It’s no secret that the world of online learning is booming. In the United States alone, almost 50 million people take online courses every year. That’s a whole lot of potential students!
With so much opportunity online, it’s essential that you develop the skills to capture the attention of students, engage them, and convince them to sign up for your course. In this article, we’ll discuss the ins and outs of marketing an online course on a budget. We’ll cover everything from SEO and social media to paid ads and content creation.
Set Achievable Goals
Even if you have the best course in the world, you’ll never see a profit if you don’t learn how to market it correctly. To that end, it’s crucial to set measurable goals for your marketing efforts and track your progress regularly.
In the case of our own online course, Memrise, when we decided to venture into the world of online courses, we didn’t have a clear idea of how much effort we’d need to put in to get the word out. We tried our best to follow the course, took feedback from students, and made changes as we went along without over- or under-estimating the effort required to market the course.
Find Your Niche
One of the first things you need to do to successfully market an online course is to find your niche. What is your target audience and what are they looking for? When you find your niche, you’ll be able to tailor your course to appeal to them. Tailoring a course means adjusting the content to fit the needs of your target audience. We provide a few examples below.
For example, if you are teaching English as a second language and your target audience are native speakers, you could create videos to teach them useful everyday phrases. Or if you are teaching computer programming and your target audience are developers, you could create a course that covers the basics of coding.
Deciding what your niche is, however, isn’t as easy as it seems. You need to identify your audience and make a list of their needs and wants. Then, you can use that list to find the most suitable content.
Create A Statement Of Purpose
To create a marketing plan, you’ll need to lay out a clear description of what you’re trying to achieve. The simplest way to do that is to create a short statement of purpose. Your statement of purpose doesn’t need to be complicated; quite the opposite, in fact. Keep it as short and sweet as possible. Think of a short, snappy mission statement that can be used as an elevator pitch.
When you have a short, snappy mission statement, you’re ready to move on to the next step.
Choose The Right Platform
An important step in the course of your marketing plan is to choose the right platform. The right platform will make a massive difference in how effectively you can market your course. The important thing to keep in mind is that you need to pick a platform that suits your target audience. Your chosen platform will depend on your niche. For example, do you want to use YouTube for your marketing efforts or would you rather use Facebook?
Once you’ve picked your platform, you need to consider the next important step–building a community.
Create A Community
Your chosen platform will allow you to connect with other businesses in your niche. However, rather than simply connecting with other businesses, you can use your platform to create a community of students. The advantage of this is that, when other businesses and individuals in your niche join your community, you’ll have access to a large audience of potential students. You can use your community to get the word out about your course, connect with students who are in need of your help, and boost your sales.
Determining The Best Mix Of Online And Traditional Marketing
One of the best tools you have to effectively market your course is a mixture of online and traditional marketing. While social media and search engine optimization (SEO) are effective forms of marketing, nothing replaces personal contact. You can use the web to your advantage by creating a landing page and using social media to get the word out.
For example, you can create a landing page where interested parties can sign up for your course. Then, you can use social media to connect with your potential students, showing them the value in your course. Then, when they are ready to make a purchase, you can ask them to visit your landing page.
The above example is a simplified version of what is known as an opt-in strategy. With this strategy, you are essentially taking the steps to create a list of interested parties and can then target those individuals with advertisements or special offers. You are not forcing anyone to do anything against their will. In digital marketing, this type of strategy is known as a lead gathering strategy.
Use Personalized Email
One of the biggest benefits of a community is that you can personalize the emails you send out. With a simple tweak of your email program, you can change the email templates you use to send out notifications and reminders. Instead of standard, automated emails, you can create highly personalized messages that will draw in and retain more customers.
To get started, simply create a few unique email templates and begin using them. As you get more comfortable, you can scale your campaign and use the same approach for different types of notifications and communications. The more you can personalize, the better; studies have shown that personalized emails increase response rates by 20% and click-through rates by 50%
Measure The Success Of Your Marketing Plan
To determine the success of your marketing plan, you’ll need to look at a number of key metrics. First, you’ll want to track the number of times your course’s info is brought up in social media conversations. Next, check out how many people you’ve reached through social media (not just the people who have signed up for your course).
Additionally, you can track the number of leads that came from organic searches (websites that are actively encouraging people to click on their content) versus paid search (when you pay to have your website or offer listed at the top of a search engine’s results). This metric will indicate how much you’ve relied on search engines rather than social media to get the word out about your course.
If you want to know how effective your social media marketing has been, then you can track the number of followers you have on various platforms. The more followers you have, the more people will be interested in your content when you share it.
Incorporate The Lessons You’ve Learned
So far, we’ve covered a lot of ground regarding how to effectively market an online course. But now that you have all that under your belt, it’s time to prepare for launch!
As previously stated, finding your niche is essential. With that being said, now is the time to really zero in on your target audience and create content that will bring them to your side. You want to make sure that everything you do–from the way you present yourself to how you word your content–is congruent with your chosen niche.
Additionally, now that you have a solid understanding of how to properly market an online course, it’s time to put what you’ve learned to use. To get started, simply choose a few courses that you think will be successful and begin creating content for them.