Are you looking for ways to create and sell courses online?
Fortunately, there has never been a better time, than now, to create online courses. The online Training industry is one of the fastest-growing industries — and it’s not going anywhere. In fact, it’s estimated to continue growing at a rate of 5% until 2024, to becoming a 2.4 billion dollar industry. So the good news is, there is so much room and potential for all of us to make money in the online education industry. But online course creation is only part of the picture. Most people spend a great deal of time creating online courses but they have absolutely no plan for what happens after that. They have no clue how to sell courses online!
In my opinion, the hardest part of being a successful course creator is the marketing and selling part.
So let me ask you this: what are you doing these days to promote and market your online course?
If you find yourself overwhelmed or lost as to what steps to take, then this article is for you — in this article, I’ve outlined 91 ways and ideas to take your marketing efforts to the next level and to sell courses online!
These are the same strategies I’ve used to sell courses online and work my way to that comfortable 6-figure passive income!
Some of these ideas can help directly increase your course sales, while others may help expand your platform, which can lead to future sales.
Not every strategy will work for every course creator, so pick and choose what makes sense, adapt what you can, and after you’ve gone through the list, you may come up with some of your own marketing ideas to implement. If that’s the case, be sure to come back and let me know too 🙂
Identify your target audience:
- Get to know your target audience. This is more than just knowing their demographics and psychographics. You need to get to know their most annoying pain and struggles. Find out their most desired outcome. If you can understand who they are and what they’re looking for, you’ll have an easier time finding where they hang out and what messaging they’ll respond to.
- Identify their motivations. Write a short paragraph that describes their most desired outcome, or most annoying struggles. Refer back to it whenever you’re creating an ad, designing a cover, writing a post, or want a refresh on your audience’s motives.
- Create a plan to reach a targeted audience. Compile a list of platforms and marketing tools that will let you reach a specific target audience. For example, Groupon, LivingSocial has millions of customers, whom you can target by listing your course in their niche-specific categories. There are also plenty of niche-specific blogs and publications you could target for promotions!
Develop a content marketing strategy
- Define your process. Create a step-by-step list of how your course leads your ideal buyer from where they are to their ultimate desired goal or outcome. This list becomes your unique process of getting results for your customers.
- Identify 3-5 content pieces. Create a content strategy that is tied to the core topic you teach in your course. You can accomplish that by choosing 3-5 items from your process (above) and turn each of them into unique content pieces. This can be an article for your blog, a video on youtube, or audio for your podcast.
- Identify Lead Magnet ideas. Pick one actionable piece of advice from the content you created in step 5 and turn that into a Lead Magnet to get your ideal buyers on your list.
- Create a sales funnel. A sales funnel is a journey you’ll be walking your potential customers through to get them to know you and your course better and make the decision to purchase your course. As a general marketing rule, you need to be in front of your prospects 7 times before they pull the trigger to buy your product. Although all the different tactics in this article will help you increase your exposure, and get in front of your potential customers, to be most effective, you should have a sales funnel in place to engage, nurture and ultimately convert them to paying customers.
Build your brand
- Tell your brand story
Write a compelling copy that clearly defines your story: What motivates you? How your product came to be? What type of customers finds value in working with you? Write 5 to 6 authentic paragraphs to connect with your ideal buyers and give them reasons to care. Don’t be afraid to show your personality.
- Tell your brand story
- Set up a blog on your site
Use the content pieces from step 5 inside your blog. The goal is to create a one-to-one connection between each blog post and your course.
- Set up a blog on your site
- Welcome subscribes with an email autoresponder
Prepare a series of emails called a Nurture Sequence, to send to your subscribers, to keep them engaged and involved with your brand. You use these before your product launches as a way to stay in touch with your subscribers and to demonstrate your value and build trust.
- Welcome subscribes with an email autoresponder
- Claim your social media profiles
Grab your username on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, LinkedIn. Even if you don’t have active profiles on each site, at least claim your name and direct people who visit your most active social media profile instead.
- Claim your social media profiles
- Create a video blog. Upload videos to YouTube and embed each video in a blog post. In these videos, you can list recommended tools and resources, talk about some of the modules inside your course, or answer commonly asked questions.
- Learn some copywriting principles. Marketing is about getting your ideal buyers to take action. Hone your copywriting and content marketing skills and turn your audience into buyers.
Optimize your course for effective promotions
- Hire a designer. A well-designed course landing page can have a major impact on your sales numbers.
