So, you’re an expert in your topic, understand your audience’s needs, and have a brilliant online course idea that people would love to buy from you.
But you’re still not sure how you’ll market your online course, build awareness, and drive sales.
No need to panic.
Because in this detailed article, I’ll share some of the best ways to market an online course and show you examples of successful course creators already using these strategies.
Sounds interesting? Let’s dive in.
Online course marketing begins even before you create a single lesson or module.
The first step is to validate your online course idea to ensure there’s enough demand. Even if you’re an experienced course creator, don’t skip this step. Because unless you validate your idea, there’s no guarantee if you’ll even find buyers for your course.
If you’re satisfied there’s enough demand for your course, start creating your course content. But while you’re doing that, kick off your marketing activities (yes, even before your course is ready).
Let me share proven online course marketing strategies to help you get started.
1. Build Authority With Your Twitter Content
Building your authority and credibility before launching an online course is critical for your success because people buy from creators they trust.
This is where Twitter comes in.
Irrespective of your niche, Twitter is an excellent marketing and brand-building platform. Twitter threads allow marketers to cover different topics in detail, share actionable advice, and demonstrate expertise.
And here’s the best part.
When you consistently create great content, Twitter shows it to people who want to learn more about that topic, giving you more exposure and helping you build authority.
Justin Welsh, a six-figure course creator, is an excellent example of how Twitter threads can skyrocket your brand authority and course sales.
Justin has grown from a few hundred Twitter followers to a highly engaged audience of over 65K people by publishing weekly Twitter Threads on different marketing topics.
Wiz, who sells memberships to his exclusive content site, is another brilliant case study of using Twitter threads to grow a digital product brand.
The key to success on Twitter is consistency.
Carefully understand the discussions of your target audience and create valuable threads and Tweets that offer expert insights and actionable advice.
Plus, engage with your audience, join Twitter chats, and respond to other users to build connections. With a bit of effort, Twitter can become one of your biggest sources of traffic and leads.
2. Presell Your Course To A Small Group of Beta Testers
Preselling your course means asking your audience to pay a discounted fee to access your course as you build it.
Why would anyone pay you for a course that doesn’t exist yet? Trust and credibility.
If you’ve built trust with your audience by consistently offering free content on different platforms, you’ll always find people who’ll happily buy your course even before you create it.
So, how does preselling work?
Step 1: Create a tentative course outline containing the different topics you plan to cover in your course.
Step 2: Share the course outline with your audience and ask them to join as beta testers (people who’ll buy your course at a significantly discounted price in return for feedback and testimonials).
Jenna Soard, a course launch expert, regularly recruits beta testers for her online courses.
Step 3: Start creating the course content and provide early access to the beta testers for feedback.
Step 4: Finalize your course content based on feedback and gather testimonials from your beta testers.
Step 5: Prepare to launch the final version of your course at regular pricing.
Why pre-selling an online course is critical? Let me share a few reasons.
Preselling means you don’t have to wait to get paid for your course until its launch. Instead, you can rest easy knowing your audience is funding the course creation process. Think of it as a crowdfunding campaign.
Preselling allows you to improve your original course idea and create content that answers the fundamental questions of your audience. As you create new lessons, your beta testers share real-time feedback and help you cover your topic from all angles.
As a result, the final version of your course is much more polished and valuable for your buyers.
Testimonials play a crucial role in converting cold traffic into leads and customers. By preselling your course, you can work with a small group of students, help them achieve great results, and gather priceless testimonials to help you drive more sales.
Online course beta testers often become your biggest cheerleaders as well. When you work closely to solve their problems and provide them immense value with your content, they become your advocates and help you build a community around your brand. This could be in the form of a Slack group, a Facebook Group, or a private membership site.
Building an email list is perhaps the most crucial part of marketing and selling an online course.
Research shows that it takes 6-8 touches to close a sale on average. So, it’s almost impossible to sell high-ticket courses to cold traffic on your first interaction.
To build an email list, you’ll need a lead magnet (a free resource users can access by entering their email address). A lead magnet aims to attract relevant email subscribers and give them enough free value to generate interest in your premium product.
AuthorityHacker’s free training is an excellent example of a relevant and high-quality lead magnet.
What are the best lead magnets for online courses?
There’s no fixed answer as it depends on your audience’s needs. But generally, the following lead magnet types work well for online courses.
- Live/recorded webinars.
- Short video series
- Short email course
- Templates and workbooks
You can find more lead magnet ideas in this article.
