Course Marketing for Training Providers
From how to create a course to sell, budget-friendly marketing campaigns, to tools and software. Find everything you need to effectively create, market, and sell your training courses in this Ultimate Guide.
Get ready to see your registration numbers go through the roof!
In this guide
- How to create a course to sell
- Course marketing tools & ideas
- Course marketplaces
- Case studies
- Software to sell & market courses
It may sound simple, but there’s a big difference between creating a course, and creating a course that will be profitable and effective. You need to understand your market and your target customers, how your course will differ from your competitors, whether there is a need for your course and the desired outcomes of your audience.
Follow these five steps to validate your course idea before you launch it, and your marketing efforts will be a whole lot easier.
5 step plan to create a course
Research your competitors
If you’re not sure who your competitors are, then a good place to start is with a quick Google search of your keywords (ie. “senior leadership communications course”) to see what else is out there. For a more comprehensive result, consider using a keyword research tool such as AlsoAsked, Moz or Google Keyword Planner.
Look at what courses your competitors are running and then think about how your course will be different. From there, create a spreadsheet with a list of your competitors, their courses, prices, and what they offer. It’s also important to take note of what they don’t offer, as that’s where your biggest opportunity lies.
Know your audience
When it comes to creating a course it’s important that you don’t try to cater to everyone. Figure out your target audience and cater specifically to them. Once you’ve figured out your target audience, it’s time to really get to know them. Seek to learn their goals, influences, motivators and paint points. Understand the knowledge, skills and attitudes that are important to them. Figure out how they best like to learn – this will help you cater your content and your delivery method accordingly.
If you’re unsure how to gather this information about your target audience, Arlo’s team of learning designers can run a discovery session with you to uncover this information. From there, they can help you create learning personas that will help drive strategic learning design decisions, such as the type of courses you should be offering, and the best way to deliver them.
Nail your unique selling point
Go back to your spreadsheet where you did your competitor analysis. Look at what your competitors offer and pinpoint the gaps in the market. Look for key benefits that could fill with your course that your competitors don’t offer. For example, do you host an online forum to connect with other learners? Do you have an extensive resource library? Are you certified in your field? Do you offer direct access to your instructors, to answer tricky questions? Do you offer a follow-up course to further extend their knowledge and skills?
This information should help create clarity around your unique selling point (USP). Once you’ve nailed that, push that point until the cows come home. Use it on the homepage of your website, on your course listing, use it in your social media marketing, on fliers, brochures, and in your emails. Make sure that message is communicated clearly, delivered consistently every time, and is in your brand tone of voice.
Your USP is what will make you stand out from the crowd. And more importantly, from your competitors.
Validate your findings
You’ve already researched your competition, so you know there’s other companies out there that have already determined that there is market demand for similar courses. That’s a good first step.
The next step is to talk to your target audience and find out if they would be interested in taking your course.
Ask about their pain points and challenges, their learning outcomes, and the skills they’re seeking to learn. Ask what type of learning experiences they enjoy, and how much they’d be willing to pay your course.
If you don’t already have a group of customers, or an email subscriber list, that you can reach out to, then look for these people in relevant community groups and professional networks. LinkedIn is a great place to start.
You could even run a free webinar on a similar topic, to test demand. An added bonus of this is that you now have a list of email addresses you can promote your course to.
Pilot your course
Piloting a course is a great way of testing out your course on a real audience, before launching it to a wider market. You could offer your course for free, or a discounted price, to some of the people you talked to in step 4. Keep your audience small.
Be upfront and clear that the course is a pilot and that you’re seeking honest feedback in return for the discounted registration. Run multiple polls and surveys throughout the course, and after it, to learn how your course can be improved.
You can also ask your pilot audience to provide written testimonials for your website, write online reviews, and promote the course to their own networks.
Start a blog
Google loves well-written, helpful, relevant and up-to-date content. By adding a blog to your website and publishing valuable content that’s relevant for your target audience you’ll get a major SEO boost and increase traffic to your website. There are plenty of resources online on how to write blog posts for SEO, or you can browse Arlo’s own blog for inspiration!
Thought leadership in industry media
By creating thought leadership content for external publications you position yourself as an authority and expert in your industry, create trust, increase brand awareness and reach new audiences. It also makes great content for emails to your database and to share on your social media channels. And a bonus? Backlinks on high authority external websites will give your own website a good SEO boost!
Don’t overthink it – reach out with a simple, straight-to-the-point email to relevant industry publications, news sites, blogs and relevant local bodies to see if they are interested in publishing guest content. Pitch an idea that will add value to the reader, the publisher, and your training business. Write about something you know well, but make sure it’s not a sales pitch. Provide plenty of links back to helpful, relevant content on your website, and if they allow it, provide a call to action at the end of the article that drives them to purchase a course.
