Online learning is big business. As an industry, eLearning was set to grow before we ever heard of the coronavirus. Since the beginning of the pandemic, lockdowns and social distancing have only accelerated this growth. The market is now worth more than $250 billion (£190 billion). If you’re a course creator looking to secure a slice of that market, the opportunity of Google Ads for courses cannot be overstated! It is the perfect tool for raising awareness, driving excitement and of course… selling your course!
Why Google Ads? Because it’s not only the demand for online courses that has grown over the past few years. The number of course creators is also increasing steadily. To compete and grow your business, you need to stand out from the crowd. Google Ads can help you do that, even on a limited budget.
For those new to the topic, Google Ads or search ads are displayed at the top of search engine results pages. The ads link to your website or a specific landing page. You pay a fee every time someone clicks on your ad.
Below are some of my favourite strategies and tactics to help you grow your online learning audience. Read on and watch your course sales reach new heights!
1. Start with your Audience
Every marketing strategist will tell you how important it is to know your audience and target customers efficiently. Google Ads has all the tools course creators need to reach even the smallest niche audiences without wasting any of their budget. However, none of those tools will work if you don’t clearly define your audience.
Demographics are a great start. They allow you to define your audience by gender, age, social status, and other criteria. With that initial selection done, consider layering your audience to refine the selection further and reach out to very specific niches.
Beyond basic demographics, you could add a life event to narrow down your audience. For example, if you’re creating courses to support primary school children struggling with maths, select parents of kids in that age group as your audience. Perhaps you’re also offering courses that help high schoolers prepare for exams? They would appeal to both pupils and parents of young adults.
Narrowing down your audience like this will achieve two things. The adverts for your online courses may be shown in fewer search results, but they will achieve higher conversion rates.
2. Target Specific Keywords
Once your audience is clearly defined, you need to select the keywords your potential customers are likely to use to find courses like yours. I can’t overemphasize how important it is to be as specific as you can!
As more course creators are vying for the attention of potential online learners, generic keywords such as “online maths tutorial” are just not good enough. Granted, your advert would turn up in a lot of searches. But it would not necessarily be seen by primary school students’ parents in my example above. Conversions would stay low.
Once you’ve created layered audiences, select keywords that are specific to them. Don’t be afraid to select very distinct niche keywords. They will drive conversions more cost-effectively than broad, generic terms.
Determining your Keyword Match
Without further specification, Google Ads will treat your keywords as a broad match. Assuming you choose “online maths courses” as a keyword, anyone looking for “online maths classes” would also see your advert.
If you select phrase match, your advert will be shown when users enter a phrase containing your keyword. To do this, all that’s required is putting your term in quotation marks. In our example above, “online maths courses” would appear in searches for “primary school online maths courses” as well as “online maths courses for high school students.”
Selecting the exact match option allows you to narrow down your appearance in searches even more. Putting your keywords in square brackets means your ad will only appear when someone searches for the exact term. As important as niche targeting is, think about whether this step may be too restrictive for you as a course creator.
Dynamic keyword insertion is a clever way of customising your advert to the user’s search terms. If your users are likely to use a range of different terms to look for your courses, you can specify a group of keywords. Google Ads will automatically select the keyword from the group that matches the search term.
Setting negative keywords allows you to exclude your adverts from certain searches. If your online course requires a payment, appearing in searches for free courses wastes the user’s time and your advertising budget.
Someone looking for a free course may not immediately see from your advert that your courses require payment. The user clicks on your ad only to realise that it’s not a good match. The result? Potentially a high number of costly clicks without any conversions.
Are your courses designed for people in a specific area or country? Just because you’re offering online learning doesn’t mean you’re looking to attract a global audience.
Narrowing down the geographic area in which your search results are being shown can help reach niche audiences.
3. Choose Nurturing over Selling
Not all online courses are created equal. If you’re selling a premium product, chances are your customers take time to consider their purchase. One single advert is unlikely to lead to a conversion. Instead, most high-ticket purchases need a bit of convincing before they commit.
Think about it – prospective customers may be unsure if your online learning courses really suit their needs. They’ll be hesitant to spend hundreds if not thousands of £ on a high-risk purchase. So, how can you lower the risk and nurture your prospects?
One approach is to offer an abbreviated version of the course. Create a landing page for this version and use it as the first step on your nurturing ladder. It’s a great way of generating some income for you whilst prospective customers get a taste of the course you’ve created. If customers love your initial offering, they’ll find it easier to commit to a bigger purchase.
Alternatively, you could offer a freebie or a webinar to introduce your content to a wider audience. Rather than excluding searches for free courses with negative keywords as I mentioned above, a free taster session or webinar could be part of your nurturing process.
