Specific demographics are enrolling in continuing education programs today for a variety of reasons – here’s how to effectively promote your offerings to your target audience
Simply creating a well-rounded curriculum and an easy-to-use interface isn’t enough to drive prospective learners to your continuing education program. Marketing your online program takes a keen focus on the fundamentals of modern marketing techniques, as well as a firm grasp on the technological proficiencies necessary to manage an online learning environment. The following examples to promote your continuing education program will help boost enrollments and shine a light on your educational offerings.
Step One: Identify Your Audience
Continuing education programs can take many forms, with some focused more on the working professional who needs to satisfy additional education requirements or credit hours every few years. While other programs are designed to support learners who are looking to further their degree or previous course of study. The important part here is to identify who should be enrolling in your continuing education courses.
If you’re focusing on the working professional, you’ll gear your marketing towards their needs. If your target customer is a younger learner or one who is new to their job field, you may choose to mix up your marketing message to attract this specific group.
Focus groups can help determine the specific needs and wants of each demographic subsection, and you can also conduct market research, interviews, or targeted surveys to shed light on your audience. After creating a profile for your target audience, you’ll now have the ability to create customized marketing programs to grow your business.
Step Two: Create a Connection
When promoting your continuing education program to your newly-discovered target audience, ensure you do more than simply promote education for education’s sake. Most learners at this stage are more concerned with the practical or relevant advantages of your classes, versus many younger college students who are truly just working toward a degree program to “finish school.”
Clearly spell out the connection between taking your classes and improving some part of their personal or professional lives. Will a series of continuing education classes through your school help improve the odds of a promotion or foray into another line of business? This, plus the resulting pay increase, can make a big difference in someone’s life. Instead of focusing only on the promotion and pay, though, create promotional materials that connect your program with life achievements. Focus on what they will receive from higher education. That way you’re targeting the emotional and practical sides all at once.
Step Three: Give a Sneak Peek
Just like a test drive can uncover the good and bad of a potential new vehicle, trying out a continuing education program helps a potential student witness firsthand the engaging efficiency of your program. Consumers are often wary of clicking “buy” before they have an opportunity to try out their prospective purchase. Offer a free trial period to access your catalog of curriculums. Then, allow them to apply their study time to the actual course requirements.
The important part is to present a realistic glimpse at your educational program, while still providing motivation to buy. Ensure that you include a link back to your website after the preview concludes so the potential student can sign up for their desired course.
These first three steps are vitally important to transitioning a potential learner to enrolled student. But there are other things you can do to boost your continuing education program such as:
Share success stories – Peer-to-peer feedback is incredibly important, as are real-world testimonials and stories about students who have parlayed your courses into greater success at work and at home. Include pictures, a brief bio, and a compelling story that will motivate a learner to enroll.
Keep it simple – The easier it is to enroll, the better. Just as the top online retail sites offer an intuitive and virtually foolproof browsing and checkout experience, you’ll want to make your site just as easy to navigate. Mirror successful retail sites and allow students to put courses in a “basket” to check out.
Spotlight educators – Oftentimes, the virtual learning environment of most continuing education programs leave something to be desired in terms of human connections. Almost everything is done through the computer or mobile device – so buck the trend and promote your business by highlighting your biggest asset – your teachers and trainers! Create “get to know your professor” pages and fun, interactive links to help learners feel more connected to their teachers.
These tips will help you more effectively market your business and drive potential learners to your virtual front door. Simply create a compelling connection between your available programs and tangible, life-changing benefits, and you’ll see a surge in enrollments in no time.