Marketing

How to Sell Online Courses

By May 18, 2019 One Comment

Turning knowledge and expertise into a comprehensive course is a promising business venture. However, before getting caught up in the hype of making a steady stream of income, you must first learn how to sell online courses.

This article is going to cover:

  • Why sell online courses
  • Where to set up your online courses
  • Getting leads to your online courses
  • Strategies to sell online courses

Why Sell Online Courses

It is projected that the e-learning market is going to reach $325 billion by 2025. This has significant potential to grow an online business based on your knowledge and expertise.

If you have something to share with the world, there are a few questions to ask yourself:

  • Is selling online courses the right type of business for you?
  • How will you create a profitable idea for your course?
  • What kind of content will you provide in your online course?
  • What sales and marketing strategies will you deploy to ensure people buy your course?

Once you’ve gone through the process of creating your online course, you’re still faced with the difficulty of pricing. This can be one of the toughest decisions to make as a course creator. Why?

The price of your course has a direct impact on almost every aspect of your business. It is going to impact the type of marketing you will do to promote it, the types of students attracted to it, and, let’s not forget, the amount of revenue you will generate.

If you charge too little, your online course may not be perceived as valuable. This will severely reduce your marketing ability and revenue potential.

If you charge too much, you may not get many students and feel forced to lower your prices (which is never a good thing to do).

When you have decided your pricing and online course is ready to go live, the next thing you need is a place for your students to learn.

Where to Set Up Your Online Courses

Are you familiar with Udemy?

Udemy is an online learning platform that allows you to feature your online courses to more than 24 million students. No matter what topic your online course is about, you can find the right students to buy it.

Before you head over and publish your course, you might want to consider the financial side of things. As an instructor, you can invite your own students using a distinct coupon to receive 97% of the revenue. But, if your students forget to use your coupon, your revenue drops to 50%.

To gain more control when selling your online courses, here are a few alternative platforms you can use:

  • Kajabi is an all-in-one platform to create and sell online courses. Their basic monthly plan starts at $149 per month with 0% transaction fees.

  • Thinkific is another platform you can create, market and sell online courses. You can set up 3 courses with unlimited students for free or upgrade to a basic plan (with more marketing features) for $49 per month.

  • LearnDash is a plugin for WordPress websites. Their basic license which allows you to install on 1 WordPress Site goes for $159 per year. If you want to set this up yourself, WPBeginner offers a comprehensive guide to show you how to do it.

Think carefully as to which platform you want to use to host your online course. Each platform comes with its own benefits and limitations. For the most profitability, start with a platform like Thinkific and test your marketing strategies before investing in a bigger plan.

Strategies to Sell Online Courses

Targeting the right leads to your online course is tricky. Content marketing and SEO can be a slow process requiring significant time and energy toward publishing content regularly. Alternatively, advertisements attract a lot of clicks but the cost per acquisition can impact your profitability.

To help you with your marketing efforts, here are a few strategies to sell online courses:

Strategy #1: Free Offers

Instead of sending traffic directly to an enrollment page, try offering a free piece of content instead. You can use ebooks, white papers, or a webinar to highlight problems of your target market where your content features a solution.

The purpose of offering something (valuable) for free allows you to capture emails and nurture prospects for your online course.

Let’s look at a few examples:

  • You have a cooking course for people who don’t know how to cook, so you provide them with the top 5 “go-to” recipes that take 10 minutes or less to make.
  • You have a marketing course for people starting an online business, so you provide them with a 30-minute webinar to identify 3 common struggles for new business and how to avoid them.
  • You have a dog training course for problem dogs, so you provide them with the number one technique to instantly get a dog to stop barking.

Here’s a formula to follow when it comes to creating free offers to attract leads to your online courses:

[PROBLEM]? Get this [FREE ITEM] and see [RESULTS]

You’ll want to come up with something relevant to your target market and can solve their problems. Be as helpful as possible, focusing on delivering value instead of trying to make a sale right away.

Strategy #2: Create High-Converting Landing Pages

If you’re using a free offer or want to send traffic somewhere specific, create a landing page.

You can use a landing page to collect emails or sell your courses directly. However, the best results tend to involve nurturing leads to gain maximum return.

Create a separate landing page that focuses entirely on your goal. Make sure there are absolutely no distractions. If possible, remove the menu, footers, and any other link that could distract or send away visitors on the page.

You want visitors to move straight toward the intended goal which is to signup and start your course or download your offer. So, if all you have is a “enroll now” or “sign up today” call to action, your conversions are going to go up.

A landing page is effective because it provides you with a dedicated place to explain your course and the benefits to the learner. It doesn’t have to be fancy, however, the copy has to be persuasive.

Here’s a guideline you can follow:

  • Use a headline that grabs a visitor’s attention;
  • Add 3 bullet points that reveal the benefits to them;
  • Include a call-to-action that shows people how to move to the next step;
  • If available, add testimonials to enhance credibility.

Take a look at this free offer that promotes Sam Oven’s online course to help consultants grow their business:

You don’t need an elaborate design to introduce leads to your course. Something as simple as the example above can work perfectly.

Strategy #3: Create an Email Funnel

If you use the previous two strategies, this next strategy ties it all together. With an email funnel, you can target your leads with messages that sell your online course.

The best funnel length for an email marketing campaign is around 5 emails. Here’s a template to follow to market and sell online courses:

  • Day/Email 1 𑁋 Engagement: In the first email, introduce your course without making any reference to making a purchase. Focus on delivering value by understanding the needs of your leads and offer them a simple solution to their problem(s).
  • Day/Email 2 𑁋 Engagement: Same as the first email. Continue to deliver value with subtly mentioning your course. If you ask to purchase too soon, you might lose them.
  • Day/Email 3𑁋 Engagement to Sales: It’s time to introduce your course to your email list. Often, this email includes a “P.S. If you’ve been followed these emails you can solve all your problems with [NAME + LINK TO COURSE]”.
  • Day/Email 4 𑁋 Soft Sales: In this email, start off some value before introducin your course. Be sure to include the benefits your course provides and include a call to action for enrollment.
  • Day/Email 5 𑁋 Hard Sales: This email should be written as if its there “last chance” to enroll. Put the pressure on to sign-up and make a hard pitch to close the sale. Add a sense of urgency, such as Limit-Time Discount (i.e. $100 off if you sign-up in the next 48 hours) or Closed Enrollment Period (i.e. Course only open once per year and closes on [DATE]).

For more ideas on how to grow an email list, read this.

Final Thoughts

If you want to sell online courses, there’s more to it than simply packaging your knowledge and expertise into a packaged experience. You’ll want to identify the needs of your target market, create content relevant to them, and decide on the right pricing to ensure you get some sales.

When you are ready to publish your course online, there are many platform you can use which can impact your revenue (i.e. Udemy vs. Kajabi). Ultimately, the success of your online course comes down to the strategies you deploy. As with any online marketing, test your efforts and make modifications to improve your results.  

Author Stephanie

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