How to market an online course

If you’re planning to create an online course, or even if you’ve already created your online course, you will need to have a robust marketing strategy in place to help you promote it to your target audience.

Before you create your online course

The first strategy really comes into play before you create your course. It’s important to know who you are aiming it at (your target market). So, how do you know this? Think about your ideal client and create a buyer persona.

So, you know who they are and what they do, how old they are, what motivates them and what interests do they have?

Create as many as you need as there may be different types of customers that you have in mind for your course.  

You can refer to these buyer personas when you’re creating your marketing content – it helps to know who your ideal client is, so you can tailor your content specifically to them.

What is your USP (unique selling point)?

Go into Google and look at courses that currently exist, that are based around the subject matter that you want to cover in your course. Make notes of what is included in those courses and how they are presented. Is there anything that they’ve missed? Are there any aspects that they’ve included that you wouldn’t?

Is there anything in the courses of your competitors that you think you could cover better or add more value to? Can you add in extra topics that your competitor doesn’t cover?

Putting a course out there means giving loads of value to the people that sign up. They want it to be jam packed with value, so they know that they’re not wasting their time and money.

Doing this kind of research will lead you to your USP…what is your USP? What is it that you do different to your competitors? What is the one thing that makes your business better than your competitors?

Once you know what that is, you can add it to your marketing messages. And the good thing is that when someone asks you what makes your course so special – or different to XXXX’s course, you have the answer!

Get information up front

Before you start making your course, you need to know if it is something that your audience want! It might be something you want to create, or something you think people will want. But, until you ask them, you don’t really know!

The best way to find this out is to ask! If you have an email list, or an audience on your blog, you can ask them what they’d be interested in learning about – you could send a survey to your email list. You can also ask people on your social media sites, or in the networking groups you belong to. Then create your course around what they want – not what you think they want.

Get to work

Once you know who your audience are and what they want, you can create your course. There’s just a little bit more research to do – what keywords or phrases will people type in to look for your course? You can research similar courses to yours, or you can use a keyword tool to look at the most popular keywords related to your subject. Then you can include those keywords in your title.

Once you are armed with all this information, it’s time to think about preselling your course. You need to treat your online course like a product launch…because basically that’s what it is.

Coming soon!

You want to try and create a buzz around your course, and one way is to create a ‘coming soon’ page. If you treat it the same way that you would treat a new product, you can’t go far wrong by building excitement and a buzz around the launch. You could just do a ‘coming soon’ page on your website, without giving away too much information…just the basic information! Then say that more details will be posted soon.

You can also use your social media pages to start some teaser information about your course. Don’t just talk about yourself and the course though – make sure that you give some valuable information to get your audience’s interest. For example, you could give away a checklist or cheat sheet that is linked to the information in your course.

You could set up a ‘sign up to show your interest’ page, either on your website, or on a hosting site, such as Mailerlite. When someone signs up to show interest, they get your freebie and an email that tells them a little bit more about the course. Then you have their email and can send them more details about the course as they become available.

If you run your own Facebook group, you can promote it there too.

You might send links to interesting articles you’ve found online about similar subjects to yours – you don’t have to just use your own content.

Start a podcast

You could start a podcast to highlight your expertise in your subject and talk about things related to your course material. Podcasts are great for interviews, so if you have done a course before, or have been running a pilot course with a targeted group of people, you could interview one of them to ask what they got from it.

If you do a podcast though, in the same way with anything that you give away, make sure that you don’t use the same information/subject matter that you’ll be using in your course, as they won’t be happy if your online course that they pay for, is the same content as the stuff you’ve been giving away for free!

Connect with your audience via an online webinar

In the same way as you can create a podcast, you can also run regular webinars…or even a one-off online webinar. You can pre-record these and cover some of the things you know that your audience struggles with – and give a solution to some of their pain points. Again, make the subject matter different to the course content you’re creating.

Running these kind of presentations gives your audience an idea of what you’re like to work with. You’ll no doubt get questions, which may give you ideas to include in your online course. It will also give you feedback, which you can use to show the value you give your audience. This all helps give credibility to your business.

Into the launch phase!

