So, you are excited…you have finished developing your online course! Kudos!
Now the real work starts! Just because you have finished building it, the money does not automatically start rolling in; you have to do the work.
“More work?” you ask.
“I just spent all that time developing the course!”
But, how are you going to make an income from the course? People don’t even know it exists.
Now is the time to plan the marketing of your course. Laying out a well-thought-out plan on the front end will increase the likelihood of building a profitable online course.
Below are some questions you should ask in the planning stage:
• How is your course different than other courses?
• Will you run promotions?
• What marketing tools will you use (Facebook ads, lead magnets, emails)?
• Do you have an email list?
• Can you partner with other entrepreneurs in your field?
• Will you have an affiliate program?
There are millions of people who are marketing online courses these days. Every second, someone is selling information and solutions to problems that we all have.
So, you’ll need to think very clearly what will make your course stand out. What will make you different from the rest? What will make people want to sign up for, and complete your online course?
Here are some strategies:
1. Identify and Sell Your Why
The first thing you should know before starting your online course is your own WHY. Let’s be real. Part of your why is to make an income. That’ fine – it’s your business. Never feel bad about making a profit from your unique gift. Get clear about your intention and goals, and what you have to offer your customers.
After you have established the “why” then you can be clear about WHY your course holds value for the customers. If the course is not relevant and does not offer value, it won’t matter how much marketing or promotion you engage in. It will be a waste of your time and money, and the numbers will show that you have not met your goals.
A study was conducted by the Nielson Norman Group which showed that users frequently leave pages within 10-20 seconds. But, if they find value in the information, they will stay on longer. In order to accomplish this, you have to communicate the value proposition within the first 10 seconds.
The key to marketing an online course is showing people what the benefits are. Content is secondary. This does not minimize the importance of the content, but people first want to know:
Why should I sign up for this course? What’s in it for me?
This is your opportunity to rise above the many competitors in your niche. Be very clear about what the benefits of your course are by answering those questions. This will create the connection to your audience.
Part of this strategy is also deciding who your target audience is, what solutions the course will offer, and the results your customers can attain.
People have all types of problems these days, and they are looking for solutions that they can put to use right away. That is what you should think about when marketing your course online – how can your course provide that? Effectively answering that question is an important marketing tool.
2. Position Yourself as an Expert
There is nothing worse than an “expert” or a teacher, who does not have expertise in what they are teaching. Nothing will turn customers away quicker than listening to inaccurate information, or someone who is not confident in what they are presenting. When you market yourself and your course and ask customers to pay for it, then you need to offer the best.
Offering the best means you have done your homework. You have researched, studied, and practiced delivering the course. It’s even better if you have published in that field. Some of what you write and teach is based on your perspective, but that perspective comes from the knowledge you have gained, a study that you have immersed yourself in, and your actual life experiences.
When you are confident in yourself, and the expertise that you have gained, you can teach with authority. Customers will see this and trust that what they are getting, is the best. Even if you are not recognized as an expert in the field yet, focus on the value of your product and “bring it!”
This is where your own self-development plays an important part.
What are your strengths and the things you need to improve? Have you been “doing the work” on you? What are your goals? Do you trust yourself – are you credible? These are areas that you should work on before marketing the course. If you put yourself out there without working on you first, your reputation may suffer a hit!
3. Use the “Try Before You Buy” Strategy
Have you ever gone to a grocery store or a place where samples are being passed out? They usually offer you a small cup or spoon to do a taste test. Once you taste it, you will know whether or not you want to buy it, and why. The same concept applies to an online course.
Put a teaser out there, something to whet the appetite…a free giveaway, information that offers value and points to additional value, if customers sign up for the online course. This is actually key since most people will not just go to the course and sign up.
Companies like Amazon do it through their Audible.com site. They offer enough of an audio sample to tease the audience which often results in a purchase.
The web is a tremendous resource that offers many tools for course and membership site creators. Take advantage of them!
