Selling online courses has become a profitable endeavor for many businesses, but success isn’t easy. In order to attract the right people and boost engagement, good branding and advertising are must-haves.
You should treat an online course just like any other product or service. In order to thrive, you need to invest in branding and advertising that connects with your target market. Thankfully, this isn’t rocket science. If you have a foundational understanding of digital marketing, you can leverage your existing knowledge and apply it to your new online course.
Know your target market
It all starts with a solid understanding of your target market. Everything you do from a branding and advertising perspective will depend on getting this aspect of the process right.
Are you trying to reach people who are brand new to the topic, or is your ideal customer someone who has a basic understanding of the concepts you discuss? Is this a one-time sale, or are you hoping to target people who will be easier to cross-sell and upsell in the future? It’s smart to consider questions like these on the front end.
Offer a hook
“Ultimately, all learners want a glimpse of what the eLearning course is going to involve,” expert Christopher Pappas says. “Paying money to enroll in an eLearning course that holds a variety of unknowns just isn’t appealing, because your learners cannot be sure that they are going to actually benefit from the learning experience.”
How do you overcome this point of friction? Offer a hook: Something like a sneak peak or free 24-hour trial is a wonderful way to bring people in and mitigate resistance. It won’t always work, but it’s typically a sound strategy when customers aren’t responding well.
Rely heavily on social media
“Your Social Media presence is an integral part of your brand image,” Pappas wrote for TalentLMS. “This is particularly true in this day-and-age, when millions of people are using social networks daily. All of your eLearning course materials should display your social media contacts, including Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram and YouTube.”
You cannot develop a successful online learning course in today’s market without a strong Social Media Presence. Social media platforms like Facebook and LinkedIn will serve as your primary lead-generation channels. Begin building these profiles up well in advance of your launch date.
Seek out endorsements
Endorsements, especially from recognizable figures and companies, can go a long way toward gaining visibility. It may be worth it to offer your course for free to a handful of authoritative figures and influencers in your niche. You can then ask them to provide a brief testimonial or review in return. These endorsements can then be used on your website, sales pages, landing pages and social media to build trust with your audience.
Incorporate social proof
Endorsements are one form of social proof, but don’t stop there. All of your marketing and advertising materials should contain at least one element of social proof. This could include a statistic about the effectiveness of the course, a data point about results, a brief quote or anything else that makes people feel more comfortable.
Consider the rule of 7
Are you familiar with the Rule of 7? It simply states that on average, a person needs to be exposed to a message seven times before they respond. By applying this to your online course, you can develop a more realistic advertising approach.
“When you’re ready to open up registration, you’ll need to give people a heads up at least seven to 10 times,” says marketer Abe Crystal. “That means (approximately) three to five emails dedicated entirely to your class (not thrown in as a sidebar in your newsletter); plus another three to five posts on each social media channel you’re present on.”
It’s not enough to implement an advertising strategy for your online course and then sit back and hope everything goes well. Advertising is very much an evolutionary process. Things change as time goes on, and you want to make sure you’re adapting to these variances in a timely manner.
One way in which you can do this is by studying analytics and developing reports on demographics, conversion rates, bounce rates, etc. This will help improve your approach moving forward.
Maximize your online courses with compelling branding: There’s no such “if you build it, they will come” sales strategy for small brands. Until you’re on the same level as brands like Apple, Coca-Cola and Nike, you won’t receive any sales without heavy branding and advertising pushes. (Even massive brands like these require strategic rollouts.) In the end, make sure you take this into account.
Larry Alton is an independent business consultant specializing in social media trends, business, and entrepreneurship. Follow him on Twitter and LinkedIn.
Image courtesy of Shutterstock.