How Do You Find The Energy To Market Your Course Online After Draining Yourself Just Creating It? Quick Ways To Get The Word Around And Get Sign-Ups
Experts say 20% of your time should be devoted to creating your online course and 80% of your time should be devoted to marketing and promoting it. Unfortunately, most of us only have 20% energy left after creating our courses with 80% of our energies.
Also, marketing and promotion aren’t just about launch-time tactics. They have to be ongoing activities, till your course starts gaining steady and reliable traction, attention, traffic, and students.
There are ten strategies that work quite fast for me. I have compiled these very do-able options for you. We are all solopreneurs who have very limited bandwidth for marketing, so we need tactics that are easy to implement and easy to sustain.
At Solohacks Academy, we are constantly on the lookout for marketing ideas that will give us more bang for the buck, and more results for energy spent. So here are our ideas for solopreneur course marketers that you too can try out, to get a faster cache of customers.
1. Create a great landing page for your course, with sale-clinching ingredients
Before you begin to promote your course, don’t you need a page where people must land on your site, from where they can buy the course? All promotion is of zero-value, if the ultimate sales page on your site is a dud. So let’s focus on what a landing page is, and what ingredients it should contain to be able to sell your course effectively and fast.
The landing page on your site for your course is the sales-clincher page. It’s the page where you want people to click the “BUY NOW” button with total confidence. Landing page construction is an art in itself, because it is where the rubber hits the road. It has to do a splendid job of converting last-minute ditherers to make that decision in your course’s favor.
What should go into a landing page – and what should not
Let’s say you have created a puppy-training course for new owners of puppies. Now let’s see how a landing page needs to be constructed to get the final buy-in. Look hard at everything marked out in the example below to know the elements that any good landing page should have.
(Click the image above to see an enlarged version.)
Keep all the elements you need on the landing page to seal the deal, but brevity is important. You don’t want to delay a customer from taking action by giving him or her too much to digest.
Most important: notice how a landing page never has anything else that’s clickable, other than the BUY BUTTON. That’s why landing pages are usually standalone pages that never show you site’s navigation bar, or sidebar, or any other distraction.
2. Plan for a countdown launch to your course to create as much pre-buzz as possible
With course promotion, there is no such thing as starting too early. If you want your marketing to be spot on, you can and should think in terms of promotion well in advance. Build up a calendar of activities to complete from 2 months ahead of course launch, to a month before course launch, to a week before launch, to the actual launch date.
2 months ahead of course launch
Here’s a quick list of the kinds of promotion to kick-start at this stage:
- Check out Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, or other places where you think likely target audiences will congregate. Make friends. Tell them all that you are creating a course. Get them to see your website.
- Join social groups where you can converse with other members. Comment on the pros and cons of courses, subtly letting them all know they can soon expect a course from you.
- Make a campaign out of a set of images that go well with the modules of your “course-in-progress”. Put some key sentences from your course on them, and make them little adverts you can post on social media. Brand these with your course title and a “Coming Soon!” banner.
- Co-opt potential students by posting social updates or blog posts where you share your experiences in creating the course. Tell people stories of how your course creation helped you come across so many new people, insights, data, ideas …
- Offer a “lead magnet” on your website of the introductory module of your impending course, with a “subscribe to download” form. Collect as many email addresses as possible to build your own community of students-on-the-ready.
- Send out buzz-filled emails to your mailing list, and to related niche marketers in social groups, announcing your launch date for your course. Start a countdown clock.
1 month ahead of course launch
Here’s a quick list of the kinds of promotion to create momentum at this stage:
- Upload your completed course to your website or other places from where you will sell. At this stage, don’t yet start selling. There’s some groundwork to do.
- Make sure you’ve listed your course under the right category of products, and think hard about all the keywords you may want people to search by to get to your course. Make sure the write up about your course includes those keywords.
- Find influential course reviewers, send them your course, and ask for a review on your website.
- Find influential course bloggers, send them your course, and ask for a review on their blogs.
- Create a sizzling course trailer video and post it on YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, and other hot online hangouts. Use the right hashtags to evoke interest. Your hashtags shouldn’t be just about your course title or your name as the author. You need hashtags on the topics your course covers.
1 week ahead of course launch
This is your ready-reckoner checklist as launch date nears …
- Send out emails in sequence. Build up the excitement. (Read more about this in a later part of this article.)
- Get a select group of people you can trust to write well and create your “course launch team”. Get them to tweet, post or give your upcoming course a shoutout from every platform they’re on.
