How to Launch and Market Your Online Course?

Can you take advantage of video courses to earn money online and create a profitable business?

If it is a passion, it is always useful to create the course, maybe not touching up every detail or technical aspect, but doing so creates an asset and helps the creator to become good at creating video courses. It makes sense to do a market survey before promoting it and spending money on it, for example checking on Google if there are already searches related to that topic (e.g., “how to sell on Amazon”). The minimum number of searches varies for each sector, but it shows who is looking for it, and even if few, they are very interested contacts.

Is it a good sign if there are a lot of competitors? There must already be a market, with some online research, and then we would have to create further demand, for example, by going to a specific sector/service by promoting a specific product/service, when before there was only “generic” stuff. In general, it’s better not to be a pioneer in a virgin market.

A good reason to create a video course (even if there is not immediately a profitable market) is that you learn the technique to make well-made video courses and this will allow you in the future to be better and faster in creating and updating other products (or to create a service based on these skills). Moreover, whoever does the course should be not only a trainer but a real expert who does what he teaches every day, to be updated and concrete (otherwise you will end up losing the operational and practical aspect).

Pro tip: The real business for experts/entrepreneurs should not be the course itself but the requests for a consultancy from those who have tried the course and prefer to be helped in achieving the desired objectives and results.

What to Do to Promote and Sell Your Course Online?

If you don’t sell the course, it’s difficult for the profits to come automatically, so something has to be done at the marketing level (since the initial focus must remain to create a good product that makes people transform, otherwise marketing only leverages “crap”).

I suggest you create various courses on the most popular platforms (mainly social networks) and promote them through small introductory webinars of 45/50′ followed by a promotional offer (about 60/70% discount) and that allows you to cover the costs of the lead generation and production of the course itself. Once you have created a webinar that converts participants into clients, how do you bring people into the “virtual” classroom? Simply with two social networks: LinkedIn (through direct invitations to entrepreneurs) and Facebook for large numbers.

As webinar platforms I recommend: Zoom, direct streaming on Facebook, GoToMeeting, GoToWebinar, WebinarJam, Google Meet, Streamyard. The options are many and I have tried almost all of them. The best one is Adobe Connect but it’s too complex, so, in the end, the choice fell on Zoom, stable, fast, and super reliable.

The Importance of Having Lots of Valuable End Products

It is a definition derived from the Hubbard Management System and means a valuable product or service that can be sold on a market in exchange for “sustenance” (money, goods, other services…).

It is not the realization of the course but the result/transformation/great promise that the user wants to obtain: the video course is a tool to reach their goals.

It is therefore not important that the course is bought, but that it is “done” so that the transfer of skills is completed (unfortunately some statistics say that 97% of courses are never even started).

The responsibility is not only of the user but above all, of the creators who, the more focused only on profit, the less attention he will devote to details. However, if you want the money to be the consequence, then you’ll have to do a cool and well-done course, not being able to count on exaggerated marketing and a big budget to spend on advertising.

Doing this is not difficult, but you need a strategy and a system, otherwise, it is not at all obvious that people will start and finish the course.

It’s not enough to create content to make users arrive because it’s not automatic and having the best product in the world is no guarantee of success: you need to make it known and promote it. There is a lot of bad information about it that leads people to say “courses don’t work,” but it doesn’t: it doesn’t work if it’s not applied in the right way.

How to Promote and Sell a Course Online

Once you have finished your training product, the real challenge begins: you need to promote and sell a course online. To be more precise, everything could already begin in the production phase of the course. In fact, with a good promotional video spot, your course will certainly have more chances to go viral in a short time. But before starting, you have to take into account our reality today together with other objective factors.

Initially, I sold, like many info-marketers, infoproducts like ebooks, guides, and my first online courses with the classic method:

  • Create a squeeze page or sales page. 
  • Autoresponder and programmed follow up.
  • Free initial product in exchange for an email. 
  • Facebook ads to promote my landing page. 
  • Ongoing optimization of the automatic business.

My friend, this method has been outdated for a long time, I don’t deny that even today it works, but over time people have understood the mechanism and it has become inflated: in a few words people got tired! What changes today? People are looking for valuable content, they are more careful and when they want to invest their money in training programs they want to be 100% sure to choose the right course, so you also need to change your inbound marketing and list building strategies.

