Marketing your online learning programme needn’t just rely on you. If you’ve got a great elearning product and an engaged set of students, your learners can often help generate interest in what you do and help attract potential new customers.

Here are 5 ways you can help your students become advocates for your online course.

1. Digital Badges

Digital badges are used in a variety of ways within elearning. You may have even come across these in online courses you’ve taken yourselves. They can be used as a way of motivating progress with gamification techniques or signposting areas of a course, but perhaps their most common use is that of a digital credential.

Think of a digital badge as an online version of a paper certificate, with considerably more benefits. Digital badges can have a real richness of data attached to them called metadata. This data provides visibility on what was required to attain the badge, who it was issued by, when it was completed, and this can be managed at any time by you as a course provider. Services like Accredible and Credly provide course providers with the technical opportunities to integrate into their offerings.

The beauty for badge issuers (potentially anyone who delivers a course), is that they allow students to display their achievements publically. For many learners, this means adding them to their LinkedIn profiles or industry-related communities. As an online course provider, this presents an enviable opportunity for you to get ‘eyeballs’ on your business and your qualifications, simply by integrating these technologies into your learning platform and online course.

2. “Learning out loud”

Using web tools such as blogs and social media can, in the right circumstances, help enrich a student’s learning. In our experience, they can help drive a deeper engagement with the learning content, and require the learner to be more active in the participation of their studies. Some students feel that typical elearning formats can be quite isolating, so using tools like these can help them interact with tutors and other students taking your course, making it a far more social experience.

A reflective blog, which could be an optional task of a course, can provide students with the opportunity to consider what they’ve studied in more depth and help them integrate and apply it to their day-to-day life or work role.
Social media tools like Twitter provide the facility for students to learn from each other, rather than simply from the course content you’re providing. By simply nominating a specific #hashtag, learners can connect with past and present students, share their viewpoints and get involved in some detail discussions around the subject matter.

Naturally, this does present some potential marketing opportunities. Given the very nature of social media, your learners are likely to be connected with those of similar interests or backgrounds, who may also be interested in your offer. A student may wish to share their blog with their peers too, which could be a handy way of getting exposure for your training course.

They may also be happy to share their reflections with potential students, that you can integrate with your website. This can provide a useful insight into how the course works, what a learner can expect to study, and ultimately what the change will be as a result of taking your course.

(Important caveat: using tools like these within your online courses to help market your course should never be at the expense of the learning experience itself – you shouldn’t do it ‘simply because you can’. There needs to be careful consideration at the design stage. Consider factors such as the student’s confidence – in our experience, it only makes sense to make any reflective blogs viewable publicly once the student is happy in doing so, and it should always be the learner’s decision whether to do this or not).

3. Encourage visible feedback

We’re firmly of the opinion that people buy from other people. Anyone can say anything they like on a website, so empowering your happy customers to share their stories can help add some trust and credibility to what you say you and your learning products do.

Remember, an online course is a shortcut to an outcome, so don’t just focus on satisfaction. Focus on the end goal – be clear on what your course sets out to achieve for your students, and present stories that provide proof of this happening.

You’re likely to have services such as Trustpilot and Reviews, as a way of collating customer ratings of your products and services. Consider these if you are selling your course to a consumer-audience (rather than to businesses).

If you haven’t come across Net Promoter Score, this is also worth considering. Not only does it provide you with a continual metric to gauge customer satisfaction for your business, but can also be worth using as a promotional tool if you want to share the results!

4. Refer-a-friend

An oldie but a goodie, yet often forgotten. If you’ve got a great online course that helps your students reach their goals, then naturally they’ll want to shout about it to their friends. Referral schemes are used all over the web – whether that be domain names, clothes shopping or phone deals – your online training programmes needn’t be any different.

Encourage your students to mention your online course to their friends by giving them something in return. Extra time to study, an additional course for free, or some cashback on their original purchase. Make it easy for a student to share and track their referrals and it could be an easy way to generate further interest.

5. Create a great experience

Finally, it goes without saying, that the best way to turn your students into advocates is to give them an experience that delights. Nothing is a more powerful tool than a great product. The power of word of mouth is undeniable, with 83% of people saying they trust the recommendations of friends or family (source).

Make sure your online course helps them achieves their goals. Support them throughout the course, and help with any queries they may have. Deliver on your promises. Build a relationship with your learners, engage throughout and don’t just stop when they’ve finished their course – often taking an online course is a precursor to something else, for example learning Spanish so they can live in Andalucia –  so help them with the ‘macro’ goal, not just the ‘micro’ goal you can with this too.

How do I ensure I create a great learning experience though? That all starts with unpicking the needs, wants and challenges of your students. Luckily that’s where we can help. Get in touch and let’s find out how we can turn your idea into your very own online course.

 

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