12 Ways to Promote Your Online Course that Your Audience Will Love

Thinkific TeamCourse Marketing7 Comments

12 ways to promote your online course | Thinkific

12 ways to promote your online course | Thinkific

Congrats! You’ve figured out what kind of online course you’re going to create. Or maybe you’ve already created it.

And now, you’re ready to start enrolling new people and you need to do so in a way that makes people super compelled to join your program, not shove it down their throats. Tricky, right?

You and I both have been on the receiving end of pushy marketing. On the other hand, we’ve also been on the receiving end of honest, genuine, fun marketing. We might not have even realized we were being “marketed” to because it was that good.

As you go through the 12 strategies, please keep these 2 course promotion rules in mind:

Rule #1:  Sales funnels are the name of the game.

All of the following strategies are ideas for you to plug into your funnel. By themselves, these strategies won’t do anything.

Plugged into a strategic relationship building machine, however?

They will make the difference between “making a few sales” and “creating loads of raving fans”. Which one do you want?

Set up sales funnels to 1) attract leads, 2) nurture the relationship by showing them what you’re capable of, and finally 3) give them an offer they can’t refuse.

Rule #2:  Stop thinking about how much money you’re going to make. Start thinking about how much you can be of service.

Frankly, your audience doesn’t care about your goals. They’re constantly wondering, “What’s in it for me?”. If you can step outside of that mindset and start focusing on how you can be as helpful as humanly possible, people will fall in love with you.

12 ways to promote your #onlinecourse that your audience will love @CourtBourtInc #teachonline Click To Tweet

12 strategies you can add to your sales funnels that your audience will love:

They might not even realize you’re marketing!

The 12 strategies that I’m sharing in this post are creative ways of both attracting new people to your audience as well as wowing, wooing, and amazing the audience that you already have.

Pick 2-5 of the strategies that appeal to you the most and use them the next time you promote your course. Each of these ideas are blank canvas on which you get to create content that is branded to your business’ personality.

Strategy #1 –  Engage with your peeps via live video

The plan: Hop on the live video streaming platform of your choice (Facebook Live or Periscope are great) and share specific tips that are relevant to the topic of your course.

How to do it:

  • Come up with 5 quick lessons that you can teach. These should be things that take less than 15 minutes and will help people see the value in learning more about your topic.
  • Use Periscope or Facebook Live to with your audience in a real-time, honest, authentic way. If you haven’t done this yet, your audience will eat it up!

Strategy #2 – Share bite-size Instagram tips

The plan: Similar to Strategy #1, here you will share 5 or so days of tips via Instagram.

How to do it:

  • For each of the lessons you’re teaching on live video, create an Instagram post that shares the lesson, too.
  • Make sure to expand on the point in your caption and add relevant hashtags. I personally like to write pretty long Instagram captions. They’re more like “mini blogs”.
  • Write a long-form caption to go more in depth about your tip.

Be careful not to…

  • Share ugly images. Instagram is a visual platform so the trick here is marrying pretty graphics with seriously helpful content.

Check out how I did this for my last promotion:

12 ways to promote online course 1

And here’s how my friend and blogging superstar Melyssa Griffin did this to promote the launch of her Blog to Biz Hive:

12 ways to promote online course 2

Strategy #3 – Create mega blog posts

The plan: Create a monthly blog post that is much meatier than the usual post. These posts are like mini courses in themselves and include a worksheet or printable (called a content upgrade) for people to get if they opt-in.

You will…

  • Make a list of 3-5 blog post ideas on topics that address misconceptions about your topic, mistakes people are making, show the importance of your topic and why it’s urgent to learn about.
  • Create a worksheet to go with your blog post that helps people to take action on the post and get results! You’ll add a button to your blog post so that people can opt-in to get this worksheet (and voilà, you’ve created an audience interested in your course topic!)

Be careful not to…

  • Be a perfectionist. You can always improve you blog post later. Set a date to publish and ship it out on that day.