Social media marketing
Create business accounts for the leading social media sites – like, Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Twitter. Build a community by encouraging your existing customers to “like” your page and leave reviews.
Publish content regularly, including blog posts, upcoming courses, business updates and wider industry news (remember, the content you share doesn’t always have to be your own!). Add a social share widget to your WordPress website and your courses and blog posts will automatically be published to LinkedIn and Facebook, automating the process for you.
Encourage engagement – by asking customers to share or like a piece of content, you’ll increase your reach to new audiences.
If you want to take it a step further, consider paid advertising on social media. It’s a relatively cheap way to advertise and you can target the ads so you’re only paying to reach a relevant audience who is potentially interested in your courses. Use a conversion pixel to ensure smart remarketing and further optimize your spend.
Like Google, Facebook and LinkedIn also have free resources and experts to help you get up and running.
Referrals and reviews
Encourage customers to leave you reviews after they’ve finished your course. It can be as simple as sending a follow-up survey asking for their feedback, which you can then publish on your website either as a quote or a case study, and share on your social media channels. Or, send an email to request that your customers leave you a review on Google, Facebook, or a course marketplace listing.
People are more likely to buy a product or service that has been recommended by a family or friend, and they’re more likely to trust a brand that has positive reviews.
If someone is considering signing up to your course, a positive review may be the just the thing that gives them the final push.
Create a referral program
We’ll say it again – consumers are more likely to buy a product or service that has been recommended by a friend or family member. That’s a level of trust that no brand can ever compete with, so how do you tap into that? With a referral program.
Offer your existing customers a discount, merchandise, or some other reward for referring friends and family. You can do this by way of an email campaign, and advertise the program both on your website and social media channels. Check out Arlo’s referral program for inspiration. It’s truly powerful stuff!
Sites like findcourses.com and training.com.au are designed to help training providers promote and sell their courses. Having your courses featured here can be a great way to catch the attention of someone who’s already in the market for some training. Interested buyers can search and filter by everything from topic, certification, region, industry and more.
These sites usually take a commission from each course that you sell, or they will charge you a fee to feature your course in their directory. Either way, having your course listed with these sites is a great way to ensure you’re found by those who are actively searching.
Top course marketplaces
Findcourses.com is North America’s leading course marketplace. Findcourses.co.uk is the UK version. Findcourses is an unbiased search engine where learners can find and compare courses from over 4,000 different training suppliers, filtering by category, format, place, delivery and more. They charge an annual flat-fee, which uncapped direct enquiries and referral traffic, making it easy to manage your marketing spend. Download the media kit to find out more about the course marketplace, and its costs and benefits.
CourseHorse makes it easy to reach a large community of learners interested in all types of courses across the USA. With more than 75k current active classes, and more than 1.7m monthly website visitors, there’s a great chance you’ll fill your empty seats when listing a course on CourseHorse. It’s free to list your course, and CourseHorse only charges a fee when a student registers on your course. They also have a free email marketing program to help promote your course, and regularly share actionable insights and trends.
3. Reed Courses
Reed Courses works with around 1,000 respected learning providers in the UK to advertise more than 70,000 courses on a wide range of subjects; from accounting and HR, right through to fitness and cooking. Their website traffic is upward of 11 million every month, ensuring wide reach and a vast audience for your training course. And best of all? It’s free to list your course.
For Australian training providers, training.com.au is the country’s largest course marketplace. The Candlefox-powered website allows learners to easily browse courses by subject, location, study method and qualification level and compare education providers. As well as lead generation, they offer other services such as provider dashboards, learner enrolment services and phone leads. Enquire with them directly about services, packages and pricing.
Coursesonline.co.uk is Candlefox’s UK version of training.com.au. It is an education marketplace for providers of all shapes and sizes to advertise courses online and maximise student enrolments. More than 21,000 people have enrolled in courses via coursesonline.co.uk in the last 12 months.
6. Industry-specific sites
Look for websites that are relevant to your industry that list suppliers, training courses, partners and more. Your local chamber of commerce is a great place to start, followed by governing bodies, local business directories and even polytechnics. Many have course catalogues, or supplier directories, partner pages and referral programmes that could be relevant to your target audience. Don’t be afraid to reach out and ask what services and packages they have to help you promote your business.
Candlefox’s marketing tips
We’ve covered all you need to know about course marketplaces. But what else should training providers do to ensure maximum, cost-effective brand reach and drive an increase in enrolments?
