You’ve decided to create and develop an online course (or courses).
After all, there’s never been a better time to offer virtual learning services. Plus, what better way to grow your business and increase your reach than with online classes?
But now you need to create your class. So where do you start?
Part I of our series on marketing your online virtual learning business is all about the planning and pre-launch phase of your process. Let’s get started!
PART 1: PLANNING & PRE-LAUNCH
1. Define your customer personas
No matter what business you’re in, your target audience should never be “everyone.”
Take the time to define your target customer(s) by developing 1-3 personas of your ideal student. Each persona should include demographic information (gender, age, socioeconomic background, and education level) along with more specific information (career type, interests/hobbies, children, or pets), and pain points (what problem(s) they need solved).
With all this information at your fingertips, now you know who you’re talking to and who you’re trying to reach when marketing your online classes.
2. Do your research
Before you start creating your course, get the lay of the land. Research your competition to see what similar courses are out there, how much they cost, and how much value they add. This should help give you a better scope for what’s possible and what’s needed in your space.
Also, consider speaking directly to members of your ideal audience to learn what courses would be helpful for them. You’ll likely get ideas you never thought of!
3. Tell your story
When it comes to comprehending information, people understand stories the best. Not only do we find commonalities with stories, but they hold our interest for far longer too.
Don’t be afraid to make a story part of your marketing narrative. Whether it’s your personal or business story, or the story of a client who went through your coursework and found success, the power of storytelling will shine brighter in your marketing efforts than many other forms of content creation.
4. Share testimonials
Similarly, use customer reviews and testimonials to your advantage. One of the strongest forms of marketing is still Word of Mouth. But with online businesses, it’s easier than ever to use digital WOM through customer testimonials or reviews.
Ensure you have a system in place that makes it easy for happy customers to leave testimonials; whether within your course site or through another platform like Google My Business or Facebook.
5. Build interest even before you launch
Think of your course or class like a product: you want to build excitement and interest prior to launch. There are a number of different ways to accomplish this, but here are a few:
- Create a landing page or coming soon page to direct traffic to that has information about your course, a video about the course, and/or an email opt-in to start gathering email addresses.
- Build interest on social media by teasing the course, talking about it regularly, and even sharing a launch date or countdown.
- Throw an online launch party. These are popular ways to launch are a great way to entice your initial class of students to sign up.
- Incorporate an end date. Create a sense of urgency by building a closing date for your course. In other words, no longer allow signups after a certain date to help instill urgency to sign up.
PART 2: LEAD GENERATION TACTICS
6. Free course or teaser
If you’ve never offered a course before, it can be challenging for students to take a chance on you, not knowing or seeing any of your content or coursework before. An easy way to bridge that gap? Offer them a free course or teaser.
This mini-course could be part of the larger course, an introduction or continuation of your class, or another valuable course to give students an idea of what they can expect from your coursework.
7. Live or recorded webinar
Another popular way to increase interest for an online course launch is to offer a live or recorded webinar. Similar to the free or teaser course (above), you’re sharing your expertise in a way that will get potential students both interested and comfortable with you as their teacher.
These webinars also tend to have a timestamp, where any action that’s taken (e.g. signing up for the new online course) must occur within a given timeframe. This tactic helps create a sense of urgency for your customers.
8. Course sales page
It’s not enough to include a small blurb on your website; create a specific course page or class sales page to increase interest and drive traffic. A unique page is also helpful in marketing, since you’ll want to use this link regularly as you promote the course!
We’re just getting started. Planning, launching, and generating leads for your online courses is just the beginning. Next time, we’ll talk about creating unique content for your online virtual classes.
And if you need help creating a digital course that represents your business and reaches your target market, contact us at OSC Web Design.