The day has finally arrived… you’ve finished creating your online course! It took several weeks (maybe even several months) to create it, but that’s okay. The important thing is that it is done, and after many long days and nights of being glued to your computer creating, recording, and editing your course content, you finally have time to enjoy daylight again.
There’s just one problem. Your course is completed, but nobody knows about it. And unfortunately, this isn’t the movie Field of Dreams where the “build it and they will come” approach works. This is the real world, where you have to hustle to promote your course and get some sales.
If you forgot to create a marketing strategy for your course, don’t feel bad. You’re definitely not the first person to create a course before they created a plan to market it. We’ve got you covered.
You’re about to learn 55 different ways to market your online course and increase your sales and enrollments.
The first few strategies should actually be implemented before you create your course, but the rest of them can be used pretty much any time after your course is created.
This is an important first step to take before you implement any of the strategies listed in this article. Understanding who your ideal student is before you start marketing your course will help you craft marketing messages that speak directly to their frustrations, needs, and desires.
Your ideal student avatar is essentially a representation of the ideal student for your course. Write at least a one paragraph description describing your ideal student and keep them in mind as you implement the marketing strategies listed in this guide.
Research some of the existing online courses related to your topic so that you have a good idea of what is included in those courses and how they are presented. The goal here is to determine how you will differentiate your course from your competition. What areas of your topic will you cover that your competition missed? What value can you add to your course that is not included in the others?
Identify your unique selling proposition (aka a differentiator) and include it on your course sales page and marketing messages. Plus, when people ask “how is your course different from XYZ?” it helps to have a good answer.
This step is important because it helps ensure that you create a course that people actually want to take. If you have an audience (from a blog, podcast, email list, social media, etc.), send them a survey to ask them what topics they are interested in learning about. Create a course based on what they want, not on what you want to create.
Including your audience in your course creation process is also a great way to build anticipation for your course before you release it, plus you validate the demand for your course topic before you invest any resources to create it.
Imagine for a moment that you are searching for some information about your topic. What are search terms (aka keywords) are you going to use to find the information you are looking for? If you wanted to learn how to design logos in Adobe Photoshop, for example, you would likely enter the keywords “how to design logos using Photoshop”, or some similar variation of that phrase.
Use a tool such as Google’s Keyword Planner or BuzzSumo to identify the most popular keywords related to your course topic, and include those keywords in your course title. This will help to position your course as exactly what a potential student is looking for as they search for your topic online.
Your blog is a great place to promote your course, especially if you regularly publish free content related to your course topic. If you write articles about the same topic that you teach in your course, then every person who reads your blog is a potential student for your course.
Some great places to showcase your course are the top bar of your website (if your blog’s theme doesn’t include a top bar, you can add one using Sumo or Hello Bar), at the end of each blog post, in your sidebar, and on your About Page. Using Thinkific, you can also create Sales Widget for your course and place that sales widget anywhere on your blog.
YouTube is the second most-visited search engine in the entire world (after Google). There are literally millions of people searching for “how-to” videos on YouTube on a daily basis. YouTube videos can even rank higher than websites in the search results of numerous search engines.
Start a YouTube channel about your course topic and publish helpful videos on a regular basis. Include a link to your website or course in your video descriptions.
Create a short video to promote your course and publish it on YouTube. You could even create multiple promotional videos, each with a different title, to increase exposure for your course. Make sure you include popular keywords related to your topic in your video titles and descriptions so they rank well in search results for those terms. Include a link to your website or course in your video descriptions. If your promo video does well, consider running ads for it using Facebook or Google, for example.
Social proof plays such an important role in a buyer’s decision-making process. Very few people are comfortable being the first person to purchase a product or service. They want to know if others have bought your course and had a positive experience. That is why testimonials and reviews carry so much weight.
Add a few positive testimonials to your course sales page from other students who have taken your course. If no one has taken your course yet, let a few people take your course for free in exchange for a testimonial.
You probably send and respond to numerous emails on a daily basis, and some of those people you are emailing could be interested in your course if they knew about it. Add a short sentence to your email signature that includes a link to your course. Even if someone who sees your email signature isn’t interested in your course, they may know someone who is and tell them about it.
If you have a website or a blog, add a page to your website that includes details about your course. Once that page is set up, add a link to that page to the main menu of your website so that visitors can easily find it and learn more about your course. Include a link to purchase your course directly on that page, or alternatively, include a link to your course sales page so they can learn more about it and decide if they want to buy it.
Most people need to hear from you several times before they decide to buy from you. This is why having an email list is so effective. When someone is subscribed to your email newsletter, you get to earn their trust by sending them helpful tips and advice related to your topic over time. When you eventually promote your course to them, they are more likely to purchase it because you provided value to them upfront before asking for the sale.
A great way to build an audience of people who are interested in your course topic is to start a podcast about that topic. Every person who listens to your podcast is a potential student for your online course. Share valuable tips related to your topic on each podcast episode, and at the end of each episode include a call-to-action to visit your website and/or learn more about your course.
By submitting your podcast to platforms such as iTunes, Stitcher, and Google Play, you could end up reaching hundreds or even thousands of people on a monthly basis for free. This is great exposure for your courses and brand in general.
Do some research to find podcasts related to your topic and that have audiences that would likely be interested in your course. iTunes is a great place to search for podcasts. Enter some of the keywords related to your topic in the search bar, and make a list of the podcasts that appear in the search results. Make sure you read the description of each podcast (and even better, listen to a few of their episodes) before you contact the host. Send each podcast host a personalized email, introducing yourself and explaining why you think you would be a good fit for your show.
Remember, the purpose of doing a podcast interview is to add value to the listeners. Your interview should not be one big sales pitch for your course. At the end of your interview, tell the listeners how they can get in touch with you and learn more about your courses.
Your social media profiles are a great way to build your personal brand and position yourself as an expert on your course topic. Update your bio on all of the social networks that you have a profile to reflect your area of expertise. Include a link to your main website (or even directly to your course) in your profiles so people who are interested in your course topic know where to go to learn more.
Take certain sections or concepts from your main course and publish them in a mini-course. Give away your mini-course for free, and at the end of your course invite your students to purchase your main course if they want to dive deeper into your topic. This strategy gives your potential students a risk-free way to learn from you before they decide to purchase your main course.
One of the best ways to sell your online course is to host a live webinar for people who are interested in your topic. On this webinar, share some of your best content for free. This helps to position you as an expert and it also helps to build trust before you introduce your course and ask for the sale.
After you’ve hosted a successful live webinar, you can use the recording of that webinar to sell more courses. Email the people who registered for your live webinar but did not attend and give them a link to watch the recording. You could even use the recording to set up an automated webinar, and then run ads to the webinar for ongoing sales.
Create multiple courses that cover different areas of the same overall topic. Like with a series of books (think of Harry Potter), each course in your “series” helps to promote your other courses. At the end of each of your courses, mention that you have other courses related to the same topic. Since your current students are probably the most likely to purchase from you again, creating additional courses for them is never a bad idea.