In our 2019 online instructor survey responses, one of the biggest challenges cited by online teachers was the promotion of their online courses to increase sales. Many are left scratching their heads on how to market an online course. In this article, we present 7 straightforward things Udemy instructors should be doing to promote their online course on Udemy.
There are no fancy click funnel strategies here. Just a reminder of some basic but necessary steps to set the foundation for growing your course sales. These tips will focus specifically on the Udemy platform, but they can also be applied to marketing other online courses. Here we will teach you how to market your online course.
- Importance Of Knowing How To Market Your Online Course
- What Makes A Good Online Course?
- Proper Use Of Online Learning Platform
- How Do Students Get Online Classes?
- What Udemy Wants You to Do to Market Your Online Course
- Market Your Online Course with 7 Basic Steps
Importance Of Knowing How To Market Your Online Course
As much as we’d like to believe that our work will speak for itself, marketing is a significant driver of sales. We see evidence of this every day, with companies continually churning out ads and marketing campaigns to maintain relevance. If large companies put this much emphasis on real and digital world marketing gimmicks, despite their established history – how much more an independent online teacher?
Online classes might have been new 20 years ago, but now they are commonly used for personal and professional improvement. It would be best if you stood out from the digital crowd to make course sales since the internet has massive turnover rates. You have to deal with new content, current competitors, and old content that resurfaces now and then. If you try to attract too much attention the wrong way, you fall in with scam, poor quality courses. If you do not attract enough attention, you fade into the background.
When you are making these courses alone, it is easy to overlook these details but eventually understand that it is not sustainable. It is never too late to start doing things right. It is essential to create a proper marketing strategy for online courses so you can spend less time on sales and more time creating new courses. It is a vital step in becoming a self-sustaining gig.
What Makes A Good Online Course?
1. Quality Content
Quality content in online platforms are courses that have the right balance between anecdotal examples, multiple angles, and information. A teaching moment is one where you break preconceived notions or present new takes. Having interesting angles in your lessons can also feature in your online course marketing strategy.
Another thing to take note of is that you do not get to control who takes your class. Be careful with how you label your courses. Your title can attract the right kind of students for the course. Remember that industry professionals also take these classes, and you can create quality content for their market. Even in conventional teaching settings, the target audience plays a significant role in how you create a course.
2. Steady Pacing
No one likes a monotonous lecture, online or offline. Set the pace for your lesson and break down dense sections into manageable parts. Another way you set the right pace, is to mix up your style or include visual elements to keep your class engaged.
3. Different Teaching Strategies
No one likes a monotonous lecture, online or offline. Set the pace for your lesson and break down dense sections into manageable parts. You can create mini-courses for complex and time extensive subjects. Another way you set the right pace, is to mix up your style or include visual elements to keep your class engaged.
Unlike an in-person class, you cannot read the mood and adjust accordingly. The proper pace is all the more critical with pre-recorded content. A one hour lecture delivered in person versus one watched online is very different.
If you do not adapt well to different learning styles, you may lose people and the possible sales from their recommendation. It may be one student, but you don’t know how many that one person can bring in as potential students. A flexible medium like the internet requires flexible teachers.
4. Real-Life Examples
No matter the course, using examples is a great way to create a context that your students can understand. Having one per section can help you clarify the real-world application. You can include opposing or diverse examples to show the range of a topic. It’s a simple way for them to see what you see, and a template for them to look for it on their own.
Get people interested in the topic and keep them engaged. If you are looking into how to sell training courses, real-life examples are especially beneficial. Unlike theory-heavy classes, training courses require examples and models to keep the lessons easy to understand and remember.
5. Space For Self-Learning
Despite the bad rap of homework, it is an essential self-learning activity. It may be tricky to achieve with online classes, but you can always open exercises and activities that they can do on their own. It helps them stay active in the learning process and absorb the material better. Don’t limit yourself to traditional homework and exercises, explore any activity that can promote training in your course,
6. Abundant References
References supplement the self-learning aspect. Your students may not read them, but having them there means if they want to, they can. There will always be someone who wants to learn more. Providing public domain reading can help better their study and create more questions than you can expand in another class.