- Write a persuasive sales landing page copy. Many sales pages are badly written—they ramble on and are unconvincing. High converting sales pages don’t sell products, they sell a better or easier life. They make people happier. They take away their struggles and solve their problems. They sell people a better version of themselves.
- Make a course preview video. Create a preview of your course to draw your ideal buyers in, let them see how amazing your course is, and persuade them to enroll.
- Tempt your ideal buyers with more.
Insert bonus content from another course or other related resources to pull your buyers in.
- Tempt your ideal buyers with more.
- Update your email signature.
Once you’ve created a website and created your product landing page, make sure that people can find these assets by linking to them on your email signature.
- Link to your online course.
Create a page on your site linking to your online course to make it easy for customers to discover all the courses you are teaching. Include cover images, brief pitches, and links to your course sales landing page.
Prepare your course marketing assets
- Write a killer marketing message. When it comes to marketing your course, you should be clear on the top 3 or 5 results your course delivers and create all your marketing messages around those core results. Your audience needs to see and interact with your marketing content at least 7 times before they decide to pull the trigger and buy. To help them get there faster, it’s important to be consistent in your marketing messages.
To find your specific marketing messages, try to come up with the answer to these two questions
- Why would your audience buy what you’re selling?
- Why should they buy it from you?
- Test copy variations by polling prospects. Use polling software like PickFu to test variations of description or marketing copy and see which your audience likes better. Always test and optimize to discover what copy will resonate best with prospects.
- Get blurbs from influencers in your niche. Blurbs can catch your ideal buyer’s attention, especially if the person is an influencer and they are familiar with his work. You will instantly increase your credibility among your prospects. Reach out to influencers in your niche and ask them to review your course and let you know their thoughts. Then when they do, ask permission to share that!
- Create images for teasers and quotes. You can easily turn small takeaways from your course into vibrant images using free apps like Canva or Designfeed. Publish these teasers to your website and social media accounts in the weeks prior to launching your course to build interest and anticipation.
Run early bird promotions
- Post a pre-launch reveal on a popular blog or a popular Facebook group. Partner with a blog or website that’s popular in your niche and has a decent size audience to host a pre-launch reveal. If you can arrange to have your course ready for early enrollment, and link to a page where they can get on the waiting list, can be a great way to jump-start preorder sales.
- Offer the course to beta users at a discounted rate. Give the people in your inner circle the opportunity to enroll at a discounted rate, earlier than the official public launch date. Your inner circle could be the people who are on your email list or are your social media followers, and people who joined your waiting list.
- Offer free bonuses in exchange to early-bird buyers. In addition to offering your course to early buyers at a discounted rate, you can also offer extra incentives; this is a perfect additional nudge, to persuade them to enroll.
- Publish a course promotion video on YouTube. Create a short video to promote your course and publish it on YouTube. You could even create multiple promotional videos, covering different topics from different course modules. Make sure to 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.
- Ask past Clients. Reach out to people you’ve helped in the past, with the process you teach in the course. Ask them to write a testimonial about the results they got from following your process.
- Get testimonials from the early bird buyers. Keep track of your early bird customers. Monitor their progress. As they go through your course, check in with them several times and offer to answer their questions. Ask what their thoughts are about the course. When someone gives you positive feedback, ask for permission to share it.
- Get feedback from non-customers – Pay attention to people who are following you in other places but are not your customers yet. Maybe their experience with you is through your free downloads or reading your blog post or your marketing emails. Or maybe they’ve just been inspired by you on one of your social channels. Keep track of their comments and feedback. If appropriate and applies to your course, reach out and ask if you can use their love notes as a testimonial.
- Get bloggers to review your course. Find bloggers in your industry and ask them to review your course. A good review from a popular blog related to your topic can definitely help increase your course sales. The best way to get your course reviewed by a blogger is to offer them free access to your course in exchange for a public review of your course on their blog.
- Design a launch strategy that works. Your course launch requires a lot more prep and strategy than several Tweets and emails. Plan a party tour. Set aside 21 days prior to your launch – plan and coordinate live appearances inside other FB Groups and Blogs to heighten the excitement across other platforms and audiences.
- Create a launch sequence. Selling your course is more than just sending some emails and hoping people will buy it; You need to have a system to engage, entertain, entice, and educate your prospects. In this template, I share the nuts and bolts of how to actually create a successful email sales sequence.
- Build a launch team. A launch team is a group of fans that volunteer to promote your course. In return they get free access to the course. The goal of the launch team is to spread the word on social media and create buzz around your course. You should only pick those who have active social media accounts and a decent following. You can motivate them to spread the word more, by running a contest – offer a gift card to the top 3 people who help create the most buzz. Some course creators use Facebook groups to organize their teams and recruit new members.
