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How to market your online course: 28 strategies that work

· 21 min read · Email marketing · Nov 18, 2022
Milda working in the sun.

Phew! You’ve finished creating an online course filled with insight only you can offer. The hard work is done! Now you can sit back and wait for the signups to start rolling in.


Unfortunately, this rarely happens. You need a solid marketing strategy to build awareness and interest in your product. Read this article to learn how to market your online course so you can start generating sales ASAP!👇

Here are 10 strategies you can use to market your online course. The first 3 tips are to build a website, create a lead magnet and use email marketing. These are essential parts of a marketing campaign that any course creator can benefit from. 

The remaining tips are those you can use to spread the word about your course. Choose ideas that resonate and use these to get your course in front of more people. 

Want to learn how to create an online course learners love? Then hit the link below.

The first step is to build a website. Or, if you already have a website, build a dedicated landing page for your course. You’ll use the other strategies on this list to send people to your site and convert them into subscribers. 

Your website and landing page will promote the benefits of your course to encourage people to buy. 

Add information about:

  • What people will learn on your course and how it will improve their life

  • Specific outcomes people will experience

  • Information about why your course is better than the alternatives

  • Testimonials showing how others have benefited

  • A clear offer and call to action

Read this article to discover more about how to craft landing page copy that converts and then implement the tips in your online course landing page. 

Landing page vs. website 🖥️

A landing page is a stand-alone page designed to promote a specific offer. A website is a collection of pages that could include sales pages, your blog, about pages and more. You easily create both with the MailerLite website builder.

Case study: 100 Days of No Code

The website for 100 Days of No Code is an excellent example of a course website. It includes information about why people should join the course, its benefits, easy signup links, pricing and testimonials. 

100 days of no code landing page
Source: 100 Days of No-Code

Find out more about how to build your own website here

Lead magnets are freebies you offer to people who are interested in your course but not ready to buy. 

People can access the gated content in exchange for their email addresses. You can then send messages to deepen your relationship with the buyer by showing how valuable your content is. 

The key is to create a lead magnet that genuinely appeals to the buyer. It should be something related to the challenge that your course solves. 

Lead magnet ideas 👇
  • Checklists

  • Industry guides or cheat sheets

  • Free mini-course

  • Live webinars

  • Free trials of the main course

  • Access to tools

  • Templates

The lead magnet you choose will depend on your audience. A knitting course provider could offer free knitting templates. While a marketing course provider could give access to a webinar that discusses a challenge facing people in the industry.

Case study: The Sculpt Society

The Sculpt Society is a dance cardio, yoga and meditation program. The course costs $19.99 per month but the company offers two free lead magnets as part of its sales and marketing strategy. 

The first is access to a free newsletter and quickie booty workout; the second is a 7-day free trial. If the user signs up for either of these two offers, the company can promote its paid course to encourage them to buy. 

The scult society lead magnet
Source: The Sculpt Society

When people sign up for your lead magnet, they join your email list. Use an automated lead nurture sequence to convert them into buyers. 

A typical nurture campaign will:

  • Educate people about your business and product

  • Offer social proof, case studies, and testimonials

  • Deepen the relationship by learning about subscribers

  • Promote an enticing offer to get people to sign up for your course

You can automate this entire sequence, so it goes out whenever someone signs up for your lead magnet. 

Use MailerLite to set up a workflow that includes all the emails in your campaign. You can then schedule each email based on factors like the amount of time that has passed since the last email or how they interact with your marketing campaign. 

Here’s an example of a typical campaign:

  1. Welcome email: Goes out as soon as someone joins your list and includes a link to your lead magnet.

  2. Educational content: Goes out one day after the welcome email and provides further information about your course.

  3. Social proof email: Goes out one day after the educational content email and includes information about how people have benefited from your course.

  4. Offer email: Goes out one day after the social proof email and provides details about your offer

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Case study: MarketingProfs

Marketing Profs email
Marketing Profs email

MarketingPros uses email marketing to convert people who sign up for one of their lead magnets into paid customers. 

The emails highlight the company's free resources while showcasing the benefits of becoming a paid member. They even offer a discount for people who join. 

Social media marketing is a great way to build your audience for free. You can promote your course while you build this audience. 

The most effective social media platform is the one your audience uses. Professional courses do well on LinkedIn and Twitter, while lifestyle courses are more likely to do well on Instagram or TikTok. 

Find out where your target audience hangs out, and then concentrate your efforts on that social media platform. 

Here is a rundown of the main channels:

  • LinkedIn: Promote career-focused or B2B e-learning courses

  • Twitter: Participate in threads and discussions linked to your niche

  • Facebook: Join or create Facebook Groups in your area 

  • Instagram: Use visual content to promote your brand

  • TikTok: Share fast, fun and engaging video content 

Don’t spread yourself too thinly across all these platforms. It’s better to optimize your content to perform well on 1 or 2 channels.