Nurturing prospects with Google Ads builds relationships and delivers reasons to purchase without using hard-sell techniques.
4. Add Remarketing to Your Nurturing Strategy
Remarketing or retargeting is another approach to nurturing prospects who have already shown an interest in your courses. Google Ads allows you to place your adverts in front of users who already visited your landing page.
Remarketing is your second chance to make an impression on prospective students for your classes. They may not have purchased your online course the first time they researched it, but customers abandon purchase processes for all sorts of reasons.
Assuming they were not interested in the course, simply because they didn’t buy on the spot would be missing out on an opportunity. Remarketing works well in combination with your nurturing strategy. If your initial advert presented the full course you created but didn’t convert into a purchase, why not highlight a taster version or a freebie this time? Your prospective customers will recognise your brand as one they’ve already engaged with.
It’s often easier to convince prospects to commit to a smaller purchase. This initial sale creates a relationship between your brand and your customers, making the next sale easier.
5. Use YouTube Video Ads to Support your Online Courses
Nothing builds trust between a prospective buyer and a seller like a face-to-face conversation. As a course creator, you rarely have the luxury of meeting your students in person. But you can meet them face-to-face through video.
Engaging prospective customers with a YouTube video not only allows you to talk to your customers. You can also use Google Ads’ functionality to reach specific target audiences by linking your YouTube channel to your Google Ads account.
YouTube offers excellent targeting options for your online courses. You can reach niche audiences by selecting demographics, interests, and life events, for example. If you’re looking to expand your reach, try targeting by topic instead.
YouTube video ads are an excellent tool to help course creators showcase the content of their courses to prospects. Offering snippets like that not only engages prospects but also builds trust in the product.
6. Testimonials for the Win!
Buying an online course from a relatively unknown creator based on a Google Ad alone poses a risk for your prospects. It’s certainly less predictable than following a friend’s or colleague’s recommendation.
Building trust in a new brand takes time, but testimonials are an excellent shortcut. Even before you’ve made your first sale, you can generate testimonials. Ask friends and family to take your course and give you feedback. You can list their endorsements on the landing page your Google Ads link to.
This type of social proof immediately adds credibility to your courses and builds trust. Rather than being a complete unknown, your course appears more established and trustworthy.
7. Don’t Forget to Measure Your Success (and Your Failures)
Like all marketing activities successful Google Ads campaigns for content creators need to be measured and tracked. Without consistent measuring, it’s impossible to identify the adverts that are performing well and eliminate or alter those that are not working.
Especially when you’re only getting started with either Google Ads or as an online learning course creator, marketing your courses is an iterative process. As you’re tracking conversions generated by your ad campaigns, you can alter every aspect. Try different keywords if you’re not generating enough clicks. If your clicks don’t result in conversions, perhaps your landing page needs a makeover?
Measuring and tracking give you invaluable insights into your prospective customers’ behaviour. Don’t stop at tracking Google Ads, but make sure you install Google Analytics to your landing pages for access to even more user data. Understanding how prospects move around your site and which content they love makes it easier to create more of what’s working best.
8. Clarify Your Budget
If you’re just starting out as a course creator, it’s tempting to think you can’t afford Google Ads. In most circumstances, that couldn’t be further from the truth.
Google Ads can be tailored to almost any advertising budget. Saying that it’s important to set limits to manage your budget. Generic keywords may be popular, but they are also costly to convert into sales. Bidding on more specific, targeted keywords or long-tail keywords is often a better choice when funds are limited.
Use the data gathered from measuring and tracking to set realistic goals for conversions. Perhaps you can afford to spend £2 per sale of your abbreviated course but are happy to spend £20 for a conversion on the full course you created.
If you are selling premium, high-ticket-value courses, you need to think about your customers’ lifetime value. How much could they be worth to your company if they purchase your entire suite of courses? How many other customers may be convinced to buy the product based on a happy customer’s recommendation?
Combine your answers with your tracking statistics to determine your ROI goals.
9. Connect to other Marketing Activities
Google Ads is only one aspect of your marketing strategy for your courses. But every single activity contributes to the picture you’re building of your brand.
To be recognizable and effective in building your brand as a course creator, each marketing tactic or activity needs to relate to your business and marketing objectives. Google Ads is a powerful tool for course creators, and it works even better when you use it in conjunction with other strategies.
Get started with Google Ads For Courses!
Are you ready to sell more of your online learning courses with the help of Google Ads? Or would you like a bit of expert help? Get in touch to find out how your course creation business can start growing even faster.