In a recent blog we provided 7 tips for marketing your online course. In that article we mentioned that in our 2019 instructor survey online course marketing and promotion was one of the most frequently cited challenges by instructors. As a continuation of our coverage of the most basic steps you can take to market your online course, we have included four more online course marketing strategies in this article.
We figure that these four marketing tactics, together with the aforementioned 6 tips, will make a nice checklist of 10 basic marketing strategies that online instructors can execute on quite easily to promote their courses. These strategies are not the only 10 ways to market your online course. However, the fact is that these 10 basic online course marketing strategies will go a long way in getting momentum and more course sales without ever spending a dime on an ad or a social media course.
Marketing Strategies Review
As a reminder, in our previous article, these were the first 6 steps we suggested you take to begin marketing your online course.
1. Set goals – This is how you get started. Give yourself a revenue target to achieve through your online course marketing.
2. Solve a problem with your course – Solving a problem for students gives you an obvious and attractive marketing message and a clear reason for them to purchase your course.
3. Identify the right keywords and topics – You need keywords to get organic search results. Topics help determine which keywords you choose so make sure your topic is in demand and frequently searched. (Tip: Teachinguide can really help here)
4. Focus on getting 5 initial 5-star reviews – You want to get a “Hot and New” badge if possible. And this will help kickstart your paid enrollments.
5. Optimize your automated messages – Use your welcome and congratulations messages strategically.
6. Follow up messaging and student engagement – It’s all about building relationships with students.
So now that you’ve got that list, here are four additional online course marketing strategies to complete your list of 10.
1. Set Up a Ratings and Reviews System
Ratings are critical to your organic ranking on Udemy. You need not just any ole reviews, but reviews with appropriate comments. Udemy looks at these and is continually monitoring reviews and its ranking system. 5-star ratings do make a big difference both to your ranking in Udemy search results and to students’ willingness to enroll in your course. You want to get a “Highest rated” tag!
Don’t despair if at first, you do not get a lot of reviews or high rankings. Udemy is only looking at the last 3 months of reviews in its ranking algorithm, so keep working at this. Your goal should be to monitor reviews/ratings and improve them over time, or, to maintain your ranking if your reviews are good.
How do you do that? Set up a system of tracking your reviews at least weekly, but preferably daily. Keep this information in a spreadsheet. Udemy gives instructors important information such as your recent overall average rating for all courses. Udemy also shows you your recent rating average and all-time average. Your goal is to rate above 4.5.
Track all of this information in a spreadsheet over time. Keep a daily record of new reviews and ratings. Track how many reviews you are getting daily or weekly for every course you have. Note trends.
Are you getting more reviews? Why might this be? Make a note of this to use in the future. Are you getting fewer reviews? Why might this be? Take necessary steps (such as step 6 perhaps) to change this. You might also keep track of competitors, although with more than one or two courses this could become difficult. Nevertheless, you could track competitor reviews on a monthly basis to benchmark your own course.
After creating a spreadsheet, the second part of this marketing strategy is to create a program that systematically encourages students to leave appropriate reviews for your course. If you don’t ask for reviews, you won’t get them. As part of your review and rating system, ask for a review in an appropriate way whenever the opportunity presents.
Include a lecture in the early part of your course before Udemy asks the student for a review (usually about the 10-12 minute mark) that explains ratings and reviews and their importance to you. In that message encourage students to leave a review. In addition, for all communications – promotional, educational, personal – request an appropriate review.
You can download a CSV file of your reviews to read. So as part of your review and rating tracking system, take the time to read comments. If someone leaves you a bad comment, or no comments but a bad rating, it’s important to approach them to ask why they left a bad review or rating. Likewise, if someone leaves a nice comment, reply with a polite comment. Remember, Udemy is measuring engagement.
We’ve previously written about how to get more reviews on Udemy. Check out our tips here.
2. Plan Your Next Course to Start Cross-promotion
This suggestion might seem a bit odd at first, but cross promoting courses is one of the best ways to get paying students. It increases awareness of and demand for all of your courses. It also increases your perceived topic expertise. This means that after you have created and started selling your first course, you should start planning your second course and engaging in pre-marketing activities.