It is also a great way to set yourself apart from scam/poorly done courses. These courses tend to be redundant, filled with personal opinions, and very little evidence. Use your references to counter this stereotype. It can further foster the trust between you and your students.
7. Interactive Components
The availability of interactive components depends on your platform, but having an active forum or comment section can do. Similar to the self-learning portion, it helps your students stay engaged. These components can also help you gauge points for improvement. Where do you see a decrease in activity? Why is it so? By answering your diagnostic questions, you can improve your next course.
Another way you can test these activities is through a free mini-course. You can tackle two jobs in one: testing your activities and getting your name out there. After all, who can say no to a free course? It is a great place to see your target audience will respond to your course.
What are some examples of interactive components you can add? You can create thread discussions to mimic the classroom setting or provide free mini activity sheets. These activities can be a mainstay in your course, or you can make them optional.
Proper Use Of Online Learning Platform
There is a learning curve when using online learning platforms, do a proper tutorial or test run to make sure you know how it works. Your course is your space. You have to manage and mediate it. Students are new to navigating the platform as well. It would be best if you could lead them through the course with no problem.
Online learning platforms also have extra features that can help facilitate the learning process. If you underutilize the platform, it would be a waste. Not to mention a disservice for those who want to make full use of the platform.
1. Clarity Throughout The Material
A common problem students have with online classes is clarity. Static-filled audio, hard-to-read text, and choppy editing can make an exciting course a nightmare to finish. You do not have to get the best equipment to achieve clarity. All you need to do is a little bit of quality control. Don’t rush the process and try to stay consistent while creating your material. Again creating a mini-course is another way you can test this. It is better to put the work early on than deal with the slow decline in quality later.
2. Sense Of Community
Despite being a digital platform, a little bit of human touch, or community goes a long way. You can always link your students to your website or social media to get a better sense of you and your community. It might not do much for the lessons, but it can encourage them to continue as participants in your other online courses.
When you create an excellent online course, you can confidently market it with no problems. Those who initially struggle with creating a marketing strategy for online classes are mostly those who do not feel like the course is worth the attention. But remember you are a one-person show. You cannot spend time doubting the material you create.
When we try to answer, “how to market online classes?” The first, unspoken step is to create a product worthy of attention. A trustworthy product can go farther with minimal effort. You can also depend on word-of-mouth to help give your course the traction it needs.
How Do Students Get Online Classes?
Before we even look at the marketing steps, sales funnels, and online platforms, consider your audience. The “who” dictates the rest of the steps in business and marketing. Students get their online classes based on several factors:
- It is a subject matter I want to learn.
- It is an affordable course.
- It is made by someone I admire/respect.
- It can better my work prospects.
- It was recommended to me by someone I trust.
These factors push students to search. Whether they find your course through an affiliate link, Google search result, or on the front page of the learning platform, your landing page plays a large role in attracting your students. After they make the decision, they simply have an account and purchase the class. They might compare your course to other competitive offers on the market, but if you have a compelling copy, the rest should be history.
What Udemy Wants You to Do to Market Your Online Course
The steps you need to take to secure potential students on Udemy becomes more obvious when you consider the statistics that Udemy is measuring and reporting to its instructors in their monthly emails.
For every instructor, Udemy is measuring monthly and annually things such as: new students, countries, new (or 5-star) reviews, reviews responded to, announcements sent, minutes consumed, a number of questions answered in discussions, and new resources created. Udemy is using these statistics to benchmark instructors against each other to determine who is really committed to the Udemy platform. From this data, you can devise strategies on how to market online courses.
Udemy’s goal is to sell paid courses, plain and simple. So if Udemy is tracking metrics like this, then they are obviously important. So pay attention to how you perform on these metrics. It will affect Udemy’s algorithm about how much it promotes you and your courses. The first goal when thinking about how to market your online course is to get Udemy to market your course. The steps you take to do this will be the first steps you take to your overall marketing plan for your courses.
How to Market Your Online Course with 7 Basic Steps
1. Set Goals
Setting goals for your online course sales will help you find the motivation to take the necessary steps to promote your course properly over a continued period. Setting goals for your online course business can be daunting. You might wonder, am I good enough to actually make any money selling online courses? How do I get started?