- If you can pay for good PR, it’s really worthwhile getting some good PR agencies to do writeups on PRWeb.com for your course.
- If a PR budget is an issue, set up your own PR team by selecting good advertising copywriters from Fiverr.com and get them to write an outreach campaign to all kinds of other bloggers and magazine editors.
On your Big Day Of Course Launch and thereafter …
Here’s where the rubber hits the road:
- Make yourself available for questions, contact, online events, interviews and podcasts. Don’t wait to be invited. Moot the idea yourself to those who run great podcasts or video interviews, or do your own interviews with other marketers where you can both discuss your courses.
- Write open letters online (on your blog and on social media), to all those who helped create your course with you, to give them some publicity and to air your course.
- Appoint affiliates to help sell your course for a commission. Find affiliates who know the game of selling courses, and make sure they earn handsomely too.
3. Promote your course on different kinds of formats including the social media
The good thing about marketing is that no one really knows how it works, or what exactly works. Marketing is defined as “telling people over and over again about your product in as many ways and in as many places as possible, so it catches the eye of someone wanting just that thing.”
Here are a host of supplementary formats and places you can promote your course in …
- Make a short YouTube announcer video
- Make a set of “Retweet This” quotations from your course with your course title and author name at the end of the Tweet
- Make a bunch of social media course-trailer short videos for Instagram
- Reach out to influencers in related niches who may like to promote your course
- Repurpose key passages from your course as a slidedeck to put on Slideshare
- Form a free Facebook Group to discuss topics around your course’s core knowledge
Aside from doing things like these that everyone does, you’ll be smarter to find some innovative ways of your own. For example, a knowledge-commerce entrepreneur I know published a course on “new job skills to have” – and then promoted it heavily via HR people he found on LinkedIn. He offered them affiliate earnings at especially high commissions, after selling them the idea of promoting his “upskilling” course to their potential customers.
You have to constantly think to yourself, “How else can I put the word out – in bulk?” Ideas come to the ones who are always in a seek-mode.
4. Design an email drip sequence for subscribers that builds excitement and eagerness
For those who already have a substantial email subscriber list, built up with content marketing, here’s how you should ideally automate a sequence of drip emails that you can send. In fact, email drip sequences can be sent not just at course launch, but also year-round to all new subscribers on your mailing list. Set up these emails and automate the sequence to go out to every new mailing list subscriber.
If you don’t have a substantial mailing list at the time of launching your course, see if you can join hands with an influencer in your niche, who can give you access to his mailing list for a fee.
A simple email drip sequence of seven emails that you can set up
Here is how to set up a simple drip email sequence for promoting your course:
- Email 1: Course Announcer Email: Use this email to announce your course to subscribers, explain briefly the contents of the course, and most importantly, mention the date by which you’ll begin enrolling students. Ideally, it should be the date when Email 3 goes out. Ask people to stay alert to your next emails for more details.
- Email 2: Course Content Email: Remember that in this email you have to explain the contents of your course to people in a way that each piece of detail sounds like a benefit to them. For example, don’t just say “You’ll learn smart time management.” Instead, say “You’ll learn to save time to make more money with that extra time.”
- Email 3: Course Enrollment Email: This email should have just one important point in it: that your course is now open for enrollment. Include a link to the course landing page on your site. Put in some urgency factors like: “We’re got only 50 seats in this opening batch, so hurry.”
- Email 4: Course FAQs Email: This could be the most important email you send out, so think through it carefully. Put down at least 15-20 most critical questions that potential students may like to know about your course and its value to them – and answer these queries convincingly.
- Email 5: Special Incentive Email: If you have an introductory set of incentives or price discounts to be availed within a limited time-frame (like an Early Bird offer), be sure to mention it. This the email where you try to push those fence-sitters to sign up, by throwing out irresistible attractions.
- Email 6: Social Proof Email: If you have had a beta testing group of students who’ve already tested the course and have nothing but praise for it, do include their testimonials. Or get some A-listers in your niche to say a few good words about your expertise and how your course can be guaranteed to offer top-grade content.
- Email 7: Closing Arguments Email: This is the last email in your sequence, so make sure to add the FOMO element (Fear Of Missing Out). Tell people that after this batch of students your next enrollment could be two months away, so if people want to get in they should hurry. Also, add an extra unexpected “hot-off-the-press” bonus: for example, you could say a topnotch influencer has just agreed to be a “guest lecturer” for the introduction module of your course. Make your offer that much more difficult to turn down.
