In the fall of 2021, 61% of all undergrads were signed up for at least one distance education course or program. Furthermore, 28% of undergraduate students only took distance education classes.
Online courses are one of the most popular types of distance education. However, while plenty of students are eager to go this route, it isn’t always easy to gain the attention or interest of your target market.
So, how do you sell online courses from your own website successfully?
The key is to implement the right tactics, know your audience, and work with the right marketing professional. Here’s what you need to know and how to get started.
Choose Profitable Course Topics
It can be hard to get enough students interested in topics that are too niche. Classes should cater to the needs of your students. You also want to grab their interest and make them want to enroll.
In short, is this a profitable course for your school and for them? Will it generate a reliable income stream?
To answer this question, you also must understand your audience. Put yourself in your student’s shoes and try to imagine what they’re thinking or seeking in a class.
Another aspect to consider is whether there’s a market demand for the topic. Courses that fall into the business or computer science categories will likely see higher enrollment rates because there’s a strong demand.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the job outlook for computer and information research scientists is expected to grow 23% in the coming years. That’s significantly faster than other occupations.
Students know that picking this major will likely be profitable for them in the long run.
Do Professors Enjoy Teaching the Class?
It’s obvious when a professor is passionate about what they teach. Their enthusiasm is often contagious, and it can make the class more enjoyable.
When students find a class they like, they’re more likely to sign up for other courses taught by that professor. So, you must ask yourself if this is a subject that your teachers enjoy or have a lot of knowledge about.
Picking a topic that you have a lot of expertise on also makes it easier for you to break down the subject and answer questions in an easy-to-understand way. The class will appreciate this.
Deciding Between a Series vs. a Standalone Course
There’s nothing wrong with a standalone class. Plenty of students take these courses to meet their credit needs or to see if they might be interested in a subject.
It’s common for freshmen or new students to take standalone classes. Many are still trying to figure out what they want to do or major in, and one-time classes help them test the waters and gauge their interest in a subject.
However, you can get students to sign up for more courses if you make one class part of a series.
For instance, if a teacher leads a marketing course, they can begin with an introductory class. Each topic afterward will expand upon more advanced topics. If students liked the intro course, they’re more likely to continue learning with your school and enroll in the other classes.
Look for Gaps in the Market
The key to achieving success in any industry is to look for gaps in the market. If there’s a high demand for a particular subject but not many schools offer it, then you can fill that gap.
You’ll want to look for classes that align with the other points we’ve mentioned. Professors should have a passion for the subject and lots of expertise.
Additionally, the course should be able to generate interest. Consider what your students want or need to get the most value possible out of the class.
For example, maybe one of your instructors wants to teach a class about vampires in literature.
Students who want to major in English could take that class to fulfill their credit needs. Considering how vampires have taken over pop culture, there would also likely be a lot of interest. Plus, there is plenty of material that they could use in the class.
Build Your Personal Brand
As a trade school or college, you face a lot of competition. Therefore, you must learn how to stand out from the crowd.
Ask yourself, do you have a strong personal brand? If not, it’s time to make some changes.
Personal branding means taking deliberate steps to influence how others see you. It’s how you want them to see you and your school. Elements of personal branding include your expertise, experience, and values that define your college.
It’s the actions you take, the messages in your marketing campaigns, the way you craft your ads, and much more.
You can’t effectively sell yourself and your services without this part of your identity. This is the foundation you need to help your marketing efforts succeed.
How do you want your market to see you? Brainstorm a list of traits or goals that you want others to connect with your brand.
For example, does your school focus on a particular goal, like helping students find their passions and forge a path to their future careers?
Once you have a list of traits or goals, then you have to find a way to convey how you do this.
Do an Audit
Sometimes, you need to start from the ground up. Find out what people already think of your brand by looking at reviews or on social media. If you’re not happy with what you find, it’s time to create a marketing campaign that proves you are the leader you want to be.
Rebranding or performing a brand refresh is the best way to stay relevant these days.
For example, Dunkin’ Donuts recently dropped the last part of their name to become Dunkin’. The change came with a complete image overhaul.
The brand wanted to reach younger audiences. Dunkin’ added more items to the menu, such as premium coffee drinks, and they also included more non-coffee options to expand their customer base. Other changes they made to influence how others saw the company included adding Beyond Sausage foods to the menu and focusing on improving their drive-through times.