To promote an online course in a winning way (i.e. I’m talking about getting 300 students enrolled within the first two months of its launch), I have studied and created over the years an “Action Plan for the sale of courses” model, which is a six-step step-by-step guide helps to drive a ton of students to their course. This is a model that I continuously update because as you will see there are hundreds of portals and tools that can be used to promote courses depending on the niche. Now make yourself comfortable, have a coffee, and stay focused on what I’m about to explain.

Before we start!

To start promoting your online course, you must first consider the target group of your course:

  • Who is this course for?
  • What purchasing power does my target audience have?
  • What problem can people solve by buying my course?
  • What are potentially other competing products on the network?

To answer these questions in an illustrative way, we will take an imaginary course in event organization as an example throughout the guide. So to answer the question above we will say:

  • Who is this course for: wedding planners, entertainment agencies, art directors, artists, event managers, or simply those who want to enter the industry.
  • What purchasing power has my target: in most cases workers or freelancers with an average purchasing power ($99/$150).
  • What problem can people solve by buying my course: the course is focused on the marketing part of events, i.e. on a specific competence that no school, professional entertainment institute, or other training center teaches in this sector.
  • What are the potentially other competing products on the net: there are other courses.

Having this scheme in mind, now you already know how I will have to address my potential customers to sell my course at best, so the first thing to do is to make some arrangements on my sales page.

Step 1: “Settings”

The first step is essential to fix and adjust the appearance of your course before starting to promote it, to avoid of course to burn your customers:

Creating the Sales Page. It consists of creating your own course page on the chosen platform, creating a persuasive copywriting, a second introductory landing page, creating the covers, and all marketing and promotional material of the course.

FreeLessons.Showingafewlessonsforfreeallowsthepotential customer to realize what s/he is going to buy. When you buy a course online you do it because you want to trust the creator. You don’t know the course’s quality. The free lesson is a way to reassure the user about the purchase.

Create an Introduction Video. The introduction video of the course is a fundamental gimmick that can help you to summarize and make your potential customers understand in a short time what advantages the purchase of your course can have: I’m not talking about explaining what you will be dealing with, but about making people fall in love with a dream: in this specific case I used a more specific sales technique, i.e. during the promotion of my course in the classroom I gave the possibility to people who did not want to spend $500 to participate to enroll at $149 to the online course: a double result advertising campaign. What promise did I make? I brazenly told people that thanks to my course I would teach them how to earn $15.000 with a single event following a revenue model I had created. Do you think they called me a clown or a charlatan? Exactly! And there were so many of them! To make them understand that my method worked, I recorded video reviews of my students in that course and used them in my next course as the main promotional tool. After all, if I were a blabbermouth, my course would have no more than 1,300 students.

Step 2: “Pre-Launch”

The machine is well waxed and ready to go. Now you need to organize the latest key activities before you massively promote your online course.

  1. Test Your Product. Your course must work. I’m not talking about checking if a video is visible or if the answers of the final test are correct, but actually to have the product tested before launching it on the market. To do this, you can hire a freelancer on User Testing (a company specialized in website analysis, apps, and online services) and have video feedback of what works or doesn’t work on your course. Obviously, an accurate analysis costs about $49, but if you don’t want to make this initial investment, you can contact colleagues or other experts in the field of your course ensuring free access to get feedback and in case you need to understand what to improve your content.
  2. HaveYourCourseReviewed.Yourcoursewillneverhaveasingle paying member if there are no reviews from other students who have already completed the course and have made their own judgment. Would you ever book a hotel that has no reviews? Here it is the same. To get your course reviewed you have 3 ways you can follow:
  3. Send free access to the course to your former students or your contacts, allowing them to attend your course for free in exchange for a truthful review (positive or negative, that is).
  4. Find forums or specific industry groups: I am a member of several groups on Facebook and Linkedin of event organization and entertainment and for each group, I have provided 10 free coupons for my course. Within 2 weeks I got 5 reviews from my first students.

iii. Invite industry experts to review your course, what better than a famous person to review your course? You can take advantage of your knowledge in a positive way to have significant benefits by asking influencers in your field to review your course. Ask only those you know directly! Here’s a template “fill in the blanks” that you can edit and use as an email to send to an expert to ask for a review:

“Hi, ______ I’m _______, I’m writing to you because I’m finally about to launch my new online course _____________. The experience I have gained in my field also comes from your suggestions that I have read and followed over time through your articles/video. That’s why I thought it was right to reciprocate by giving you a preview of the exclusive access to my course for free, I would like to have sincere feedback from you on the course in order to eventually understand how to improve my product. I’m waiting for your answer, I wish you good work!”