4. Fire up your email marketing tool: Build a Follow-up Email Sequence
Many course creators are so overwhelmed with other tasks that they either forget or don’t have time to implement an email marketing campaign.
If you are selling courses online, you need to create email marketing campaigns!
Email is a way of life. In a study by the Radacati Group in California, it is projected that in 2019 there will be over 2.9 billion email users worldwide.
Email campaigns are an excellent marketing tool. Once set up, email works while you work, eat, vacation, do business, and sleep – 24/7. Of course, once you send an initial email, you can’t stop there. Most people get hundreds of emails per day and often have to spend hours cleaning out the clutter. So, your email may get lost in the mix. Even if your email stands out from the rest, that is not a guarantee that it will be opened. A person may like the content, but with all the noise, it gets lost. Make sure the subject line is eye-catching and always remember a call to action somewhere in the email.
Follow up is critical! You don’t want to inundate a user’s mailbox, but you don’t want to send one email and forget about it. There are many tools on the market that can help you with setting up emails to automatically respond and follow up so that you are free to do other things with your business.
- Build an email list: The first step is to create a lead magnet (ebook, free video, etc.) that you give out in exchange for your visitor’s email. Including a sample video is a great way to engage viewers so they can get a brief preview of your online course’s topic. Also remember to place a signup form on your blog, Facebook page, and homepage.
- Once you have your email list, segment or split up your email list into more targeted groups. For example: 1) Customer List 2) Newsletter 3)Daily/Weekly/ Monthly Email List
- Try to put yourself in the user’s shoes. Ask yourself if the content of the email is valuable and consistent with the expectations you’ve set.
- Keep your promises. For instance, don’t start sending out more emails than promised. If you promised to send one email per week, keep it that way and just create a weekly digest.
- Use automatization to schedule content to be delivered on a regular basis over the course of several months.
5. Publish Blog Posts Every Week for Long-Tail Search Traffic
There is a lot of competition out there in every area. Find creative ways to get your course in search results. Blogging is a great way to do this. People love a good story and blogging is a way to insert samples of your course content in the story. Start blogging about topics of interest in your niche. This will enable you to capture an audience. A loyal fan base is more likely to sign up for your online course.
6. Leverage Facebook
Get familiar with the basics of Facebook advertising:
Start a Facebook Group: One of the easiest ways to start drawing an audience is to create a Facebook page. The good thing is it is free, and the page takes no time to create, but, it will take a lot of work to facilitate the group. You have to consistently post, engage group members, and keep people interested in the group. Building relationships is the goal here.
Facebook ads: Facebook ads require an investment, but they are a way to get your message out to thousands of people at one time. You can also narrow down the target market by age, location, gender, and interests. Once you identify criteria, the ad will be shown to the relevant market that you have identified. It’s up to you how many people and how long you want the ad to run. It is based on your investment.
Facebook Live : This is fun – it’s like your own movie!! Just click on Live Video, and that’s it…you are in front of an entire audience online. This is an opportunity to share some tips from your course, use props… get creative!!! Allow people to see your unique personality!
Show your ad to people most likely to buy: Target Lookalike Audiences. Facebook does some cool things. If you share your email list with Facebook, it will analyze the list, and choose Facebook users who look similar to those who are on your list. The people on your initial email list have to be Facebook users in order to accomplish this. This will help you reach people who are similar to your target market.
7. Social Proof
Let’s face it – people frequently want to know what other people think before they make a move. Visible reviews by past students who have completed your course are some of the most effective marketing tools. Another good idea is to beta test your online course and obtains reviews from that. If you can do this with someone, who is well known in your niche and receive a good review from them – even better!
Testimonials instill a sense of trust or mistrust in the prospective buyer. How many times have you seen good or bad reviews and decided for or against purchasing a product based on what you read? The same applies to your online course. You want customers to feel secure in knowing that they have made a good choice.