How to use PR and SEO to Increase Your Online Course Sales

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How to use PR and SEO to Increase Your Online Course Sales

How to use PR and SEO to Increase Your Online Course Sales

Creating your online course is just the beginning. Once your course is created, the next step is to enrol students (easier said than done!).

Do you have a marketing plan? Or have you made the mistake of thinking that just because your course is online that other people will magically find it.

Well, I’m sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but if you want to maximize the return on all the effort you poured into creating your course, then you need to promote it.

And two of the best ways you do that is through PR (Public Relations) and SEO (Search Engine Optimization).

Gone are the days when you need to dig deep into your pockets and hire an expensive PR firm to help your business get exposure. If you know what do to, you can do it yourself.

Stay tuned.

The same goes for SEO. No longer do you need to spend vast amounts of money hiring an SEO agency. When you know how to get your audience engaged with valuable content, then you can send clear signals to the search engines.

In this detailed guide, I’m going to reveal some actionable tips on how you can use PR and SEO to increase your online course sales.

How to use #PR and #SEO to Increase Your #OnlineCourse Sales @dragilev Click To Tweet

PR Tips and Tools for Increasing Your Course Sales

Step 1: How To Find Journalists

When you’re doing your own PR, the first step is to find journalists in your niche. For instance, if your course is about Social Media Marketing you’ll want to find journalists who specialize in reporting on social media marketing.

And, guess what?

Google is as good a place to start as any…

Search in Google and use the ‘News’ tab to locate journalists writing about your course topic.

Like this:

How to use PR and SEO to Increase Your Online Course Sales

Now start checking the authors of these articles to see if they can help you with your PR efforts.

Take a few minutes to check whether the author of the article is a regular reporter in your niche.

From your search results you can start building a Google Spreadsheet with the following columns:

  1. Name of the reporter
  2. URL of the article
  3. Link to the Twitter profile for the reporter
  4. Link to the personal website or blog for the reporter (if available)
  5. Email address (if available)
  6. Your Notes

So, in our example, you might have:

Here’s an example of a spreadsheet of reporters that I compiled:

How to use PR and SEO to Increase Your Online Course Sales

>> The aim for you is to compile a list of 20 reporters in your niche.

Google is good but not always great. The tough part is to understand what your conversation starter will be with these journalists, what are the common topics of interests you have with them, who are the most relevant journalist to contact now and why.

JustReachOut can help you find the most relevant journalists and give you a reason of why you should contact them. You enter a keyword and the tool shows you who is writing an article about your keyword and why you should reach out to them. It also gives you email pitch templates to use to write your pitch, email support from staff of reporters to help you to send emails directly to journalists from the platform and a team which human verifies every single email before it’s sent.

download-pr-outreach-tracking

Step 2: How To Connect With Journalists

Once you have your list of relevant journalists you’re ready for the next step: connecting with them.

In the example below you can see that this particular journalist is open to receiving pitches. She even lists her contact details (Email/Twitter/Website):

How to use PR and SEO to Increase Your Online Course Sales

For those that don’t share any contact details, you’ll have to research a bit further.  But don’t worry, there are a few tools that can help.

#1: Hunter

Enter the company website into Hunter, and it’ll give you the format and known email addresses.

For example, if you try entering <socialmediatoday.com> it will return:

58 email addresses found.
Email pattern: {first}@socialmediatoday.com

When you have a known pattern, you can safely guess your journalist’s contact details.

#2: Email Format

When you search for your chosen publication on Email Format, it suggests which format it is most confident is correct.

For example, here is what it returns for <adweek.com>:

How to use PR and SEO to Increase Your Online Course Sales

#3 VerifyEmailAddress

Once you have an idea of the possible email address of your journalist, then you can use this tool to verify it.

How to use PR and SEO to Increase Your Online Course Sales

Step 3: How To Build Relationships With Journalists

So far you’ve identified prospective journalists in your niche and made a spreadsheet including their contact details.

You may be tempted to start pitching straight away.

But don’t.

First, you need to nurture relationships with these people. And the best way is to start giving before you start asking.

Follow these steps:

  1. Respond to journalists queries on HelpAReporter or JustReachOut
  2. Interview journalists for articles on your own blog
  3. Answer a question on Quora and ask journalists to answer the same question
  4. Follow the journalists you want to pitch on Twitter
  5. Retweet and share relevant tweets
  6. Leave a meaningful response on Twitter or a comment on their blog. Start sharing your personality so they get to know your style.
  7. Offer them an idea or story that isn’t about you. Yes, that’s right, throw them something newsworthy. They’re journalists. They want stories.

Not long ago a recorded a video where I outline a step by step of how to build relationships with journalists. Here it is for your reference

Here’s what Rebecca Grant, a former writer at VentureBeat, said about building relationships first:

“If you have a tip or an idea for an article that *gasp* doesn’t involve you, share it with a journalist. We are always on the prowl for good stories.”

Step 4: How To Pitch Your Story To Journalists

By now you should have established a relationship with the journalists you want to pitch to. Taking the time to break the ice means you don’t have to send a cold email now.

But what exactly are you going to say in your email?

One thing you don’t want to do is tell the journalists about your brand new course.

That’s a big NO.

Scroll back up the page.

What do journalists want?

— Good Stories.

Ever heard the saying: “Stories sell newspapers.”

It’s the same in the online world.

Good stories get shares and traffic.

It’s time to start sharing your stories with the journalists. But where are you going to get them from? Your blog.

In the next section, we’ll dive into content marketing, but before that let’s look at some tools to help with your email pitching.

Digital marketing agency Fractl surveyed more than 500 journalists at top sites like BuzzFeed, TIME, Lifehacker, Scientific American, TechCrunch, and more about what they want in a pitch.