How much gap should you ideally give between emails in the drip sequence? I would think about one day’s gap for the first three emails … and then two day’s gap between Emails 4-7.
5. Start an evergreen webinar you can run weekly or on-demand to promote your course
Among all marketing and promotion formats, webinars are immensely powerful. A Content Marketing Institute study found this: webinars are in the top five effective marketing tactics.
The problem with webinars may be that you are an already overburdened solopreneur in Knowledge Commerce. Your content creation workload is always enormous. You may thus have no bandwidth to be conducting live events like webinars to push your course selling a notch higher. Right?
Well, there’s a smart solution you can use – by creating “evergreen webinars”. What’s that? Evergreen webinars are webinars where you don’t need to run regular live events, but you can achieve the same results as if you did. They are pre-recorded and run. These days evergreen webinars do a fabulous job of offering the experience of live webinars, complete with interactivity simulation.
How do webinars, per se, work so powerfully?
The term “webinar” comes from the words “web seminar”. Webinar marketing, in and of itself is a powerful selling tool for marketers of all kinds of products online. Webinars have the feel of a 45-60 minutes classroom – a video tutorial – where the marketer lays out a structured or semi-structured presentation of his topic and his product. He also invites questions that he can answer from participants.
By the end of the webinar there is also a good discount offer on the product the marketer is selling – to sweeten the deal for those who’ve invested time attending and listening to the webinar. Why webinars sell products so well is because people like the experience of an event that helps them over the edge from hesitation to confident buying.
What are “evergreen webinars”?
Evergreen webinars are webinars that you can record once, and replay again and again. They look and feel like live webinars. You have a speaker teaching something – or a marketer selling something. But you also have a simulated side-panel to the main teaching screen. It acts as if live discussions are taking place among attendees. The speaker can even answer some of these questions from these “attendees”. People would then feel even more like they are attending a live webinar.
With evergreen webinars you can either schedule them (say, for four fixed times every day) or make them “on-demand” for those who want to attend at any time of their convenience.
Remember, you can use evergreen webinars as a promotional tactic before the launch of your course – or as an ongoing promotional tactic round the year. The format is powerful, so use it to the best advantage.
6. Offer a little extra to the first hundred buyers – add on a free workbook, or a case study
One of the things new course authors hate to hear is the sound of crickets when they first launch their courses. It is demoralizing to have no courses sold, or worse to have just one or two paltry students. To galvanize potential buyers to buy in larger numbers, when a course is first launched, there are some ways to make your offer attractive to, say, the first hundred buyers.
Give away something really valuable and yet not very expensive with the course – limited only to early-bird buyers.
- You can give away a worksheet or workbook that is helpful to action the steps discussed in the course.
- People love case studies, so if you have a few that take the advice in the course into actual practice, it would be worth giving an add-on booklet of related case studies.
- If you have a reciprocal joint venture with another course-marketer, you can offer a discount coupon for his course that is a great companion to your own course. Make sure he does the same for you too.
One very enterprising author I know even went as far as offering a discount coupon on an Apple iPad (after working out a great affiliate deal with an iPad retailer) because the author felt people learned from courses most on tablets.
Think different, and think of what would be real value to the course-student. The price of the giveaway can be anything – from nothing to a few big dollars. But the value in the deal has to make more courses fly off the shelves for you to get your initial traction.
Once you move a lot of courses off at start, you’ll get more reviews, more word-of-mouth, more visibility, more everything. So make initial jumpstarting one of your key goals, even if you will lose a bit of money just to push those first hundred students into signing up for the course.
7. It’s worth paying for a few ads to promote your course if the price warrants it
If your course price is high, you may want to consider spending on some ads to promote it, if you think you can recover your ad spend with just the first few customers. Running some paid ads can be one of the best ways to advertise, Even a simple $25 Facebook post boost can go a long way.
Why do ads work well, and when do they work well?
There are a few benefits to using paid ads over any other form of organic content marketing:
- Ads work faster at getting results that organic content marketing does. You also get batch results from ads instead of trickles of students.
- Ads are far easier to track in terms of success. You can easily A/B test them and tweak them as needed to get better results. The more you learn about using ads well, the more you earn.
- Ads can also be laser-targeted to your exact buyers who are in the buy-ready stage of their purchase journeys. Catching people who are ready is far smarter than hoping to slowly educate people into wanting to buy.
Why retargeting is a more powerful way to advertise
What is retargeting? Well, have you noticed that after you visit and browse some products on some websites, thereafter on the Net wherever else you go, if there’s space for ads, the ad of the product you browsed seems to follow you? That’s retargeting at work.
