The e-learning industry was poised for tremendous growth even before the COVID-19 pandemic. Industry revenues were estimated to have exceeded $140 billion in 2019 and are now anticipated to top $300 billion by 2026. The demand for quality online learning content is great, particularly in today’s era of upskilling and reskilling. But market demand doesn’t necessarily translate into automatic sales. This guide provides best practices for selling your online B2B and B2C training courses. You’ll learn how to identify the common headaches involved in selling your courses and how to avoid them.
1. Do Your Homework
Understand who your audience is, where to find them, and what they want and need, and tailor your marketing and outreach strategies accordingly. A particularly effective strategy for doing this is to create various buyer personas to enable you to target your ideal client more effectively.
Understanding your target audience also means recognizing the distinct categories of buyer, what they need and want, and where to find them. For example, your selling strategy isn’t going to be as effective as it could be if you’re using the same outreach and marketing approach for both B2B and B2C sales.
B2C buyers, for instance, are more likely to need or want immediate access to their chosen content, while this may not be a priority for B2B customers. They may be more interested in integrating training content into a longer-term learning and development protocol for their business.
This might seem like a distinction without much of a difference, but tailoring your sales and marketing strategy to specific business units will inevitably change the way that you engage your customers, drive interest, and promote content.
2. Get the Word Out about Your Training Courses
Social media has shown to be an effective tool for B2C marketing. However, its efficacy in B2B sales is more ambiguous. Less ambiguous, however, is the vast and growing power of specifically business-focused sites for B2B marketing, with LinkedIn leading the way. According to recent studies, 80% of B2B marketers use LinkedIn ads, and more than 30% of B2B decision-makers research products and services on the site before finalizing a purchase. So, if you want to optimize your B2B marketing, you need to go where the B2B clients are, from LinkedIn to emerging platforms.
For B2C clients, on the other hand, popular social media platforms, such as Facebook and Twitter, can be highly effective. Even more significant is the power of word of mouth (WOM) when selling directly to consumers. A recent Nielson study found that 92% of people trust WOM advertising, particularly from people they know, above any other form of advertising. The same study also found that 90% of consumers research a product or service before buying, and more than 70% need to see positive customer reviews before they will finalize a purchase.
Online social media community forums, like Facebook or LinkedIn Groups, can turn satisfied customers into unpaid promoters and influencers. Such platforms can also optimize targeted marketing because they enable the collection of data on what pages and topics are receiving the most clicks, what topics are being discussed in the forums, how customers are reviewing products and services, and even what questions they are being asked. Equally important, these community pages offer the opportunity to maintain contact with target clients by inviting group members to provide their email addresses or subscribe to company newsletters. This will make your email marketing efforts more efficient and effective because you will have a list of the most promising prospects, which means you will have a clear-eyed view of your target and where and how to reach them.
When you’re marketing to consumers, it’s imperative to capitalize on WOM, customer reviews, community forums, and targeted email lists. But you don’t need to stop there. You can take the power of WOM to the next level by instituting a B2C referral program. If you offer free courses, trial subscriptions, or discounted prices for every referral that a satisfied customer makes, you can drive client acquisition and retention, build brand trust and recognition, and secure that all-important WOM advertising.
3. Create a Robust Online Presence
It’s crucial to know who your clients are and where to find them. In turn, they need to know who you are and how to find you. One of the best ways to do this is to cultivate a robust online presence for your business. Use your company’s own website and blog to promote, market, and sell your courses. Research shows that frequent online engagement through social media and your company’s unique digital platforms is a particularly effective marketing strategy. Indeed, studies indicate that companies with blogs that are routinely updated with at least one new blog post per week receive 55% more visitors to their websites. In addition, business blogs are found to boost inbound links by 97% and indexed pages by a whopping 434%!
Your company’s online presence is an ideal way to connect and engage with your clients. It’s also the perfect opportunity to showcase your wares. Use your online platforms to introduce your product and your brand and identify prospective customers, including “virtual summits” and “five-day challenges” to link your product to the target customer. For example, you might use these seed courses to offer free “light” versions of your flagship products or limited trials on select content.
While these time-limited opportunities should be promoted on your company’s own digital platforms, you should also aggressively promote them on targeted platforms, such as LinkedIn, and industry-specific online platforms and publications. Researching the topic featured on these sites can help you determine your “seeding” strategy, as you can offer course samples and trial subscriptions that feature content aligned with the topics featured on the targeted platforms. For example, if an industry online publication plans to dedicate next month’s edition to matters of workplace health and safety, and this happens to be your training specialty, then you might develop seed courses specifically designed for this special edition and purchase advertising space on specific pages in this special publication. It’s all about finding your target audience and helping them to find you.
4. Make Buying Your Training Courses Easy
There’s no one-size-fits-all approach to marketing and selling. B2B and B2C marketing have critical differences, and the buying habits of customers within each segment will also vary widely, depending on the person and their particular needs. It’s essential to offer various options for purchasing entire courses, course packages, and other learning products.
For example, you can create your own Shopify store, where you can sell and promote your products. You can even link your Shopify store to the courses hosted on your LMS, so your customers can be linked directly to the courses after making their purchase. If someone has purchased multiple seats to a course, they can invite team members from their company to take training via email and easily manage these additional users in the LMS. In addition, you can make buying from your Shopify store even easier by integrating “buy buttons” onto every page of your company’s website and related online platforms, both for PC and mobile.
Selling your online courses is both an art and a science. With the right strategy, you can find your audience, win their trust, and capture their business. However, it all depends on understanding who your customer is, where to find them, and what they need, require, and expect. Armed with that knowledge, you can provide a sales and marketing experience that serves your clients and propels your business growth.
Here at Firmwater, we don’t just sell an LMS for training providers. We partner with our clients, giving them the tools and insights they need to implement the best practices in e-learning course development, growth, and delivery. We care too much about our customers’ businesses to have them wade through forums and chatbots for help.
Ready to use an LMS that’s designed for the way YOU work, with a team dedicated to YOUR needs? Book a no-obligation consultation directly with our team today!