Here are some key findings:

  • 81% prefer being pitched over email
  • 69% prefer to be pitched in the morning
  • 39% are looking for exclusive research to publish

With that in mind, you need to make sure that you track the progress of your email pitch. Here are a couple of tools you can try:

#1 MixMax for Gmail

MixMax is a free plugin for Gmail that includes unlimited email tracking. You can select whether you want to track all your emails or individual ones:

How to use PR and SEO to Increase Your Online Course Sales

The lightning icon with a number next to your sent messages indicates that someone has opened your email plus the number of times they opened it:

How to use PR and SEO to Increase Your Online Course Sales

#2 Yesware

Yesware is another Gmail plugin that lets you track email open and reply rates, link clicks, and attachment opens. Just click the “track” button before you hit send and Yesware does all the tracking. Yesware also lets you test variations of your email subject line, and save email templates for later use.

How to use PR and SEO to Increase Your Online Course Sales

Whether your online course is completed or not, then now is a great time to start planning these strategies. Think about which journalists you can connect with and start building relationships. Remember to offer them great stories.

download-pr-outreach-tracking

SEO Tips for Increasing Your Online Course Sales

SEO is the process of maximizing the number of visitors to a website by ensuring that the site appears high on the list of results returned by a search engine. So if someone searches for your course topic using Google, for example, having your website appear in search results means free exposure for you.

How do you get your website to show up in search results for topics related to your course?

By publishing great content (blog posts, videos, etc.) on your website that people can consume for free.

Now you might be wondering: after all your hard work on developing your course material, why would you want to share free content? 

Allow me to explain the logic:

By creating and marketing high quality content for free (usually via a blog), you establish trust and authority within your niche. When you create free content that actually helps people, those people are more likely to buy your course because they know, like and trust you. Free content builds reciprocity

Ideally, you’ll already have a blog and an audience before you start selling your course. But if not, it’s not too late to start one now.

The key to making your blog successful is to have highly valuable content. It’s what Rand Fishkin from Moz calls 10x Content – content that is 10 times better than the best result that can currently be found in the search results for a given keyword phrase or topic. 

Journalists and readers prefer to link to your high value content

Producing 10x Content is not easy. If it were, then every piece of content would be 10x, right?

But you have a unique advantage…

  • You’ve just created an excellent online course.
  • You’ve a mountain of content at your fingertips.
  • You’ve already identified some primary keywords and topics that your audience is craving.

When you start writing content for your blog you can draw on that bank of material and turn it into 10x content.

Make sure that your 10x Content:

  • Solves a problem or answers a question by providing comprehensive, accurate, exceptional information or resources.
  • Is high-quality, trustworthy, useful, interesting, and remarkable.
  • Provides a positive user experience via the user interface, layout, fonts, and images.

When your content meets those criteria then your audience, plus the journalists you pitch to, will automatically want to share it.

Important to note: All this stuff takes time, a lot of time! Prioritizing your tasks and managing your time is crucial for achieving results quick. I recently provided some tips on how to manage your time when you are writing or doing PR outreach, some great actionable stuff there from others as well.

10x Content attracts more natural backlinks and ranks higher in Google

Once Google starts to see that your content is popular, then it will push your page higher in the search results. And because it’s a high-quality piece of content other people in your niche will naturally want to link to it.

And Google loves natural backlinks.

After all your hard work creating the content remember to do the following.

1. Make sure your website is ready to receive the floods of traffic:

  • Go to GTmetrix and enter your URL into the site, try your homepage URL and your top ranked or best blog post URL. Take a look at the grade you receive and the issues it reports. You should have a grade of B or A.
  • Use dedicated web hosting. Avoid using HostGator or something cheap like GoDaddy which uses a bunch of shared servers and are not designed for hosting and serving up WordPress or blog content specifically.  Look at services such as Flywheel or WPEngine which are designed specifically to host and serve up WordPress blog content. This optimizes the way your page loads and makes load speed faster as well as helps you rank better on Google.
  • Consider using CDN (Content Delivery Network) – it works by providing alternative server nodes for users to download resources (usually static content like images and JavaScript). This speeds up your site a great deal, most major sites use this. You can learn more here.
  • Consider using a caching plugin – if you ever pushed a back button on a browser because the site took more then 5 seconds to load you’ve experienced a site without any caching. Excessive load times can limit your traffic, lower your Google search rank and lessen your website’s overall potential. Installing a caching plugin will help with load speed a great deal. You can learn more here.
At the end of the day you want a grade of A or B on GTmetrix for your blog homepage and all the major articles you want to rank at very least. I like to make sure all articles I have on my blog have this grade.

2. Make sure you have applicable CTAs (calls to action) strategically placed throughout your website:

If you’ve not started your blog then get your website up and running. Start planning what 10x content you can create so that your audience will want to share your story.

Related: How to Create a Sales Funnel to Sell Your Online Course

Add PR & SEO to your course marketing plan

Are you ready to start promoting your online course with these cost-effective PR and SEO tactics?

PR and SEO don’t have to be expensive. When you set your mind to it, you can tap into the resources at your disposal. Build meaningful relationships with influencers and create valuable content to increase your online course sales.

download-pr-outreach-tracking

How to use #PR and #SEO to Increase Your #OnlineCourse Sales @dragilev Click To Tweet

Dmitry Dragilev is the founder of JustReachOut.io, which helps startups and entrepreneurs pitch journalists and influencers without the help of PR firms. A few years ago he used PR outreach to get a startup acquired by Google. He blogs about PR hacks and SEO on his blog at CriminallyProlific

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