With the market for e-learning forecasted to be worth a reported $325 billion by 2025, the demand for information has never been so great. With a rising demand for services that can be infinite in supply, brings with it a rising number of entrepreneurs and businesses willing to offer it. We’re accustomed to seeing online courses that offer practical skills that typically further the career of the student in the way of marketing, accounting or web development, but this market growth isn’t just being driven by your more ‘traditional’ industries.
The demand for e-learning has also spilt over into niche topic areas with a greater number of specialists attempting to service them. The Unique E-learning League by The CPD Standards Office in the UK, which showed students had willingly parted with over £2 million on these niche courses, represents a growing demand in skills that benefit a student’s personal life.
This inadvertently represents an opportunity for businesses to stand out from the noise and capitalize on this growing market demand that remains largely untapped.
The CPD campaign highlights how to drive eyeballs to a course through innovation. For example, the course ranked first which drove over $1 million in revenue was called “Learn the Secrets of Zombie Apocalypse Preparedness”.
Though the course teaches students basic survival skills, which can be found with a quick search through a search engine, the creative twist given to it has resulted in over 4,500 students signing up with an average rating of 4 stars out of 5.
Why Online Courses Should Be Used Creatively As Part Of The Marketing Mix
Break Away From The Noise
Though online courses for traditional industries are knowingly saturated, the whole concept of online courses is that they are a reactive medium. Like search engines, students have to actively go and find the course (or the solution) that gives them the desired skill (the problem needing to be solved).
These students are highly-warmed up prospects within your target market and are open to being served information for a prolonged period of time. They’re even happy to pay for the privilege. This allows you to break away from competition and provide value at a time in which the user desires it.
Establish Your Authority
With online courses, students have usually opted in and may well have paid to consume the information you are providing. This process has already gone some way to reduce any perceived risk or question marks around your credibility.
The course then allows you the time to build on these initial thoughts and feelings. A well-structured course that offers a story with a unique twist to it will help to add to these thoughts, as well as keep the student engaged.
Courses further help to give depth and context to what you are talking about which helps to build the perception of expertise with the student. They’re far more likely to consume information when engaging directly with a human teaching it to them than a traditional blog post or infographic.
Create Brand Awareness
We’ve mentioned in the first point that online courses are a reactive medium. This usually means that the user has a problem and has found your course in the hope of finding the solution. The unique twist on the course is the part that will help spread word of the brand and increase awareness.
For example, in the CPD campaign, the course that yielded the 2nd most amount of revenue was a course on how to take the perfect selfie. This drove over 2,500 students to part with over half a million dollars. This course would’ve been ideal for a business offering camera-based products or services or even a smartphone provider.
Had they created a course labelled How To Take The Perfect Picture Of Yourself With a Smartphone, we don’t think it would have resonated quite as well.
Creating a course that is topical in nature and taps into a discussion will put more eyeballs in front of your brand and increase awareness.
Build Brand Loyalty
The natural next step from generating the awareness will be aiming to build loyalty with the brand. Offering a unique twist on a solution to a problem will help somewhat in giving the perception of expertise and innovation, but the course still has to have actionable skills that the students can go away and apply.
We mentioned in point 2 that people tend to learn better when learning from people, and with online courses permitting the host to speak directly to the student virtually, it would arguably permit a greater opportunity for a relationship to be built between brand and student.
The greater the course educates them and provides good value, the greater the relationship will be between the company and student.
Online courses don’t have to be costly in the way of expensive kit being required. There are a plethora of apps available for a smartphone that allows a professional finish to any filming. The only cost investment will be the time spent filming and editing.
The additional benefits to online courses are the now readily available content snippets that can be used across the marketing mix. 30-second snippets can be used across social media, for example.
Online courses can be used creatively to get your product or service in front of your target market, if used effectively. The main consideration is ensuring that there’s enough value provided in the course to give the student the actionable solution the problem they had been seeking.
With the market to grow to $325 billion by 2025, now is an opportunity to start testing the water and seeing what works best for your business.
This is a guest post written by Ben Alfrey.