Online Course Marketing: Tips for selling more courses and increasing your revenue
Posted by Kelly Newcomb on September 9, 2019
Generating sales for your course starts with three things; a website, a network of people and marketing.
You need to invest time – and a little bit of money – into these three things to get your course out there and to boost sales. With lots of competition in the market, you can’t put your course out there to the masses and expect a sale. At Plume, we specialise in building elearning platforms, course content creation and marketing. With our combined marketing expertise, sales training and in-depth knowledge of the elearning space we’re in a unique position to offer tailored advice to course creators on how they can penetrate the market, reach new audiences and sell more courses.
First and foremost, you need a website. Somewhere that your traffic and marketing material to link back to and where they can buy your online course. However, it’s not as simple as just throwing up a landing page and populating it with all the information you can.
Before you develop your website, it’s worth taking into consideration how people think, and what might influence their buying decision.
Your course sales page
A course sales page is the webpage that has all the details about your course; an overview, a little bit about the trainer and any social proof.
We suggest that your webpage the structure below as it addresses each question your buyer will have before they are confident in purchasing your course:
- Introduction: what is the issue your course is trying to solve?
- Essential course details: such as number of modules, average completion time, how the course is structured and assessed etc
- Learning outcomes: bullet point what your students will learn
- Benefits: focus on the benefits which align with the problem you’re solving
- Qualifications: what else they’ll get like certificates
- Your expertise: to help them trust the course author
- Testimonials: as a form of social proof
- Accreditations/ awards: to demonstrate the reliability fo the course or instructor
- FAQs: a small section filled with the most important Q&As
Click here to see an example page we designed for a client that follows this structure.
When it comes to writing sales copy for your elearning course, it might be tempting to write out a long list of features but instead, we recommend writing in a way that sells the benefits. One way to do this is by stating the list of learning outcomes above the fold (that’s in the bit someone sees before they have to scroll down) and then moving through into how completing your course will help to solve the issue you’ve identified for your audience in the intro. Your copy needs to resonate with your audience so have a good think about the problem your students have and why your course is the solution.
By presenting these two sections early on and separating them out in this way, someone can decide whether or not the course is right for them, helping them to compare the value you provide against your competitors. If you can give them all the information they need for their decision-making process, you’re more likely to convert a lead into a sale. This layout is what we call conversion lead design – by keeping everything on one page, prospects aren’t needlessly navigating back and forth across your website.
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Try a subscription model with tiered plans
On the topic of content, why not try a subscription model?
Marketing your online course can be tricky with a subscription model due to the amount of time it takes to generate new content. However, if you have the creative capacity to make this content on a regular basis, you’ll be able to increase the lifetime value of a customer, significantly improving your sales in comparison to a one-off payment model.
A subscription model will allow you to offer tiered plans, with each tier offering more value to your learners. This additional value could be in the form of one-on-one support, group webinars, community aspects or access to exclusive content.
Following this model really depends on the amount of time you have and the reliance you have on your courses as a source of income. But if you can give it the time, there’s potential to make big bucks. More so that just leaving your course out there to generate organic sales.
While this model might not work for everyone, if you can create new regular content or offer exclusive access to your expertise, you will make more money in the long run. If you don’t have a full course already available, you could use this kind of model to pre-sell drip-fed courses and write content as it’s needed by your students – which requires less work as you need only dedicate a few hours a week to producing a lesson, responding to students and managing your social media.
If you haven’t already, we strongly suggest that you get on social media as this will be a key component of your online course marketing strategy. Don’t give into the temptation of being present on every platform. Some platforms simply won’t convert for you so be selective:
- Choose Twitter for brand awareness, trust-building and engagement. Honestly, it’s a must.
- Choose Facebook for creating a page and a group for your users. More on that below.
- Choose LinkedIn for building your own professional profile and building a network. This is also a must.
- Choose Instagram if you have an extremely visual course and/or you want to demo your expertise. Just ask yourself whether you’ll have lots of ongoing visual content to keep it going.
