The Market for Online Courses is Very Crowded

Imagine yourself standing in a crowd of 35,000 people wearing Udemy t-shirts holding up multiple signs with their online course titles on them. Several hundreds or thousands have the exact same or similar online courses as you.

Now add to the crowd another 35,000 instructors wearing Teachable, Coursera and Simplilearn t-shirts.  They are holding up signs advertising online courses too.

What is your probability of getting noticed in this crowd?  How would a student notice your courses?  The Udemy online course marketplace is not much different than this scenario.

Perhaps you have created an Udemy online course or two or more, and they are not ranking high, selling well, or sales have decreased?  It’s no wonder – with thousands of Udemy instructors, some of whom have been at it for quite some time, it’s a tough space to get noticed!

Figuring out how to make students notice your course among so many others could mean the difference between selling just a few online course subscriptions a month, or dozens.

5 Strategies for Beating the Competition

TeachinGuide is all about gaining an edge over your online course competitors.  So we’ve put together 5 key strategies to do just that.  Before you read on, we must tell you that we have assumed you have already done content and topic research and decided on your topic. You’ve perhaps even launched a course or a few.

If you haven’t done so, you might want to download our free eBook “Top 5 Methods for Growing Udemy Courses” (link to this download).  It contains a helpful overview on how to get started with course creation.

Based on our experience we’ve put together this short list of ways to make your courses stand out from the crowd on Udemy and move up in Udemy’s search rankings.

1. Understand Your Competition Thoroughly

Some people are so enthusiastic about their area of expertise or passion, that they dive right into course development without giving much thought to their potential competition.  Perhaps you took a cursory look at the competition, saw that there was great demand for a certain online course topic and went from there.

Spend time upfront understanding your competition more deeply.  Look at the following data:

  • How many courses are in your category and subcategory
  • How many free courses exist, what percent
  • What courses have the highest ratings and engagement
  • Which have the highest number of enrollments and new enrollments

For example, if you are a marketing professional who wants to create courses in this area, a quick search shows there are roughly 5,100 courses in the Marketing category.  So, you might then pick a niche, say “social media marketing”.  This narrows your competition down to “just” 1200 courses. Roughly 10% of these are free.  With such a large number, you’ll want to track at least some of those free courses that have high engagement.

With so many competitors you might further investigate a niche, such as “retargeting” or “PPC” and find that there are a lot fewer competitors – 16 and 45 courses, respectively. It might even be worth redirecting some of your key course content to favor a less competitive niche market.

Once your topic is decided look at the highest-ranking competitors – say the first page of search results. Look at their enrollments and enrollment trend over time, engagement and ratings.  Compare to yours. What’s different and why?

We recommend that once you have identified some top competitors, take one or two of your best competition’s courses. If you do enough digging, you might even find a way to take the course for free or at a discount. See what the fuss is all about. And take good notes.  You’ll need this information for pricing. More on that later.

Don’t forget to have a look at outside competition in places such as Amazon, Youtube, and other online course platforms.  Look at top and trending competitors there. Are they your Udemy competitors? If so, gather data and ideas for what works and how you can be different or better.

2. Track and Monitor Your Competition Regularly

Once you’ve found the data on your competitors, your work is not done.  Udemy course rankings and other stats change constantly.  By monitoring what’s working for competitors you can begin to replicate their success for your own course.

3. Do Sound Keyword Research and Analysis

We’re big advocates of working keywords to gain an edge in Udemy’s search engine.  Before creating your course, you should have researched the most important keywords for your course topic, looked at estimated keyword traffic and trends in general and for the competition. If you didn’t this is most likely the one reason that your course is not standing out from the competition.

Here are few strategies to using keywords to gain an edge over your competition:

Use the golden rule of keywords

Put your primary keyword as one of the first words in your online course title. Then make sure your secondary keywords are in your subtitle. Finally, make sure your keyword is nicely represented on your course landing page and description.

Remember Google

It is not enough to do keyword research and optimization for Udemy. Google’s search engine can bring you student traffic as well. Track the performance of your keywords with these two search engines over time.

Examine competitors’ use of keywords

Gather ideas from competitors for which keywords to use.  Look at how many other courses are using the same keywords and how they use them in their titles, subtitles and landing pages.

Consider a change in keywords

Search for your course title keyword again. If you find few results, you may need to move into more competitive keyword category or consider changing your course category.  If you are not ranking highly for a competitive keyword, look for a less competitive or a newly trending one related to your topic that you can capture more eyeballs with.

In our previous example the keyword “social media marketing” has the highest Udemy and Google traffic in the “social media” keyword category.  It should be no surprise that there are 163 courses using this keyword in the title. That’s quite a bit of keyword competition!

You might consider changing your title keyword to a related but slightly less searched keyword – one that has fewer keyword competitors.  In this example, “social media marketing agency” has just 3 competing course titles, but still gets a fair amount of traffic and shows an upward google search trend. You might consider trying it.

If you change your category from “social media marketing” to “digital marketing”, you would find that there is just one course in that category using “social media marketing” as its title keyword.  There may be an opportunity there.

4. Improve your Course Engagement Score

A key Udemy search ranking factor is your engagement score, a measure of the percent of your students who leave reviews.  It goes without saying that you must produce a quality course first to get good and many reviews.

Here are some tactics for upping your good reviews:

  • Offer to answer student questions and answer them promptly. You may think that for a $10 class this is not worth your time but think of it as any business would. You must invest in creating customer connections and loyalty to generate returns over time and help you stand out from your competitors.
  • Encourage individual students to complete the course. Students who complete a course are more likely to leave a good review.
  • Keep track of your students who leave the highest ratings and actively engage with them.
  • Find competitors with high engagement scores and figure out why. Make appropriate changes to your course strategy.

5. Get Your Pricing Right

Because on Udemy you are limited to a maximum course price of $199 it is important to get pricing right, so you can attract the optimal number of students at a price that maximizes total income over time.  One benefit of the competitor research and monitoring we suggested is that you can price relative to your competition. Then monitor their promotions and price changes.

You can also study the differences between your course and theirs, which allows you to determine the relative value of your content.  People do not come to Udemy to spend a lot of money on courses. They want value, so they compare similar courses to determine the relative value.  It is important to get your pricing relative to competitors’ pricing right by considering their course content, length, reputation and more.

If your courses are shorter, they should cost less and vice versa. You can perhaps charge the same as your competitor if your course provides more engaging content, assignments, and personal interaction through Q&A because it might be viewed as providing better value.

If you have priced your course for free or close to it, students may be perceiving it as low-value content.  Consider pricing it higher or even closer to high ranking competitors to increase its perceived value. Then give free coupons to targeted audiences who you know will see value in it.

The Bottom Line

Phew! That’s a lot of research and effort needed to make sure your online courses stand out on Udemy. Ranking high in Udemy search results and positioning your courses to attract a fair number of students requires a combination of ongoing competitive intelligence techniques.

TeachinGuide is the only platform that provides comprehensive and ready-to-use analytics tools to gauge and monitor your online course competition.  So why not try out TeachinGuide today and get started transforming your online courses into best sellers!

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