Welcome to NovoEd’s online course marketing guide! An effective marketing strategy can help you achieve your enrollment goals for public enrollment courses. In this step by step guide, we’ll show you some of our best practices.
Successful marketing campaigns start with a strong foundation. Here are three actions you can take to get started right away:
Establish your goals
As you get started, we recommend that you set goals for your marketing campaign that you can work towards. How many registrants are you trying to reach? Or, if your course is a fee-based course, what is your revenue target?
Determine your target audience
Marketing is about finding the right audience for your online course. You need to know who your audience is before investing in paid advertising or sending targeted emails. For example, your target audience may include learners who are interested in the course subject area or who want to develop or master a certain skill. If you can hit your target audience, your course marketing will be more effective and the conversion rate will be higher.
Identify your Message
How can you establish your uniqueness and stand out from thousands of other online courses in the online learning market? As you create your marketing message, think about how your course differentiates itself from similar courses. For example, your selling point might be the cost advantage, the reputation of your organization or your course instructor, or a unique course learning experience.
Create Your Marketing Campaign
Now that you’ve identified your target audience and value proposition, you can create a marketing campaign to achieve your enrollment goals. Your goals and expectations draw a picture of the expected outcome of your campaign and will determine its cost.
Step 1: Determine your budget
Identifying a budget can help you determine the type of campaign and resources you can use for creating content or generating ads. For example, if you have additional budget, you may want to consider purchasing pay-per-click ads or using an email marketing tool such as Mailchimp to maintain your subscriber base. You may even want to hire a full-service marketing service such as VaynerMedia or Disruptive Advertising
Examples of Pay-Per-Click Ad Campaign Channels
- Google Adwords: https://adwords.google.com/home/#
- Bing Ads: https://secure.azure.bingads.microsoft.com/
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/business/
- AdRoll: https://www.adroll.com/
- Twitter: https://business.twitter.com/en/advertising.html
- LinkedIn: https://business.linkedin.com/marketing-solutions/ads
- YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/yt/advertise/en/ Note: YouTube advertising can be managed through a Google Adwords account.
Step 2: Identify marketing channels
A marketing channel and platform can help you create a community of subscribers and leads who are interested in following the latest on your course or program. Your subscribers have already expressed interest in your offering and are most likely to be converted to customers. Based on who your target audience is, you may find that certain marketing channels are more effective than others. Through your channel, you also have an opportunity to engage with your audience through discount codes or seasonal promotions.
MOOC Search Engines
Online course search engines can be a useful channel for you to increase visibility among students who are already interested in online education. Please note that as a course provider, you should verify that your courses are listed by directly contacting the search engines (examples listed below). You may even consider directing students to fill out reviews on the course site so that others can see the ratings.
Social Media Channels
You might also consider creating your own branded marketing channel with a subscription base (For example, YouTube channel, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc.)
You can engage with your subscriber base by:
- Sharing industry news on your Facebook or LinkedIn page
- Create a course hashtag on Twitter that learners can easily remember and follow
- Start a blog series with unique content your learners might be interested in
Email Marketing can help you send targeted messages to your subscriber base. You might want to consider sending them regular newsletters with updates to your program or even share interesting articles. The key to email marketing is to create or curate content that will be valuable for your target audience. To facilitate your email marketing, you might want to consider using a marketing automation tool which can help you segment emails, maintain a customer base, and track engagement through click and open rates.
Examples of Marketing Automation Tools
- MailChimp: https://mailchimp.com/
- Vertical Response: http://www.verticalresponse.com/
- Active Campaign: http://www.activecampaign.com/
- Hubspot: https://www.hubspot.com/
Step 3: Create Content
Content marketing is a strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly-defined audience — and, ultimately, to drive customer action. As you’re creating your content, you’ll want to also think about SEO (Search Engine Optimization).
SEO entails adjusting your content and pages in such a way that they are more likely to show up in search engine results, such as on Google. This organic approach to course marketing can help drive traffic to your website. SEO includes both the technical and creative elements required to improve rankings, drive traffic, and increase awareness in search engines.
