The learning curve blog

Helpful advice for online course creators, businesses, and entrepreneurs

7: Marketing Online Courses

by | Nov 7, 2012 | Marketing

This is the seventh of 10 Steps to Build and Sell Your Courses Online. DigitalChalk: 7: Marketing Online Courses

If you build it, they will come…right? Not always. First, they have to know that you exist. You have to ensure that your target market knows that they now have the opportunity to take your course online. So, what’s the best way to reach them?

Drive traffic to your website

Since you are marketing online courses, the first place you want to make a presence is, well, online! For starters, you will need to make sure that your LMS is integrated with your website. This provides every visitor to your website the opportunity to register for your course. But, in order for this to be effective in selling or promoting your courses, you need to ensure that people are actually visiting your website.

How do you attract visitors to your site?

Attracting traffic to your website is accomplished through Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and Search Engine Marketing (SEM). You may have heard these terms before, but unless you’ve done your research, you may not really understand what they mean. In simple terms…

Search engine marketing (SEM) is the process of marketing your online courses and website through internet search engines, such as Google. It’s a method of trying to get your website to come up for the key phrases that people are searching for, relevant to your industry or product.

For example…

…if you are selling courses for people who need to renew their Real Estate License, then you would try to get your website to come up for phrases people might be searching for, such as “online real estate courses” or “renew real estate license online”. SEM does this by improving the rank of your website in organic or natural listings in the search results, paid or sponsored listings, or a combination of these.

DigitalChalk: 7: Marketing Online CoursesSearch Engine Optimization (SEO) is a component of search engine marketing. SEO is the specific act of optimizing your website for organic search engine listings. This is done during the creation of your website pages and the content of your site.

Traditional marketing

If you have an advertising budget, the tried and true “traditional advertising” methods may be a good option for getting the word out about your course offerings. Typically, the avenues that are considered “traditional advertising” include:

    • Print – newspaper, magazines, or other print publications that sell advertising space
    • Television – purchasing ad space for your commercial on television networks or cable
    • Radio – purchasing radio air time for your commercial, or paying for endorsements by radio talk show hosts
    • Outdoor – Billboard advertising is the most traditional method of outdoor advertising. However, there are many other outdoor advertising opportunities that fall into more of a non-traditional category (such as bus benches, subway stations, live sign holders, median signs, ads on vehicles, etc.)

For both search engine marketing and traditional marketing, it is imperative that you have narrowed down just who your target market is, and have determined the best way to reach them. This can be based on where they live, work, and play, as well as what they read, watch, and listen to. Consider these questions when determining your target market. Are they:

      • Men, women, both?
      • A specific age range – Children, teens, young adults, older adults, seniors?
      • A specific ethnicity?
      • A specific geographic area?

Once you’ve determined the basics, get even more specific…

      • Are they married or single?
      • Do they have children?
      • What is their life like? – Business professional? Blue-collar worker? Stay at home mom/dad? Working mom/dad?
      • Are they into health and fitness?
      • What is their income level?
      • How do they get around? – Car? (what kind?) Subway? Bicycle? Bus?
      • Do they vacation? – Where? How often?
      • Where do they shop? What do they like to shop for?
      • Do they have hobbies?
      • Are they educated? To what level?
      • What type of television do they watch?
      • What type of music do they listen to?
      • What do they like to read?

All of these factors will help you determine where you should be marketing your online courses, both on the internet and in traditional advertising.

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