Making It Know

Marketing and Selling Online Courses

The make-or-break factor in creating and marketing online classes is the sales strategy used to push them out to potential customers. Developing a curriculum that excites and engages people is essential to establish your thought leadership and build your brand—but making sure the curriculum is visible to those people is even more important. After all, if they don’t know about it, they can’t buy it.

Read on to learn how to sell an online course.

Identify your potential customers

First, get to know your target audience. Having a clear understanding of what people want to learn will help you to shape your classes and workshops to their needs, and attract and engage more of them.

Researching potential customers will give you a ton of information that you can leverage in your approach to selling, too. Consider:

  • Demographics: Knowing the age, ethnicity, gender, marital status, and income of your target audience will help you shape your marketing efforts.

  • Personality profile: How does your target audience communicate, and how do they like their authoritative sources to communicate to them? This will help position your message in the most appealing way. 

  • Pain points: What aspects of your potential customers’ lives will your courses help to solve for them? 

  • Keywords: Examine which search terms your visitors use and incorporate them into your website content. A strong SEO strategy will increase visibility of your courses in search engine results.

Squarespace websites include analytics tools that enable you to discover crucial information about users. Track everything from customer conversion rates to detailed data on where shoppers are dropping off and abandoning their carts, so you can make appropriate adjustments to convince them to buy.

Learn where your audience hangs out

It’s useful to know where and when potential customers spend their time online. For example, a yoga enthusiast might spend hours a week browsing Instagram for great inspirational content, but rarely opening Facebook. Meanwhile, someone looking to become a more empathic manager at work could be doing the same thing on LinkedIn, never clicking on a single YouTube link. Plus, while one of them might spend their mornings looking for content, the other might only search in the evening. 

Leverage website analytics to promote your classes strategically to specific audiences, on specific platforms, at specific times of day. If you haven’t started a website yet, you could also research your competitors’ audiences to start getting a sense for where they’re most engaged. 

Craft your sales message 

Developing a compelling sales message for your educational content will ensure that, when people see it, they’ll be driven to engage with it.

If your courses are designed for beginners, use language in your marketing and sales efforts that highlights that no past experience is necessary, or that they can explore something new. If your courses are made for people who are looking to deepen a knowledge base they already have, make sure that's clear through your language choices and messaging, too.

Run A/B tests to maximize conversion 

An A/B test is when you run two versions of the same promotion, switching up certain elements to see which combinations work best.

Imagine, for example, that you put together an email campaign promoting one of your courses that focuses on one specific message. Then imagine that you put together a different email promoting the same course but with a different message and tone of voice. You can analyze the performance of each campaign—looking at metrics like open and click-through rate—to understand which was more successful with your audience.

Interested in A/B testing social media messaging? You can use a tool like Squarespace Video Studio to produce two instructional films, one longer than the other. By running both at once, and promoting them on the same social media platform, you’ll be able to effectively gauge which length of content is more likely to convert potential customers.

Analyze campaign performance

With every campaign, start by identifying your goal. Are you looking to get more people to know about your courses, interact with your promotional and free course content, sign up to your mailing list, pay for one of your workshops, or take some other action? 

Now identify the metrics you’ll use to measure success. Clicks, impressions, and click-through rate (CTR) will help show you how many people are aware of your courses. Social media comments, content sharing, and dwell time on your course pages will highlight engagement and consideration. Signing up to a newsletter will demonstrate what’s called lead generation (i.e., identifying new prospects). Finally, sales of your workshops will highlight conversion—the moment your prospects become customers.

When you know how your campaigns perform, you’ll be able to better identify the strengths and weaknesses of your sales strategy and update it over time.

Interested in leveling up your marketing efforts

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