After the creativity involved with building an online course comes the challenge of navigating how to market an online course.
Picture this moment: You’ve built a beautiful online course. It’s complete with videos, worksheets, quizzes, and a full-out transformation that your future students will be clamoring to buy. After weeks, or maybe even months of work, you’re ready to drop this online course on the world and watch the money flow in. And then…crickets.
The truth is, no matter how great your content is, if you don’t have an audience to market courses to, you probably won’t get very far.
How to market online classes
Building up your own online business and brand takes grit, persistence, and time. Creating a course is a great way to scale your business, and Teachable is one of the best online learning platforms to easily create a course site—complete with an easy-to-use website builder and payment gateway, plus an ideal learning experience for students. (Note: While you can also sell your course on Udemy and other course platforms, you have more control of building your brand with Teachable, not to mention lower transaction fees—5% compared to 50%!). Once you do, there are a million and one creative ways to build up an audience and marketing strategies for selling online courses.
Once you create an online course, it’s easy to get overwhelmed by employing too many tactics to get course sales. That’s why we recommend course creators start with two or three and focus their energy most on them.
How you select different types of digital marketing strategies for your online course will largely depend on these questions:
Who is your target audience? Imagine the exact person who is looking to sign up for your online course. What do they eat? What do they like to listen to? Where do they travel? You should know your ideal customer inside and out to target them well.
Where do they spend most of their time online? Does your ideal customer ask questions on Quora or Reddit? Do they belong to any community forums? Think about where they would go to for answers to their big questions.
How can you maximize your reach to get new leads? Some marketing strategies are simply more effective than others. Which ones can you choose that will have the most impact? Consider setting up helpful metrics to measure these successes and challenges, such as with Google Analytics.
Below, we’ve provided a roundup of all our best content on different marketing strategies for creating and selling online courses.
Don’t try to look at them all at once. Bookmark this page, and reference it as you explore more which methods are best for you. As you find inspiration, you’ll also be pleasantly surprised at how those online course purchases are seriously starting to roll in.
Download this guide to marketing your course with expert advice from a marketer.
Different types of online course marketing
When it comes to finding answers to questions, Google is king. Google processes 40,000 search queries every second on average, accounting for 1.2 trillion searches worldwide.
And when people have questions, they come to Google for answers. That’s where Search Engine Optimization, or SEO, comes in.
If you create a website or resource that has strong SEO, inbound leads will come to you passively. The only catch: building up that content takes a long time to get traction. But once it does, it can be one of the most powerful marketing strategies you have.
Psst…if you’d like a free mini-course on how to use SEO in your writing, you can take mine here.
Starting a blog is the perfect way to build up useful content that caters to your audience. Even though it feels counterintuitive giving away free information, doing so will build trust with your audience and have them coming back for more.
And as a marketing strategy, loyal readers are more likely to express interest in your online courses down the road.
To learn more about the first steps of creating a blog, including how to find a domain name, create a backlog of content, schedule posts, make content upgrades, and optimize your posts for search engines (SEO), check out our guide to starting a blog.
If you’ve never heard of Quora before, now is the time to get familiar. Quora is mostly found through Google searches because each page is phrased as a specific question.
So for example, if someone Googles, “How do I keep my geraniums alive?” A Quora forum on that exact question might pop up at the top.
To find out how to get traffic from Quora, become a thought leader, get featured, and promote your online course launch, check out our Quora marketing guide.
3. Sales page
A sales page is the number one way to persuade your audience that your course is worth purchasing. It should be a top priority for your marketing strategy.
As we’ve discussed in the past, you should be charging more — at least $100 (maybe even $300 or $1000!) for your online course.
The best way to persuade someone to spend that chunk of money? A powerful page that converts.
To find out how to write strong sales copy, tell a story, overcome objections, use benefit-driven language, and a 9-step sales page formula, check out our guide to sales pages that convert.
Don’t listen to the naysayers who tell you email is dead. Despite the growth of social media tools and other forms of communication, email marketing is still the workhorse that will bring potential customers in droves.
Here are just a few different email marketing strategies you should consider.
4. Email course
Before people become interested in your larger course, you can hook them with a free email course. Once again, you might be asking yourself, “Why would I provide something for free that I would rather have people buy?”
But building out an email course will keep you at the top of prospects’ minds, provide them with incredible value, and give them a taste for more. Think of it as a really fancy appetizer.
To find out how to collect email addresses, decide what to teach, structure your email course, automate your workflows, plus download usable email templates, check out our guide to creating an email course that converts.
Another way to keep your course at the top of prospective students’ minds is to be in their inbox regularly. This is a time to provide real value without selling constantly.
However, when the time does come to sell something, you’ll have built a strong relationship and rapport with your students, and they’ll be far more interested in hearing what you have to say.
To find out how to format your newsletter, decide your best strategy, determine the best timing and cadence, add branding, and schedule and put it on autopilot, check out our guide to creating a newsletter that converts.
6. Content Upgrades
Content upgrades, sometimes known as content downloads or gated content, are the perfect way to attract new leads for your online course.
In sum, that means you’ll create something useful for your audience (like an eBook, template, worksheet, membership site, or otherwise) in exchange for their email address. You can link to these content upgrades on your marketing site, blog, or a landing page.
