How do I market my online course?
I know just how daunting this question can feel. As if you're going to have to plan complicated strategies, spend money on ads or (at minimum) unravel the enigma that is "marketing."
You're in luck, because I'm going to do it for you.
The absolute easiest way AND one of the most effective ways to market your online course is leveraging existing online communities. Aka. find a big group of people interested in your topic online and get them to sign up for your course.
In this post I'm going to show you 13 different and robust communities and give you step-by-step tutorials for making their members YOUR students. This is guerrilla marketing at its finest.
How it works
If you're creating a course, or any online product for that matter, you may have started the process by "validating your idea." One of the ways we suggest doing that here at Teachable is to go online, Google your topic and see if people are talking about it.
In doing this, you're going to start to find groups of people discussing your topic in various, you guessed it, communities.
This can look like Facebook groups, subreddits, online forums or discussion boards. And if you're smart, you used the comments from within these communities to pinpoint exactly what you wanted to teach about.
If you did this, you're going to come back to this list and get people to sign up for your email list so eventually you can sell to them. You'll do this by giving away a tasty piece of free content that includes a form inside of it that captures email addresses aka a lead magnet.
Here's an example:
A toolkit or resource guide
I originally gave away this "lead magnet" in this blog post on video production by creating a button that many of you clicked, entered your email address, and then received the form.
As the post became popular and more people read it, more people submitted an email address.
BUT I could also take this resource, find online communities interested in video production and link to my blog post funneling people from that community, to my post, and those that click onto my email list.
"The Funnel" looks like this:
The best part is that a good lead magnet is a win-win for both parties. You win because you get an email address BUT if your lead magnet is high quality and valuable you're providing a bunch of valuable content FOR FREE.
And let's not forget then that the people who end up on your email list are those who would actually be interested in your course. That's HUGE. It's also what makes this whole process ethical.
So, in this post, I'm going to assume you have an awesome lead magnet (and if you don't you can get help here). And we're going to show you 13 communities you can mention it in (and how to do that) to get members to click on your content and give you their email address.
Before you read on, download our editable tracking guide that will help you organize and manage your engagement with online communities. Maximize your efforts. Batch your work.
1. Facebook Groups
At this moment, there are probably at least 3 and more like 6 healthy online Facebook groups discussing some aspect of your course topic.
Here's how you leverage them:
Start googling, searching in Facebook and finding posts like this one on "9 Facebook Groups of Entrepreneurs and Bloggers" on your topic.
Then, go into the group, read the community guidelines and start engaging. Remember, you've got to GIVE to these communities before you do anything self-promotional and if you're linking to a lead magnet it may have to be in a specific weekly thread.
Here's what I mean. Freelance to Freedom is a budding community for online entrepreneurs that I know well from Teachable. I know that our Teachable content could help a lot of people make money freelancing, but I can't just go into the group and slap a link to our homepage in the group and expect that to be cool.
Instead - I read the guidelines.
And discovered that there is a Tweet Tuesday, Blog Post Thursday and Promo Friday where I'm allowed to post promotional feeling content. PERFECT!
2 . Reddit
Here's how to use it:
Quora is, in my opinion, the preeminent forum for Q&A. Whatever you're wondering, you can probably find your question and slew of answers.
With thousands of views on popular threads, its a place you want to be.
Here's how you use it:
For an example of what to write and how, check out this example:
Be very careful to not get too spammy, post too frequently or have too many of the same friends upvote each post. You'll get caught by their moderators and have your account frozen (full confession: this happened to me on my first day at Teachable - bye bye 3 year long Quora account).
For more details and especially if you have a blog, check out this post: How to Turn Quora into a Traffic Driving Machine for Your Blog.
SlideShare is used by over 70 million people AND it's relatively untapped. While it boasts millions of viewers, there aren't as many content creators as bloggers or Twitter stars, which means it's a lot easier for you to make a splash and attract a massive amount of new students.
Here at Teachable, we LOVE SlideShare. Here's our account. Of our 7 presentations, 4 have been featured on the homepage.
And check out this presentation that has 70,000 views!
Originally made for SlideShare, it gets thousands of views per week. We funnel people from this deck onto our email list and into our blog by including this interactive button on a beginning slide.
That takes people to this landing page and captures an email address.
For more tips on using SlideShare to gain more students, check out this post: Attract an Avalanche of New Students Using SlideShare or this one on Teachable designer Allison's Favorite SlideShare Marketing Strategies.
Without putting much effort into YouTube, you can earn hundreds of additional views on your content.
Think about it - you probably are creating or created videos for your online course. Repurpose them and put them on a public YouTube channel and start collecting views. Include a link to your sales page, another online property or even your lead magnet in the video description and you're going to start seeing easy progress.
