Let’s discuss launching and marketing your certification course or, more specifically, how to find your ideal audience and then persuade them to sign up for your program.
How To Launch Your Own Certification Program: Marketing Your Certification Program
Before we delve into launching and marketing your certification program, we should first discuss beta testing.
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It is next to impossible for you, an expert in your field, to test the course as a novice. If you’ve created the curriculum, you already know the information at a mastery level. While you may be able to determine the usefulness of the topics, you won’t be able to accurately observe whether or not your course is achievable by the average student. Your course may be riddled with issues, such as pacing problems or disjointed presentation.
For this, you need to enlist a group of beta testers who aren’t familiar with the course material. Encourage your beta testers to provide an honest assessment of your test. You will need to ask pointed questions in order the determine the efficacy, viability, and desirability of your course. Here are a few questions that you’re free to borrow:
What is your goal in taking this test?
Did you encounter any technical problems with this course?
Did you feel like the course moved too fast or too slow?
What was your favorite part of this course?
What was your least favorite part of this course?
On a scale of 1-10, how easy was the course?
On a scale of 1-10, how useful was the course?
Would you pay for this course? If so, how much? (Offer multiple choice options.)
How would you improve the course?
Would you recommend this course to a friend or colleague? (You can also put this question on a 1-10 ranking system to establish an NPS baseline.)
Once you’ve created a list of questions to ask your beta testers, the next task is figuring out how many beta testers you need. Hint: You probably need less testers than you think. A group of 50 testers is likely to suffice.
Also, don’t get locked into a vicious cycle of testing. After the initial round of tests, make the necessary corrections, and then get ready to launch. As long as there aren’t any glaring inconsistencies within your course material and you’ve made satisfactory adjustments in accordance with the feedback of the beta testers, you’re ready to go.
It’s time to launch your certification program. Are you
Overwhelmed and not sure what to do first?
All of the above?
Launching is all of those things and more. Launching can be very technical. It requires testing your learning management system, making sure that your course website is working properly, and that inbound links are correct. Nerve-wracking doesn’t even begin to describe it. You’ll need to be detail-focused (or hire someone who is) to properly execute a launch.
In addition to testing your systems, here are a few things to consider when launching your course for the first time:
Create a website or a very detailed landing page for your course. Clearly indicate what your course is about, who the course is for, how long the course takes to complete, and how much the course costs. Remember to focus all of these on a call to action: registering for your course.
It’s also a good idea to display testimonials (that you’ve grabbed from beta testers) to validate your course and provide all-important social proof. Include FAQs, too.
Even if you don’t have all of the details about the course, you can still create a “coming soon” landing page here to start generating interest. Start collecting emails. On your course’s website or landing page, include an email signup form. It’s never too early to collect email addresses.
Prepare emails, blog posts, and ad copy. We’ll discuss why below.
You’ve got to spread the word about your course, but how? Marketing is especially difficult if the course is new and no one (outside of your beta testers) has tried it before.
Here are a few ideas for marketing your new certification course:
Start With Email
Email your subscribers about your upcoming course. You don’t even need to wait until the course is ready for launch. You can start emailing them weeks ahead of time, letting them know that you’re planning to debut your new course. Email when you’re still in beta testing to build anticipation. You can also use your emails to gather last minute feedback from your audience on what they need in the course.
Offer An Incentive
Doing a special deal, such as a discount, can bring in some early students to help get your program off the ground. Don’t do this indefinitely though. For example, offer the course for free to the first 100 people. Doing so can help build up a group of graduates to help get more feedback and spread the word.
Focus On Social And Professional Networks
Where are you potential students spending time online? If your program is business focused, that may be on LinkedIn. Perhaps they spend more time on Facebook compared to Twitter. Regardless, most of them offer targeted advertising opportunities based on interests, location, demographics, occupation, and more. Furthermore, many can accommodate all budget types from very small ($5 per day) to more substantial ($500 per day).
Blogging and other forms of content marketing play a crucial role in recruiting prospective students. Blogging in particular gives you the ability to reach and influence search engine users. You can create a series of blog posts about the different sub-topics within your course and then link to your comprehensive course as the call to action within each post. That way, when a prospective student comes across your post as the result of a search query, they learn about your course.
Remember that when selling your course, sell the benefits and not the features. As the proverb goes, “Don’t sell the mattress. Sell the good night’s sleep”.
If your course is professional-centric, discuss how your course contributes to a positive reputation and greater credibility within the industry.
If your course is product-specific, discuss how your course offers complete mastery over the product.
If your course is organization-specific, discuss how your course equips employees to have a successful experience with your company.
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