can have multiple verticals.
So, if you want your audience to find your site when they search for “makeup tips”, you must have that keyword repeated several times on your site and its variants: tutorials, make-up, looks, and the like. There are word suggestion tools.
Today Google is so efficient that it knows similar words: makeup, make, look, face, cosmetics and beauty are probably words you will want on your website. So take advantage of this and start studying SEO today!
4) Leverage nano and micro-influencers.
You probably know what influencers are, but have you ever considered nano and micro-influencers? These people have accounts, usually more niche, with an audience of fewer than 50,000 followers, including many in the house below 10k.
This makes influencer marketing accessible even to beginner course owners just getting into the online marketing game!
Social media nano and micro-influencers can post news feed updates, stories, articles and even video testimonials on their frequently visited social pages, making your product attractive and desirable.
You don’t need a psychology degree to realize that people are influenced by personalities with a “high social status.” A micro-influencer, even if not yet “famous”, can reach many eyes and ears. If the influencer wants to, they can determine (and often persuade) their audience to buy the same products they bought .
And how do you find them? You can leverage specific tools to identify influencers in your niche or search for them manually, using hashtags for example.
Before collaborating with a micro-influencer, you should carefully study their social media profile engagement. If your fans constantly like, share, and comment on the influencer’s post. If the page is almost inactive (but has a lot of followers), you should immediately skip it and look for better engagement.
Once you find an influencer, followed by a target audience likely to be interested in your value proposition, reach out and ask about their advertising rates.
5) Offer real value on forums and niche groups.
Facebook is not dead. If you’re wondering how to market an online course for free, niche forums and Q&A platforms are your best options. The tactic you want to employ is quite simple, although it does require a lot of consistency and commitment.
Simply put, you will share relevant comments and answers on Quora, Facebook groups, and “niche forums”. A niche forum is where individuals seek advice and product recommendations pertaining to a specific niche. You will have to search directly on Google to find them.
You should look for health-related forums and groups to sell a health course. Even better, if you’re selling a very specialized course (how to lose belly fat), you can look up forums on “losing weight”. Whenever you do forum marketing, look for the most specific forums using search engines.
Log in daily and search for relevant questions about your course content. Provide good answers and lead everyone to your offers by providing a link to your website (less promotional) or directly sharing your course page (if the forum allows it).
Also, remember forum signatures – if the forums allow it, write a very catchy phrase and add your promotional link. Again, always be aware of the forum and group rules.
6) Build (and nurture) your email list.
Always remember: When a person agrees to make a small commitment to someone, they are likely to accept a larger request later.
How and why is this principle relevant to our online course marketing tips? The answer is email marketing. The first time you ask a person to make a small commitment is when you ask them to sign up for your email list or your daily or weekly newsletter.
Email marketing is the most effective communication channel when selling products online, mainly because the interaction between seller and buyer is personalized and private. As a course seller, you will provide your email subscribers with a lot of relevant information that can positively influence their lives.
Also, your email list should be used whenever there are updates or discounts to share. You can also use it to gather useful feedback from people who have already purchased, and you can use it to promote upsells (higher-priced products) to your “buyer list”.
So by using the psychological first a small commitment strategy and at the same time developing a genuine relationship with your prospects, your chances of selling that course of yours will increase significantly.
Another popular and widely used persuasion principle is the “reciprocity technique” This psychological strategy involves offering relevant value to a prospect without asking for anything in return, so the same prospect feels obligated to respond or commit to your requests later on. This tactic works on all levels, especially when selling products online.
The most common way to leverage this psychological principle is to offer a free ebook or course introduction to people who agree to become your email subscribers. You can continue with the same strategy, constantly offering free value without promoting anything.
When the time comes, present your course’s value proposition. If you’ve offered a good value, your potential customers’ purchase barriers have dropped a little or a lot and they’ll buy the moment you start featuring your course in their emails.
7) Promote your course on social media.
You probably already know that social media is important. But which channel should you use?
To get started, we highly recommend starting with a single platform. If you try to dominate too many social media platforms simultaneously, you will disperse too much and need help gaining traction. In addition to not being able to give due attention to each one.
To choose a platform to focus on, ask yourself, “where does my target audience spend the most time online?”. Note the “more” there. Your target audience will likely use multiple tools, but let’s focus our efforts.