To find out how to create lead magnets your audience wants, determine the best format, and update your content upgrade, check out our guide to lead magnet ideas.
7. Nurture drip
Nearly any successful course creator will tell you that an email drip campaign is a cornerstone marketing strategy to sell their product.
A drip campaign will persuade your audience to purchase your course by zoning in on their key pain points, addressing doubts, and keeping your offerings top of mind.
To learn more about batch campaigns, automated campaigns, welcome emails, cart-abandonment emails, webinar emails, and launch emails, check out our guide to email marketing campaigns.
Using paid advertising as a marketing strategy can feel daunting. You only want to spend so much money in case you don’t get any of that money back.
Forking out money isn’t always a surefire thing, but using paid channels can greatly boost your audience in a small amount of time.
Here are a few different ways to leverage paid ads to sell your online courses.
8. Landing pages
If you’re investing in paid advertising, having a landing page is a good place to start. When someone clicks on your ad, you can take them straight to a landing page and offer them something of value (like a content upgrade) in exchange for their email address.
However, not all landing pages are created equal, which is why we’ve created a guide on how to make an optimal page.
To find out how to use compelling landing page copy, headlines and subheads, social proof, and calls to action, check out our guide to landing page design.
Here at Teachable, we love webinars. They are a great way to engage your audience, give them a high level of value, and also pitch your product all at the same time.
Webinars take a lot of effort and it’s not a passive marketing strategy. However, if you’re up for it, a webinar could deliver huge results for your online course business.
To find out how to grow and convert your email list through webinars, define your webinar and create the content, create a registration page, make a webinar email workflow, and promote, replay, and analyze the results, check out our guide to hosting a webinar that converts.
Video is booming. It’s the fastest growing content medium right now, and only projected to grow more in the following years. It’s also great to share on a variety of platforms.
However, video is a time-consuming marketing strategy that takes time, patience, and a whole lot of work. If you decide it should be cornerstone to your marketing strategy, we can help you out.
To find out how to set up your own at-home studio, choose the most cost-effective equipment to use, and pre-production, plus editing, post-production, and distribution, check out our guide to DIY home video recording.
Love it or hate it, social media is here to stay. It’s also one of the easiest ways to reach out and engage people who may have genuine interest in your product—and advertise your online course for free.
That’s why we have all kinds of ideas on how to turn your social media marketing strategy into a veritable goldmine.
Most people see Pinterest as a women’s platform to pin pictures of pretty wedding ideas, but it’s far more than that. It’s actually a powerful visual search engine that draws a large audience of both men and women on just about every topic imaginable.
What’s more, Pinterest is a powerful tool that only grows over time. If you plant the seeds now, you’ll reap the rewards in the future.
To find out how to choose the right profile image for your Pinterest, make featured board sections, create new pins, loop and schedule pins, and track your success, check out our guide to using Pinterest to drive traffic to your website.
Instagram, the social media platform owned by Facebook, reaches 800 million people a day and is a great way to keep your brand top of mind to followers.
However, getting started can feel a little overwhelming, especially when there are so many people who already have curated, magazine-like feeds and tens of thousands of followers.
To find out how to create an Instagram goal and design, write engaging copy, launch your account, post, and campaigns and growth hacks, check out our guide to Instagram for business.
Despite the deluge of bad PR for Facebook lately, it still remains a ubiquitous social media presence — and it’s not going anywhere any time soon.
There are dozens of different ways to use Facebook for your online course marketing strategy, from creating your own group to buying Facebook ads or making viral posts.
We’ve decided to talk about networking in niche Facebook groups, as they can be a potent (and free!) way to reach your ideal audience.
To find out how to search keywords, sort through groups, establish yourself in Facebook groups, and promote yourself without driving people away, check out our guide to networking in niche Facebook groups.
Twitter brings out the best and the worst in us, but it sure is a great way to get your professional name and face out there.
Of course, there are some great, terrible, and mediocre ways to use Twitter. Learn how you can leverage Twitter as your marketing strategy to get more course enrollees and more cash in the bank.
To find out how to set up your profile, create a pinned tweet, grow your following, engage the right audience, and get retweeted, check out our guide to using Twitter.
Humans are visual creatures, which is probably why video captivates us the most out of any medium.
And now that YouTube has provided ways to monetize your channel and reach a greater audience than ever before, it’s as good a time as any to make it part of your marketing strategy.
To find out how to use SEO in your videos, create custom thumbnails, choose relevant tags, drive traffic to your website from YouTube, and promote your videos on various channels, check out our guide to promoting your YouTube channel.
Looking at so many different marketing strategies, knowing where to start can feel overwhelming. The most important part is choosing a tactic that works for your target audience and fits your strengths.
How do you successfully market online courses?
Once you create an online course, it’s easy to get overwhelmed by employing too many tactics to get course sales. That’s why we recommend you course creators start with two or three tactics and focus your their energy most on them. In this article, we cover organic search, email, paid, social media, and video marketing strategies.
How do you promote a course on social media?
Social media is one of the easiest ways to reach out and engage people who may have genuine interest in your product. You can drive traffic to course platforms via Pinterest, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and more. Many social media platforms offer business profiles that support your marketing efforts.