Forbes has estimated that by 2025, e-learning could be worth a staggering $325 billion. With many companies seizing the opportunity to cash in on this ever-growing industry, how can your business start creating online courses and also benefit?
Nowadays, those wishing to either gain experience in a new subject or further their knowledge in another no longer have to physically be in a classroom to do so.
E-learning gives students the chance to learn at their own pace, in the comfort of their own home and for a fraction of the cost. The public are now being offered the opportunity to take courses in almost anything.
A few decades ago, courses were only offered in traditional subjects, nowadays you can further your development in anything from knitting to quantum mechanics. These can be offered in various lengths and levels and there are courses for almost every requirement nowadays.
But with so many of these courses being offered online, how can you ensure learners choose your courses over similar ones?
Interestingly, the number 1 course teaches you how to survive a zombie apocalypse. Although the need for having this exact knowledge is highly unlikely and can seem rather redundant, it received positive feedback and purchasers felt they gained something of use.
The course offers basic survival techniques but has been branded for a much more niche market, therefore generating a higher interest.
So how can you use courses to drive traffic to your site, create brand awareness and boost sales?
1. Be Creative
With ample information on a tremendous number of subjects available for free online nowadays, we all need to become more inventive with our concepts. It is exceedingly unlikely that anyone will be willing to part with their hard-earned cash for something easily obtained through YouTube or Google.
However, this does not mean you have to attempt to conceive content that does not exist for free, simply get creative in how to package this information.
For example, you may have just built a website for your electronics business and be wishing to create a course that teaches electronics for beginners. Typically, this may not be a subject many would take up unless of course, they had been actively seeking something similar.
However, you can achieve a much wider target audience by marketing your course towards a specific outcome. A course title of ‘How To Build a LightSaber’ will appeal to far more prospective students, many of which may have not even considered an electronics course. This course generated over £47,000 and engaging with such a fandom will have largely contributed to this success.
Know your audience, it makes no sense to title your courses with an interest towards one market when your target is another. Consider researching what is already available and find a gap that has yet to be tapped into.
2. Be Clear
While you are encouraged to be inventive with how you present your course, you must still ensure you are portraying a true representation for what is on offer.
Nobody wants to be mis-sold a product, there are few things that can irate a customer more than feeling they have been lied to.
Be honest with what the course content offers and what outcomes the learner can hope to achieve from this. Clarify the learning objectives and achievable skills that are obtainable on completion of the course. Avoid false promises, don’t lead your audience into believing they will be fully qualified in the course’s field when the reality is they won’t be. Convey exactly how this will benefit them, whether it be a small step towards a career path or simply just a bit of fun.
Similarly, set out any requirements the learner may be expected to possess before commencement. Whether this be existing knowledge of certain elements or physical materials to aid in development.
Students need to be reassured they will not be out of their depth and able to accomplish your course without requiring assistance or unexpected purchases.
Satisfied customers lead to positive feedback which will ultimately generate more sales, negative feedback and reviews can leave your course struggling for uptakes.
3. Be User-Friendly
In a modern age where almost everything is available instantly, why should learning be any different? Ensuring your course is easily accessible and user-friendly is paramount to its success.
Being able to access apps or mobile-friendly sites is key. Having your content readily available to a user aids their ease of learning. With everybody’s free time somewhat dwindling, it is essential for us to be able to access information on the go.
If we are intending to take the user from the course to a part of our website, then ensure the journey is seamless. Consider building out pages that continue the story.
Keep multimedia straightforward and simple. Overloaded pages with graphics and videos can appear overwhelming and hard for some to follow. Instead, focus on the content itself and break any large blocks of text into easier to read bullets or paragraphs to evade cognitive overload.
Additionally, we all learn differently. What learning style works for one may not necessarily work for another. There are seven styles of learning: Visual, Aural, Verbal, Physical, Logical, Social and Solitary.
While it may not be possible to incorporate all styles into your course, try to include as many as possible.
Consider those who may have disabilities, provide subtitles and audio descriptions where possible. Choosing clear and well laid out fonts make pages easier to read and sticking to clean colour schemes keep pages looking sleek.
Providing a course that caters to the majority will certainly be a strong attribute.
4. Value for Money
This can be interpreted in several ways. We can all agree that no one wants to feel like parting with their cash was the wrong choice.
Make sure the quality and quantity of your content reflect the price. Paying hundreds of dollars for a course that can be completed in a few hours can leave us feeling cheated and disgruntled and could ultimately lead to negative reviews and complaints.
When offering a budget course, try to exceed expectations so a true feeling of value for money is reflected. This can give a pleasant element of surprise and lead to positive recommendations.
Discounts are always a strong incentive, whether that be an initial discount on the course itself (intermittent price reductions are always enticing to those shopping around), or discounts on products throughout the course.
For example, many online courses require resources, whether that be electrical equipment such as cameras for a photography lesson or craft supplies for an art tutorial. Tailoring your E-learning courses to include your products is a good way to raise awareness of them.
Offering exclusive discounts on these items can form sales from new consumers and create brand loyalty should they feel they have been given the value of money they so often crave.
In doing so, this can often lead to a greater number in sales and reach a larger target audience.
Creating quizzes or tests throughout your course can also show your learners how they are progressing and what they have learned from your content. This can reassure the user throughout that they are benefitting from their purchase. This offers immediate, measurable results in an age where most things are expected instantly.
5. Offer User Support
Initially, this may appear to be a costly and time-consuming element. Not many companies have the resources to offer 24/7 support to their customers.
However, this can be offered in another way. Creating community chatrooms into your website as well as your courses not only broadens the learning experience by offering the opportunity for discussions, it can also provide support from fellow students.
Those who have completed the course can offer their experience to new starters and talk them through any elements they may be struggling with.
Creating forums with questions and topics can ignite conversations and debates and give a more authentic learning atmosphere. It can also provide a useful tool for any areas that may have been missed or for those who wish to explore the subject in more depth.
Alongside this, giving the option to provide feedback can offer a valuable learning experience. Constant evaluation from the user themselves can give you the opportunity to adapt your course and continually improve the experience.
Providing the opportunity to have access to the course for life means that users can return and revise the subject as often as they require, to continue aided development from other students and keeps the network of information growing over time.
This also provides the basis for inspiration for subsequent courses. The public are exceptional nowadays at voicing what they want and what they believe is missing. Already having this information provided can inspire future prospective courses while saving time in heavy research for what is in demand.
How To Get Started
Set out a plan
Prioritize your objectives. In doing so you can set a clear plan for time management and help keep track of progress. This can also be beneficial in devising your budget and allow you to clearly see if your vision is achievable.
Create a timeline/storyboard of how your course will look, ensuring your content flows and is comprehensible. You can use this to also pinpoint when is the best time for product placement and to create a landing page on your website to take users to. This landing page can then be used to compliment the user journey by providing additional services or information.
Get access to a Smartphone and Tripod
Smartphones have incredible technology built into them nowadays and the need for hiring expensive filming equipment is not a necessity. Videos can be a useful visual aid in the learning process, but they must be done right!
Bad lighting, camera angles and unsteady filming can cause the viewer to become disinterested and it can also look unprofessional. Using a tripod and correct lighting can ensure you are capturing the best footage. Simple editing software can make videos more engaging with differing angles, shots, music and provide a great platform to showcase your products in action.
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Author Bio: Amanda Rosewarne is CEO and Co-Founder of the CPD Standards Office. She is a unique expert on the provision of workplace training and CPD learning, helping to advise a multitude of organisations on ‘becoming CPD ready’ and implementing CPD within their organisations.