Build brand awareness
Building a compelling brand value proposition is essential when attracting student prospects, as it shapes how these prospects will identify with you and understand how you’re unique. It’s also just as important to communicate your brand across all of your offline and online channels with consistent branding assets and messaging.
In this day and age, having an online presence is key to brand awareness, particularly as training rapidly moves online in the post-Covid 19 world.
Remember to build your brand on multiple channels and leverage these platforms to engage with and reach the entire prospective student market. Be active on Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram and leverage as many different platforms as you can, both online and offline, to engage with prospective students. It’s also important to have an effective SEO strategy to supercharge your website’s success.
An effective content marketing strategy is one of the best ways for your prospective student audience to explore your course offering through their decision making journey, and shape their perception of you as a trusted educator. An effective content marketing strategy should align with your overall digital marketing strategy.
- Create a content calendar to plan and map out your content strategy
- Have an active and up-to-date presence on your website’s blog, on your social platform and across all of your channels
- Use content to retarget prospective students who have already engaged with you, informing them with industry or career related content that is relevant to your courses or institution. Outcome based content resonates the most with student prospects.
- Social proof goes a long way: devise methods to create content with student stories, student interviews and testimonials to create content that is highly relevant.
- Consider video content. Not only does it boast >2x higher engagement rates, but it will help your search ranking and people retain more information after watching videos.
Optimizing the sales process
Your sales process should focus on the following in order to maximize course enrolments:
1. Speed to response
The speed in responding to a prospective student’s enquiry is one of the most crucial factors in the overall success of your lead management. The faster the response, the higher the likelihood of engaging with, and enrolling the lead/student.
2. Lead nurturing
Inform your student prospects throughout their decision-making process. Not everyone will want to enrol in your courses immediately, so make sure you communicate with them through a nurture journey and warm your leads over time. Try and front-load your nurture journey the first couple of weeks following an initial course enquiry, as this is when most people are likely to enrol.
Our best practice tips:
- Build out relevant and timely information to help prospective students to progress through their decision making journey, reinforcing your brand and credibility at each of these interactions
- Use a CRM to build out effective communications and track student acquisition.
- Use market automation to effectively nurture student prospects. A marketing automation platform that sits on top of your CRM will help you inform, education and nurture your student prospects over time.
- Don’t rely on one medium, and don’t rely on just one interaction. Build out multiple touch points in your nurture strategy using varied channels – e.g. SMS AND Email AND Phone calls
- Marketing Automation software will significantly increase your success in execution and assist in your lead nurturing
- Build different pathways depending on how your student prospects engage – e.g. a different pathway for those that answer a call to those that don’t, or a stronger call- to- action strategy for those that are engaging with your content to those that are less engaged
3. Manage your pipeline effectively
A prioritized lead pipeline is essential for a team handling hundreds of student enquiries.
Best practice lead management is based on the number of call attempts (lowest to highest), and then by enquiry date and time (newest to oldest).
Dropping everything to focus on the newest leads will most likely yield better results.
Success rates tend to diminish the more times you try and get in touch.
By nailing these sales and marketing fundamentals, you’ll be able to maximize your course enrolments and set yourself up for success!
Stream Marine’s 41% sales growth
Based in the UK, Stream Marine Training Limited (SMT) is a world-class provider of fire-fighting, sea survival, survival craft, and HSE training for the global maritime, oil and gas, renewables, and construction industries.
Darren Payne is the Head of Projects at SMT, and is focused on delivering change through technology innovation, overseeing the booking and fulfilment program and driving process improvements.
SMT transformed their existing website by integrating with Arlo via the WordPress plugin. They now have a best-practice training company website that automatically publishes courses when they are created in the back-end of Arlo and an online course catalog that’s on-brand and easy to navigate. It’s also enabled a seamless online registration and checkout process that has increased the speed to book.
Darren says the improved usability and content of the website has also given them an organic SEO boost – helping their courses appear at the top of Google searches.
The result? SMT is selling 41% more courses.
“We now have a website where content is easy to change, we have complete visual flexibility, we can maximize our SEO opportunities, and we have an easy online registration process. As a result, we’ve increased our revenue by 41%.“
Insights and reporting
Arlo’s reporting dashboards show information in real-time – including what courses and events are coming up, the number of registrations, and courses that delegates have registered interest in. You can also track the value of orders, create and export reports, and manage daily tasks.
With access to live customer data and insights, Darren and his colleagues can understand how individual courses are performing, see what courses are under-selling or over-selling, and adjust pricing and registration limits to fully optimize revenue and assets. Darren is also interrogating the data to understand trends such as popular locations, popular courses, delivery method and age demographics. He is then using that data to inform their marketing efforts.