Take a look at how Emmy Award winner Natalie MacNeil used content upgrades to promote her Media Method program:

12 ways to promote online course 3

Strategy #4 – Produce a 3-part video training

The plan: Provide an in-depth training video series that gets people amped up and excited about your course topic. The goal of the training is to teach them your system and why this topic is urgent.

You will…

  • Create a video training that teaches people the “what” and the “why now” of your topic.
  • Release one video every couple of days and keep people engaged via an email sequence.

Be careful not to…

  • Bite off more than you can chew. Video trainings take a lot of work to prepare, film, edit, and publish and you don’t have real-time feedback on whether or not they’re working (which is why I normally do webinars over video trainings).

Strategy #5 –  Share a passionate post about your “why”

The Plan: This is my favorite strategy! Connect with your audience on a deeper level by showing them you really, truly understand how they feel. Warning: For this strategy to work, you have to be willing to get vulnerable.

You will…

  • Address a major hesitation, block, limiting belief that your audience has by sharing your story and experience with that block.
  • Post your text with a relevant image on Instagram and Facebook. You can also create a post like this to send as a part of your email marketing sequence.
  • Dig really deep to a place where you can really identify with how your reader is feeling. Get vulnerable and share your story. The more “embarrassing” it is, the better. Chances are other people can relate and are feeling ashamed. They’ll love that you’ve been through the same thing and are shining a light on how they feel.
  • At the end of the post, share that this is why you developed the program that you’re promoting. Then, share with them the specific results that they can expect from your program.

Be careful not to…

  • Make up information or sugar coat things. Share the true story!

Here’s an example of how Hilary Rushford does this on Instagram. She’s an absolute Instagram pro and always writes super compelling, honest, and refreshing captions:

12 ways to promote online course 4

Strategy #6 –  Gamify it!

The Plan: Catalyze your audience to take action! Make it fun and engaging to be a part of your promotion. Incentivize people to participate to increase the likelihood that they’ll engage with your content and fall in love with your work.

You will…

  • Give people action steps to take at each part of your promotion. It doesn’t have to be complicated. You can create a week-long daily challenge.
  • Host a giveaway that incentivizes people to share your free training and attracts more people to your audience.
  • Do a prize drawing for people who achieve a specific goal or accomplish a certain task.

Be careful not to…

  • Give people actions that take too long or tackle a “too big” goal. For example, the Thinkific 30 in 30 challenge gives you the reasonable goal of enrolling 30 new students in 30 days. If it were 300 in 30, it would be too overwhelming for a free challenge. People would feel too paralyzed to take action

One entrepreneur who does this extremely well is Sarah Jenks, an emotional eating coach who frequently launches the #LiveMoreChallenge.

12 ways to promote online course 5

Strategy #7 –  Get people to participate

The Plan:

Involve your audience in the creation of your program and it’s launch so that they feel invested from the start! This makes them way more likely to click “enroll now” when the time comes.

How to do it:

Send a short survey to your audience asking 3 super short questions:

#1 What is your #1 frustration when it comes to {your specific topic}?

#2 What do you wish an expert would finally reveal about how they {your specific result}?

#3 If I create a program to show you how to {insert result}, what’s one thing that absolutely MUST be included?

Involve your audience in the creation of your #onlinecourse. @CourtBourtInc #teachonline Click To Tweet

Strategy #8 – Host Webinars

The Plan:

Harness the power of webinars to create real-time hooplah and excitement about your topic.

How to do it:

#1 Choose a webinar topic that teaches people why this topic is urgent as well as gives them the basic framework. If they want the full system they can sign up for your program, for which you will offer a limited time bonus at the end.

#2 Create a bonus for people who purchase your program at the end of your webinar. This is one of my favorite ways to reward engaged students and boost sales.