Keep promotional posts to a minimum 👇

Use social media to grow your audience by adding value to community discussions while building trust and expertise. People will ignore your content if it is promotional without adding value.

Case Study: Miss Excel

Miss Excel
Source: Miss Excel

Miss Excel is a fantastic example of someone who effectively built an audience on social media and then used this to sell her course. 

She creates TikTok videos that provide useful tips about how to use Microsoft Excel, then promotes her course and training via posts and her profile link. These courses include a free lead magnet and several paid products. 

Paid ads are the fastest way to get your course in front of your audience. By paying to promote your product, you can skip the audience-building steps mentioned above.

Here’s how a typical paid ads funnel works for an online course:

  1. Create a free lead magnet or an affordable version of your course

  2. Promote this via paid ads and collect email addresses on sign up

  3. Promote your paid course or upsell to more expensive products

Paid ads aren’t cheap. If you don’t have a large budget to spend on testing, you’ll benefit from first using free marketing channels to optimize your messaging, offers, and landing pages. Once you know what works, you can scale these strategies with paid ads.

Use your mailing list to help with targeting 👇

By connecting your mailing list with Facebook; you can pay to reach a Facebook Audience that is similar to your existing subscribers. You’ve already got the data on who your ideal customer is, so you can jump right into selling to them. 

Case Study: ClickMinded

ClickMinded offers training materials for agencies, entrepreneurs and marketers. 

The company’s most expensive product costs $4,997. It would be tough to sell this product with a social media ad, so the company instead promotes a single module, which it offers for just $37.

ClickMinded Paid Ads Funnel
Source: ClickMinded

The company also uses an exit intent popup offering a free mini-SOP toolkit to capture people who aren’t yet willing to buy.

ClickMinded can target anyone who signs up for the free or paid course with its more expensive offering.

ClickMinded Lead Magnet
Source: ClickMinded
Where to run paid ads? 👇

The main paid platforms for course advertising are Google Ads, which includes YouTube and display advertising, and Facebook Ads, which includes advertising on Instagram. Other options include Snapchat, Reddit, Quora, Twitter, and TikTok.

Search engine optimization (SEO) is the act of optimizing your content and website so it is more likely to show up on search engines when people search for relevant topics.

It’s an immensely valuable part of content marketing, as you can generate highly-targeted traffic at zero additional cost beyond creating the content in the first place.

A typical SEO strategy has 4 parts:

  1. Use keyword research to identify terms people in your audience search for

  2. Filter these keywords for those your site has a good chance of ranking for

  3. Create web pages or blog posts that answer these questions and optimize them based on SEO best practices

  4. Promote the content to generate backlinks that tell Google the content is worth ranking highly in the search results 

The downside to an SEO strategy is that it takes time to pay off. If your site is brand new, it will be months or longer before your content starts to rank. 

Find out more about developing an SEO strategy in our guide to SEO basics here.

Case study: Kopywriting Kourse

The website for Kopywriting Kourse gets over 80,000 monthly visits to its website. These go to its home page and blog posts. The team behind the course can attempt to convert website visitors into paid learners. 

Kopywriting Kourse Traffic
Source: Ubersuggest

Publishing videos on YouTube is an effective way to build an audience because the YouTube algorithm organically promotes content it likes. This means you can increase your audience size without spending on ads

The downside is it can take time to grow your YouTube channel and audience. You’ll have to consistently produce high-quality videos over time to see results. 

Case study: Ali Abdaal

Ali Abdaal built an audience on YouTube that he monetizes by selling a course. 

He creates videos on productivity, time management, and study hacking. He uses these to promote his course The Part-Time Youtuber Academy, which he says earned $2.5 million in revenue in 2021, and his Skillshare classes, which earned over $700,000 in the same year.

Part Time YouTuber Academy landing page
Source: Part Time YouTuber Academy

Get more sign-ups by adding your course to a platform that will market it for you. Udemy and Skillshare are perhaps the most well-known. 

Both websites have existing audiences that can sign up for your course when they find it by either:

  • Searching for your course topic

  • Clicking on recommendations as they browse the platform 

Both platforms have different business models that impact how you get paid. 

Udemy lets creators upload their course and then sell it on the platform. It’s free to use, but the company takes a percentage of your sales. 

If the sale comes through one of the instructor’s promotional coupons, Udemy only takes 3%. If the sale comes via the Udemy platform, the company will take 63% of the revenue. 

Skillshare is a platform more like Netflix or Spotify. Anyone who pays to access the platform can access any of the courses, and Skillshare says you’ll receive between $0.05 and $0.10 per minute watched. 

