You have spent countless hours creating an online course that you know your audience is going to love. You have a beautiful membership site created, your social media pages are established, and all systems are in place and tested. All that’s left is for the thousands and thousands of users to benefit from all your awesome content!
But there’s a problem: You’re not getting the sales you want, and you are so drained from the creation process that spending even more of your precious time and money on marketing is out of the question. You know that your course is top-notch, now you just need something to tip the scales in your favor to get the ball rolling. So what do you do?
First, let me tell you a personal story about my own online membership site. My team and I at Global Marketing Tactics created the Marketing University membership site to help people new to the marketing game get an in-depth, crash course on marketing to grow their business. We, just like you, spent hours and hours creating amazing content and we thought that people would be crashing our site with all their enthusiasm! Unfortunately, today in the online marketplace, there are thousands of options available to users, and it’s often hard to rise above all the noise, on merit alone. And like you, we had nearly gone crazy with all the hard work and effort we put into creating the program so we didn’t want to go into burnout doing a bunch of additional marketing when we knew we’d created the best program out there.
So what did we do? We went a route less travelled and brainstormed some easy community building tactics that we were able to implement into our daily work flow. In the guide that follows, see how all of these tips work synergistically with what you’re probably already doing online and with your marketing. Follow along and read some of our tips to give your site the boost it needs to get the money rolling in.
Powerful Online Communities
Create an added bonus for subscribers by developing smaller, closed “mastermind” groups within your community that your customers have to pay an additional fee to access. These can act as accountability groups to keep your customers on track in their progress, and also gives them a direct link for personalized advice and answers from you. Creating an additional price point for your course that includes access to a mastermind group takes little effort on your part but is a great way to drive sales. Charging a nominal price for access weeds out viewers who aren’t as serious about the program, thereby increasing the value of the groups.
On the public side of things, if you haven’t already, create an open community or forum for your online course using Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+, or your favorite social media site. Creating a centralized, online community for all of your students to meet in builds the value of your course material. Not only is this a great place for all of your fans to gush about how awesome your course is (that you can use as powerful social proof when promoting your content!), but it’s also a place for you to get feedback on the questions and issues that commonly come up with your community members, so you can respond in real-time, and find inspiration to create even more great content to address them.
Having a thriving online community increases your online course’s value because it becomes indisputable that your content is effective and transformative. Linking prospective customers to your online community to see for themselves what the fuss is all about will convert them to buyers.
But how do you drive people to your community? By engaging them in an authentic way.
Through powerful community-centric sites such as Twitter, Reddit, Hacker News, Slack Groups and LinkedIn, find people who could benefit from your course and engage them in meaningful conversation. Use your site’s keywords to search for like-minded individuals and get to know them. This isn’t about getting the sale (at first), it’s about engaging with prospective buyers and directing them towards your online community where they can learn more about what you have to offer them to enhance their life.
Twitter: Use Twitter to search for keywords and hashtags used by other Twitter users relevant to your website, and direct message, retweet, follow or direct tweet relevant content to them. Make your posts catchy and shareable to promote re-tweeting. Always post in real-time when community building and never link to your paid content before establishing a relationship.
Reddit: Reddit is a sharing hub that is entirely driven by its users who “up-vote” or “down-vote” content. There are sub-communities based around specific topics, and this is where you want to go to find your potential customers. Engage them with meaningful content that they’ll want to up-vote, start a conversation with people who like what you have to say, and then link them to your online course.
Hacker News: Hacker News is a great site where lots of tech- and business-savvy people go to get feedback on their content, or to find out about emerging technology trends. While more tech based, you’d be surprised at just how many different conversations and people come together on this platform. Establish yourself as an expert in your field by answering questions you find that relate to your topic and then link them to your site if it’s natural to do so.
Slack Groups: Slack Groups is most notable for promoting collaboration between users. With integrated chat boards, use Slack Groups to start up meaningful conversation with users who care about the same things your course speaks to. The file sharing capabilities are also great for giving away free previews of your content.
LinkedIn: LinkedIn is traditionally used for working professionals, and it’s a MUST to take advantage of this fast growing social network. With thousands of groups to join, we recommend joining 50 different, relevant groups, and engaging with members by posting thought provoking questions. Use their answers to find prospective buyers and link them to your site when appropriate.
Never underestimate the value of human connection. Video-based and online courses are inherently impersonal, now add a human touch to engage your community. But don’t just concentrate on your personal output, use these communities to bring your viewers together in one central place. Create a larger conversation, and you’ll drive more and more people to purchase your course!
Best Practice: You already spend hours a day online – make the most of that time by interacting with at least 15 different people per day on the social media sites you already use. Try for at least five interactions on three different sites where your target market hangs out, every day. Just remember, if you go straight for the sale and are viewed as “spamming” your credibility decreases.