Some actions you might undertake for this are:
- Including your keywords, and synonyms, in the page title, URL, and page content to increase the relevance of your content to the search query.
- E.g. If you have a blog post on different ways to use Facebook to promote content, you would think of a Title and URL reflecting this, like “5 Ways to use Facebook to promote your Blog Posts”, and a URL “http://www.yourblog.com/5-ways-to-use-facebook-to-promote-blog-posts/” so that Google considers your content to be relevant to the query “How to use Facebook to promote blog posts”.
- Add so-called alt tags to images, so that the image description is also searched by the search engine, making it more likely for your content to show up in the results.
- E.g. instead of “image.jpg” it will show up as “How to share your blog on Facebook”, which is searchable by search engines.
- Add your keywords to the meta description of your web pages, if possible, so that even though the text on the page does not have the specific search term, the meta description might capture them.
- Link out to other, well-regarded websites in your content, as well as reach out to these websites to see if they can link to you. Search engines are more likely to include your content in the search results if its algorithm detects other high ranking sites link out to yours.
Some examples of content marketing include:
- Creating a blog with case studies or user stories
- Showing a teaser of your course with free webinars
- Developing a preview course (E.g. make one week of content available for free ahead of time, or show with screenshots what the experience will look like)
- What is Content Marketing from Neil Patel
- The Advanced Guide to SEO from Quicksprout
- What is SEO from Neil Patel
- What is Content Marketing from Forbes
- Beginner’s Guide to SEO from Moz
- 5 Types of Course Marketing Videos from E Learning Industry
Step 4: Establish a calendar
When planning for your marketing campaign, create a project timeline that will allow the campaign sufficient time to take effect. You want to have sufficient time to convert people who viewed your marketing materials to your actual customer. Overall, a good timeline should leave room for your campaign to be effective yet constantly remind you for your imminent and long term goals. Consider the following as you create your timeline:
- Estimated date of course launch: The launch date is an ultimate deadline of your marketing campaign. Typically, we recommend leaving 2-3 months of time to market the course before the launch date.
- Time commitment: We recommend you invest at the minimum 1-2 hours per week engaging with your subscriber base through email marketing or through social media.
- Content Calendar: Creating new content on a regular schedule for your subscriber base will help establish you as a thought leader of your course content or value proposition.
Step 5: Receive endorsement
Receiving endorsement can help you establish credibility. Think about the restaurant business, for example. People are more attracted to restaurants with Michelin stars or high ratings on Yelp. You can get endorsements from experts and professionals in the course subject area or a similar, relevant field. You can also get endorsed by learners who have previously engaged in your courses or activities.
Note: Make sure to send the post-course survey page when your course concludes, as user testimonials will serve as great endorsements for future marketing efforts.
Before jumping into the actual strategies of the marketing campaign, you need to think about how you will track and measure your campaign. Return on investment is a good way of thinking about marketing success. How much have you spent on your marketing, and how much has the revenue increased since you implemented the marketing campaign? Higher ROI means that you have achieved better efficiency for your marketing campaign.
However, if the primary goal of the course is not to generate revenue, you will need to consider other measurements of your marketing success. For example, you can count the number of new subscribers to your social media account. You can also calculate the increase of traffic to your website.
Launching a marketing campaign can feel intimidating at first. But it doesn’t have to be! Lay a strong foundation for yourself by first setting specific campaign goals, identifying your target audience, and establishing a clear, persuasive message about what makes your online course truly special. Once you have these navigation points to steer your way, you’ll be ready to use select marketing channels more effectively. You’ll also have a better understanding of how to create content that will speak to your target audience. And don’t forget your people power! Endorsements from industry professionals and prior learners are a great way to attract more learners and can boost the credibility of your course. Keep your campaign on track by creating a detailed, realistic timeline that leaves sufficient time to convert viewers of your marketing materials into enrolled participants. Finally, remember to track the success of your campaign by referring back to your campaign goals for specific indicators. These concrete measurements will not only help you track your success, but also yield valuable insights to incorporate into your next campaign.