Related: The Complete Blueprint To Selling On Webinars

Strategy #9 – Use Affiliates

The Plan:

Get honest-to-goodness true fans and colleagues who know your work to share it with their audiences. You will normally pay affiliates 50% commission on e-courses and online programs.

How to do it:

#1 Set up your preferred affiliate program

#2 Create graphics, swipe copy, and other marketing materials to share with your affiliates. The goal is to make their job as easy as possible.

#3 Use Strategy #6 to gamify your affiliate program, too! I once won $500 for being the top affiliate for one of my absolute favorite online programs. Seeing the “leaderboard” every week incentivized me to want to see my name at the top of the list.

Related: How To Use Joint Venture Partners To Promote Your Product

Strategy #10 – Build a Super Fun Community

The Plan:

There is no better indicator for happiness than a feeling of belonging. As such, creating community is probably the most powerful way that you can get people to see the value of your work. Everyone loves hanging out with people just like them…even if it’s virtual!

How to do it:

  • Host a Twitter chat during your live streaming event, add Facebook comments to your video series training video pages, encourage people to engage in the chat box during your webinar.

Remember Sarah Jenks from strategy #6? Her #LiveMoreChallenge also creates an awesome community on social media. Here’s what you find if you search for her hashtag:

online course marketing | Thinkific

Strategy #11 – Get your audience addicted to the results you help them achieve

The Plan:

No matter what you create, your intention should always be to help your audience to achieve a specific result.

How to do it:

  • Whenever possible, get people to get up and take a simple action that will lead to a result.
  • For example, have them write something down, mark something on their calendar, give them a formula for creating something simple (like a headline or tagline), challenge them to finish something in the next 24 hours.
  • If possible, get people to make a public declaration. If you also have community included here (like a Facebook group) you will be amazed at how much more likely people are to follow through.

Strategy #12 – Give rewards for sharing

The Plan:

Give your amazing audience a reward for sharing your pre-launch training on social media. They’re happy to share your stuff, but often need a little push to do so.

How to do it:

This depends on your technology, so make sure to check out if there’s a way to deliver people an email based on clicking a specific link. Personally, I do this using Infusionsoft.

#1 Create a click to tweet link for people to share.

#2 Set it up so that when one of your subscribers clicks the “click to tweet” link, they are triggered to receive an email with a reward.

#3 Create a cool printable or PDF to give to people who share your stuff.

#4 Create an email to deliver the cool printable or PDF with the people who click the “click to tweet” link.

When people register for my free webinar, I send them an email with “click to tweets” to share my webinar with their followers. Here’s what it looks like:

online course marketing | Thinkific

Remember, you don’t need to use all 12 of these strategies. Keep it as simple as possible for now and add complexity next time.

Ready to get started?

Pick 3-5 of the above strategies that sound fun to you. “Fun” is my guiding principle and I don’t do anything in my business that’s not fun (even if it’s strategic). The more fun you have talking about your course, the more people will feel attracted to your energy. When you truly enjoy promoting your program, you can’t lose.


Courtney Johnston is the rebel + copywriter (and CEO) at The Rule Breaker’s Club. She teaches spunky, inspired creative entrepreneurs how to put themselves out there in a way that makes people say “yes!”.

Create and sell online courses with Thinkific

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  • Corinne

    In regards to the survey questions in strategy #7, do you recommend using survey software or including them in an e-mail message?

    • Both options work well. If you want to send them a link to a survey, you can use Survey Monkey or Typeform to set one up. You could also simply ask the questions in an email and ask them to hit reply. But if a lot of people respond to your questions, using a survey software definitely makes it easier to organize and review all the responses!

  • Pingback: How To Create A Promo Video For Your Online Course()

  • Brilliant! I especially liked: Strategy #5 – Share a passionate post about your “why”. In a world of look at me, I think that’s a refreshing approach I can use.

  • This post was filled with so many good ideas. I have a bit of work to do.

    • Thanks for commenting Niveda, I’m glad you enjoyed this one!