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Lead Generation for Online Courses in 5 Simple Steps

March 5, 2021

online ed

The pace of online learning has accelerated faster than anyone could imagine in the past business year. 

E-learning became essential, and course providers launched over 2800 courses, 19 online degrees, and 360 micro-credentials. This not only includes comprehensive universities, but also massively open online course (MOOC) platforms

It’s no doubt that online learning is growing, but so is the competition for online course providers. How do you consistently generate valuable leads for your online course business? Let's take a look. 

Why do you need to generate leads for your online course?

Simply creating a valuable course is not enough to attract students to sign up for it. To sell your online course to a wide student base and earn a sizable income doing so, you'll need to invest time in lead generation for your online courses, too. 

Here's why: 

  • Attract relevant audiences. Imagine promoting a pilates class to someone who hates exercise or a course on thermodynamics to a marketing professional. It's likely you won't make a sale in either case. A sound lead generation strategy helps you promote your course to the right audience, so you're not wasting time and budget on irrelevant audience segments. 
  • Build a relationship with prospects. We buy from those we trust and recognize. Lead generation funnels help you establish yourself as a trustworthy source, so when it's time to buy, your course is top of mind. 
  • Communicate the value of your course. Your blog posts, social media, email marketing, and other promotional channels help convey the value of your online courses and motivate students to sign up. They show learners how your course can improve their skills, help in career advancement, and achieve overall growth. 

3 lead generation stages to motivate people to buy a course

When you have a lead generation funnel in place, your online course will have an ongoing stream of sales.  

Awareness stage 

Students at this stage are generally looking to learn more about your topic, but they may not be aware of your course yet. You want to grab their attention with blog posts, social media, and PPC advertising to attract them to your website. 

Consideration and information stage 

Students at this stage are actively looking for online courses in their niche. At this point, you want to convince prospective students about the value of your course through webinars, ebooks, and guides, and position yourself as the ultimate authority. 

Conversion stage 

Students at this point need as much encouragement as possible about why your course is the best choice for them. You'll want to direct them to content such as a course landing page, testimonials, and case studies to help them understand the real value of your course.  

lead gen stagesSource

The lead generation funnel attracts, informs, and converts customers.

5 steps for online course lead generation 

Here are five simple steps to market your course and connect with people who want to learn what you teach.

1. Publish blog posts to get organic search traffic

Publishing blog posts related to the courses you provide is an effective way of generating leads. This is also known as a component of content marketing. On average, companies with blogs generate 67% more leads per month than those without a blog. It’s obvious that blogging is a good way to promote your online course. 

Sites like Udemy utilize content marketing blogs to inform their audience on relevant topics tied to their business model. Let’s go through a few tips on how to find out what content you should be producing for your blog. 

Find out what prospective students want

This should be the first step while using blogs as a lead generation strategy. Use keyword research tools, Google, and 'People also search for' boxes to find out what terms people are using when searching for your online course. Then, include them strategically in your blog content. You can also use online communities and forums to get a sense of important keywords in your niche. 

Create long-form content

Long-form content provides valuable and in-depth information to readers and helps drive traffic on your blog. Articles with a word count between 2250 and 2500 words earn the most organic traffic. If you don't have the time to write long-form posts, you can also outsource content writing to freelancers. 

Make your blog posts rich with visuals 

Visuals are processed faster and help grab viewers' attention, as opposed to blocks of text. Add visuals such as images, data-driven graphics, diagrams, and screenshots to your blog posts to enhance understanding. Articles with images get 94% more views than those without. Apart from images, videos work well too. 

Focus on SEO and link building  

Search engine optimization or SEO helps search engines like Google identify if your blog is a good fit for readers' queries. Effective link building, on the other hand, is a mark of approval from other websites and signals quality. The average page in the top position of Google search results has over 35,000 external backlinks. This shows how important backlinks are for SEO. 

Here are some points to remember when creating SEO content that ranks: 

  • Write unique, valuable content that satisfies search intent. People searching for your keywords related to your content should be satisfied with your blog when they click on it. SEO is not only about optimizing for search engines, but also about winning the trust of your readers and converting them into buyers.
  • Optimize on-page elements. This includes the page title, sub-headings, and title tags. Thirty-six percent of SEO experts think the title tag is the most important SEO element. Include the main keyword or keywords at the beginning of your title tag.
  • Use shorter titles with not more than 60 characters (including spaces). This ensures your complete title shows up on Google. Google typically displays the first 50 to 60 characters of a title tag.
  • Use your keyword in the meta description. These descriptions help Google and other search engines know what you're writing about. 
  • Use images in your blog posts. Content with images gets more shares and more views than those without. Use screenshots and images throughout your post to make it more powerful. 
  • Place internal links throughout your page. This helps in guiding viewers to relevant and high-value content. It also helps Google understand all of the pages on your blog. 
  • Build strong backlinks through guest posting. Guest posting is writing articles for other popular sites. It helps you showcase your content on other well-known blogs and drive traffic back to your blog. 

