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How to Sell Online Courses: Effective Marketing Strategies

Digital Marketing
April 8, 2024
10 mins

In this article, we'll explore the current marketing trends around selling online courses. We understand that diving into marketing your online course can seem daunting, but rest assured, there are tried-and-true strategies that consistently deliver results.  Whether you're a seasoned educator or stepping into the digital learning space for the first time, we hope this piece will provide you with the tools needed to succeed in the ever-growing world of promoting and selling online education.

Is Selling Courses Profitable?

There's a lot of talk suggesting that online courses are a thing of the past, or that they require a lot of effort without much financial return.

The global market for online education was worth $31.20 billion in 2021. It's expected to increase from $38.72 billion in 2022 to $175.52 billion by 2030. This means it will grow at a rate of 24.10% every year from 2023 to 2030. As more people around the world use the internet, this growth in online education will likely continue.

Starting an online course business has several advantages:

  • The initial investment is low. Creating a course mainly requires your time rather than a large sum of money.
  • You can sell from anywhere. There's no need for a physical setup like a market stall; you can sell your courses directly from home.
  • Flexibility in content. You can teach almost any subject, making it easy to stand out from the competition.
  • Versatile sales options. Courses can be sold individually or as part of a membership model, which provides a steady stream of income. With memberships, customers pay a regular fee for access to a range of courses, potentially leading to greater revenue growth over time.

Why You Need a Marketing Strategy to Sell Courses?

Trying to sell your online courses without a good marketing plan can end up not working well. The online world has so many courses available, and without a clear strategy, it's hard for yours to get noticed. 

A marketing strategy starts with figuring out who is most likely to want your course and what they're looking for. This means you can make the packaging of your course and your ads appeal more to your target audience. A good plan uses different ways to reach people, like social media or emails, so more people can find out about your course. It also helps you set goals and check if you're meeting them, which is great for knowing what works and what doesn't. 

And, which is even more important, having a marketing strategy helps you use your budget in the smartest way possible. It's like planning your shopping list before you go to the grocery store; you know exactly what you need, so you don't waste money on things you don't. This way, every dollar you spend is aimed at reaching your goals, whether that's getting more people to sign up or increasing awareness of your courses. 

In short, a marketing strategy ensures you're not just throwing money (and effort) into the wind but investing it in a way that brings real results.

How to Sell Online Courses

Let’s take a closer look at the strategies to choose from.

1. Selling Online Courses with SEO

When you use SEO, or Search Engine Optimization, for selling online courses, it's like leaving breadcrumbs on the internet that guide people straight to your courses. Imagine someone searching online for a cooking class. If you've used the right SEO techniques, your cooking course can be one of the first options they see. 

Here's a simple checklist to make sure your SEO is on point:

  • Choose the Right Keywords: Pick words that people use when looking for courses like yours. For finding the right ones, use keyword research tools such as Ahrefs or SemRush.
  • Use Keywords in Titles and Descriptions: Make sure these keywords are all around your website, including meta descriptions, content and titles.
  • Create Helpful Content: Write blog posts or articles related to your course that answer common questions and offer useful information you don’t mind sharing for free.
  • Make Your Website Easy to Navigate: People should find what they're looking for easily on your site. It is also important for the search engine algorithms. 
  • Use Links Wisely: Link to other parts of your site in your content, and get other reputable sites to link back to you — that will bring extra traffic and increase your website’s reputation. 
  • Keep Your Site Fast: Make sure your website loads quickly, so people don't leave before seeing your courses.

Do you have a website already? Check out our free SEO health checker to see whether you could do something to improve your search engine positions. 

2. Boost Online Course Sales With PPC

Pay-per-click(PPC) ads are a fast pass to the front of the line of search engines and some other platforms. PPC chases the same goal as SEO, which is getting on the user’s radar online, but it uses a different approach. SEO requires lower initial investment, but it takes time to start bringing in traffic. PPC speeds the process up and costs money, even though it is still very cost-effective given that you only pay for the ad if someone actually clicked on the ad. 

how to sell online courses

Ideal strategy at the beginning of your marketing activity would be to buy traffic with the help of PPC, while simultaneously building up a great SEO strategy to ensure free and steady traffic in some months, or even years. But using PPC alone is also effective. 