Well, you must start somewhere, so start with setting achievable goals, one at a time. Set a simple monthly revenue target for your online course. Start as low as $50/month or as high as $1000. Set an enrolment goal. Just be realistic so that you don’t get frustrated and demotivated by taking the time and steps necessary to market your online course in a way that achieves your goals. Learning how to market online courses can take a while. Be patient with your goals.
Setting a revenue goal will encourage you to follow up with students, remain focused on marketing your course, work hard, and engage with students. Ultimately you want to reach these goals so that you keep creating online courses to create a snowball effect, continually building and selling excellent courses.
2. Solve a Problem with Your Online Course
It sounds simple enough, but ask yourself why people will pay to take your course? They need something. They have a problem and need answers. They want to know more to address some issues they are having. For example, someone is looking to learn skills that will allow them to launch their own business and leave their current job. Popular courses are always the ones that better improve your students’ place in their current workplace or their future one. The same can be said for skill-based classes like sewing, cooking, drawing, etc.
Choose a problem/s to solve and provide the solution your students are searching for. One of the best ways to get on their radar is to put the problem in your course title. If the problem you are solving is in the title of your course, then when someone is searching for answers, they will find your course in Udemy’s search results. The straightforward approach does not only work with the in-house search engine but other types like Google or Bing.
So, don’t just title your course with its subject matter, i.e. “Vegan cooking”, identify the pain or problem your course solves – like this course which appears in the top Udemy search results “Vegan Cooking – Get Healthy, Burn Fat, Save the Planet”. Choose a short phrase to solve a problem and make sure to include your chosen problem to solve in your subtitle and course description as well. They must all match–this is one of the more efficient ways of marketing your online course.
Then be sure to identify in plain English (or another language) the key benefits of taking your course (like “Save the Planet”). Address the pain points and explain the benefits of taking the course. Think – pain, solution, benefits. Make sure all of these are aptly represented on your course landing page. By making these points visible it can be easier for prospective students to find it on Google search.
Remember that your course landing page should also act as a sales page. While your online course is not your main business, a sales page is essential to seal in deals. As you outline the benefits of your class, remember to phrase and post it in a way to attract sales. When people search for specific keywords, they should also find all the selling points and relevant information like email addresses, social media accounts, and other relevant links.
3. Identify The Right Keywords and Topic
Keywords are essential for getting organic search results (and hence, sales) on Udemy – or Google. Udemy search works a lot like Google, so it’s fairly easy to put yourself in the shoes of the person searching. Once you know the problem you are solving, you should choose the best keywords to match it to include in both your title/subtitle and for your choice of Topic. Carefully choosing your topic is essential because they have related keywords and are thus critical to course search results.
On your course landing page, include your chosen keywords in your title, subtitle, course goals (first part of the landing page), and course description. Also include them in your section titles, lecture titles, lecture descriptions, and in your personal bio.
How do you choose your Topic? Start by looking at Udemy Insights. Decide what Topic you are interested in and see what Udemy tells you is a close fit. Then pick the best fit. Also, look at student demand and the number of courses offered in your chosen Topic. Look at the median monthly revenue. Then look at top search keywords for your chosen Topic and note these. Ensure that you include these keywords in all areas of your course.
Also, look at other topics of interest. Look at the full list Udemy suggests. Are any of these other Topics a better fit for your course? Do they have less competition? Note the keywords associated with close Topics as well and include them in your course description, etc.
Note: The Teachinguide app can really help with keyword selection and topic choice. Teachinguide is one of the best support you can get on how to market an online course. The Keyword Analytics feature allows you to filter keywords for both Google and Udemy and provides information on keyword relevance to topics, trends in keywords, traffic, and much more. The Topic Finder provides information on competitors and competing courses, a number of students enrolled in courses for your chosen Topic and much more.
4. Focus on Getting Your First 5 Star Reviews
A critical basic element in marketing your course is through reviews. Specifically, you will need five 5-star reviews to get a Hot and New badge. Why does this matter so much to marketing your online course successfully? It is because your course will stay in the top category. It will be promoted more by Udemy for 2-3 months for all to see. Remember that monthly course revenue goal you set? This method is a great way to get started and achieve that.
What do you do to market your online course in a way that gets five 5-star reviews quickly? Frankly, it’s not rocket science. It just takes focus. Make a spreadsheet of everyone you know. Reach out to friends and family. If you have an established social media platform you can encourage your followers to sign up for a separate email list.
