I’ve had the chance to test a variety of strategies and techniques and here I want to share with you four actions that I consider mandatory in order to market anything online, which you can apply to your courses.Build your website: The internet as we know it is based on websites. If you want to be found on Google (and trust me, that’s where you want to be found) the first step is definitely creating a web page. Doing so will contribute to your online reputation and, most importantly, will give a great boost to your Search Engine Marketing (SEM) strategy. In fact Google and the other engines constantly scan the internet for pages (and in the past few years for social profiles) in order to create an index. As a result of this constant research, every time someone looks for a specific online course the search engine gives back a list of results that might help the user, and the better and more relevant the website is, the higher is its position in the search engine result page (SERP) (which usually means more potential customers).
Start a blog: unfortunately having a website is not enough: anyone, given enough time and resources, can create a web page thanks to the great amount of tools available. In my opinion, the second most important strategy to stand out in today’s internet marketing is definitely creating a compelling blog. Through a blog you are not simply adding keywords to your website (which is actually a good thing for Search Engine Optimisation): you are creating value for your audience. In the end I really believe that creating value for your users is the ultimate in marketing, and sharing your experience and knowledge with them can definitely be considered ‘giving value’.
Engage with a newsletter: now that you have your own website and blog, it is time to focus on creating a long term relationship with your audience. Modern Marketing techniques rotate around a relatively new strategy called Permission Marketing, a strategy developed by the marketing guru Seth Godin. While in the past people were simply bombed with advertising everywhere, modern marketers understood that to really get to people’s hearts you need to establish a relationship with them, based on permissions, such as the permission to send them an email every now and then. When people subscribe to your newsletter, they allow you to send them updates about your blog, news about your course offerings, reminders of how important they are to you and your activity. By creating a good email list and a useful newsletter, you will definitely find a long term source of customers for your courses.
Boost your online presence with Social Media: February 4th, 2004: Facebook was founded. 10 years ago the king of social media was born and things changed forever. We have to admit it to ourselves: we spend a lot of time on social media, and not just for chatting with our friends. Nowadays Social Media are used as an extension of our online presence, as they allow us to communicate with fans, potential customers and partners. Once again, the trick is not to use social media as a simple outlet of information, but as a channel for interaction and value exchange. In order to boost your online presence in the elearning field I strongly recommend you create profiles for Facebook, Twitter and Linkedin (as a start) and share the content of your blogs on platforms such as Scoop.it and elearningtags.com. You can also take a look at a few social media profiles that you should follow and interact with in this article we published a few weeks ago.
Here are a few examples of very successful places where to market online courses:
- Ted Talks: Ted Talks is probably one of the most educational and motivational series of videos on the internet. One of the reasons for its success is surely the end goal of these videos, which were created in order to inspire people to achieve great things (i.e. offering value), but their website surely has played an important role in Ted’s history. As a very intuitive website, they manage to deliver value to the users as soon as they land on the page, while their videos are shared thousands of times through their social media channels. Ted Talks videos define virality!
- Khan Academy: with almost a million Facebook likes, 380 thousands Twitter followers and about 20 million monthly visits on its blog, Khan Academy has definitely mastered the art of marketing for online learning. If you want to learn more about effective social media strategies for your courses, you should definitely check the Academy social accounts.
- edX: only a handful of websites in the world have a PageRank of 10 and edX is one of them. If you try to search for “online courses” or any variations of related keywords, you will always find this website among the top results. The lesson here? Make sure that your course is in the top results for your specific niche and then wait for your customers to find you.