The Essential Marketing Checklist to Promote Your Online Course

Explore the marketing must-haves to promote your online course.

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We’ve all become more accustomed to our virtual world, from team meetings to friendly happy hours. And with these changes, maybe you’ve considered building – or have built – an online course to share your expertise, connect with your customers/clients and diversify revenue streams. If so, you’re in good company. Many high profile and trusted brands have developed online education, like eCornellPeloton and MasterClass.

Rest assured, that level of prestige isn’t a prerequisite to success. Content creation is 40% of the work; the other 60% is marketing and running the business. Simply put, growing your customer base is rooted in the quality of your offering, your ability to connect with your audience and the time and effort you commit to market it.

If you’re already on the online learning bandwagon but haven’t experienced the desired results, you came to the right place. Here, we’ll share insights to help you launch your course, attract more registrants and promote your message with a strong marketing campaign.

Messaging for success

You’re the master of your craft and anyone would be lucky to learn from you. And that’s precisely what you need to communicate through your website or an online course-specific landing page. The selling starts when you clearly state WHAT you offer, HOW they’ll benefit and WHY they should care.

Before you put words on the page, start with a content strategy that puts your audience first. Acknowledge their pain points. Perhaps they recently make a career change or lost their job and want to learn a new specialized skill. Or they need a supportive community to follow through with a lifestyle change. Capture their attention with compassionate, timely messaging that triggers action. Zone in on their goals and guide them through the awareness and consideration phases with informational messages that acknowledge their desires.

Next, express your brand’s qualifications to help them meet their goals. State any notable work in the field and crowning success stories from relatable individuals. Testimonials and reviews are ideal – dare I say, necessary – to support your claims and lead to higher customer buy-in.

If you haven’t sealed the deal yet, consider what holds them back. Typically, it boils down to these three categories: time, money and need. Accept these excuses openly and restate the beneficial outcomes of the course. If their excuse is, “I don’t have time for this,” lead with, “This course teaches you ways to find more time in your day.”

Apply the best practices from this landing page messaging checklist to improve your selling power.

  • Put yourself in your target audience’s shoes to be relatable
  • Clearly state WHAT you offer, HOW they’ll benefit and WHY they should care
  • Provide enough information to pique interest without disclosing the key takeaway
  • Exploit common excuses to break down commitment fears

After you identify and address these points, you’re ready to build your marketing plan.

The essential marketing checklist

Follow this checklist to prepare for a successful launch and sustainable growth.

  • Online presence – Create a landing page that’s positioned to sell. Double check the list above to ensure your message piques interest and collects leads. Attract potential students with engaging content and topical keywords about your field. Frame your qualifications and key course takeaways on your About page that explains your qualified experience and what key takeaways to expect.
  • Lead capture tool – We’ve said this a thousand times. You need to present value to your audience before you can extract it. Offer a free, short-form lecture or piece of content in exchange for their email address. A recorded video or downloadable worksheet provides a preview of your learning experience – and adds them to your database for remarketing.
  • Email drip campaign – It’s rare that online learning falls into the “impulse buy” category. With this in mind, you need to communicate with your audience again and again. This is why your lead capture efforts to earn their contact information are so important. As you start to build your database, you need a trusty email platform. Consider tools such as Mailchimp, Constant Contact or, for those with big budgets, a Hubspot or Marketo, to collect, organize and engage your audience. An investment in your email platform goes a long way when it comes to your engagement. Believe it or not, email is still the No. 1 marketing channel! Once you've nailed the platform, develop a series of automated welcome emails that usher potential students through the buying journey. Reinforce your messaging points that you’ve established on your landing page. Each topic – WHAT you offer, HOW they’ll benefit and WHY they should care – should sit within its own email campaign.
  • Promotional content – Capture your audience’s interest with relatable articles, helpful videos and other supporting materials. Use this content to increase visibility through paid social ads, display advertising or sponsorships. Ongoing advertisements are essential to create interest, collect contacts and learn more about your audience.

Stay tuned for more in-depth marketing techniques for each component in upcoming blogs.

Manage your expectations and plan accordingly

While all of the tactics above are key to launching your online course and building a list of prospects and customers, they require consistency over a long period of time. Don’t expect someone to see one ad and sign up for your online course. Your marketing strategy must include multiple touch points that address the excuses your audience has built up in their minds. Your best conversion rate lives in your email database, so prioritize those email sign ups. Once someone is on the list, make them feel welcomed and valued. Then, layer on the FOMO (fear of missing out).

Online course pricing is another important factor. You can charge a premium for your content if you back it up with remarkable credentials and glowing testimonials. But if you’re newer to this arena, you may want to keep the pricing more reasonable. It may benefit you to offer a broad introductory course at a lower rate to lay the foundation for pricier specialized topics.

If you feel that you’ve done everything right yet you'd still like to see a bigger bump in registration numbers, you may want to explore changes to your course offerings or pricing strategy. Perhaps the course it too time-consuming for prospects. Or, maybe it’s too expensive. You can use a free survey tool (Hint: SurveyMonkey, Google Forms) to poll your database for their anonymous input. Honest brand perceptions lead to strategic revelations. If you need a third-party perspective, our experts are happy to help you explore some additional options.

Ready to market your online course?

When you’re ready to market your online learning platform, hire the professionals to help you shout it from the rooftops. We’re here to help. Contact us for a free 15-minute brand or marketing consultation.

About the Author

Lauren Konst is an Account Executive at Muse. With a strong background in integrated marketing and communications, advertising and events, Lauren pitches grassroots marketing ideas and creative solutions to support clients’ business objectives. Throughout her career, she has worked with notable clients including Cleveland Clinic, The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, Destination Cleveland and Greater Cleveland Food Bank.

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