“If you build it they will come” may have worked for Kevin Costner, but unfortunately as a marketing strategy, it remains inadequate. For many people, it comes as a surprise that once you’ve built your online course, the hard work isn’t over. You’re going to need an effective marketing campaign before the students flock in. The good news is that your audience is out there and just needs to be reached - follow this list to find out how.
1) Identify Your Student Avatar
Your student avatar is your own representation of the ideal student for your course. Who are they? What are their needs and goals, likes and dislikes, and what drives them to take your course? Knowing the answer to these questions allows you to market your course effectively, so it’s essential you begin with this phase.
2) Understand Your Unique Value
This will entail some research across similar courses out there that you’re competing with - something you hopefully did before building your course. Knowing how your course differs from, and improves upon, the existing materials out there allows you to market your course by emphasizing its unique qualities. These add the value to your product that makes it stand out above the rest - articulating these is key.
3) Launch A YouTube Channel
YouTube is today an incredibly popular site and for many people it functions as their go-to search engine as they seek video content to answer their questions. Tapping into this trend is an effective way to market your course as potential students stumble upon your videos and discover their informative capacity.
4) Emphasise Student Testimonials
In a competitive online environment few people are willing to take a risk on an untested product, preferring instead to see social proof (evidence that it works, based on social testing). This means you need to demonstrate the real-world value of your course by emphasising student reviews. You may need to offer your course to initial students for free, but your website is populated by glowing testimonials the sales will roll in.
5) Build Your Leads
Lead generation is an essential marketing strategy as it creates a go-to list of potential customers you can easily reach. “It has been demonstrated that before people make a purchase they need several interactions,” says Lashonda Guthrie, tech blogger at Next Coursework and Academicbrits, “so an email marketing campaign that reaches people directly can make a big difference to your sales. Build a subscriber list through your website and provide valuable newsletter content.”
Everyone from politicians to comedians have their own podcast now and for marketing purposes, you should to. Bring your wide range of expertise to a wider audience and popularise it on your website. As well as hosting your own podcast, reach out to other hosts in similar markets and appear as a guest on these podcasts to further your reach.
7) Offer A Free Mini-Course
Many people may be interested in your online course but not willing to take the leap and purchase it. One effective way to overcome this barrier is to offer a free mini-course that serves as a taster, with an option to buy the full course upon completion. If your mini-course whets their appetite by offering the first few lessons, your students are likely to want to continue learning with you.
8) Have A Social Media Strategy
As ever-increasing time is spent on social media it’s essential that you have a strategy for connecting with students in this format. Shawn Kessler, business writer at Originwritings and PhD Kingdom advises that “rather than spraying ads across an untargeted range of social media, identify who your course will appeal to and then build a social media strategy that uses engaging content and timely posts. Which platforms you engage with will be highly dependent upon your student avatar.”
9) Use Online Discussion Groups
Whether through Facebook, Linkedin, Quora, MindStick Q&A, YourViews or beyond, online discussion groups based around the topics that arise in your course are a great way to market yourself. By capitalizing on communities that already exist you can swiftly target a readymade audience. By becoming a respected member of these communities your course will stand out as a benchmark for learning in your industry.
You know how valuable your online course will be for potential students - now you have the tools to reach them. By following the strategies outlined above you’ll be able to make your online course a success. School’s out.