Now you’ve done the ‘coming soon’ stuff, which may have gone on for a couple of months or more, now is the time to promote the course date and more details.

You can still use all the things you used pre-launch, such as podcast, social media, your blog, or email newsletter, or even a webinar. Now is the time to ramp up the communications.

Paid Ads

Paid Ads can be an effective way to advertise your online course. Even a simple Facebook post boost can help with this kind of content. You can target them to a specific audience, they don’t have to cost a lot and you can track their success. I can’t specifically say, with hand on heart, that paid Ads are worth it or that they work, as I have never felt the need to use them myself. But it is something I will try when I do decide to create my own online course.

You just have to make sure that you factor in the cost of these Ads, as they can be quite expensive. Just make sure that whichever platform you use for Ads, that it is a platform that your target audience uses.

Team up with others

Another good way to get your course out there is to team up or buddy up with other businesses…preferably not businesses who do the same as you, but those that you know and like – you need to like or be interested in the kind of things your buddy posts in order for this to be successful – otherwise it’s just the same as doing like for like, or follow for follow, which really doesn’t work.

So, ask people who you regularly interact with and agree to like, comment on, and share their posts or stories, as well as doing shout outs to each other.

This helps you, but could also lead to partnerships in the future, especially if the business you partner up with does something that complements your business. They may even be able to be a guest speaker on your course, or be an interviewee on your podcast, blog, or webinar. The possibilities with partnerships is endless.

Teaser Mini Course

Earlier I talked about a teaser on social media for preselling. Another idea would be to create a mini teaser course, just a few weeks before your main course goes live.

This is a free short course that gives people a taste of what you do and the value you give. At the end of the teaser mini course, you can give the option to sign up to your paid course, where they can find out much more and get even more value from you.

The other thing about creating a mini course, is that the audience that sign up will realise how little they actually know about your niche and will be wanting to know more.

Offer a discount

You can also use a discount offer to entice people to sign up. For example, the first three people to sign up get 50% off – or whatever figure you decide to go for.

Create a sales page

You’ve done your ‘coming soon’ page; now it’s time to create your course sales page or landing page. A landing page is a page on your website, or on a hosting site like Mailerlite, that is dedicated to purely selling your online course. This is where you can go to town with advertising what, specifically your course will cover.

Talk about the benefits of the course – what’s in it for your audience? What problems does your course solve? What will your audience go away knowing that they didn’t know before? How will it help them or their business in future?

Include testimonials from those who did your mini course or those who have listened to your podcast, read your blogs, or have commented on your newsletter. You may have feedback from the survey you sent out that you can use. Just remember to always ask permission from the person who gave the feedback if you’re going to use it to advertise your course.

Make sure that the content of your course is really clear, so your audience know exactly what they’re signing up for.

And, don’t forget to include a CTA (call to action), such as a button saying, ‘YES, SIGN ME UP NOW!’ Always make it short and snappy and make it sound urgent, like you mustn’t wait to sign up – do it now!

Passive Income

Courses

Your online course may be a course where you are very hands-on and run individual sessions over a period of weeks or months. However, if you record a course with individual modules, you can put it on an online hosting channel, such as Udemy, which is an online learning platform (a marketplace to sell and buy courses online). You make money on this platform by uploading your course and selling it. It’s a free service for those uploading courses and can help you achieve passive income. It won’t make you millions, but it will help give you credibility and the possibility of a regular passive income.

Students on Udemy generally take courses to improve their job-related skills. I have used it several times for course on various social media channels to help me understand them better. The good thing is that you can upload a course on any subject you can think of. I’ve seen everything from cupcake decorating, to car maintenance, interior design to computer skills. There’s something for everyone and courses start from around £15. I’ve even got courses free of charge and have had some great deals during January sales.

eBooks

As well as making passive income from your online course, you could also write a related eBook and sell it on your website, or even upload it to Amazon or a similar book selling site.

Conclusion

Now it’s time for you to get started! Do your research, do a presale ‘coming soon’ campaign, choose the best strategy for you and just do it!

Let me know if you found this post useful and, as always, if you have any questions, please feel free to contact me.  

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