Online Learning Websites: An Outside-the-Box Marketing Strategy for Your Small Business

online learning websites

We learn something new every day. A stat comes over the evening news that makes us go “hmm,” a colleague shows us a shortcut in Excel or we absorb some random trivia fact seemingly by osmosis. So much information is thrown our way each day that we’d have to seclude ourselves in a Wi-Fi-free cave to not learn something.

But some people aren’t content with picking things up as they go along. These active learners seek out all the information they can find on topics that interest them. And if you’re the one providing that information, you’re setting your small business up for success.

Online learning websites such as Coursera, Thinkific and Udemy provide a way for you to share your knowledge with the world — or at least your small business’s fans, friends and followers. These sites allow you to create tutorials, lessons or full-blown courses on practically any topic under the sun.

When you offer them under your company’s name, you’re creating brand recognition and positioning yourself as a bona fide expert in your field.

The downside? You’re not the only expert in your field — and you’re certainly not the only company in your field using these learning websites to try and steer some business your way. If you want to take your course to the head of the class, here are some best practices.

Know Your Students

A good teacher always considers their students’ level before making a lesson plan. Unfortunately, you don’t have the ability to hand out a “let’s see what you already know” pretest, so you’re going to have to rely on what you know about your target audience before you start creating your syllabus.

Are you targeting people who want to learn the basics of coding? You’re not going to want to start with C++ or PHP straight out of the gate; it’s better to teach Java or Python. Are you planning an advanced course on French cooking? It’s safe to assume that your students have probably mastered the basics of boiling water.

The trick is to create your lessons so that they don’t fly over anyone’s head or spend too much time teaching things they already know. While there likely will be some overlap, you need to deliver value.

Don’t Skimp on the Content

Bite-sized pieces of content are fine on your website, blog and social media pages. The people who frequent online learning websites, however, aren’t interested in a quick taste – they want the whole meal, and they won’t be satisfied until they’re sipping their post-dessert coffee.

Your course needs to deliver the goods in a variety of mediums. Udemy, for example, allows six different formats:

  • Text
  • Video
  • Audio
  • Presentation
  • Documents
  • Mashups (presentation and video)

It’s recommended that about 60% of your content should be video — it’s the most engaging medium and the easiest way to get your message across.

Create your course in short, easy-to-digest lessons (two to 10 minutes each is a good rule of thumb), but don’t rush for the finish line. Make sure whatever you’re teaching is taught thoughtfully so people come away with a solid understanding of what you promised to teach.

Build Lasting Relationships

The best teachers don’t snap their briefcases closed and beat the students out the door as soon as the bell rings. They hang out after class to answer questions and clear up confusion.

Consider creating a Facebook group for the people who take your courses. It’s a simple way to follow up with them, get feedback on your lessons, and provide additional information about the material — or your small business as a whole. And it keeps you top of mind the next time they need something that’s in your wheelhouse.

Class Is in Session!

Online learning websites prove to potential customers that you know your stuff. If you offer your tutorial or course for free, it’s a gesture of goodwill that can help you capture leads; if you charge for it, it’s a great way to earn a passive income while you work on other areas of your small business. Whatever path you choose, it leads to a new tool for your small business marketing strategy!

At Mischa Communications, we’re always learning new things – and we want to share our knowledge with you! Let’s get the conversation started.