2. Leverage social media marketing to get relevant traffic

You probably know the basics of social media, but there are some advanced social media promotion strategies to help you generate leads for your online course. First, you'll want to design a high-converting landing page for your course. Then, use these advanced social media marketing strategies to direct students to it. 

Share stories from students

Rather than blatantly promote your course link to your social media followers, why not share ways your course has helped past students? Student testimonials help prospective learners see how specific colleges, schools, universities, or online courses benefitted them. 

Here's an example of a testimonial: 

testimonialSource

Build a community on Facebook 

Creating your own group on Facebook helps you connect with prospective students in a more meaningful way. Down below are some steps you can follow for your community group. To grow your community, be sure to share valuable content regularly, start interesting discussions, and interact regularly with members. Finally, be sure to share a link to your Facebook group on all social media platforms you're part of to increase reach. 

Offer discounts and course bundles 

Discounts and exclusive deals help lure students to your course. You could offer discounts on special occasions or on a student's first purchase. 

You could also offer courses in bundles. For example, if you have four courses and each course is for $70, you can offer a 50% discount on the purchase of all four courses together. Thus, the discounted rate would be $140 for the bundle. You could also offer monthly membership plans for regular learners. 

Use Facebook Lead Ads

Facebook Lead Ads are a great way to generate leads for your course. Campaigns using lead ads had an average conversion rate of 12.5% while campaigns using landing pages had an average conversion rate of 10.5%. This means lead ads convert to leads at a 2% higher conversion rate than landing pages. 

Lead ads help you generate quality leads right when they're in the app scrolling through their feed. 

When a lead ad pops up, interested users click on it. Then, they fill out two or three questions, based on their interests and needs. The form is already pre-populated with their Facebook contact information. They click on submit, and voila, you have a new lead. Lead ads also help you filter by age, gender, and location, to ensure you're targeting the right audience. 

LinkedIn lead generation forms

LinkedIn is the best social network for lead generation. LinkedIn's lead gen forms are similar to Facebook lead ads. Interested users click on CTAs on your ad to get more information, and user details directly appear through their LinkedIn account information.  

Use Twitter chats

Twitter chats are another popular way to connect with your target audience. It's best to host Twitter chats at a specific time and a specific hashtag related to your business decided in advance. This helps build a sense of familiarity among participants and helps you track responses better.  

Harness Instagram marketing

The sheer size of Instagram is reason enough to spend some time marketing your course on the platform. Over 1 billion people use Instagram every month, and 130 million users tap on shopping posts each month.

Given that it's a visual platform, be sure to share interesting images, along with course information and descriptions. Other Instagram promotion strategies include Reels, Stories, Instagram quizzes, and polls to keep followers interested. Instagram also has advertising options that may help you drive leads to your course website. 

Use referral marketing

Customers who are referred by other customers have a 37% higher retention rate and are four times more likely to refer more customers to your business. That's the power of referral marketing. 

What's more, referral leads convert 30% better than leads generated from other marketing channels. Thus, it could be beneficial to set up a referral program for your course and promote it on social media for greater reach.  

It's a good idea to reward the referred customers as well when they sign up. After receiving a reward, customers are likely to perform the following actions: over 75% made another purchase, over 50% discuss their experience with others, over 35% leave a positive review, and over 15% share their experience on social media. 

3. Get the ball rolling quicker with PPC ads and advanced strategies

While organic search has many benefits, it can take a while to get results. Here are some ways to quickly generate high quality for your online course in no time: 

Kickstart PPC advertising 

As we've discussed, SEO, email marketing, and content marketing are long-term strategies and take time to show results. Consider adding PPC campaigns to supercharge your lead generation. Seventy-four percent of marketers say that PPC is a huge driver for their business. 

Facebook and Instagram Ads

Through Facebook, you can create highly targeted PPC ads to reach the right segment of the audience. Ads are created through the Facebook ads manager. This is also where you'll see ad results, impressions, audience reach, and other analytics. These ads are displayed in the form of photos, videos, and carousels. Instagram enables you to add ads to the posts and stories you upload. Ads can be photo ads, video ads, carousel ads, and collection ads (with videos, images, or both). 

Google Ads

Advertisers earn an average of $2 in revenue for every $1 they spend on Google Ads. It’s no wonder brands are spending money on Google ads. To create your search ad, set up a monthly budget and choose keywords relevant to your audience and niche. 

YouTube ads

Another effective platform to boost your lead generation is YouTube, with 2+ billion users and one billion daily watched hours. When advertising on YouTube, keep the following in mind: 

  • Keep your ads short (not more than a minute) and to the point. 
  • Make your ads mobile-friendly.
  • Add clear calls-to-action in your ads, so viewers can easily proceed to your website. 

Advanced lead generation strategies for your online course 

We've covered some well-known ways to generate leads for your online course. Here are two advanced strategies to get better leads for your course.