Your lead magnet content should be closely aligned with your online course topic. Ideally, it should give users a glimpse of what they can expect in your premium course.
To generate leads, place your lead magnet on a dedicated landing page and other prominent sections of your website.
Now that you’ve done the groundwork let’s talk about different marketing techniques you can use after launching your online course.
Research shows that 68% of all online experiences start with a search engine. So, you can drive thousands of visitors to your online course by optimizing it for the right SEO keywords.
There are a couple of ways to do this, depending on where you plan to host your courses.
Approach #1: If you have multiple courses or plan to launch them in the future, you can create a dedicated Course/Products section on your website and optimize it for your general course theme. For example, if all your courses are about productivity, self-improvement, and motivation, you can find the keywords related to these topics to optimize your Courses page.
DigitalMarketer’s course page is a good example.
Approach #2: Create a dedicated website for your online course and optimize it using a long-form content page.
Making Sense Of Affiliate Marketing, a popular online course by Michelle Schroeder-Gardner is an excellent example.
It has a dedicated domain and a fully optimized site that ranks for several affiliate marketing-related keywords.
So, how do you optimize your site for SEO? Without going into the details, here are the main steps.
Step 1: Keyword research – read this guide for details.
Step 2: On-page SEO – read this guide for details.
Step 3: Off-page SEO/Linkbuilding – read this guide for details.
See also Using SEO to Sell Online Courses.
Optimizing your course page for SEO is only a part of the marketing equation.
To scale your SEO efforts and consistently drive traffic to your course site from a wide range of keywords, you need to invest in blog content creation.
If you have a dedicated course website, you can add a blog section. But if you already have a site with a courses section, use your blog content to drive traffic to your courses.
What kind of content? Informational blog posts that answer the biggest questions of your audience. Such posts are optimized for top-of-the-funnel keywords with high search volumes.
They not only attract traffic to your site but also build your niche authority.
For example, Jacob Mcmillen, a successful copywriter and online course seller, ranks for some of the most competitive keywords in the copywriting and freelancing niche thanks to his excellent long-form blog posts.
His articles drive thousands of visitors to his site and are the primary growth engine for his online course business.
So, how do you find your audience’s questions to address in blog posts? Let me share a straightforward method.
Search your main topic on Google Search and scroll down to the People Also Ask section in the search results.
Let’s say you wanted to find questions about “copywriting”. Here’s what People Also Ask shows:
These are the most frequently asked questions about your topic.
More relevant questions are added to the list when you click a question. This technique alone can help you find dozens of questions to turn into blog post ideas for your audience.
Video content marketing is the fastest-growing traffic source on the internet. So, the world’s best marketers are investing more resources in video content creation than ever.
Publishing short videos that offer valuable tips and actionable advice on different topics of your niche is an excellent way to build your following, grow your brand, and find students for your online course.
Here are some of the best video platforms you can use.
YouTube is the world’s second-largest search engine. A successful YouTube channel can become the most significant source of traffic and leads for your online course.
Alex Cattoni is a course creator who drives most of her traffic by creating short informational YouTube videos.
However, growing your YouTube audience and traffic requires consistency for at least a year. But once your content ages and starts ranking, it can send thousands of relevant visitors to your site.
Facebook is the world’s most popular social network and one of the biggest video platforms. Publishing short informational videos on your Facebook Page or Group can help you drive traffic to your online course.
Anton Kraly, the owner of the Dropship Lifestyle membership program, is among the thousands of creators using Facebook video to market their online courses.
Course creators also use video content on platforms like LinkedIn and TikTok to drive thousands of visitors to their sites and grow their revenues.
Kat Norton, also known as Miss Excel, is one such course creator.
Starting a podcast can be a great way to build your brand authority, position yourself as an excerpt, and drive thousands of visitors to your online courses. So, if you are wondering whether it is still worth it to start a podcast, the answer is “Yes!”
Why? Because podcast demand is going through the roof worldwide. In the US alone, every 6 in 10 people are podcast listeners.
You can use podcasts to address different questions of your audience, provide industry insights, and share actionable tips based on your experience. You can also increase your podcast’s reach by inviting influencers and experts as guests.
On the flip side, you can reach out to popular podcasts in your industry and offer to be interviewed by them.
Podcast hosts are always looking for knowledgeable guests. So, if your pitch is interesting enough, most podcast hosts will be happy to have you on their shows. This would provide you with an excellent opportunity to show your expertise and promote your online course to new audiences.
In general, podcast are a fantastic form of content marketing.
Want a quick marketing solution for your online course? Start recruiting relevant affiliates to promote your product for a commission.
