But one of the most important things to understand is that about 68% of those students are already experienced professionals - they fall into a category called "industry switches," where they're likely hoping to move from one career field and into another. A lot of this happens later on in life, considering that the average age of these students is 32 years old.
But this impressive trend doesn't just extend to online educational institutions - far from it. People are turning to the Internet to learn how to do just about everything, and they're using comprehensive video tutorials as a guide. Because of that, the online education industry has taken a number of significant leaps in popularity over the last few years alone - to the point where you may be considering starting one yourself.
For as advanced as educational technology has undoubtedly become, you must understand that it's still possible to "get this one wrong," so to speak. The best and most thoughtfully designed educational content in the world ultimately won't mean a thing if you're unable to get that content in front of the eyes of the people who need it the most.
Therefore, if you really want to make sure that your educational material (and the associated business) is able to "hit the ground running," there are a few key things you'll need to keep in mind.
Bringing Education to the People: Breaking Things Down
In a lot of ways, creating and publishing an online course and marketing that eventual course are really just two sides of the same coin. They're essentially the same process but optimized to take advantage of which particular part of the "buyer's journey" someone happens to be on at the moment.
On the topic of actually creating that online course, the key factor to play into is that your online "student body" has never been more diverse than it is right now. You're talking about collections of people from not only different age brackets, but different demographics and backgrounds, too.
But this diverse audience is also an incredibly savvy one - meaning that you're not going to be able to get away with simply promising them that yours is an educational course worth investing in. You're going to have to prove it, and you can do that in a few different ways like:
Yes, it's absolutely true that the actual construction of your course will vary wildly based on a number of factors - including the topics you've selected and the audience you're trying to educate in the first place. However, if you don't have those three core elements accounted for, your trip into the world of online education may very well be over before it has even had a chance to truly start.
Marketing Your Online Course
Once you've actually taken care of the course itself and have made sure it's as thoughtfully constructed as possible, you can then move onto actually getting people excited to take it. This will involve a lot of the same skills you just used, albeit applied in a completely different way.
The number one goal of any marketing professional is ultimately to act as an educator - here, you're doing exactly that, but you're educating your audience about exactly what you can do for them by way of your online course.
In fact, you'll probably end up using a lot of the same tools that you used to make the course itself to actually market it. The chances are high that you sat down with some type of Infographic maker like Visme (which I founded) to come up with compelling visual collateral for your course. You can use that same tool to educate people about what value they'll receive if they happen to take your class and carry it on through to completion.
Along the same lines, social proof is going to be key to marketing your online course - meaning that you want to generate as much of it as possible. If your course may help someone transition from one industry to another, for example, you might use a service like Respona to find thought influencers who are experts in that particular field. They could talk about the joys of working in that industry in a compelling and emotional way, thus helping to build social proof and highlighting a little bit of that value you'll be able to generate for people at the exact same time.
Regardless of the methods you choose to explore, you must remember that you'll never be taking your "educator" hat off at any point during this process. In a lot of ways, the process of marketing your online course is nearly identical to that of building the course in the first place - you're trying to get people to understand not only what you do, but why it matters. Provided that you're able to simplify things to the point where you never lose sight of that, there are truly no limits to where your online course may take you.
About the author:
Payman Taei is the founder ofVisme, an easy-to-use online tool to create engaging presentations, infographics, and other forms of visual content. He is also the founder ofHindSite Interactive, an award-winning Maryland digital agency specializing in website design, user experience and web app development.