- Encourage your fans to market your course. Your fans can earn a little extra income by enrolling in your affiliate programs and adding links to your course on their websites or blogs.
- Promote your course on relevant blogs. Compile a list of online course bloggers and reviewers who regularly review courses in your niche, interview influencers, or feature guest posts from influencers in your niche. Coordinate with them to promote giveaways or publish reviews or interviews.
- Schedule social media. Decide when and what you will share on your social media platforms. Optimize your profile on Twitter, Facebook, Google+, Linked In, and Pinterest. Select the most effective time for reaching the most people with Tweriod, Sprout Social, or Buffer.
- Create urgency. Use time-limited coupons, giveaways, and contests. Host a contest on your website. Offer bonuses or special extras to your prospects who purchase your course prior to a certain date.
- Join forces with local merchants. Team up with store owners and other businesses to offer certificates, prizes, and merchant coupons to be shared or given away during your course promotions. (Advertise these perks on your site and on printed materials).
- Time and coordinate promotions. Try to time your guest posts, interviews, giveaways, advertising, and other promotions to run at the same time, so that each promotion gains momentum from the other. The perception of ‘being everywhere will strengthen your chances of creating the word of mouth marketing momentum we’re looking for.
- Create a virtual bundle. Package together a course and an eBook, or an eBook with videos and a workbook to add more value and options for your prospects when purchasing your course.
- Host a live webinar. 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.
- Promote your webinar recording. 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.
- Partner with other online instructors. Find other online instructors who serve your target audience and have courses that are complementary to your own. Consider becoming an affiliate for them (and vice versa), or bundling your course together with theirs to create a special “package deal” to offer to new students.
- Host a webinar with a Joint Venture partner. Find people who are followed by your target audience (but are not your direct competitors) and offer to host a webinar for their audience. Think about bloggers in a complimentary niche like yours. For example, if your course is about copywriting, you can team up with design agencies or branding companies, because their audience would likely be interested in your course. Spend the majority of your time on the webinar sharing valuable tips about your topic for free, and when you pitch your course at the end of the webinar, split the sales revenue with the joint venture partner.
Get more online exposure
- Run a Google AdWords campaign. Target keywords that your audience would likely search for to find courses similar to yours. Create several versions of ad copy within each ad group and let Google automatically run each variation and determine a winner.
- Time course promotions with current events. If you can strategically promote your course during specific seasons, an annual event, or when something pops in the media, take advantage of that opportunity and be a part of the conversation.
- Get media savvy. Develop a relationship with local media, including radio, newspaper, and tv connections. Find an angle that hooks reporters and will benefit their readers or viewers. Pitch articles, interviews, and relevant blog posts. Here’s an awesome post by Patrick Garmoe at Copyblogger to help you out: 109 Ways to Make Your Business Irresistible to the Media.
- Create a promo kit. When you’re launching and marketing your course it can be essential to get attention from the media. It may be big media, niche market media, magazines, bloggers, podcasters, or any number of other representatives of print, electronic, or broadcast media. It’s your job to make their job easy. Create a page on your website (Media page), and make available lots of information to make it easy for them to get basic information on their own schedule. Include graphics, images, links, excerpts, and sample Facebook shares and Tweets, that can be sent to bloggers upon request.
- Find relevant guest blogging opportunities. Guest blogging is one the best ways to increase visibility, gain influence in your topic and draw targeted buyers to your online course. But you need to do this strategically. You need to vet each blog and when you’re thinking “should I pitch them on a guest post idea, first find out if they have an engaged audience. Comments are a great indicator but pay close attention to quality – a load of spam comments is a red flag. Also, since you’ll be putting in a lot of hard work creating the post, make sure that at the very they allow you to add your byline with a link back to your site.
- Get interviewed on podcasts. Search iTunes or other podcast services for podcasts that are in a similar niche to your online course. Reach out to the podcast host and write a compelling reason why you should be on their podcast. Once you’re on the podcast, offer as much value as possible. Check with the host, but try to give away a free bonus by giving a website link to the audience. This could be a free lesson to your course, a checklist, or some other valuable piece of content.
- Develop a workshop based on your course content. Teaching your course content can further solidify your expertise in the minds of your ideal buyers and your peers.
- Submit your course to a link roundup. If you are creating exceptional content on your blog, then make a list of related, popular blogs that do link roundups (make sure they are in your topic area) and submit your article. It may not always be accepted, but when it is, you will get a backlink as well as an influx of high-quality visitors to your site.