Human Marketing Through Live Help
While the beauty of membership sites is in the fact that they’re self-paced, many of your customers can benefit from live, personalized help from you. In fact, in our experience they’re even willing to pay extra for individualized attention. This is a great way to incentivize your customers to buy.
This can come in a variety of different forms:
- Setup a support Twitter handle or Facebook Group specific to live support. You can leverage your online support group to hold weekly “live help” chats where you address popular topics in your community.
- Do one-on-one live training with poplin your community who opt-in for it. This can involve creating individualized videos just for them, or simply act as a meet and greet session to build their trust and rapport with you. Use Google Hangouts or Skype as a free way to put this into practice. Record the session, and then release it as bonus material on your site (see our last point for another way to leverage this material!).
- Try live-tweeting. Once a week, hold a live-tweeting hour with your community to offer help and advice around a specific or open topic relevant to your course material.
Best Practice: When creating added bonuses such as video sessions with your community or live support chats, take screenshots, or record the sessions so you can use this as social proof to draw in even more buyers. People are drawn towards things that are popular and vouched for, so take advantage of this simple marketing tactic to increase your course sales.
Different Times Create Different Profits
The next two points are about pricing strategies and how easy they are to implement to see an instant increase in buyers.
Having time-sensitive bonuses or discounts incentivizes viewers to buy. How? If you only have one price for your videos, you’re only catering to one portion of your market (and probably a small one). Similarly, if your market is always seeing the same price on your content, they aren’t motivated to buy. Try putting a time-limit pressure on them, and see what happens!
Here are some examples of this in action:
- Offer a discount for early adopters. Slash your price in half for the first 100 buyers in exchange for their reviews and testimonials. This will bring some money into your pocket and start building momentum (and a large community!) around your membership site.
- Offer an added bonus for a select number of buyers. For example, the first 5 buyers in a month get an extra 30 minutes or an hour of individualized coaching with you.
- Have a time-sensitive flash sale. Slash your prices in half for one hour, once a week. Advertise these discounts on your social media pages and build buzz around the fact that you release these discounts randomly. This will keep your buyers on their toes and watching your Twitter/Facebook feed.
Best Practice: Always have at least two different pricing tiers to capture both your big spending clients, and those who are more frugal. Offer discounts and bonuses that are time sensitive to promote buyers.
Quantities Increase Your Perceived Value
There are three different ways you can take advantage of pricing your content for the different levels of consumption your viewers may have.
Some great feedback we received from some of our early adopters was that often there was only an individual video (or two or three) in our course that they really benefitted from, but the only way to access those select training sessions was to pay for our whole course.
What we did from this feedback was we started using Gbox to sell individual course videos contained within our online course. Gbox is a video hosting and selling platform that empowers content creators to make money from their online content. We uploaded each of the videos contained in our online course which viewers can see the first 10 seconds of for free, and then they have the option to pay for the rest. These individual videos are prices relatively low compared to the price of our whole program, but in offering our course in this “chunked” way, we reach buyers who would not have normally invested in our whole program.
A lot of membership sites operate on a subscription basis. But are you only offering one subscription price?
Consumer behavior is often based on completely arbitrary factors, and we’ve found that when we offer multiple price points of the same content, sales increase. Try offering a season pass subscription for varying time lengths. Make it more economical (relatively cheaper) for viewers to sign up on a yearly basis, and less economical (relatively expensive) for a one-month pass. When a consumer perceives that they’re saving money, they will opt for the more expensive option.
Offer discounts to those who are going to be consuming a lot of your content. Having a package just for businesses is a great way to address this. Offering a discount for a company or organization for purchasing multiple memberships to your site is a great way to incentivize buyers.
Best Practice: It takes no extra time to create multiple pricing options, and they could potentially add tens, if not hundreds of new students to your site.
Ethical Bribes That Drive The Price
Offering digital takeaways adds to the value of your online course and incentivizes buyers. These takeaways can include PDFs, downloadable templates, bonus videos, audio files and high-quality graphics.
Try creating a new monthly bonus to attract new buyers. This bonus should be created in conjunction with new material you release and given to all of your current subscribers, as well as used as a draw for new buyers.
For example, create a PDF guide for your latest course material, or record an interview with an expert in your field to give away. Include an image of this takeaway in your marketing material and put a time limit on it.
As mentioned in our previous points, record any live coaching or training sessions you give to current subscribers and package these recordings or videos as a digital bonus for new subscribers.
Digital bonuses cost nothing to create, and can be used forever.
Best Practice: Don’t have time to create something brand new? Take one of your most popular course videos and transcribe it into written format. Add screenshots and some beautiful images and give it away as a digital bonus to new subscribers.
Congratulations! You have an awesome membership site that’s ready to go, and now we hope this post has given you some insight on free and easy ways to incentivize your audience to buy. Remember: creating valuable content is half the battle; once you engage your audience and get some purchases, the ball starts rolling and the profits start coming in!
Did we miss something? Have even better ideas? Let us know in the comments below!