“That data allows us to target our marketing, so if one of our programs is popular with a younger generation, we’ll advertise it on a social media channel like Instagram to attract more people from the same age group.”
Gowrie NSW’s 34% sales growth
Australian-based The Kingdom is a HubSpot Diamond Certified Partner and software developer. Their team of sales experts, combined with app developers, work with business to improve their use of HubSpot to drive efficiencies and better results.
A non-profit-organisation founded in 1940, Gowrie NSW provides diverse education and care, family support and professional development services to the early and middle childhood sector across NSW and the ACT.
Gowrie NSW chose The Kingdom to find an deploy an integrated solution for their marketing, sales and CMS.
Gowrie was using a Frankenstack of technologies, with manual processes to process course registrations. Marketing was virtually impossible.
The Kingdom team moved Gowrie to HubSpot to address their CMS and CRM needs, helping them combine all their website portals into one. The Kingdom migrated all the website pages from Joomla into WordPress and then WordPress into HubSpot. They then integrated the solution with Arlo and connected it to a new Moodle Server hosted on AWS.
The Arlo eCommerce software was embedded into the HubSpot CMS to perform the purchase and subsequent registration of customers’ courses. All the courses and commerce operations have data transacting between HubSpot and Arlo.
- 60% Increase in page views
- 45% Increase in online conversion
- 34% Increase in the sales
Overview of Arlo Training Management System
With customers in over 70 countries, Arlo is a global leader in flexible, powerful, purpose-built training management software. Ditch that maze of spreadsheets. Forget generic event management systems. Designed so you can streamline processes and grow your training business. Use Arlo’s built-in website to start selling your courses today or seamlessly integrate Arlo into your existing website.
Arlo manages your training business from end-to-end so you can sleep easy.
It’s a complete training management solution to promote, sell, and deliver courses and events.
Arlo’s marketing features
At every opportunity, Arlo looks for openings for you to acquire more customers and grow revenue from existing clients. If you sell more, your business grows and that’s what Arlo is all about. Arlo comes with a tonne of marketing features that do the heavy lifting for you.
Check out our top 5 marketing features:
1. Campaign management
Run targeted campaigns to promote a specific course or another service. Build prospect lists based on contact information and previous event attendance. Then create and send your email and track the results.
2. Lead management
Grow leads for public and private courses. Arlo’s lead management feature allows people to register their interest in an event or course. When there are enough people interested, schedule the event and ask people to register. You can also capture interest for private courses.
3. Social sharing
Integrate Arlo with social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. Arlo allows you to take advantage of social media to promote your training and events. Customers can share and like your training and events from your website across their favourite social networks. Drive traffic to your website, increase brand awareness and get your training and events trending online.
4. Search engine optimization (SEO)
Stand out at the top of Google search results. Arlo uses the latest SEO techniques to ensure that when someone goes looking, your website is found. For example, Arlo automatically sets your event summaries as SERP meta descriptions. Feature upcoming training and event dates as rich snippets in Google, including the event dates, title and location within search engine result pages (SERP).
5. Blended learning
Blended learning is a great way to create differentiation from your competitors in a crowded market, scale your business, increase course capacity and drive profitability. All of the results you’d expect from a good bit of marketing! Not sure what we’re talking about? Learn more about blended learning and how it could help you sell training courses to increase the profitability of your business in the Ultimate Guide to Blended Learning.
Top 10 marketing apps that integrate with Arlo
See how Arlo works with your favorite apps and web services to help you scale up your marketing efforts. Connect Arlo with tools you already use, or discover new ways to market your courses with these top 10 marketing app integrations.
Arlo’s native integration with WordPress makes it quick and easy to create an engaging website experience for your customers. Flexible designs are customizable to suit your brand. Data seamlessly flows between the two systems – including online course registration and checkout. Mobile optimization and enhanced SEO make it the most popular integration with our Arlo customers.
Check out some of these best-practice training provider websites powered by Arlo:
Automatically send information between Arlo and Hubspot with the Zapier integration! Create new contacts in Hubspot from new contacts in Arlo, to keep all of your customer information up to date. Set-up triggers for new contacts, new events, new deals, new products and more so you can send personalized communications from Hubspot.
Not using HubSpot? Arlo integrates with all of the leading marketing automation platforms including Marketo, and more!
3. Salesforce CRM
Arlo’s integration with Salesforce combines the power of the world’s best CRM and the market leading training and event management system. As a duet, it’s the best salesforce event management solution out there. Access training and event information to run targeted campaigns from within Salesforce. For example, run a campaign targeting clients who have completed an introductory course but are yet to attend the advanced course.