- Partner up. Use your connections or develop new ones to help cross-promote with other authors, coaches, consultants, experts, events, charities, interest groups, and so on.
- Participate in relevant interviews. Agree to participate in interviews that would effectively reach your target audience. Interviews can be a great way to share your perspectives without needing to write much original content. Take advantage of these opportunities to increase awareness of your author brand and your books.
- Promote others. As you help promote other course creators in your niche, by sharing their blog posts, sharing their social posts, reviewing their courses, you will build good and in most cases, people love to reciprocate the favor and most likely will promote you back.
- Translate Your Course into Other Languages. Expand your reach and audience by getting your course translated into other languages. People who speak Spanish, Chinese, Korean, Russian, German, Portuguese, or Bulgarian might want to learn the information you offer in your course.
Increase your exposure through engaged communities
- Create a fan club. Fan clubs are groups where your customers can congregate without the expectation of helping with promotional activities. Fans can interact with you, discuss course-related topics, and have other fun conversations with like-minded people who are trying the achieve the same goals.
- Launch a Facebook group with other course creators. Find other course creators in similar niches as yours to provide a community that supports your prospects reach their bigger goals. For example, if your course is about writing a book, you can team up with other course creators in marketing, branding, advertising, etc. You will have an easier time engaging your audience when you provide them with a community where they can learn everything they need to grow their business. This would allow you to cross-promote each other’s courses, hold monthly joint giveaways and contests, and announce new releases. It’s a free and creative way to expand your fan base.
- Start a LinkedIn Group. Starting a LinkedIn Group centered on your topic is another great way to build a community of potential prospects for your course, especially if your target market is professionals. LinkedIn is also a great platform for professional networking in general, which can lead to numerous opportunities including speaking engagements, partnership opportunities, client referrals, and more.
- Comment in Facebook Groups. Join a few Facebook groups related to your topic. You can search for groups about your course topic from the main search bar on Facebook. In order for this strategy to work, focus on adding value to the groups that you join. Share helpful tips, answer questions, and participate in discussions. Most Facebook Groups prohibit self-promotion, so make sure you read the group guidelines before you share any direct links to your website, blog, or course with the group. The goal here is to build relationships with your target audience.
Spread the word on social media
- Run targeted social media ads. Social sites like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram let you target ads to a fine-tuned audience based on preferences users have expressed on those social platforms. This lets you advertise your course to people interested in similar topics.
- Brand your social media header photos. Update your cover photo with the branding of your course, early-bird specials, or price/bonus promotion to make sure everyone who comes to the page knows about it.
- Make your blog posts easy to share. Make it easy for fans to share updates about your course, and any other news or content posted by you, by optimizing each post for social sharing. Use tools like AddThis or ShareThis to add social sharing buttons alongside each post, and ClickToTweet to create clickable tweets.
- Make each social media post visual. Tweets with images get 150% more retweets, and Facebook posts with images account for 87% of total interactions. Instead of text-only updates, include an image of the or a teaser quote. This can encourage your followers to click, share, or like. Tools and image libraries like Canva, Shutterstock, and iStock can help.
- Run a participation contest. Have your fans share your post, comment on a post, or like a post for a chance to win a free enrollment to your course or a chance to get one-on-one advice from you, or other fun prizes. Then cross-promote the contest on your other social media channels.
- Ask questions and encourage participation. The more your fans and followers engage with your updates, the more exposure you’ll get — their friends will see their comments in their news feeds. So, make sure to involve fans in a two-way conversation.
- Pre-schedule social media content. Doing social media marketing doesn’t mean spending all day online. Use tools like Buffer, TweetDeck, or Hootsuite to schedule your day’s or week’s social media content in advance. This will free up your time for writing and other marketing efforts.
- Pin important updates on your feed. You can pin important announcements about new releases, sales, or contests to the top of your Facebook page and Twitter profile. You only need to post the content once, then you can simply pin it for higher visibility!
- Post behind-the-scenes looks on Instagram. Take artsy photos of your work area, index cards laid out for outlining your course, in-progress slide deck, zoomed-out view of your talking head videos, or anything that helps show your personality and a peek into your entrepreneur life when creating your course.
- Create Pinterest boards of inspiration. 70% of Pinterest members use the site to get inspiration for purchases. To get them thinking about purchasing your course, create Pinterest boards showing off your expertise or how-to guides that give them the small solution of their bigger desired outcome.
