Ben Alfrey
July 16, 2019

5 Ways Small Businesses Can Use Online Courses to Increase Sales

How YOUR Small Business Can Utilize Online Courses To Increase Sales

The Unique E-Learning League is a league table of some of the most successful online courses created, most of which you’ve never come across. The table boasts courses on all subjects from how to take perfect selfies and defend against a zombie attack to becoming a tour guide in your hometown.

These courses are not free and there are, of course, companies making a healthy profit off the back of them. However, the overall success of these courses stretches beyond enrolment figures and course sales.

A wide-angle lens also reveals that online courses can be used to increase sales in other areas of the business when the correct techniques are adopted. It is these techniques that will be uncovered here.

Justifying Course Creation

Online courses are now part of a thriving industry predicted to be worth over $300 billion by 2025. They are surging in popularity due to their ability to remove educational barriers that people have faced for years, as well as an increase in recognition among employers.

Even the courses which are not cemented in academic foundations, such as the aforementioned courses on selfies and tour guiding, are offering practical and entrepreneurial skills in the modern-day marketplace.

As a small business, these courses show the principles of packaging up and selling information in a unique way, with little investment and high potential of reward.

With so much money circulating the industry and such strong demand for online courses, it is easy to justify taking the time and resources to craft them. This is even true for small business when considering their potential to harness sales.

You may also want to read: E-Learning Trends to Watch Out for in 2018 [Infographic]

Creating Online Courses That Make A Difference

Unless you are running a business that has some type of academic accreditation, there is one avenue to take. Creating a course should primarily aim to help the learner develop a skill.

The type of skills they will want to develop will depend on your product and services and your market demographic. If you sell cameras, a course on selfies or vlogging may be appropriate.

The trick is to pick a topical area that carries relevance with your business. For example, the word ‘selfie’ was named word of the year in 2013. Of course, it is commonly used in society.

Had the course been labeled How To Take The Perfect Picture Of Yourself, then this may not have tapped into the audience base searching for how to take the perfect selfie.

To make your course stand out, you not only have to be relevant to your market but also relevant to the current environment.

Ways To Use Online Courses To Increase Sales

Once you have decided to create a course, it is natural to want to safeguard the investment of time and money and achieve a return of investment. To make sure these courses help you sell your products and services, here are five excellent tactics you can opt for:

1. Make Them Free

For a small business without experience in course development and limited resources, onboarding students can be an initial challenge. A way of overcoming this obstacle is by making your online courses free.

Although this may sound counterproductive when striving for a return of investment, at this stage, numbers are important. You will be able to expose students to your business values and what it offers.

Ultimately, online courses can be subtly used as a marketing technique for your business. Done right, it will lead to increased sales.

2. Include Discounts Within Courses

Whether your online courses are complimentary or paid for, another effective tactic is to include product or service discounts within the course material. If you can place discounts alongside relevant learning materials, you may entice learners to consider your products and how they will benefit them.

For example, a company that sells make-up may highlight a discount for one of their brushes within their course content.

3. Keep Them Relevant

Although briefly discussed earlier, it is essential that your business creates content that is relevant. This means that the courses must feed into a need for products and services sold by you. Another example of this would be a stationary company offering basic writing courses.

Your courses must not completely rely on purchasing from you, as this will appear an obvious marketing ploy and may feel deceptive to customers. Instead, your relevant courses should offer options with one of them being your product or service that solves a specific problem.

4. Make A Series

Once you have engaged a segment of the market with your courses and they have gone on to make more purchases, it is just as important to retain those buyers. To do this, you should aim to develop more courses and possibly a series of courses that offer progressions.

Your initial free course may look into the basics of a topic, but this could be developed further to more complex courses.

This is something your business may be more inclined to implement after finding success with your first course. You may not want your business to devote too much time and resources in the beginning. So make your first course a basic one. If you achieve success, expand from there.

The overall purpose of having a series is to present more opportunities to soft sell products and offer discounts.

5. Making A Community

Many online courses come equipped with a platform where learners can share ideas and pose questions for help. This sort of chatroom-style feature may be something worth adding to your online courses.

On these platforms, your previous buyers are more likely to spread good messages about your products and increase the likelihood of others buying from you. Ultimately, it creates an area for your customers to promote your products by word of mouth.

In addition, the course will provide a vault of additional content that can be used sporadically across other channels. The course content can be used across social channels, providing upfront value to prospects.

It can also be used to nurture an email stream. The provision of upfront value will help contribute to creating brand loyalty and turning prospects into future customers.

You may also want to read: How Conversational Marketing Platforms Can Grow Your Small Business

In Closing

There are more traditional ways that you can enhance sales figures for your business. However, an online course is a unique and innovative way of doing so while adding more value to your market. This may also have a positive impact on your business’s brand and identity.

Featured image: Copyright: ‘‘ / 123RF Stock Photo

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Ben is a passionate and self-motivated search engine marketer, with a keen interest in technology and psychology. He enjoys understanding how users act and think online, then using this data to generate results that add to the bottom line.

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