Not using Salesforce? Arlo integrates with all of the leading CRM platforms including Microsoft Dynamics and more!
Keep your email marketing lists and communications up-to-date with this Zapier integration between Mailchimp and Arlo. When a new contact subscribes to a newsletter or registers for a course in Arlo, it will automatically add/update a new Mailchimp subscriber. Then set-up automated communications in Mailchimp, triggered by actions in Arlo. For example, send an email to complete a survey when someone completes a course.
5. Google Tag Manager
Arlo can send order related information through to Google Tag Manager, allowing you to manage and deploy marketing tags (snippets of code or tracking pixels) on your checkout without having to modify the actual code. Tag Manager can then be connected to other systems, allowing you to send Arlo transaction data to your various marketing and reporting systems.
6. Google Analytics
Integrate Google Analytics Ecommerce tracking to find out what users are buying through your site; including information such as the transaction value, time to purchase, and campaign which generated the sales.
With the SurveyMonkey integration you can automatically send feedback surveys after an event or course to gauge its success. Compare the relative performance of each course, the presenters, and the facilities used and use the data for continuous improvement. Publish positive feedback on your website and use them in your marketing campaigns!
8. Facebook Pages
Ensure your social media followers are kept up to date about all upcoming courses by connecting Arlo to your social media channels, such as Facebook pages. Create a Zap to automatically create a page post to share new courses with your social media networks. Delay the post to optimize it for popular times of the day, or particular time zones. You can even share event reminders too.
9. ClickSend SMS
With SMS marketing software like ClickSend (Burst, HeyMarket and more) you have yet another channel to stay in touch with existing customers and promote your courses. Most of these SMS applications integrate with other software, such as the Arlo training management system, so you can create automated workflows, removing the need for any manual work. For example, you can automatically send an SMS to past registrants based on license expiry dates, new courses, next level qualification and more.
Keep your brand at the forefront of your customers’ minds by automatically sharing your website blog posts and news to your social media channels – including Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn. You can link your RSS feed to your social network and have Zapier automatically share everything you post, or you can customize your publishing by connecting Arlo and Buffer. Remove the manual task of publishing the same content across duplicate channels, and ensure you never forget to share that blog post again!
Online course platforms
With Arlo at the centre of your training business you’re now ready to add an online course platform, or learning management system (LMS), into the mix so you can extend your course offering to blended learning.
Here are the top five online course platforms that are used by our training providers. All five integrate seamlessly with Arlo. Without an integration your two systems won’t talk to each other, and you’ll end up with a long list of manual tasks and a disjointed customer experience. To create the ultimate learning experience for your customers we recommend that an integration with your Arlo training management system is an essential requirement when choosing an LMS.
Moodle is the most widely used and most powerful open-source learning management system in the world. The system provides all of the functionality you need to create and deliver eLearning for online courses, and allows users to extend functionality and integrate additional third-party solutions using plugins. One of those plugins is the Arlo for Moodle plugin. The plugin is completely free and well-documented, making the task an easy one for developers when it comes to integrating Arlo and Moodle.
Coasemble is an easy to use LMS that enables you to create online courses in minutes with its existing templates and drag and drop functionality. Arlo and Coassemble integrate via Zapier, with existing Zap templates that cover everything from enrolling an Arlo eLearning registrant in a Coassemble course, to adding Coassemble learner grades to an Arlo registration. To see how Coassemble and Arlo integrate seamlessly to deliver blended learning for your customers, check out this short video.
LearnDash is a WordPress LMS plugin meaning that it requires you to have a WordPress website to use the software. Reviews mention that it does require a developer, or experienced WordPress user, to set it up. We recommended working with Candle Digital who work with WordPress-based solutions, and can ensure your LearnDash LMS integrates seamlessly with Arlo.
Learnbook is a clean and simple LMS that pitches itself as “the world’s friendliest learning management system”. The LMS is supported by eCreators; global leaders in Moodle hosting and instructional design, and powered by Moodle, the market leading learning management system. This LMS is for you if you want an intuitive interface, with all the customization and reporting functionality of a more comprehensive LMS. Check out the recent webinar we did with Learnbook’s Liam Liddicoat on blended learning.
TalentLMS is an easy to use and easy to understand LMS that is perfect for creating basic eLearning content. You can start with a “forever-free” account, but once you add on additional features the cost is at the higher end when compared to other LMS in this list. One thing to note is that certification and reporting features get a bad wrap in Capterra reviews.
And that’s a wrap!
We’ve covered everything from how to create a course to sell, ideas for budget-friendly marketing campaigns, to tools and software. We hope you’ve found value in this Ultimate Guide to Course Marketing for Training Providers.
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