Retargeting lets you show specific ads to people who’ve already visited your website, but were unready to convert. They could have been interested – but not enough to cross the threshold into buying.
If they haven’t left you their contact email address either, how then do you ensure you can be in touch with them? You can add a tracking pixel to your website. This tracking pixel will track these potential buyers and beam your ads at them (on all sites they visit thereafter that feature banner ads).
A big benefit of retargeting is that you know some people are half-interested already, so you’re targeting an audience who is warmed to your course. A little repeated exposure in various places they visit that day can tilt them over the edge into buying, couldn’t it?
The problem with retargeting is that most marketers don’t know how powerful it can be. Ignorance of its efficacy shouldn’t hold you back. Here are some key stats about retargeting from 2018. Things have only gotten better and bigger since then, Chew on this.
Image courtesy: ReadyCloud
8. Use influencer marketing as a force multiplier – to 10x, 20x or 30x your marketing
When you want to make the best use of social media, it is far smarter to strike at the few people who hold large fan bases of your target audiences, than to go after the target audiences individually. We’re talking here of getting to target audiences in bulk through influencers.
Influencer marketing campaigns are a good idea at any time. But, they are particularly powerful if they are used at specific times (for example, before enrollment of every new batch of students for your course). These are the times when your regular marketing campaign could use an additional stream of “stakeholder” voices adding to the brand’s persuasive communication.
Influencer marketing is a brilliant way to increase audience trust, generate revenue, and instigate meaningful, positive, and sales-driven conversations for your course. But beware: picking the wrong influencers will only lead to a waste of your time, effort, and money.
First clarify your mind on the exact target audiences you want. Then, see if your target audiences resonate with any particular influencers, and choose your influencers wisely. Choose influencers not by how powerful they are, but by what they can do for your course-promotion goals.
9. Create a spate of guest posts around the time of your course launch for brand visibility
Even if you are not normally a blogger who likes to guest-blog, try to do it just for promoting your course. But don’t just pitch random articles to random sites to get your course’s name in the author bio. Do guest-posting with a clear strategy.
Choose blogs where people are writing on the exact or similar subjects that your course is about. Then convert (or repurpose) the modules of your course into articles that you can offer to different sites as guest posts.
At the end of your articles, add your author bio, with a subtle last line that says something like: “My new course is now open: ‘Marketing to The Millennial Mind'”. Remember to link that course title to the landing page of your course on your website.
10. A free “mini-email-course” offered as a teaser can work wonders to help build trust
You may have noticed how some SaaS companies offer free trial periods of their products, allowing people to cancel the trial if they have seen the product but don’t really think it fits them. This works well for software and tools … but, unfortunately, you can’t give “trial periods” for courses. If some students are fast learners, they could purchase the course on trial, learn most of the material, and cancel before their trial expires.
In the world of online courses, the same “trial offer” can be made in a slightly different way. Create a free “mini-email-course” as a lead magnet for your main course. Let this “mini-email-course” be a trailer of sorts on the same topic as your main course.
Take just some of the ideas, tips and lessons you have made for your bigger course and offer it for something like a drip sequence of emails. Maybe, you can put some of your very best content into a free 3-part, 5-part or 10-part email course.
Get your target prospects to sign up for the free “mini-email-course” on an optin page, and automate the course lessons to go out one by one to a set schedule, using a good autoresponder. This way, your students will get to actually experience your style of course delivery and see a bit of the value you’re offering. They will also get a better grip on the depth of the topic you’re teaching.
Since most serious courses are pricey these days, most people like to play safe when it comes to buying online courses. This means that they want to ensure first that you have something of value to give out. The “mini-email-course” idea allows potential students to convince themselves to purchase more from you as a follow-up.
Most marketers, when first faced with this idea of a free “mini-email-course” giveaway, often wonder, “How does giving away a course for free help me market my paid online course? Won’t people just grab my free mini-course and run?”
But it would surprise you. These “mini-email-courses” help build that initial trust in you as an expert and a good teacher. Once trust is built, it’s far easier to sell something that costs more.
So What Are Your Thoughts? Do Share!
This post is incomplete without your input. The community of Knowledge Commerce solopreneurs would feel galvanized to hear from you … so do share your thoughts on this topic with us, in the comments field below this post.
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- How To Teach Online Courses With Great Skill … 10 Ways
- How To Build A Sales Funnel For Online Courses … 10 Steps
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- How To Make Your Online Course Better … Solohacks RoundUp
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