6. LinkedIn Pulse
You probably use LinkedIn in your professional life, so why not leverage those 414 million users for something other than job hunting.
LinkedIn Pulse allows you to post content from your profile and put it in front of your network.
Not to mention, it's fast and easy to do and reportedly sees high engagement.
Catered toward content marketers, online marketing and growth, Inbound is a high reward online community started by the founder of Hubspot and Moz.
If you're writing blog posts on marketing, entrepreneurship, content, etc. - you should repost them here and get to know the community. It's easy to find and add Twitter followers and Inbound makes it easy to pinpoint influencers.
Here's how to use it:
I also love their "members" feature which helps me find influencers in specific niches that I can reach out to depending on what I'm focused on.
According to Buffer: “More adults use Pinterest than they do Twitter." Do you have a Twitter marketing strategy? I imagine you do. Could you be reaching more people on Pinterest? As of this year, yes.”
This is a powerful statistic, only trumped by one more tiny little fact: “Customers spend more money when they convert from a Pinterest referral than any other social referral. Average order value for a Pinterest conversion is $80.54. Facebook, in second-place, is $71.26. (Monetate)”
AND more men are getting into Pinterest each year.
Which means, it's a great place to post lead magnets and generate traffic to your online course.
Here's how to use it:
Pinterest is a search engine, so be sure to look into what people are searching for and name boards and pins accordingly.
Also - while it's our Teachable policy to show you how to market your course for free, if you do decide to experiment with ads, we've had a lot of success running promoted posts on Pinterest.
You can check out our Pinterest page here:
Fan of this post? Pin it!
If you've ever moved to a new place and tried to make friends, you may have used MeetUp - an app devoted to helping people with similar interests find each other.
Well, it can also be a good place to network and meet people who can help, be a part of or be a student of your online course.
Here's how to use it:
So you might be wondering why the heck I put a platform as big as Twitter so far down in this post.
Well, as a course creator, I urge you to make social media "an afterthought." The ROI on social media in incredibly small. In fact, if you have 1,000 Twitter followers it's likely that only 3 will click on a link you post in a single tweet. THREE! That's nothing.
Compare this with an email list. Using stats from Campaign Monitor, we found that email generates 3x as many clicks. Over 30% of people are likely to open your email and of that a percentage will buy and click.
Your time is a limited resource - don't waste it on a social media black hole reading every update on Twitter for hours a day (as tempting as it is).
I suggest using Twitter for just TWO THINGS.
1. Influencer Outreach - Use it to get the attention of influncers with a goal of getting in touch and setting up an interview or alerting them that you mentioned them in a course or lead magnet and see if they'll give you a retweet:
Set up an interview:
Help with promotion on your own content after you've mentioned them:
2. Building a small presence as quickly as possible
Even though social media doesn't have a high ROI - I understand wanting to build your presence. This will come more from an awesome course than funny tweets. However, if you're writing blog posts it's smart to tweet out new content and get marginal views from it.
My formula uses the title, subtitle, images and H2s to quickly craft 10 tweets that you can schedule.
Here's how I do it:
One way to make the most of your time on Twitter is to join Twitter chats. Check out this post by Kayla Hollatz to find out what that means and if it would work for your business.
11. Discount Websites
For a few additional course sales where you promote your course sales page and not your lead magnet, try finding and using discount websites.
Think Groupon, LivingSocial, Bits Du Jour.
Here's how you use them:
Here's a few to check out:
- SlickDeals (you need an account in good standing, but if you can generate this, the forum has great traffic)
While we've been talking about pretty major social media and online communities, there are also forums catered to specific interests.
Start by googling your course topic + forums and see what you can find.
Here's how you do it:
What's awesome about these communities is that you know in advance that they are targeted and what they're interested in. If you do it right, you'll also know what these audiences' specific pain points are by reading what they say in threads.
13. The NEWEST Social Media Platform
Ok, so what's up with that ^ title?
Social media is having its time in the sun. We're obsessed, engaged and want more. At the same time, popular platforms mean crowded spaces and an increased likelihood that your voice will be down out in the crowd.
The best way to stand out - be the first one to dominate the newest popular social media platform. Yes, I know it's easier said then done.
While I've given you 13 communities where you can market your course, there are dozens, no, hundreds, more. Think about what platforms work best with your course content and provide the highest ROI and make your course shine.
Here are a few other communities you could look at:
- Google+ (and how to actually use it)
- Instagram (and how to grow your account)
- Digg (and how to get on its front page)
- StumbleUpon (and advice for using it)
- Triberr (tips for winning)
Have you used any of these? Done something different? Another group I'm forgetting in the "Other" section? Let me know in the comment section!