It’s highly likely that Dunkin’ performed a brand audit and wanted to change how others perceived them.
Create a Consistent Marketing Strategy
Did you know that inconsistent branding efforts are one of the biggest mistakes schools can make when marketing higher education?
Elements that you must ensure stay consistent include your logo, values, slogans, brand voice, brand colors, and more. From your website to your social media accounts, your brand should remain the same. Consistency creates trust, and students will see your institution as a leader in the industry.
Start Marketing in Different Ways
Many colleges fail to reach their audience because they aren’t using all the tools available to them. Maybe they’re not optimizing their websites and social profiles or they’re neglecting their blog.
You should use different types of marketing to put your school out there and raise awareness. Examples include:
- Content marketing
- Social media
- Direct mail
If you’re not using at least a few of these methods, then you’re missing opportunities. Search engine optimization (SEO), for example, is crucial if you want search engines to rank your website well. Since selling online courses revolves around generating traffic and getting the right leads, optimization should be a top priority.
SEO boosts student enrollment through techniques such as keyword research and content marketing.
Improve Your Social Media Presence
How active are you on social media? If the answer is “not very,” or you’re not sure, this is something that must change.
Social media is far more than a place to post updates and photos of your life. It’s where many people go to learn more about a brand and connect with them. It’s also the perfect place to raise awareness about your courses, connect with your target market, and reinforce the image of your personal brand.
However, that doesn’t mean you should only post updates or links to the latest blog articles. You should also focus on engaging with your audience. Post videos, ask for responses, create polls, host contests, etc.
Social media is the place where you can showcase the human side of your brand.
Again, consistency is key here. You should post on a regular schedule and deliver interesting and highly sharable content such as useful videos.
Reassess the Price Point
How much you charge for an online class will have a direct impact on whether students enroll. It also affects your profits. That’s why it’s crucial to find the right balance.
If you need to reassess the price point, then don’t be afraid to do it!
If you don’t charge enough for the value you’re providing, then you won’t get the profits you deserve. It should align at least somewhat with the prices of your competitors. Otherwise, students will simply choose another college.
So, how do you determine value and start selling online courses to make a profit? One of the best ways is to start working with a content marketing agency. They can help you avoid common mistakes, price your courses, and increase your reach so you boost enrollment rates.
That brings us to our next point.
Build Your Audience
To build an audience, you’ll need to increase brand awareness and generate high-quality, targeted leads.
One way to increase brand awareness is to improve your online presence. Since you want to sell online courses from your own website, this is vital. You must have a strong online presence.
Start with these steps.
Look At Your Website
Does your website look professional? Does it reflect your brand the way you want it to?
The right website design can make or break your school’s success. You want to consider the user experience and focus on aspects like page speed and usability. Make it accessible if you want to reach as many students as possible.
Accessibility is one factor that Google and other search engines consider when ranking websites. Examples include having images with alt text and allowing for keyboard navigation.
It may benefit you to work with a designer to revamp your current website.
You also want to make navigation as simple and straightforward as possible. Students shouldn’t have any issues finding the admissions page or a list of academic programs.
Add impressive visuals such as videos and high-quality graphics that showcase your school, the students, and the amenities. You want to grab a student’s interest right away and make them want to enroll.
There are different types of web traffic: direct, organic, social, referral, email, paid, and display.
Familiarize yourself with these types and create strategies to bring in traffic from different sources.
You’ll find that some strategies work better than others. You might realize that you get more organic and social traffic. This could mean that you need to adjust your other strategies or focus on the methods that work for you.
Remember that you want to drive high-quality traffic. You should focus on targeted leads, such as students from a specific geographic location.
It’s a good idea to familiarize yourself with local SEO. After all, you want your website to reach the students who are most likely to enroll.
If you find this part challenging, you’ll benefit from hiring an inbound marketing consultant.
Sell Online Courses From Your Own Website
Education marketing can be a challenging topic, but using these tips will help you to sell online courses from your own website. Remember to focus on your personal brand, increase your online presence, and market in different ways to attract high-quality traffic.
Of course, you don’t have to do it all alone. Here at Local Finder, we create custom online marketing campaigns to help you reach your goals. From consulting to digital marketing, we do it all.
If you’re interested in learning more, check out our LF-Pack, which is a fully managed SEO service perfect for marketing higher education.
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