- Stream a Facebook Live video Q&A. When you begin a Facebook Live video, people who’ve liked your page receive a notification that you’re streaming live. Afterward, the video is available for anyone to watch on your Facebook page, and they’ll see the comments come in as though they’re watching live!
- Host a Q&A session on Twitter. Create a hashtag for the Q&A session — it can be a one-time occasion or a monthly event. Promote the Q&A ahead of time so your fans know to either block the time in their calendar or schedule their tweets to post during the Q&A.
- Host a Reddit “Ask Me Anything” (AMA). Many influences host AMAs on Reddit, where they answer reader questions throughout a set time period. Submit an AMA to the IAmA group to find opportunities to host an AMA.
- Answer relevant questions on Quora. Follow relevant topics on Quora and answer questions as you see fit. Include the link to the course in your Quora bio.
- Participate in Online Forum Discussions. Make a list of forums that relate to your course material, then sign up as a member. Include a link to your course page in your profile or signature, then start responding to people’s questions or stories.
Participate in live events
- Give a talk at a relevant conference. Few things will instantly give you credibility than being a speaker at a conference. I’ve spoken at several and it’s a chance to showcase your knowledge, teach your audience, and position yourself as the industry leader that you are. As a published course creator, you can talk about a variety of topics, including the subject of your course, your course creation process, your course creation journey, and the experience you’ve had promoting your course and connecting with your fans.
- Participate in panels you’re invited to. If public speaking sounds too intimidating, participating on a panel might be a more comfortable option for you. Speaking on panels at conferences is a sure way to gain exposure to fans of the other influencers on the panel.
- Spread the word at conferences or networking events. If you plan on attending any networking events where you’ll be interacting with your target audience face-to-face, be sure to take advantage of those natural opportunities and promote your course. Speak at Meet Up groups
- Meetup groups are a great way to get in front of your target audience. Do some research to find local groups related to your subject and contact the hosts. Mention that you have a course about your topic, and would love to give a presentation to their audience. If they allow their speakers to sell their product or service at the end of their presentation, offer to split the sales revenue with them.
- Print business cards to hand out at events. Always carry around something to hand out to potential buyers who want to buy your course later. You can create postcard-sized handouts or business cards people can stick in their wallets, with a URL to visit your website and purchase your course.
- Run a contest to draw people to your event. Build buzz and excitement around the events you participate in. Offer free enrollment to your course or giveaways to the 10 people who arrive at each location. Announce this giveaway on your social profiles using the event-specific hashtag. Once other attendees see people flocking to you, they’ll want to see what all the fuss is about.
Other strategies to sell courses online
- Publish a book on Amazon Publishing a book is a great way to position yourself as an expert in your field. It also helps you attract more students to your online course. You can self-publish your book on Amazon in digital format using Amazon Kindle and in a paperback format using CreateSpace. Be sure to mention your course in your book, and invite your readers to visit your website or course sales page to learn more about it.
- Pitch your course as a holiday gift. Consider timing your price promotions and ad campaigns around a holiday or special, relevant events to boost sales and visibility.
- Regularly refresh your metadata. Choose 3-5 keywords that best reflect the content of your course based on current trends and how prospects are now searching for that content. Swap these keywords into your metadata (such as in the keyword fields and description).
- Continue publishing new courses. Continually publishing new courses will help you garner a wider audience that will be interested in your other courses.
- Don’t stop promoting one course to start creating another. The buzz and excitement of a launch can be exhilarating, but the marketing and promotional effort for a course must continue far beyond the initial days and weeks of ‘getting it out there. Include in your marketing plan a schedule that allows for ongoing promotional activities of your previous work, while providing time to create your next high converting course as well.
- Try Fiverr. Find some quality gigs that will submit your course to free websites, submit your press releases or have someone (relevant) share your most recent–and fascinating–a blog post.
- Re-purpose content and reach more people. Take your popular posts, inspirational quotes, noteworthy testimonials, useful insights, or key points and re-purpose them to share as a presentation on Slideshare or short videos on YouTube.
STEAL this 13-part email sequence that takes your subscribers from Freebie to Sale!
So you just created a lead magnet and people are putting emails down.
Selling your product is more than just sending some emails and hoping people will buy it; You need to have a system to engage, entertain, entice, and educate your prospects.
In this template I share the nuts and bolts of how to actually create a successful email sales sequence.
Use this email template as is by filling in the blanks or use it as inspiration. Your biggest success will come when you study these examples, make them relevant to your business and turn them into your own.
- Update your email signature.