- Don’t choose Pinterest and don’t bother with Snapchat. They’re a time-suck which won’t benefit sales of your courses.
Bonus: Join Reddit to connect with other professionals to learn and promote your skills.
Despite the ease of use personal platforms, using social media to market your online course requires time and planning to get the content right and to ensure you’re not manually scheduling everything. Checking in once daily is a minimum requirement, so bear in mind how much time you need to set aside to get your marketing on each platform just right.
Regardless of your personal feelings towards the platform, there’s no doubt that Facebook has the capability to give you unparalleled reach. It’s this reach that you need to tap into to market your online course. There are three parts to Facebook that you need to take advantage of:
- The Facebook Pixel and Ads
Firstly, set up a business page – though it might not give you many conversions – as it’s worth having and updating because it demonstrates authenticity and builds trust. Just remember Facebook demotes business page content unless it’s a native video or you have 1000+ followers, so be persistent and patient.
With the business page, you can join other groups and interact as your business rather than using your personal account. Join groups of other course leaders, of interests that align with your course offering and other networking groups to expand the reach of your posts (by sharing them directly into these groups). Answering questions posed by other members and generally interact with content.
Position yourself as knowledgeable and be proactive to gain that esteemed ‘Top Fan’ or ‘Conversation Starter’ badge.
Additionally, set up a private group for your students. Give them resources and a dedicated place to get support from you and other students. Learning by teaching is a valuable method of retaining information learnt from your courses so prepare questions and scenarios to challenge and test your students, keeping them engaged throughout their learning and beyond.
Finally, the Facebook Pixel needs to be integrated into your website. This will allow you retargeting options where you can set Facebook ads to show to people who have already visited your website. This could be the final nudge in the sales process that closes the sale, or can act as a reminder for a potential customer fell out of the process for one reason or another.
If you’re not on LinkedIn then you really should be. LinkedIn offers unparalleled access to professionals including both industry leaders and prospective students looking to upskill themselves with your course!
Take the time to build out every aspect of your profile to demonstrate your expertise in your field. What are your skills? What qualifications do you have? Do you have a portfolio or website to connect? These are the things people will assess when it comes to buying a course. There are also amazing opportunities to freely connect with other professionals and potential students, but most importantly, industry leaders who share their knowledge and insight.
Pro Tip: Content from industry leaders is easy to find and great to share – just make sure you add additional insight into your post to bring value to your audience.
Unlike Facebook, LinkedIn also has groups but posts don’t usually have much engagement. However, there’s still value in joining them, commenting and sharing your own content, especially as not all groups are like this and LinkedIn has been working on ways to increase interaction. Again, there’s the opportunity for you to create a group for your students but first, check out the competition and see how their pages are doing. Just ask yourself if it’s worth your time and whether your audience is active on LinkedIn.
Google Ads can be a rather intimidating platform, especially when you consider the alternatives from social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook; the familiarity of these platforms can make it easy to shy away from Google. However, Google Ads has one of the best cost per conversion rates we’ve seen…and it’s pretty consistent.
While all offer a significant amount of reach, Twitter and Facebook ads are often blanked, meaning you’ll get lots of impressions but little to no engagement. And LinkedIn, well, LinkedIn is rather pricey. So if you have a small budget to market your elearning course then stick to Google Ads.
People aren’t on social media to purchase a course. But when they’re searching on Google there’s a clear buying intent.
Google Ads has extensive targeting options, and once you’ve sussed effective keyword targeting and ad copywriting, you’ll gain great reach and conversions. More so than what you would get with the same budget advertising on social media.
Want to try Google Ads but don’t know where to start? Get in touch! We build and manage campaigns.
This should be enough to get you started but there’s a lot more to marketing your online course once you scratch the surface. Try implementing these five things and be sure to track everything through Google Analytics and the social media dashboards to see how well you are performing and spot opportunities for growth.
We’re always on hand if you need advice on sales copy, course marketing and instructional design. Get in touch with us today and see how we can help you sell more courses.
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