  • Host webinars. Host webinars or online seminars to give students a glimpse into your course. Share tutorials or presentations from course material to build interest. 
  • Podcasting. Getting interviewed on top podcasts and promoting your courses is a sure-shot way of establishing yourself as an authority in your space. More than half of listeners are at least somewhat likely to consider buying from a brand after hearing an advertisement on a podcast. Alternatively, you could also create your own podcast episodes about your niche and interview other experts. 

4. Convert website visitors to leads

Blogging is one way to generate quality leads for your website, but there are several other options to build an email list. Such type of content is usually referred to as a lead magnet. Common lead magnets for an online course might include a free mini-course or an eBook. A good lead magnet should solve real problems for learners, demonstrate your expertise, and provide value. 

5. Nurture your leads and close the deal

The hard work of generating leads is incomplete without lead nurturing. Lead nurturing refers to sending relevant content to leads in the awareness and education stage to take them to the buying stage. 

Lead generation email templates 

Email marketing is the best way to do this. For every dollar brands invest in email marketing, they receive 42 dollars in return. Whether you're building your email list from zero or you have already had a few leads, here are seven course sales funnel templates to nurture leads. 

Make initial contact with them 

This template welcomes users to your website. You could also use this as an opportunity to start a conversation with them. 

Hey [Name]!

Thanks so much for signing up for [your website]. I'm so stoked to have you

Here. Here's the [lead magnet] you signed up for: [insert].

One last thing before I let you go: what's the biggest challenge you're facing right now in your work and is there any way I could help? 

Best, 

[Your name] 

Encourage your audience to check out your blog content 

This email template stimulates users to visit your blog page.

Hey,

Hope your week is off to a good start. 

Just wanted to share a recent post I published that I think you'd find useful: [link to post]. Let me know what you think! 

Best, 

[Your name]

Educate people about your courses and their benefits 

After you've shared valuable content with your leads, it may be time to tell them a bit more about your course. 

Hey! 

Hope you're enjoying learning about [your course topic]. 

Want to dive deeper and build your skills further? I created a course especially for students like you: [link to the course]

Over X students have taken and benefited from this course. Here's what one student had to say: [Testimonial].

If you're interested in checking out the course, here's the link again. 

If you have any questions at all about signing up, feel free to email me. 

Best, 

[Your name]

Inform people about the course enrollment procedure 

At this point, you want to introduce students to how they can enroll in your course. 

Hey,

Thanks so much for your interest in my course! I'd love to tell you a little bit more about how to sign up and get started. 

The course costs $X and you're free to pay in three installments. It runs every six months, with a mix of live and pre-recorded classes. 

Once you sign up, you'll be taken to a course page. Please fill out your profile and say hi to classmates in the discussion forums. 

You're free to buy the recorded version of the course for $X, but if you'd like more guidance and interaction with peers, I'd recommend signing up for the hybrid format. 

If you're ready to sign up, here's the link again. If you have any questions at all about signing up, feel free to email me. 

Best, 

[Your name]

Highlight your testimonials 

In these emails, you'll want to show proof of how your course has helped past students.

Hey,

Still on the fence about signing up for [course name]? I thought I'd share testimonials from past students to help you see how it’s benefited them! 

Here are three student stories: [Links to testimonials]. 

If you're interested in checking out the course, here's the link. If you have any questions about signing up, feel free to email me. 

Best, 

[Your name]

Offer an incentive to join the course 

Send this email to lure students into signing up for your course. 

Hey [Name],

Hope you're having a good week. Whether you are or not, I've got a little something to make your week even better. 

For a limited period, I'm offering my course for $X! That's $X less than the original price! Yup, you heard it right. It's never been a better time to learn [your course topic]. 

If you're interested in checking out the course, here's the link. If you have any questions about signing up, feel free to email me. 

Best, 

[Your name]

Remind them about the enrollment 

Once they sign up for your course, send them a friendly reminder and coax them to complete the course. 

Hey [Name], 

Thanks so much for signing up for [your course name]. It's never been a better time to learn [your course topic], and I'm glad you've taken that first step. 

Check out the first course module here: [link]. If you'd like to discuss the topic further, feel free to hit me up on Twitter or reply to this email. 

Best, 

[Your name]

You don't have to manually send each email to each student. You can simply use sales automation to set your sales funnel on autopilot. 

Conclusion

There are myriad ways to generate leads for your online course. The key is to select the lead generation method that best fits your target audience and pursue that. Be sure to leverage the power of paid promotion along with creating organic content, to collect leads faster.

Artboard 1 copy 18@2x
Acquire more leads and close more sales

Lead generation software will take your efforts to the next level. Use it to boost sales for your online course today.

Artboard 1 copy 18@2x
Acquire more leads and close more sales

Lead generation software will take your efforts to the next level. Use it to boost sales for your online course today.

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