  1. Start a Countdown. Start by letting your audience know that you are about to launch a new product. If you have a Youtube channel launch a short video where you tell them that you are about to preview an online course. On your blog, social channels you can always share these videos and also write a few posts where you let your audience know that you are working on a new product.
  2. Send a Preview Offer to Your Contact List. Send a preview newsletter to your database of contacts where you explain the advantages of your course in five simple lines, giving them the possibility to have a 70% discount on the sale price of the course as your personal contacts (the offer to stimulate the rush should not last more than 3 days). If you don’t have an email database you can create it in 4 steps: Login on Linkedin > Go to links > Select all and click on Export > Import the CSV of your contacts on Mailchimp. Now that you have your email database, composed by your professional links, to do it alternatively with Facebook contacts you just need to create an email account on Yahoo, synchronize your contacts by logging in with Facebook, and then export a CSV with name and email address of your Facebook contacts (be careful here we are a bit on the limit).
  3. Invite Your Trusted Contacts to Support You. Here it’s time to dust off years and years of networking with colleagues in your industry. Invite your best contacts to report your course as a great new training program, this will allow you to attract the attention of people targeted with your training product and most likely they will be willing to provide their contacts to stay updated on the launch date of your course.

Step 3: “Launch”

Finally, the moment of launch has arrived, now what you will have to do is concentrate on finishing your promotional strategy. Before investing, I advise you to follow other steps for the organic promotion of your course:

  1. Use Training Course Directories. There are about 50 well-indexed directories in the training world that can help you carry tons of traffic to your online course.
  2. UseSector-SpecificTrainingDirectories.Inadditiontogeneraltraining directories, there are several niche directories for certain professions. For example, it is very easy to find websites specialized in ads for courses aimed at psychologists, lawyers, accountants rather than cooks, hoteliers, and so on. These portals allow you to get more qualified traffic than normal directories, I advise you not to insert a link to your course in a portal off-topic because it may not be successful as a strategy or even you could be banned as off-topic.
  3. Use Industry Portals. I discovered, during the promotion of several online courses, the great strength of the industry communities. I’m not joking, when I started promoting our course on Bach flower treatments within websites focused on this niche, I was amazed by the results obtained. About 3000 visitors in 1 month and over 100 sales with a conversion rate of 3.4% on that specific course and 5.12% on other similar courses. I admit this strategy kept me busy for about 5 hours, but with these results, it is worth it!

Step 4: “Growth”

The “Growth” phase is focused on a very precise objective: to build promotional

gimmicks able to create continuous traffic to your course. These are simple actions that serve to create information content or call to action to convey users towards the purchase of a course online:

  1. Tutorials. Tutorials are one of the main ways to drastically increase the number of target users with your training product, who visit your course page. Usually, I always recommend the realization of short tutorials (no more than 30 minutes), on topics similar to one of the courses to be promoted. For example, one of my students who created an online course on WordPress has created a first free tutorial where she explains how to install WordPress via FTP. This allowed her to disseminate free content able to show users her expertise in this profession, and consequently increase the perceived value of her online course. Obviously, within the tutorials, there are references and redirects to the online course.
  2. Blog. A blogging strategy together with the use of tutorials can help you get continuous traffic to your online course. With a blogging strategy, you can talk about your content to your audience and then include references to your online course and teacher profile. The blog is not an exclusive tool for Content Managers, but thanks to the application, exercise, and consistency, as well as the study of basic blogging techniques, you will be able to create your website to push your course!
  3. HelloBar. HelloBar is a simple promotion tool to integrate on your blog or website. With HelloBar you can create direct backlinks to your training course, or you can create an opt-in form to use to build and monetize your email database. You can proceed with the free installation of HelloBar by clicking here. If you prefer a complete set of Tools to integrate on your site you can try SumoMe.
  4. Sidebars. The best way to create a“lead magnet” is to use the sidebars of your blog to insert banners with a direct link to your course page. By inserting the banners you can keep a marketing expedient directly on your site. By doing so, you don’t have to worry about constantly updating your content. Everything is simple, fast, and automated.

The Best Online Course Platforms Reviewed

There are many online course platforms where you can find thousands of courses on different topics. You can learn or teach on these platforms. If you are interested to learn more about them, here are some posts that I have written:

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