Marketing strategies for online training providers
Do you want to sell more courses and drive more revenue? In this article, Ross Beard shares some marketing strategies to help online training providers attract more customers and sell more courses.
Today’s training industry is ultra-competitive. The Learn 2020 project found competition to be one of the three biggest challenges online training providers will face over the next five years. With more and more solutions entering the field, it’s more important than ever to differentiate through marketing.
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Here are three simple marketing strategies you can use to differentiate your offerings and sell more training courses.
1. Understand your ideal customer
Before racing into actionable strategies, take a step back. Think about your ideal customers. Who are they? What companies do they work for? Where do they hang out online? Once you know who your ideal consumer is, clearly define why customers buy from you over competitors. In other words, identify your value proposition.
Communicate this value proposition in all your marketing communications. This is what differentiates your training product from others. It’s no longer good enough to compete solely on price—you need to focus on why customers buy from you.
Not sure where customers buy from you? Ask them!
2. Invest in your top marketing asset
When it comes to marketing, your website is your biggest asset. It’s often the first thing potential customers see when they come across your training organization. With that in mind, there are a number of things you must do to ensure your website markets courses effectively.
Communicate what you do and why you’re better
This ties in with the above section (your value proposition). Use your website to communicate what training courses you provide—and most importantly, why they’re better than others.
Build trust and credibility through your about us and contact pages
Customers need to trust you before buying from you. Use your about us page to tell a story about your organization. Where did you start, and how did you get where you are today? Use your contact page to share contact information: address, phone number, email address, and a contact form.
Sell courses online and manage customers with an account portal
Use your website to sell courses online. Facilitate transactions with a secure payment gateway, and manage customer details via an account portal. Choose a learning management systems that offers ecommerce and portal functionality so you can quickly sell courses online. If you don’t have an LMS that can handle ecommerce, consider Docebo, LearnUpon, DigitalChalk, or Cornerstone.
Use a blog to give customers a taste of what they can expect in the course
Content marketing is an effective way to build trust with customers before they’re ready to buy. Try publishing a blog article once every two weeks that focuses on a challenge your ideal shoppers might face and how taking your training course can help them overcome it.
For example, say you operate a leadership training business. A blog post might focus on why generation Y struggles with taking up leadership positions. You could explore this topic and highlight sections inside your leadership training course that teach members of generation Y to become better leaders.
Optimize for search engines
Google and other search engines are the gateway to your website. Optimize your pages to ensure they know who you are and what you do. Search engine optimization (SEO) can get complicated, but there are three core principles you can personally tackle: Technical SEO, linking, and content.
Technical SEO: This encompasses the SEO basics: make sure your pages have meta titles and descriptions that accurately represent the page’s content. Read more about on-page SEO.
Linking: Ensure you’re always looking to build relationships with other related companies. At every sensible opportunity, ask these enterprises to link back to your site. This is where incredible content can really help; if you publish a stellar article on leadership training, other organizations will use it as a resource and link to it from their websites. Read more about link building.
Content: Google looks at your website as a whole to see what you write about. Keep a consistent theme that is relevant to the training courses you sell. For example, if you offer leadership training, product pages must talk about leadership training. Also, make sure you’re blogging about leadership training. By focusing on a theme (or niche), you can tell Google that you specialize in this area. In turn, search engines will trust your site and reward you with higher rankings.
3. Try paid advertising on Google
Google’s AdWords platform lets you find customers looking for your online training courses. This is an excellent advertising solution. Since you only bid on keywords that you believe customers search for, you can control costs and keep them within budget.
Paid search advertising with Google is easy to launch. In fact, it can be set up in three simple steps: create a product page, choose keywords, and create ads.
Create a product page
Sending traffic to a low-quality homepage is the biggest mistake beginners make with AdWords. If your homepage isn’t specifically crafted to communicate a value proposition to your ideal customer, create a new product page. On this page, highlight the reasons why shoppers choose your training over competitors. Add a call to action encouraging visitors to sign up or try a course for free.
Select 5-10 keywords that accurately represent the training you sell. For example, if you offer leadership training, here are six keywords that will work well for your organization:
- Leadership training
- Leadership online training
- Leadership courses
- Leadership training provider
- Leadership training program
- Leadership skills training
Always start with a small selection of keywords, and expand as you become more confident with the marketing channel.
Now you need to craft ad copy. This can be tricky if copywriting doesn’t come naturally, but anyone can be a copywriter by following these basic principles:
- Ensure your ad copy links directly to the product page.
- Use value propositions in the copy; tell customers why you’re better or different.
- Include keywords in the ad copy. This helps with click through and overall performance.
For example, here’s a good ad for leadership training:
This works well because it focuses on the value proposition (a course designed for new managers), includes keywords (leadership training), and provides links to more information (a course outline and instant quote).
I hope the ideas in this article inspire you to use marketing to differentiate your online training. The industry is changing. You’ll face new hurdles over the next five years, including competition. If you ignore this marketing advice, you risk losing customers. By clearly communicating a value proposition, your training organization will continue to sell more courses well into the future.
Next step: Download our Online Training Provider Playbook to learn how to generate more revenue from your online training products.