Experienced affiliates have large audiences on their social media profiles, email lists, and websites. They can instantly promote your products to thousands of interested buyers and give your course unlimited exposure.
You can find affiliate marketers in any industry using popular affiliate platforms like ClickBank, JVZoo, Warrior Forum, CJ, and others. Plus, you can offer influencers and bloggers in your niche to promote your course for a commission.
Most affiliates would be happy to get on board if your course content has real value and your commission offer is attractive.
Here’s a detailed guide by Thinkific that goes into the details of setting up an affiliate program for your online course.
If you want to promote your course to the right audiences fast, Facebook Advertising is your best option.
Facebook’s advanced ad targeting features allow you to reach your ideal customers using highly engaging video and image ads.
For example, here’s an ad by Smartlook driving users to a free resource on its website.
Use Facebook ads to route traffic to your landing page with a lead magnet that converts visitors into subscribers.
So, how do you create effective Facebook ads for your online course?
How do you target the right audience?
How do you set up Facebook retargeting Pixel?
We answer all these questions (plus many others) in our detailed Facebook ads guide.
What happens when someone signs up for your email list?
Do you have the right email sequences to nurture your relationship and prepare your subscribers to buy your course?
If not, you’re missing out on a lot of revenue.
Email marketing is one of the primary sales channels for online course sellers. This is where all your marketing efforts converge and help you drive sales.
So, what email sequences do you need?
Start with a Welcome sequence that shares free value and builds rapport with your subscribers. Then follow it with a sales sequence that starts with a free webinar training and pitches your product towards the end for a discount.
Here’s an example of a similar course launch sequence.
The key to successful email marketing is in building relationships with your subscribers. If they trust you, they’ll take your offer. This is why most of your emails should contain free informational content.
You also need to be careful when choosing your email marketing software. It needs to integrate with your marketing tools and provide you with the necessary automation features to run different sequences.
Early bird pricing is a great way to create urgency and persuade your audience to sign up for your online course.
This results in higher conversions and better sales performance.
Allowing customers to pay your course fee in multiple installments is an excellent way to reduce friction and convert unsure prospects into buyers.
For example, CopyHackers offers an annual plan for their flagship course with a big discount and also gives buyers the option to pay in monthly installments.
The best online course platforms allow you to set up early bird pricing and installment plans when configuring your course settings.
Publishing interviews of your successful students is an excellent way to highlight your course’s value and how people are benefiting from it.
It’s also a great way to answer your audience’s questions, remove their doubts, and move them closer to the sale.
For example, ClickFunnels has a dedicated Funnel Stories series on YouTube that features the interviews of successful ClickFunnels users.
These interviews detail the strategies people used to make ClickFunnels work for them and how it has made their lives better.
Gina Horkey, a successful course seller in the VA niche, has a dedicated success story section on her site where she shares detailed interviews of her past students.
Such content not only creates brand awareness but also motivates unsure buyers to take action. So, if you have students who’ve applied your course content to achieve success, make sure you tell their stories through engaging video content and blog posts.
Another effective way to promote your online course is by offering bonuses on top of your core lessons and modules.
These bonuses can be in several forms.
For example, you can offer your previous products as a bonus or include additional templates, workbooks, or resources. Similarly, you can include special guest lectures and interviews by other leading industry experts.
Some course creators offer dedicated Slack communities and one-on-one sessions as bonuses to persuade their prospects.
Bonuses also have a psychological effect and make your course look more valuable. As a result, you can charge a higher price tag for your courses and promote them with more confidence.
Most online course sellers stop their marketing activities once they close enrollments (never keep your courses open the whole year).
Many uncertain prospects didn’t purchase your product this time. But they can be your future buyers.
So instead of vanishing from the scene, continue your marketing activities by giving your audience a taste of FOMO (the fear of missing out).
Give them glimpses of what’s happening inside your course and how your students are getting blown away by your content.
Samar Owais, a leading eCommerce and SaaS email strategist, regularly shares the inside scenes from her premium coaching programs.
As you can see, this gets people curious and makes them wonder what they might be missing on. Doing this from time to time will hello you prepare your audience to buy from you once you open enrollments in a few months.
Online course marketing is not a one-time activity. Instead, it should be a part of your regular operations. When you consistently work on your brand image, engage with your audience, help them with free content, and remind them of your course’s value, selling your products becomes much more straightforward.
If you have any questions about online course marketing, please let me know in the comments section.
I’d love to respond.
By Jawad Khan for Learning Revolution
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