On Udemy especially, you should aim to create multiple courses in order to develop authority with potential students on your chosen topic. As a topic for your second course, you should focus on a single pain point or challenge that is related to your first course. This will ensure that the students in your existing course will be interested in a future course, so that you can cross promote to them.
One way to find related topics is to search Udemy courses for your topic and look at what related courses come up. Then have a look at the reviews for those courses, see what people are saying, what they think is missing, what questions or issues they have. This might give you some ideas for a new course.
Your follow-on course does not have to be a massive course, just don’t make it too short. The idea is to start building your authority around a topic vis a vis your students or potential students.
3. Get Your YouTube Channel Going
It makes sense to begin creating some kind of YouTube presence since your students are clearly video watchers and since you are already creating videos for your course(s). Don’t get overwhelmed with the idea of getting views and all the mechanics of making and uploading videos to YouTube. Just Google how to create a YouTube channel or take a course such as this Masterclass on Udemy. Then get started slowly.
Why do this? YouTube is a great place to provide extra content for your students (to create value), to advertise your Udemy courses, to establish your authority over your chosen topic and to create SEO friendly content. Note: This does not mean you are putting your Udemy course videos on YouTube. Rather you are supplementing that content with additional valuable content, not unlike a blog.
A good place to start is by creating an introduction video for your YouTube channel. It can be similar to your Udemy introductory video. You can also create “playlists” in Udemy that mirror the topics that you will cover in your Udemy courses. Then you can go back and create videos for each of these topics.
When you create your video description be sure to optimize it for SEO and course sales by including links to your Udemy course at the top with discount code. Be sure to include a call to action as well. You will also need to use tags for SEO. It can be helpful to create a list of tags for each topic for which you create a video. Finally, you’ll need a thumbnail image – ideally, it’s the first slide of your course or your course logo.
Once you establish your channel. Make several videos and publish consistently. Send links to your channel and new videos out regularly to your email list and put it on social media. Eventually, your YouTube channel will become part of your larger social media marketing strategy.
4. Engage in Influencer Marketing
This is one of the lesser discussed marketing strategies, yet it’s easy to do. As mentioned previously, you want to establish yourself as an instructor of authority vis a vis your target audience. By positioning yourself as an “influencer” on social media, you de facto will be seen as an authority on your chosen topic.
One way to do this is to create your own topic group on Facebook. You can start getting momentum by inviting friends and providing appropriate invitations and the link to students. (Note: do not permit promotions in your Facebook groups).
If you don’t wish to create and build your own Facebook group, or if a larger, active Facebook group already exists for your topic, then join that group. Aim to become a valued member of the group by helping group members with your expertise and by answering questions being asked. One good idea is to note those questions and answer them in your own Facebook or other social media groups, and/or in course materials.
Eventually you can begin to Friend existing group members and offer assistance and a personal coupon for your course. You can also eventually reach out to the group owner and offer them an affiliate deal. For example you could share 50% of the first two weeks enrollments done via coupons given to the Facebook group with the group owner.
Whatever you do on Facebook, Twitter or other social forums, your goal with influencer marketing strategies is to establish authority, develop relationships – and potentially glean ideas for new topics and material.
Recap of 10 Marketing Strategies
1. Set goals
2. Solve a problem with your course
3. Identify the right keywords
4. Focus on getting your initial 5 star reviews
5. Optimize your automated messages
6. Follow up messaging and student engagement
7. Set up a Ratings and Reviews System
8. Plan your next course for cross promotion
9. Create your YouTube channel
10. Engage in influencer marketing
These 10 online course marketing strategies are a solid foundation for embarking on more extravagant online course promotion and for creating a virtuous circle of course enrollments. Focus on executing these 10 strategies first and you can feel confident that you are doing what it takes to market your online course effectively.
Have any marketing strategies to add to this list or additional tips related to these 10? Let us know in the comments!