For example, if your online course is about “data science”, LinkedIn might be a very good platform. However, if your course is about “how to create a fashion line”, Instagram or Pinterest would probably be much better options.
You got the idea.
8) Create a YouTube channel
YouTube is the most visited search engine in the world after Google. Particularly if your topic is highly visual, you can create helpful videos to attract an audience to your online course.
Also, for content that involves handling instruments or step-by-step (How to use software), I’m sure many people will go straight to YouTube to look for quick tips on how to do such a thing.
We recommend following the steps outlined in the YouTube Creator School to get started on YouTube. It’s a free course created by YouTube to help you get started on the right foot.
9) Start a podcast.
Podcasts can serve as another great marketing tool for your online course. Teach potential students about your topic and remember to ask them to join your email list!
Podcasts, especially with live sessions, are great ways to interact more authentically with your audience.
Podcasts are growing among the most diverse audiences and can be an excellent alternative for distributing content. You can even leverage certain portions of other content you create, such as videos for YouTube. You download or extract the audio from your video to YouTube and turn it into an episode of your podcast.
10) Create a video ad.
You can run video ads for your online course on different platforms, including YouTube, Facebook, Instagram and even Pinterest. If you need more time, video ads are a quick and simple way to build an audience for your course.
In your video, ask viewers to subscribe to your email list. Offering a free download usually works best.
Also, if you want to enter the world of ads, you can create specific ads for people who have watched your video, such as “advertise to those who watched at least 10 seconds of the video”.
11) Have testimonials from your students.
Social proof is key in promoting any product and online courses are no exception.
Consider offering your course for free to a select “beta testers” group. This will allow them to try your course risk-free, and you will collect valuable testimonials for use on your sales and checkout pages, emails, and all other marketing materials.
Having that testimonial from a student of your course with their perceptions gives more security to people who want to buy your course. Remember: no one will mindlessly trust your course to work. You need to prove it by showing that it worked for others!
In addition, there is an advantage that you can use excerpts or even the testimonial in other materials, such as social media, ads and videos.
12) Create a free mini-course.
One of the best ways to attract followers to your online course is to create a free “mini-course”.
A mini-course is a smaller course that gives potential students a taste of what they will receive when they purchase the full course. Just take some information from your main course, and give it away for free, in exchange for the email address.
Some people take what you taught in the mini-course and do it. Others will need more help, so they will buy your paid program. Either way, you’re helping people – and that’s a good thing! People who get results from your mini-course are likelier to talk about you and spread the word.
Your free course should be at least 15 minutes. Being generous, 30 minutes or 1 hour. However, only some people have completed it. You can put a time limit on your enrollment, motivating people to complete quickly.
13) Create course packs and combos.
Some companies create combos of related courses and offer them at a discounted price. This is super useful if the courses are in sequence with each other or at least fall into the “same category”.
The best way to leverage this strategy is to contribute a smaller course related to the one you want to sell. That way, you’ll attract an audience of people who are good candidates for your larger show.
Another advantage of having these combos is that they are more attractive to companies as well, as they like to have discounts and buy bigger packages for their employees instead of unit courses. Of course, it all depends on your niche.
14) Participate as a guest in posts.
Write blog posts answering questions about your course’s main topic, but don’t just post them on your own blog! One of the best ways to build an audience early on is by publishing posts on other people’s blogs.
That way, your post will be read by an existing audience – and if your post is really useful, many of those readers will join your email list.
Be sure to include a link to a free offer or download in your author bio – that way, readers will be enticed to join your email list.
You can contact them and request to submit an article to their blog. This is quite common to do.
These are just a few marketing tips for online courses.
We have yet to begin to address the full potential that active marketing has in bringing new learners to your online course. It is difficult for an online business to succeed when competition is increasingly fierce without a well-designed and implemented advertising strategy. Whether working in education to generate a good income or not, you will be interested in using at least one of these marketing channels for online courses.
Digital marketing is marketing for the present and the future. In addition to all the benefits it brings to your business, you can track the results of your efforts with incredible accuracy, which means it’s easy to see which strategies are generating profitable results and which ones need review. Always be aware of this.
At the beginning of the post, we already commented about not using all 14 marketing tips for online courses at once: focus on what makes the most sense for you, your knowledge and your audience. You will use results analysis to improve your existing channels and expand to others.