Marketing your eLearning courses

 

If you want to sell eLearning courses then you require a learning management system with eCommerce features. To be successful selling online courses you will need more than a good LMS; you will also need to be skilled at marketing your online courses.

Measuring Marketing

In online marketing, it’s almost more important to measure things than it is to actually do things – knowing what works and what doesn’t is vital. A key metric is conversion rate, the percentage of visitors to your website who buy. You’ll be able to work out your conversion rate from Google Analytics or similar tools. See our blog post about [using Google Analytics with LearnUpon] for further details.

Apart from conversion rate, there are other useful measurements. Click-through ratio (CTR) is a measurement of how effective a particular marketing effort is, that is, the percentage of people seeing it who click through to the website. For banner advertising, this is almost always quite low, measured in fractions of a percentage point, and for targeted search engine advertising, it can be as high as 20%. Cost per click (CPC) is the next important metric – it defines how much you pay for a click through to the website in a particular medium. A high cost per click isn’t necessarily a bad thing, as long as the traffic from that source converts well, but ideally, you want the CPC to be as low as possible. You’ll also see CPM (cost per thousand, using the Roman numeral M for ‘thousand’), which is sometimes used for banner advertising – it’s the cost to show the ad to a thousand people, regardless of whether they click through or not. This metric can be important for branding purposes.

Search Engine Marketing

It’s important to select an LMS that has SEO (search engine optimisation) features, but there’s also the possibility of using Google Adwords (and also advertising in Bing and other search engines) to drive more traffic. This comes with the downside that you need to pay for it, but it does give you a lot more control of your marketing efforts than organic optimisation. Getting started with Adwords can be complicated, but if your courses are in any way niche or specialised, there’s a lot of benefit to be had.

Start small – choose very precise key phrases, and make sure that your ad text appeals directly to your potential learner. You won’t get a lot of traffic to begin with, but it should have a high CTR, and a relatively low CPC. This should give you an idea of how well customers convert via paid ads, which in turn lets you calculate how much you can spend on paid advertising and still achieve a good return on investment. Often, the conversion rate for niche ads is higher than for organic traffic, but be wary of this as you expand the topics you’re advertising on, because the more generic terms will have a lot more competition, and a lot less dedicated interest. For example, someone searching for ‘online lesson barre chords electric guitar’ is much more likely to convert when your ad says ‘All About Barre Chords’ than someone searching for ‘guitar lessons’ when your ad says ‘Best Guitar Lessons’.

Other Paid Marketing

There are other forms of paid marketing available – advertising networks, banner ads, paid placements, listings sites, sponsorship, and so forth. All of these can be worthwhile, and indeed, sometimes they can be much better and more profitable than search engine advertising, because the network or listing site has already done some of the work of filtering out people who won’t buy. In addition, they usually require less ongoing management than search engine advertising.

Generally, other forms of paid advertising don’t give you quite the same ability to analyse the traffic that the search engines do. You should generally be able to see a CTR and CPC, though, and you can assess from those whether or not there’s value in the particular channel. Start small, but allow a channel time to bed in – some, like banner ad networks, take time to build up, and can’t be simply turned on with immediate effect.

Banner ad networks also allow you to use ‘remarketing’ – targeting people who have visited particular pages on your website before. This can be very effective, in that you can use language like ‘Still thinking about learning Spanish?’, and offer discounts or other incentives. You can also target people who have bought courses from you in the past, offering advanced courses or refreshers.

Social Media Marketing

Paid marketing of various kinds can be useful, but there’s nothing with quite the same return on investment as social media marketing, because all it costs you is time – and if you approach it intelligently, it doesn’t even take much of that. Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and other social media channels allow you to reach interested people without spending money. The trick here is not to use them as pure sales channels, but to engage in conversations, contribute to discussions, and show your company’s personality.

Chances are that you already have a Facebook page or a Twitter account for your company. You can expand the reach of that presence, first, by telling people about it in email, in other social media, and within the content of your courses. As people finish courses within your LMS, you can give them links to your social media presence, and indeed, encourage them to share their completions and results on their own social media channels. Your LMS should provide the ability for people to share directly, which makes it easy for learners to show off their accomplishments and give you some free advertising as they do so.
Now, it’s time to go spread the word about the quality of your eLearning courses. So why not get the most out of your eLearning marketing strategy by testing these marketing channels.

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