In our 2019 online instructor survey responses one of the biggest challenges cited by online teachers was the promotion of their online courses to increase sales. In this article, we present 6 very straightforward things Udemy instructors should be doing to promote their online course on Udemy.   No fancy click funnel strategies here, just a reminder of some basic but necessary steps to take set the foundation for growing your course sales.  These tips will focus specifically on the Udemy platform, but they can also be applied to marketing other online courses.

What Udemy Wants You to Do to Market Your Online Course

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Pay attention to the statistics Udemy tracks.

What you need to do to market your online course on Udemy becomes more obvious when you consider the statistics that Udemy is measuring and reporting to its instructors in their monthly emails. For every instructor, Udemy is measuring monthly and annually things such as: new students, countries, new (or 5 star) reviews, reviews responded to, announcements sent, minutes consumed, number of questions answered in discussions and new resources created. Udemy is using these statistics to benchmark instructors against each other to determine who is really committed to the Udemy platform.

Udemy’s goal is to sell paid courses, plain and simple.  So if Udemy is tracking metrics like this, then they are obviously important. So pay attention to what you do about these.  How you perform on these metrics will affect Udemy’s algorithm about how much it promotes you and your courses. This is the first goal when thinking about how to market your online course – get Udemy to market your course. The steps you take to do this will be the first steps you take to your overall marketing plan for your courses.

Market Your Online Course with 5 Basic Steps

1. Set Goals

Setting goals for your online course sales will help you find the motivation to take the necessary steps to market your online course properly over a continued period of time. Setting goals for your online course business can be daunting.  You might wonder, am I good enough to actually make any money selling online courses? How do I get started?  

Well, you must start somewhere, so start with setting achievable goals, one at a time.  Set a simple monthly revenue target for your online course.  Start as low as $50/month or as high as $1000. Set an enrollment goal. Just be realistic so that you don’t get frustrated and demotivated from taking the time and steps necessary to market your online course in a way that achieves your goals.  

Setting a revenue goal will encourage you to follow up with students, remain focused on marketing your course, work hard and engage with students.   Ultimately you want to reach these goals so that you keep creating online courses to create a snowball effect, continually building and selling excellent courses.

2. Solve a Problem with Your Online Course

It sounds simple enough, but ask yourself, why people will pay to take your course?  They need something. They have a problem and need answers. They want to know more to address some issue they are having.  For example, someone is looking to learn skills that will allow them to launch their own business and leave their current job.  Or they are a terrible cook and want to learn to cook better for their other half. 

Choose a problem or problems to solve. Students are searching for a solution. Then put the problem in your course title. If the problem you are solving is in the title of your course, then when someone is searching for answers, they will find your course in Udemy’s search results.

So, don’t just title your course with its subject matter, i.e. “Vegan cooking”, identify the pain or problem your course solves – like this course which appears in the top Udemy search results “Vegan Cooking – Get Healthy, Burn Fat, Save the Planet”. Choose a short phrase to solve a problem and make sure to include your chosen problem to solve in your subtitle and course description as well.  They must all match.

Then be sure to identify in plain English (or another language) the key benefits of taking your course (like “Save the Planet”). Address the pain points and explain the benefits of taking the course.  Think – pain, solution, benefits.  Make sure all of these are aptly represented on your course landing page.

Doing this will make it easier for your course to be found in search results and will speak to prospective students, giving them a reason to buy your course. And if helps if your problem can be broken down into several courses.   

3. Identify The Right Keywords and Topic

Keywords are essential for getting organic search results (and hence, sales) on Udemy – or Google.  Udemy search works a lot like Google, so it’s fairly easy to put yourself in the shoes of the person doing the search.  Once you know the problem you are solving, you should choose the best keywords to match it to include in both your title/subtitle and for your choice of Topic.  Choosing your Topic carefully is essential because they have related keywords and are thus critical to course search results. 

On your course landing page, include your chosen keywords in your title, subtitle, course goals (first part of landing page) and course description.  Also include them in your section titles, lecture titles, lecture descriptions and in your personal bio.

How do you choose your Topic? Start by looking at Udemy Insights.  Decide what Topic you are interested in and see what Udemy tells you is a close fit. Then pick the best fit.  Also look at student demand and the number of courses offered in your chosen Topic. Look at the median monthly revenue. Then look at top search keywords for your chosen Topic and note these. Ensure that you include these keywords in all areas of your course.