Don’t rely on these platforms entirely 👇

Even though these platforms can help you reach new customers, you’ll need to promote them yourself in the early days to gather traction. 

Case Study: Alice Ladkin

Alice Ladkin Skillshare
Source: Alice Ladkin/Skillshare

Alice Ladkin is an artist with 5 courses on SkillShare that teach different artistic techniques. In her first 14 months as a SkillShare teacher, she earned $1,036 from the platform.

There are podcasts on almost every topic imaginable. Podcast hosts are always looking for fresh ideas to feature in their latest episodes. 

Use this to market your course by finding podcasts on related topics and approaching the host about becoming a guest. Choose the right podcast and you’ll get your brand in front of a large number of potential customers.

Highlight your value when approaching podcast hosts 👇

The key when approaching podcast hosts isn’t to talk about your course. Instead, talk about your expertise and why it is interesting to the podcast audience. Below is a great example of how you can do this.

Case study: Giovanni Marsico

Perpetual Traffic
Source: Perpetual Traffic

Giovanni Marsico runs Archangel, a course for entrepreneurs who want to create businesses by sharing their gift. 

He was a guest on the Perpetual Traffic podcast, where he discussed strategies for building community. 

This provides a ton of value for podcast listeners, as building a community can result in significant website traffic. And by talking on the podcast, Giovanni was able to increase awareness around his course. 

Affiliate marketing is where people promote your online course and earn a commission when someone they refer signs up. Marketers might promote your course via social media, video tutorials, online reviews or how-to blog articles. 

The great thing about affiliate marketing is that you only pay when you generate signups. This means it’s easy to stay profitable. It’s also easy to use a tool like Post Affiliate Pro or Rewardful to manage your program. 

The downside is that it can be tough to find affiliates, especially if your course isn’t well-known. Boost the chances of finding affiliates by increasing the percentage you pay out and ensuring you effectively convert the traffic they send your way. 

Case study: Authority Hacker

Authority Hacker has several courses that teach online marketers how to build and monetize niche websites. They have an affiliate program that promises to pay up to $990 per sale generated through a referral.

Authority Hacker Affiliate Program
Source: Authority Hacker

The above ideas are the most effective strategies for most people. But they aren't the only ideas. Here are 18 more you can use to promote your course. 

  1. Run a webinar: Let people join live and then offer a recording as a lead magnet. 

  2. Influencer marketing: Find influencers in your niche and pay them to promote your course.

  3. Guest posts: Write guest posts on blogs your audience reads and use them to promote your course.

  4. Build a tool: If you have the skills, build a tool related to the problem you solve and use this to promote your course. Non-developers can try no-code tools.

  5. Run events: Organize events in your space and use the attention to promote your course.

  6. Sponsor events: If you don’t want the hassle of organizing an event, sponsor someone else’s.

  7. Create a referral program: Incentive customers to promote your course with a referral program. Offer upgrades, freebies, or cash to people promoting your course.  

  8. Cold outreach: Find people you think would be interested in your course and reach out to them. Most social media platforms will let you contact people.

  9. Answer questions on Quora: Find questions related to your course and answer them. People who read your answer may end up buying.

  10. Be active in niche communities: Become an authority in niche forums and use this reputation to promote your course.

  11. Do a newsletter swap: Find someone who runs a newsletter in your niche and agrees to promote each other’s product or course to your respective audiences.

  12. Buy newsletter ads: Either contact relevant newsletters directly or use a tool like LiveIntent or Admailr to buy advertising space.

  13. Engage in digital PR: Do something newsworthy and get relevant media outlets to write about your company.

  14. Start a podcast: If there aren’t many podcasts in your industry, start one! 

  15. Pay for a digital billboard: Digital billboards can be surprisingly affordable. Use them to promote your course if there is a billboard in a place potential customers gather.

  16. Run competitions: Run competitions related to your industry and ask people to share their efforts on social media.

  17. Answer HARO requests: HARO is a service that journalists and writers use to get expert input. Signup for the newsletter and answer requests for the chance of being featured.

  18. Feature on “Best course” lists: Google “Best course” plus your topic to find lists of courses. Contact the website owners and ask them to include your course.

Have we missed any online course marketing ideas? Let us know in the comments!

It’s not enough to have a great idea for a course. It’s almost impossible to make sales without actively marketing and promoting it. Use these tips to ensure your course gets the attention it deserves!

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Duncan Elder
Duncan Elder
I’m Duncan, a content writer at MailerLite. I love building websites with no-code tools and writing about what I learn. I created my first site in 2011 with Blogger—it’s safe to say that website builders have improved a lot since then!