The world of online courses has gotten bigger and bigger. So much so that it isn’t just universities getting on board. Experts have realized that they can use their authority to build a base of willing students eager to learn from them. This has led to thousands of free and paid online courses that are used as a marketing tactic for different brands.
If you are reading this, it can be assumed that you are at least interested in making a course. Or perhaps you already have one and don’t know how to promote it. Either way, here are 11 ways you can generate leads by marketing your course to the public.
1. Know Your Audience BEFORE You Create Your Course
For those of you who haven’t created your course yet, this is the best first step you can take. You probably have a general idea of who you are looking to educate. But how specific is that group? Having a more solid demographic in mind is going to help you to create a more balanced and helpful course.
Let’s say you want to create a course on creating a Disavow file. You wouldn’t spend the first half of the course going over the basic of what those updates are, what they mean and how SEO applies to website traffic. You would assume they already knew that much, at least.
Searching Google for your focus keywords will help you a lot when it comes to understanding your target audience. Google search results adapt to searchers’ needs: Google has been successful learning to give its users exactly what they want, so now we can learn from Google’s results what it is our customers need.
[Image source: The Ultimate Guide to Keyword Intent: What Keywords Tell Your Customers – Based on types of search results you can guess what the search intent is]
Additionally, Google Suggest:
… and “People Also Ask” results both give further insight into what interests your target user most:
… as well as use its filters to restrict your search to queries triggering a particular search type (and hence a particular intent):
2. Understand What Makes Your Course Unique
There are so many courses out there right now. If you aren’t offering something special, no one is going to take the bait. You should predicate your promotion on what it is you have to offer that is different than everyone else.
If you have a well-established brand, just having it offered under that banner could be enough. If not, you may want to start thinking of a few angles that you can use in a trial and error process to find what is the most effective way of advertising your course.
3. Monitor Your Competition
I was debating which one to put first: the point about being unique or this one. Quite clearly, one never goes without the other. In any industry, there’s always a brand that has positioned itself as a knowledge hub, i.e. the leader of niche education. In the SEO industry we have Moz, for example, which provides Q&A, weekly videos, downloadable guides, and more. Small businesses have SmallBizTrends that monitors news, offers downloadable business resources, and more.
If you are trying to become a knowledge hub in your industry, you need to monitor existing leaders to get a better idea of what they create, how they engage readers, and how they turn them into leads.
4. Take a Survey of Potential Students
A quick was to get the above mentioned unique perspective is to find out what it is your potential students are looking for in a course. If they are searching that must mean they haven’t found it in all the others that are floating out there on the web. It is a good place to start for ideas.
Try Wyzerr for collecting feedback: It gamifies the surveying experience making it more entertaining and engaging. There are many more surveying options though that integrate right into your WordPress blog.
It could also be used as a way to get their email, too … but more on that, later.
5. Use a Platform that Offers Flexibility
There are free course hosting platforms out there but they have little to no control over anything: Branding, pricing, linking, etc. You can send updates to your students but you cannot add links in them which is also extremely limited.
If you have at least some budget to spare, consider using a more advanced solution that would allow you to create lead generation magnets, lead generation landing pages and lead generation special offers.
Uscreen is one of the best solutions and it’s very affordable too. You’ll be able to brand your course, place it on your own domain, schedule newsletters and special offers and more. You will also be able to easily create your own app to offer your students a handy mobile access (and keeping them engaged with push notifications)
6. Use Multiple Promotional Platforms
Your blog and Twitter are obvious places to promote your course. But what about a landing page? A Youtube channel? Youtube videos? Instagram posts? Snapchat stories a teasers? Reddit? Tumblr? Slideshare?
You can really expand beyond the average platform and have a well-rounded promotional launch that takes advantage of the many different forms of media that different people respond to. You want videos, slideshows, infographics, blog posts, social media posts, podcast interviews… anything you can get that reaches a different audience that may respond better to varying forms of promotion.
7. Don’t Just Use a Single Learning Form
Just like not everyone responds to a single form of promotion, not everyone learns the same way. That is why online university courses use videos, graphics, written questions and discussions to help their students learn the material. It is a great way to make sure everyone learns something in a way that is beneficial to them.
One of the best ways to promote a course is to be able to boast about this multifaceted approach to learning. If they know they won’t just be reading page after page of dry content, they will be much more willing to sign up. This means more work for you, but it is worth it.
8. Leverage Email Marketing
Remember that hint about getting email addresses? Email marketing remains one of the most effective forms of marketing available. For small to medium businesses, the click-through versus open rate is pretty good and the fact that everyone has their phone connected to their email means you have mobile covered, as well.
If you can build an email list, or even if you can incorporate email directly into your course, you will be much more successful. I personally love using more traditional drip campaigns as a reminder system for daily or weekly lessons and to keep people on task.
Plus, you can use an email list for future courses.
9. Offer a Condensed Version For Free
The assumption is that you are charging something for your course. But even if you aren’t, you should have a free condensed version that acts as a “mini-course”. This takes some of the ideas, tips and lessons you have made for your bigger course and offers it for something faster.
It may seem as though you are giving the cow away for free. But this actually whets the whistle of anyone who might consider taking the course and isn’t sure yet if they want to invest the time, energy and money into it.
Think of a mini course as the lead gen magnet.
10. Have Promotions, Bundles or Discount Opportunities
Planning to make multiple courses? Have a service, product or ebook? It is a great opportunity to sweeten the deal with bundles. If not, you can create promotions, discounts and sales that give people your course for less.
One of the most effective ways I have used this tactic is to offer half off to the first twenty people who sign up—you should see the rush!
11. Get Out Into the Community
Did you know you probably have live meetups in you community about the very thing you are teaching? See about joining up by checking sites like Meetup.com. Join localized subreddits and Facebook groups. Start your own.
This gives you a chance to speak, meet others face to face and begin local promotion.
Do you have any tips for making a course hit the big time? Let us know in the comments!