Also look at other Topics of interest. Look at the full list Udemy suggests. Are any of these other Topics a better fit for your course? Do they have less competition? Note the keywords associated with close Topics as well and include them in your course description, etc.

The Teachinguide App can help you choose keywords

Note: The Teachinguide app can really help with keyword selection and topic choice.  The Keyword Analytics feature allows you to filter keywords for both Google and Udemy and provides information on keyword relevance to topics, trends in keywords, traffic and much more. The Topic Finder provides information on competitors and competing courses, number of students enrolled in courses for your chosen Topic and much more.

4. Focus on Getting Your First 5 Star Reviews

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A critical basic element to market your online course is through reviews.  Specifically, you will need five 5-star reviews to get a Hot and New badge.  Why does this matter so much to marketing your online course successfully?  Because your course will stay in that category and be promoted more by Udemy for 2-3 months for all to see.  Remember that monthly course revenue goal you set? This is a great way to get started and achieve that.

What do you do to market your online course in a way that gets five 5-star reviews quickly?  Frankly, it’s not rocket science, it just takes focus.  Make a spreadsheet of everyone you know. Reach out to friends and family. Use your email contact list, Facebook, colleagues, Facebook groups and other forums.   You don’t need to throw out a bunch of free coupons. Strangers who use free coupons are highly unlikely to leave a 5 star review, or a leave a review at all.

Also consider pre launching your course by reaching out to people.  Ask yourself, to whom will your course be of interest? This is the time to use your free coupons to market your course. Make it personal when you reach out to people. Don’t say “I’ll give you my course for free in return for a review.” Rather find people with the problem you are solving, i.e. in a Facebook group, and offer a “complimentary” course.  Then ask them to leave an honest rating and review. Keep track of who you have reached out to, who left a review, what coupon code is, and generally whatever you need to keep the relationship going with someone who has left you a good review. 

Tip:  When you email people asking for reviews, include a direct link to your course review page.  This is not a widely published URL.  But when you encourage reviews in correct way and provide a direct link, it’s much easier for someone to leave a review.  Here is how you create the review link: Course url/learn/v4/content/reviews/1/

This takes the reader to the first page of your course reviews.

5. Optimize Automated Messages

Remember that you can send an automated message to every student when they enroll and also when they complete a course. Make sure to use this opportunity to market your course.  To automate direct messages go into the Communications section of your course dashboard and click on automated messages. Create a welcome message to go out to students when they enroll, and a congratulations message to go out when they complete the course. 

These messages are an opportunity to engage with students and target some of those metrics that Udemy is tracking. Thank them for taking the course.  Offer your help and encouragement and encourage them to contact you with questions.  Prompt them to leave a review and give you feedback.  Encourage them to complete the course by reminding them of the benefits. You might even suggest they tell a friend if they like the course.

6. Follow Up Messaging and Engaging Students

Resist the temptation to make every announcement or communication with students promotional, or to just create your automated messages and call it a day.  Think of marketing your online course through relationship building. Then do what it takes to build those relationships. You want to follow up with those who purchase your course and keep them interested in you. Encourage questions, check in with progress, provide encouragement and get feedback.  Use the opportunity to appropriately ask for a review and a rating and thank them for taking the time to view and rate your course. This is what any salaried teacher would do, right?

Your approach can be pretty simple and organized.  In your student list on Udemy you can direct message students. You can make your messages to them personal. Wait to message them until a few weeks after they have enrolled (and have received your awesome welcome message). Monitor who you contact and when in spreadsheet.   You might aim to sit down and do this once or twice a month in batches of students, depending on how many courses and students you have. 

The last way to engage students is through educational announcements.  You can make 4 of these per month, but you don’t have to use them all, maybe just one or two. Again, it depends on how many courses you have. Ideally, you could send out an update once a month with a new or changed lecture. This gives you an excuse to announce it.   You could also announce a blog post, a Youtube video, Facebook group, or anything similar that may be of interest to your student body.  When making these announcements, always mildly prompt for a rating and review.

So that’s it for 6 easy steps to put on your to do list to market your online course. Sure each of these take some thought and time, but these small steps will make a big difference. Before you dole out hundreds of free coupons or engage in massive email marketing, make sure you have these tactics in place.

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