To set up a campaign, you will need to take the following steps:

  • Select the right keywords
  • Craft compelling ad copy 
  • Design eye-catching ad visuals - something that grabs attention and relates to your course.
  • Use Google Ads to create a campaign and set targeting.
  • Set a budget. Decide how much you’re willing to spend per day or per click to keep costs under control.
  • Use tools to see how many clicks and enrollments your ads are getting, so you can adjust as needed.

We also have a PPC health check list - save it for when you’re ready to launch a campaign. 

3. Email Marketing 

Email marketing for the eLearning industry is extremely effective. It has a 40.2% open rate, which is among the highest across industries. It is personal, direct and cost-effective - it generates $42 dollars for each $1 spent, as per the latest data. 

How to approach email marketing for online courses?

  1. Set up a system for collecting emails. It can be a popup on your website that offers useful freebies, or a sign-up form for a webinar or online-masterclass. 
  2. Segment your audience. Not all subscribers are interested in the same topics. Define your audience and segment your list based on their interests, past course enrollments, and how they found your list. This enables you to send more personal and engaging emails.
  3. Think through the content strategy. Each email should serve a purpose, whether it's to educate, nurture, or convert. Your emails could include:
  • An introduction to you and your course
  • Success stories from past students
  • Free resources or tips
  • Details and benefits of the course
  • Special offers or discounts
online courses email marketing

Ensure your emails are clear and easy to read. Use engaging subject lines to increase open rates. The design of your emails should reflect your brand and be visually appealing. Use images, videos, or GIFs to add personality and break up text. 

4. Social Media Marketing

Social media marketing is essential for online course marketing because of its wide reach and ability to engage with potential students. By creating a social media presence, you can connect with a broader audience and generate interest in your online courses. 

Social media is also a perfect platform to share course previews, testimonials, and case studies, to showcase the benefits of your courses in an easy manner. The biggest benefit is that people follow accounts on social media voluntarily, when they are genuinely interested in a brand's content and product. 

SMM for selling online courses

Another great benefit is that social media marketing is cost-effective and allows for targeted advertising. You can reach people who are interested in your course topics, increasing the likelihood of conversions. It's no wonder that many bloggers with large followings create online courses. They have already built a platform and established trust with their audience, making it easier to convince their following to learn from them. 

By the way, if you don’t have a strong social media presence yet, you can turn to those who do. Which leads us to the next point.

5. Affiliate Marketing

Affiliate marketing is a performance-based marketing strategy where you partner with affiliates who promote your online courses and earn a commission for each sale they generate. Affiliates can be bloggers, influencers, or content creators who have an audience interested in your course topics. By partnering with affiliates, you can reach a wider audience and tap into their networks, increasing your course sales and revenue.

Affiliate marketing is a highly effective marketing strategy for promoting online courses, with 40% of online course creators using affiliate marketing to drive sales, according to a report by Teachable.

The benefits of affiliate marketing for selling online courses include: low upfront costs, low risk, and the ability to scale your marketing efforts. 

To start with affiliate marketing, you can identify potential affiliates who have an audience interested in your course topics, create an affiliate program with clear terms and conditions, and provide your affiliates with marketing materials and support to help them promote your courses effectively. 

6. Webinars and Live Sessions

Hosting free webinars and live sessions is an effective marketing strategy for selling online courses because it allows you to showcase your expertise, build trust with your audience, and provide value upfront. By offering free webinars and live sessions, you can give potential students a taste of what they can expect from your online courses, increasing their trust and their likelihood of enrolling.

Webinars and live sessions also provide an opportunity to engage with your audience in real-time, answer their questions, and address any concerns they may have. This interactive approach can help build a strong relationship with your audience and provide you with valuable feedback you can use to fine-tune your products and marketing strategy. 

digital marketing for selling online courses

Additionally, webinars and live sessions can be recorded and repurposed as marketing materials, such as social media posts, email campaigns, and course previews, extending their reach and value. And, as we mentioned earlier, registering for a free webinar is the perfect way to collect some emails for further communication.

How Promodo Can Help You

Choosing the perfect marketing strategy to maximize revenue from selling online courses can seem daunting, but that's where Promodo steps in to make things simpler and more effective. 

We are here to help you cut through the noise and connect with your audience effectively, ensuring your educational content gets the spotlight it deserves.

Let's reach your business goals in the education sphere!
Contact Promodo experts today for
a free consultation.
Written by
Anastasia Marchyshak

Content Marketing Manager at Promodo

Immersing myself fully in any topic I explore and my appreciation for simplicity are the driving forces behind my work.

April 8, 2024
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