When deciding to venture into online tutoring, you need to consider several factors. Is the model financially viable? Can you generate enough leads to make it worth your while? How will you gain and retain students? Before answering these questions, it may be beneficial to examine the growing pains of online learning.
Growing Pains of Online Learning
One of the significant roadblocks to online learning is the lack of quality control among online tutors. In the early days of cyberspace, anyone could have a blog or website; there were no credentials required to teach. As a result, the consumer experience was hit or miss, and students could find themselves in a classroom with a poorly trained teacher or in the hands of a skilled professional.
With the development of standardized testing and a newfound focus on higher-quality education, traditional brick-and-mortar schools are looking for ways to supplement their coffers. One way is through online learning, which has seen a 126% increase in usage since 2015-16 (Moodle, 2018). As universities and colleges have invested in quality assurance measures, students can be certain that they are receiving an education that aligns with globally recognized benchmarks. In fact, 86% of colleges and universities now offer online learning programs (Kamran Khan, 2019).
Based on data from InsideBIKE, a tutoring company, 57.5 million American students use a blended learning approach, combining online learning with some in-person instruction. In 2019, that number is expected to hit 71.9 million, with almost all the growth coming from online learning (InsideBIKE, 2020). That means 90% of students are taking advantage of blended learning, which combines classroom instruction with online learning. This is in line with other reputable research agencies, which predict a 124% increase in students pursuing online learning by 2023 (Gallup, 2022; Statista, 2021).
This shift towards online learning comes with its perks and perils—the primary benefit is the ability for students to study from anywhere, at any time. While this convenience can encourage students to work at a less-than-desirable pace, it also means there’s no quality control. In many cases, you may end up with an online tutor who is neither qualified nor competent. When that happens, the student’s experience can fall short of what was promised.
This brings us to our next point: how will you market and retain students? The short answer is through a strong marketing strategy. If you want to gain and retain students, you need to make sure they know you’re the best choice for tutoring. You can achieve this through traditional means of advertising (print, radio, and television), as well as newer forms of digital marketing. We’ll discuss each method in turn.
Traditional Means of Advertising
Although most people think of online tutoring when it comes to marketing, the truth is that there are still advantages to traditional forms of advertising. Letting your target audience know you’re available to teach them gives you the opportunity to establish credibility. With so much competition, it won’t be easy to get students to trust you—but being upfront about what you offer can help (Blythe, 2020; Khan, 2019).
When you’re educating prospective students on what you offer, it’s important to make sure they understand the value you offer. To that end, it may be beneficial to create a solid marketing plan, laying out how you intend to advertise and what results you hope to achieve. While a well-executed plan can take some of the stress out of marketing, you’ll still need to rely on proven methods to generate leads. Luckily for you, we’re going to lay out three methods you can use to attract students.
Search engine optimization, or SEO, is a method of marketing through internet searches. When a potential student performs a search online, they’ll see results from several websites in the order most relevant to what they’re looking for. When your website shows up in search results, you’re giving the visitor the best possible chance of landing on your site.
With SEO, you can utilize a variety of techniques to get more clicks, likes, and shares. Some of the most effective tactics include links, content, and keyword optimization. When you apply these techniques to a well-designed SEO plan, you’ll see an 86% increase in web traffic, according to HubSpot.
Forbes has also published a list of the top 25 SEO Tips for Boosting Your Business. Following these tips can help you get your website found online, and eventually, bring in the leads you’re looking for. Just remember, SEO takes time to kick in, so be patient.
2. Paid Media
Paid media, or offline marketing, is a form of advertising that is delivered through traditional means of print, radio, and television. With this method, you are only paying for advertising, but you are reaching a potentially larger audience. YouTube, Instagram, and Snapchat are just a few of the platforms that can be used to reach the majority of American adults (MarketingCharts, 2020). Paid media can also be used to create awareness around a certain product or service, or inspire future customers to take action.
Paid media is more cost-effective than SEO, but you have to be mindful of your budget. When used correctly, it can be highly effective. To find success with paid media, begin by crafting a compelling narrative around your product or service. For example, lets say you are an accounting firm that provides bookkeeping services to small businesses. You can create a video series showcasing how your team of accountants can help businesses of any size reduce their bookkeeping burden by automating tasks, reviewing financials, and offering expert advice. With a compelling narrative and an emphasis on value, you can almost certainly attract the attention of the target audience.
3. Social Media
If you have a Facebook page or Instagram account, you’re probably already using social media to promote your business. Social media allows you to connect with millions of people across the world, while gaining credibility in your industry. Platforms like Twitter, Pinterest, and LinkedIn offer similar benefits. Creating and engaging with content regularly is important, but so is monitoring the feedback you receive—which can help you determine what is and isn’t working online.
To succeed on social media, you have to be consistent and mindful of your audience. When you post frequently and engage with your followers, you’ll start to build credibility. In addition, engaging with your audience on social media provides you with opportunities to connect and build relationships with potential students.
Newer Forms of Digital Marketing
In addition to the three methods we discussed above, you can use newer forms of digital marketing to attract students. We’ll begin with Email Marketing, which can be integrated with your CRM software, like HubSpot. With email marketing, you can automate the process of reaching out to potential students—and allowing them to opt-in to receive future offers from you—with a single click.
Next, we have Facebook Advertising, which is very similar to traditional print and radio advertising. With Facebook advertising, you are only paying for the ads you run—and you can target your audience based on several criteria, including geography, language, and gender. You can also use Facebook to gain credibility with your target audience by linking to and sharing relevant content.
How to Market Online Tutoring to Students for the Best Results
With any form of marketing, it’s important to measure the results of your efforts. To that end, you can use several tactics to track the performance of your marketing plan. Monitoring and evaluating your progress is essential, and it can help you determine if the time and investment in marketing is ultimately paying off.
First, you can track the number of visitors to your website—this will give you an indication of how effective your SEO strategy is, and whether or not, you should continue down this path. If you’re not getting the results you’re looking for, it may be time to try a new method.
Second, you can examine the activity on your social media accounts to determine the effectiveness of your marketing strategy. The engagement you receive on social media can give you an idea of how much your target audience values your content.
Third, you can measure the success of your offline marketing campaign—this can be done through surveys, which we’ll discuss below—to determine if the time and effort invested in paid media is generating the results you’re looking for.
Surveys Are a Great Way to Gauge Student Retention
One of the significant advantages of online tutoring is the ability to track student engagement, gain insightful knowledge about prospective students, and identify key trends and issues.