This chapter will discuss the best practices for marketing your online course. We will discuss how to determine your target audience and how to reach them. You'll learn twelve proven methods for marketing your online course.
The Importance of Marketing Your Online Course
All too often, people put together an exceptional online course that doesn't reach anyone. You might have the best course in your subject matter, but it won't translate to money or impact if you don't market it correctly.
Marketing sets you apart from others in your space, and it gets your course in front of as many prospective students as possible. With how crowded the online learning space is, this is incredibly important.
If you want to make real money from your online course, you must learn how to market it.
How to Determine Your Target Audience
Before diving into marketing tactics, you should learn who you want to talk to. Specifically, who is your target audience? This audience is who you want to sign up for your course.
These are people who are interested in your subject matter, have the right prerequisite knowledge, and stand to gain something valuable from your course.
Without a target audience, your message will be lost in the void. You'll be sending messages to people who have no interest in your course at all — this just wastes your time and money.
Worse, you could end up with a pool of students who aren't a good fit for your course.
How do you determine your target audience? There are a few things to try:
• Check Google Analytics Network Report. This report will tell you who visits your site and interacts with your accounts. It will build a profile for your target customer.
• Check online forums on your subject matter. These forums will give you a better idea of what kinds of people are interested in your topic.
• Revisit your course outline. Who did you identify as the target audience?
Twelve Proven Methods for Marketing Your Online Course
This guide is broken down into twelve specific ideas. They will help you market your online course by giving actionable items and specific information. Here are the twelve proven methods for marketing your online course:
1. Promoting Your Course on Your Website
The best place to start is on your website. If you don't have a website, you should make one today. You can use a professional website builder from Simplero to save you a ton of time and maximize your results.
Your site is under your control. You can decide how often you want to talk about your course and how heavily you want to promote it.
You might create a blog and consistently link to the online course to drive traffic. That's perfectly fine.
Even if you don't directly promote it, building a strong online presence through your website is a quick way to grow your fanbase. From there, you can direct them to your online course and encourage them to enroll.
You can use student testimonials, create content related to the course, generate lead magnets, and offer insight into your course.
2. Email Marketing
As of 2020, there are more than four billion email accounts globally. That translates to a lot of potential students for your course; this is why so many people focus on email marketing.
Emails are free to send, and you get the chance to make multiple announcements to get into those extra touchpoints. Don't forget that you can also use your email list as a custom audience in Facebook Ads to make sure they see your ads as well as your emails.
With emails, there are two things to remember: your readers are busy, and you need to sell a product.
These two points mean you must make short emails that clearly communicate the point.
You might send subscribers weekly emails and send others monthly emails. Every email will cause the recipient to consider your company and your online course. A well-run email marketing campaign will include a few different types of messages:
You should send a welcome email when someone first signs up for your mailing list. This email will introduce the subscriber to your brand and let them know what to expect moving forward.
You might also mention how often you will send them emails, so they don't get scared away with potential inbox spam.
A welcome email shouldn't specifically sell a product, but it's okay to add a link to your course to introduce the recipient to your online course.
Case Studies and Testimonials
A testimonial is a positive review from a recent student. These should be very short and to the point. They should highlight why your course was great, what they learned, and why others should take it.
You can send these testimonials to your email list as social proof that your course is great.
Case studies take a closer look into a success story. It might be a look into a company's revenue before and after taking your course. These case studies can be full-length blog posts on your site, but they should be very short on your email (with an included link to read the full story).
Whenever a special offer is introduced on your site, your mailing list should be the first to hear about it. Send a quick email to your subscribers promoting the offer and explaining the details.
Also, you can add subscriber-only special offers. These only go to people who sign up for your mailing list, which might include a discount for your course.
3. Affiliate Marketing
Affiliate marketing is when you work with another person or company to create a mutually beneficial business relationship. That's a lot of big words, so here's how it works:
Imagine your online course revolves around how to make the best cup of coffee at home. You find a blog that talks about coffee and sells coffee mugs. You likely have the same audience.
You can reach out to the coffee blog and put together an affiliate partnership. Your affiliate can link to your course and get 10% of every sale — if someone follows their link and signs up for your course, then the coffee blog gets paid.
You might also include a link to the coffee blog's store and promote their mugs in your course. In this case, the blog would pay you a percentage of each sale as well.
By doing this, you're increasing how many people see your course. You're also rewarding the site that refers them. Doing this can save a lot of money in marketing. Since you'll pick sites that share a target audience with you, you don't have to do the extra work to find your audience.
You can set up many affiliate marketing campaigns with different sites. Just make sure you have a good affiliate management tool to understand each campaign's success and what tactics are working.
4. Starting a Referral Program
A referral program is a lot like an affiliate marketing campaign but on an individual basis. In this case, you'll incentivize people to have their friends sign up for your course.
A common method is offering a discount or course credit for every successful referral. Make sure you don't give an incentive until the referred party signs up and pays for your course.
A referral program will entice people to talk about your course and try to recruit other people. By paying people to do the referring, you can save money on ads or other marketing efforts to refer the same people.
5. Social Media Marketing
Like websites, social media is a great place to market your course. Accounts are free to make, and posting regularly will quickly grow your base of followers. All of these followers can be potential students if you can convert them.
