5 Tips to Help You Promote Your Online Lessons

Photo by Joshua Woroniecki on Unsplash

According to an article by TechJury, the e-learning market is projected to be worth $325 billion worldwide by 2025. In the United States alone, this market is estimated to grow by more than $10 billion in the next 4 years. Not only is it good for business growth, e-learning is also proven to be more beneficial to students. A study done by the Research Institute of America concluded that e-learning can improve retention rate by up to 60%; as compared to 8% to 10% in face-to-face teaching. Students of all ages have also expressed their preference toward using digital tools in their learning processes. Looking at these statistics, it’s no wonder that many educators have decided to pivot to electronic teaching this year. That – and, of course, COVID-19.

With more and more companies offering online lessons, have you ever wondered if there is still space for you? If you are already teaching online, do you worry about finding enough students to justify your efforts? How do you stand out from the 50 other instructors teaching the exact same subject on the internet?

Here are 5 tips to help:

1. Position your business appropriately

2. Establish your online presence

3. Use social media to your advantage

4. Share positive testimonials

5. Create promotions and discount bundles

1. Position your business appropriately

Let’s say you’re a French teacher, and plan to offer French lessons online. There could be dozens of other language teachers who have the same idea. How do you promote your services to the students that you really want? And when you’ve reached them, how do you entice them to sign up with you instead of your competitors? All of these require careful thought and planning before you come up with an action plan.

In order to position your business aptly, you’ll need to consider 2 questions: 

1. Who is your ideal customer?

2. What is your unique value proposition?

The purpose of the first question is to help you establish your target audience. Do you want to teach French to children? Or would you prefer adults? What is their education level? Do you only want to work with people who live in a certain area? For educators who also have a learning centre, you may want to focus on people who are located near your school, so you can supplement your online teaching with physical material. Establishing your ideal customer persona can help you achieve a few things:

  • Figuring out how to craft your marketing messages to attract their attention
  • Finding the right places to invest your marketing resources in – for example, if you’re targeting high school students, you may want to focus more on social media platforms like Facebook and TikTok, instead of physical billboards or flyers
  • Fine-tuning your lesson delivery methods (e.g. more colorful graphics for kids) to improve lesson engagement and retention

In terms of unique value propositions, this is where you identify the points that make you stand out. How can you provide more value, or a different kind of value that can benefit your target audience? For adult language courses, maybe you could offer a strong focus on conversational techniques, instead of grammar and composition practices. If you teach math to children under 12, you may share skills and approaches that are not taught in local schools, to help them improve their mathematical prowess.

Knowing your unique value propositions allows you to distinguish yourself from your competition. It answers the question that often pops up in consumers’ minds: “How are you different from (insert names of other teachers here)?” There are educators who differentiate themselves based on price, either by going very low and targeting students with a lower socioeconomic background; or setting a high price and focusing on high end customers. However, although your charges can definitely affect sales, it shouldn’t be your sole focus. Being able to offer the value that consumers want is still key to attracting and retaining students. 

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2. Establish your online presence

Can you imagine the irony of being an online teacher without any kind of presence online? Many Malaysian educators, especially those with a physical education centre, do not feel a need for establishing themselves on the Internet. Thus, most of them still market their lessons with flyers, banners, and word-of-mouth promotion. While these methods are not ineffective, if you really want to grow your business, having an online presence is a must.

Forming an online presence is not just about having a website. In fact, if you’re not looking to invest funds into building and optimising a website, that may be fine, especially in the beginning. You can start by registering an account on popular listing sites, so potential students have a way of finding and contacting you. The reason why listing sites is a better option than a website when you’re starting out is because these platforms are usually well-optimised for search engine rankings, so when consumers search for a specific lesson, they are more likely to come across your offerings. On top of that, well-known listing sites and online marketplaces have already established their authority and leadership within the market. Therefore, when students and/or their guardians see your lessons there, they are more likely to put their trust and confidence in you, even though you may be a new entity to them.

In addition to listing your services online, you should also grow your audience on social media. The best way to do this is to focus on 1 or 2 platforms first, and slowly expand to other avenues. Your initial platforms should be those that your ideal customers frequent, such as Facebook and Instagram for the younger crowd, and Facebook and LinkedIn for working professionals. Instead of posting about your classes and your life, create content that provides value to your followers. For instance, you can share quick tips on how to solve simple problems in the subjects that you teach, dole out advice on effective studying etc. If you want to grow your audience even more quickly, consider working with other teachers to cross promote each other, through guest posting, featuring each other in your respective accounts, and sharing possible bundled promotions for your combined services.

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3. Use social media to your advantage

Social media is a powerful way for you to gain trust and reach more students. However, it can be  a tricky field to navigate. Have you ever wondered why some accounts post regularly and could only garner hundreds of followers; while others, like influencers and key opinion leaders, can rack up millions of followers within a couple of months? It’s not about their looks or the luxurious lifestyle that they enjoy. Instead, it’s about the value that they offer to their followers, be it inspiration, knowledge, humour, or others.