Use your email list, Facebook colleagues, Facebook groups, and other forums–the more personal the better. You don’t need to throw out a bunch of free coupons. Strangers who use free coupons are highly unlikely to leave a 5-star review or any review at all.
Also, consider pre-launching your course by reaching out to people. Ask yourself, to whom will your course be of interest? Identify the group, and then it is time to use your free coupons to promote your course. Make it personal when you reach out to people. Don’t say “I’ll give you my course for free in return for a review.” Rather find people with the problem you are solving, i.e. in a Facebook group, and offer a “complimentary” course. Then ask them to leave an honest rating and review. Keep track of who you have reached out to, who left a review, what coupon code is, and generally whatever you need to keep the relationship going with someone who has left you a good review.
Tip: When you email people asking for reviews, include a direct link to your course review page. The direct link is not a widely published URL, but it pays off to use it. It is so much easier for your students to leave reviews when you email them politely, encourage reviews, and provide them with a direct link to the review section. Here is how you create the review link:
This link takes the reader to the first page of your course reviews.
5. Optimize Automated Messages
Remember that you can send an automated message to every student when they enroll and also when they complete a course. Make sure to add this strategy on how to market your online course. To automate direct messages, go into the Communications section of your course dashboard and click on automated messages. Create a welcome message to go out to students when they enroll, and a congratulations message to go out when they complete the course.
These messages are an opportunity to engage with students and target some of those metrics that Udemy is tracking. Thank them for taking the course. Offer your help and encouragement and encourage them to contact you with questions. Prompt them to leave a review and give you feedback. Encourage them to complete the course by reminding them of the benefits. You might even suggest they tell a friend if they like the course.
6. Follow Up Messaging and Engaging Students
Resist the temptation to make every announcement or communication with students promotional, or to just create your automated messages and call it a day. Think of marketing your online course through relationship building. Then do what it takes to build those relationships. You want to follow up with those who purchase your course and keep them interested in you. Encourage questions, check-in with progress, provide encouragement, and get feedback. Use the opportunity to appropriately ask for a review and a rating and thank them for taking the time to view and rate your course. Isn’t this what any salaried teacher would do, right?
Your approach can be pretty simple and organized. In your student list on Udemy, you can directly message students. You can make your messages to them personally. Wait to message them until a few weeks after they have enrolled (and have received your awesome welcome message)—monitor who you contact and when in a spreadsheet. You might aim to sit down and do this once or twice a month in batches of students, depending on how many courses and students you have.
The last way to engage students is through educational announcements. You can make 4 of these per month, but you don’t have to use them all, maybe just one or two. Again, it depends on how many courses you have. Ideally, you could send out an update once a month with a new or changed lecture. There will always be something new popping up that can change your online course. Changes like this give you an excuse to announce it. You could also announce it in your major social media platforms. You can use blog posts, YouTube videos, community posts on your YouTube Channel, Facebook group, or anything similar that may be of interest to your student body. When making these announcements, always mildly prompt your students for a rating and review.
7. Actively Use Social Media
Let social media play an active role in your marketing strategy. You can use social media to actively promote new classes, engage with your students, and be a visible presence for collaborations and other work opportunities. Consistently post new content. They don’t always have to be a sales pitch for new or old projects.
If you force the same kind of content, you can lose your audience faster than you can build it up. Keep a healthy amount of image building posts. What are you doing today? How are you feeling? Who are you watching? When your audience knows you better, it breaks the online barrier. They can better understand and trust your voice.
Aside from email marketing, you can also give a mini-course on your YouTube channel, upload them on Facebook groups, or offer a course for free on your blog. People would flock to free content. And once they’re hooked, that’s when you can convert them into a customer.
The increased engagement on these accounts can be a sales funnel that feeds your current and future projects. It can help you create an extensive email list that you can use in the future. These accounts can lead to possible students and clients to other relevant work and help solidify your authority in the field.
So that’s it for 7 easy steps to put on your to-do list to help promote your course. These tasks take some thought and time, but they can make a big difference in marketing your online course. Before you dole out hundreds of free coupons or engage in massive email marketing, make sure you have these tactics in place.