You can do social media marketing on Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube, Twitter, TikTok, and Instagram.
A Facebook group is an excellent tool for communicating with your audience and giving them all a forum to discuss the topics of your course content. Facebook groups don't have to be as specific as your course. With a group based on a broader issue, you can attract new people that aren't your students (yet).
Facebook groups and fostering a community can help you get sales from new people in your audience and give you another place to promote future courses.
Being engaged in your group is an excellent method for building authority in your niche and showing more of the world what you can offer. Don't be afraid to go live in the Facebook groups to answer questions and hang out with your followers.
For an even better community, consider Simplero's community features. It gives you more control, better access, and a cleaner user interface.
6. Running Pay-Per-Click (PPC) Campaigns
If you don't mind spending some money to speed things up, you can run a pay-per-click (PPC) campaign. Simply put, these are ads that drive people to your site. The ad will be hosted on someone else's site, and you pay the site owner every time their viewer clicks the link and goes to your landing page.
How can you start a PPC campaign? You can use the following:
• Google Ads account. Google Ads lets you put your course in front of an audience that is already looking for your course. Google can place these ads in the following formats when people search for certain phrases or words related to your course:
– Search Network campaign. A text ad campaign is displayed at the top of the search engine results.
– Display Network campaign. You can create visual ads on Google, YouTube, Gmail, and various websites.
– YouTube ads. You can run a video campaign with ads to promote your online course before, after, or during a YouTube video.
• Social media ads. These ads can pop up on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, or any major social media platform. You can target the ads to only reach your potential students.
7. Presenting a Webinar
Hosting a live webinar is a great way to establish yourself as an industry expert. Make sure the webinar is broad enough to appeal to a lot of people — in other words, it shouldn't just be a sales pitch that explains why your course is so great.
Instead, talk about a trending topic in your industry. Use that discussion to refer people to your course, which covers the topic in greater detail.
Webinars are also a good move for connecting with others in your industry. It could lead to affiliate marketing partnerships or referrals in the future.
8. Creating a Waitlist
Depending on how you're rolling out the modules, your course might require a waitlist. Another reason to make a waitlist is to build up some anticipation for the release of your online course.
When you make a waitlist, adding extra incentives is a good idea. People are paying you for something they might not receive access to for months, so rewarding them is wise.
You can offer a discounted price for people willing to go on the waitlist, or you might offer an exclusive module that only people on the waitlist can access.
Once you have a waitlist, don't forget to email the list and build excitement around the release.
9. Offering Discounts and Promotions
In general, discounts and promotions are a quick way to boost your sales. People like to know that they're saving money on something.
Offering a coupon or temporarily lowering the course price will encourage people to quickly sign up to capitalize on the deal. Since courses typically don't come with high overhead costs, you probably have large margins on each sale. In this case, you can afford to offer a slight discount and still make money.
10. Starting a Podcast
Starting your own podcast is another free way to grow your audience. Several industry-specific podcasts reach audiences in the millions.
However, running a podcast is a big time commitment. You need a unique selling position that sets your podcasts apart from the others — why should someone listen to your podcast and not another one in your space?
Running a podcast builds an audience that's there just for you. You can pitch your online course to the audience and boost your sales. Once your podcast gets big enough, you can also run ads during the show and make more money on the side.
Alternatively, you can be a guest speaker on other podcasts to promote your online course. Just ensure that the show you're going on has the same audience you're targeting.
11. Publishing a Book
Once you have enough content on your site's blog, you might consider pivoting and writing a book. If you write an eBook, you can publish it for free and send it to your mailing list. Include a link to download the eBook on your site.
A book will spread the word about you. It will also solidify your position as an industry expert. Within the book, talk about your subject matter. You should link to your online course throughout the book to drive traffic to the course.
Another way to make a book is to take your online course material and simply write it out and format it as a book. This way, you can reach two different audiences through different mediums. The eBook should be a pared-down version of the course.
12. Forming Joint Venture Partnerships
A joint venture partnership involves working with website owners and influencers to share helpful information from your online course. The idea is that the viewer will recognize the value and hopefully go to your course, sign up for it, and pay you for more information.
How does it work? Start by compiling a list of influencers and large websites within your subject matter. These people should be speaking to the same audience that you're targeting.
Now, reach out to these people and ask what pain points they recognize within this subject. Ideally, they'll mention something that relates to your online course.
From there, you should send them a valuable piece of content that you make. The content aims to help solve the problem and teach more about the issue. The content can be a:
• Google Doc
• Google Sheet
As a result, you're proving how much you know about the topic and showing that your course is valuable.
For instance, you might reach out to a homesteading blog and ask about their main issues with raising chickens. They'll say it's hard to know what chickens can and can't eat. You put together a short PDF with visuals and lists of healthy foods for chickens. Be sure to add your website and link to your course somewhere in the infographic.
The site can then post your PDF on their site. Their viewers will read it and might want to learn more. They'll follow your link, visit your site, and sign up for your course about homesteading and raising different farm animals.
Creating and running a successful online course business can be one of the most rewarding things, but you'll never know the feeling if you don't get started.
Don't get overwhelmed with all of the info and tools out there. Just get started and see where it takes you. Find the best way to sell courses online that works for you and get to work.
Remember, the right course platform and tools can make a huge difference.