As an educator, the key value that you can offer is knowledge and inspiration. Share content that helps your ideal customers in their studies, and offer little nuggets of wisdom that can motivate or inspire them in life. Make sure that your posts and captions are crafted to suit the tone of your target audience. If your customer persona is a well-educated parent of preschool kids, you will want to develop a clean, matured style that resonates with them. Remember, your ideal customer need not necessarily be the students themselves; it can be their guardians too. This is especially relevant if you’re offering lessons to young children. 

One very useful platform that you should be on right now is Facebook. People of all ages visit Facebook, and while Instagram and TikTok are geared towards entertainment; Facebook has evolved into a platform where both personal and professional content can thrive. Nobody would bat an eye if a post about your latest tuition bundle promotion appears under an engagement photo of their best friend. It’s all just part of Facebook’s vast range of content.

On Facebook, it’s best to set up a Facebook Page for your e-teaching business, instead of a personal profile. You can name the page after the subject that you’re teaching, together with your business name if you have one. This way, if someone searches for the topic related to your classes on Facebook, there is a higher chance that they’ll see and visit your page. Another benefit of having a Facebook Page instead of a profile is that you can add your contact information to it, making it easier for potential customers to get in touch with you. You can also add a scheduling calendar for learners to book appointments, and run ads to promote your services.

After you’ve set up your page, it’s time to build your community. Join Facebook groups that are related to your subject matter, and be an active participant to gain trust. You can also start your own group to provide value and nurture a community of your own. Utilizing Facebook groups not only allows you to forge strong relationships with your target audience; it can also help you position yourself as an authority in the industry that you’re in. 

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4. Share positive testimonials

In August 2017, a peculiar restaurant began rising through the ranks on TripAdvisor. It’s a fine-dining establishment that is designed as a shed, and, instead of serving meals like other eateries, its menu is comprised of moods. The food is created based on different moods, with courses named “Happy,” “Lust,” and “Love,” all of which showcase dishes that the chef thinks represent those feelings. The institution rose to number 1 on TripAdvisor in 6 months, boosted by glowing reviews and lofty page views. People started calling for reservations, and the rejections they received only served to enhance the enigma of this place. The Shed at Dulwich became one of the most sought after and exclusive restaurants in London. The problem with it though? It doesn’t actually exist.

The Shed at Dulwich” is an experiment conducted by freelance writer Oobah Butler, who, before writing for a popular online publication, accepted many freelance gigs on writing fake reviews on TripAdvisor. This led him to wonder if he could actually get away with ranking a non-existential restaurant on the site, just with reviews and fake pictures alone. The experiment was a success, and his dummy restaurant ascended to the number 1 spot on the review site without even having a single customer since its creation.

While this venture was conceived partly to express the writer’s cynicism about online reviews, it no doubt showed the power that reviews can have over a business’s success. We live in a society where social proof is more important than ever, and a positive endorsement can hugely uplift the amount of confidence consumers have over a product. As a service provider, how do you leverage this to your advantage? 

First of all, start asking for reviews from your students or their guardians. For teachers who do not have any e-learning students yet, you can offer a free trial class to a small group in exchange for testimonials. Do not be hesitant to share the endorsement online, be it on your marketplace listings, social media, or website. There’s a reason why people look up ratings and reviews before making any purchases, and, especially since you’re conducting online lessons instead of physical classes, testimonials is an important way to gain trust from students who have yet to know you.

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5. Create promotions and discount bundles

Pretty much everyone likes a good deal. If you’re looking to boost sales, offering promotions is a great way to go. For teachers who are just starting to teach online, you can give out free trials to pupils who are interested. Unlike consumer products, online education constitutes a long term relationship between a buyer and a seller. If someone is debating whether or not to spend a few hours a week with you for the next five months, it makes sense that they would want to try out your service first. No student likes to switch classes in the middle of a term, and have to catch up and acclimate to a new course environment all over again. To enable consumers to have some insight on how good of an instructor you are, try giving out something of value for free. It doesn’t have to be a free class; you can post clips of your videos on Instagram, create a mini email course with introductory material, or give out study tips and mock exam questions in the form of an ebook. Anything that can give students a glimpse of your lesson quality will do.

For learning centres that offer a variety of online lessons, you can bundle related subjects into a discounted package. This can entice customers to sign up for the combo, and take multiple classes with you instead of just one. Teachers with only one subject of expertise can partner with other educators to create bundles, or provide discounts for their lessons within a limited time range. When doing this, make sure your audience knows how much they’re saving if they sign up for these promotions. That will encourage them to make the purchase, feeling like they’ve got themselves a good deal. 

Photo by Joshua Woroniecki on Unsplash

Being an educator is not just about teaching; you’ll also need to learn how to manage your education business. Even if you’re a top notch teacher, you will still face difficulties in getting students if you don’t know how to market your services properly. So, besides spending time on crafting quality videos and teaching material, don’t forget to also put some effort into getting your online lessons seen by your target audience.