Promoting online courses is not an easy task — the competition is brutal. However, COVID-19 has leveled the playing field for small and big institutions providing online courses on topics ranging from software engineering and cybersecurity to cloud computing and digital marketing.
If you don’t have unlimited resources to run paid advertising campaigns, and if you’re competing against hundreds of other companies offering similar courses, here are 11 steps you can take to promote your online courses.
1. Create Niche Courses
Niche and long-tail always get preferential treatment in the internet universe. In addition to the courses you offer, create an online course that is ultra-niche (or have niche targeting such as “accounting for dental clinics”) and gain an advantage in the middle of a very crowded market.
This niche course will immediately boost you to the top of search results, help bring traffic to your website, and create awareness for other courses you offer.
2. Create Content (Consistently)
Creating content consistently is the single most important investment that will keep bringing prospective students. Content should be devoid of any promotion or sales. You should educate the public about the services you offer and provide expertise in the courses you teach.
When you create content, you shouldn’t have any expectations. When you create and publish content with some kind of expectation, there is a higher chance that you will quit creating content when you don’t see “transactional” results — such as an increased number of students enrolling.
3. Offer Free Courses
When you offer free courses to the extent you can afford, don’t have any expectations. Promotional “free” courses that are designed to create a sales funnel won’t be as effective as if you do it to educate the public based on your expertise. Sales and increased business will eventually follow, but free courses shouldn’t be used as a “hook” to bring more students.
Instead, designate one of your “star” instructors to offer one or two sessions for free once a week or a month. There is a higher chance that several students who attend the free course will join for the premium course.
4. Make ‘Mother Content’
Mother content is video content that could be scraped to create dozens of different pieces of content across different platforms, including on social media. There are three ways you can create “Mother Content:”
- Record your free courses
- Invite a guest expert and interview them
- Pick a topic and talk to the camera
Extract clips from that video content and publish them on Facebook, LinkedIn, TikTok, Instagram, and Twitter. You can also upload the entire video content on YouTube. Don’t forget to add subtitles!
To take it one step further, transcribe the video and publish it as a blog post as well.
5. Create Testimonials
One of the biggest reasons why people pay for online courses is to find a better job. When promoting your online courses, it’s powerful to have your alumni talk to the camera about their journey and how your course helped them land a well-paying job. Turn your alumni into your marketers by offering them a referral fee.
6. Promote Your Instructors
It is important that you have an “Our Team” page on your website for prospective students to see who are going to be their instructors and how qualified they are. Also have them promote themselves on social media, especially on LinkedIn.
7. Promote on Social Media
Organic reach on TikTok and LinkedIn is still high. Facebook’s organic reach is almost close to zero and it is declining on Instagram fast.
You can advertise on Facebook (Lead Generation ads with forms) and target certain people in certain locations. Facebook ads are still underpriced, but most leads coming from Facebook will be low quality if you don’t perfect your creative when you are doing the promotion.
8. Use Google Advertising
This is the most expensive part of your course’s promotional campaigns. However, it will be the most transactional and result-oriented campaign that will deliver quick results.
Try to create three different campaigns with three different bid strategies (Impression share, Conversion, and Maximize Clicks), spare similar budgets equally, and then pause the ones that aren’t as effective as other campaigns.
9. Implement Consistent Content Marketing
Content marketing is key to get attention for your course via social media and search engines. To start:
- Identify most asked questions about online courses in your industry
- Create ultimate guides to answer those questions
- Create listicles that would include your online course as well
10. Create Local Content Silos
Make your online course look like a local business — it will make it significantly easier to be found in a certain location. You will reduce your competition and have a better chance of capturing prospective students in a certain area.
The key to creating a local content silo is to make a homepage-like location page, optimize it around that location, create local content internally to link to it, acquire links from local websites, and acquire backlinks from industry-relevant pages. It works like a charm.
11. Partner Up
Partner up with career centers, recruiters, university career centers, and community development centers that are interested in job opportunities. Pitch your online course and offer discounted programs for members of that community or organization and explain to them how much easier they can land a job if they pick your online course.
You’ve created a great course — now you just need to work on getting it seen. Use the tips above to effectively promote your online courses. Good luck!