4 Tips for Leveraging Social Proof to Supercharge Your Online Course
The explosion of online courses spells great news for those looking to turn their knowledge into serious income.
But the popularity of courses also creates a unique problem for those getting their courses off the ground.
How do you make your online course stand out from the pack? As more and more courses pop up and competition becomes even fiercer, positioning is key for those seeking long-term success.
By finding opportunities to leverage social proof on behalf of your students and prospects, you provide your courses with a distinct edge over newcomers and seasoned vets in your space.
The Not-So-Secret Benefits of Social Proof
The proof is paramount to turning skeptics into students.
Think about it. It’s all about building up yourself as an authority and influencer. Similar rules apply to the world of social media when brands try to figure out how to get Instagram followers or more eyes on their Facebook page. We have to provide legitimate incentives for our followers to give us their attention: after all, their time is incredibly valuable.
Social proof is perhaps the fastest way to immediately signal your course as a must-see affair versus something potential students can sleep on. Thankfully, opportunities to snag social proof for your course; meanwhile, turning that proof into marketing firepower is probably easier than you think.
But where do you start?
1. Ask Your Students for Positive Feedback
Course creators often grow discouraged because they totally lack awesome testimonials and other elements of social proof to market in the first place.
Sometimes if you want something, though, all you have to do is ask. If you have satisfied students who’ve taken your course and benefited from it, you’ve already sown the seeds of social proof.
Asking for positive feedback doesn’t have to be rocket science, either. The following strategies are fair game and certainly won’t come across as spammy to your students:
- Sending an email blast to your list requesting a testimonial (seriously, it’s that simple)
- Asking your social followers a question about your course (“How has my course helped you the most?”) and curate the responses
- Setting up an email autoresponder that automatically requests student feedback at some point during your course (or once it’s over)
However, to encourage people to act you may need to sweeten the deal. Either through an exclusive shoutout or framing your message as a content with a small gift (think: anyone who responds is entered for a chance to win a $10 Amazon gift card), an extra “push” for feedback always helps incentivize a response.
Beyond asking directly, you can likewise curate proof that’s already out there concerning your course. Screenshots of positive tweets, social mentions and friendly emails from satisfied students can suffice until you have something more substantial.
2. Cherry Pick the Best Proof
While curating social proof may seem like a lot of work, the good news is that you don’t need a ton of testimonials to show that your course is worthwhile. In fact, four or five killer testimonials are far more valuable than one hundred mediocre ones.
Bear in mind that not all testimonials are created equal, though. There’s a massive difference between a tweet that says “Good course!” versus someone’s month-by-month case study of how what they learned in your course transformed their business.
In short, the best pieces of proof that you want to use to market your course tick the following boxes:
- Specific: hard numbers and data are easy for students to process at a glance and make your course’s education seem more concrete and actionable
- Personal: include anything that tugs at the heartstrings or implies that your course improved your students’ livelihood
- Relatable: don’t only post the feedback of students who had the “best” or atypical results, as it may seem you’re desperately trying to hype your course
Check out this prime piece of proof Thinkific uses in their site:
This case study snippet uses specifics (numbers for how long the course took to see returns and how much money was made) in addition to the personal benefits of the platform (John was able to quit his day job) to compel and entice readers. Your own proof should do the same.
3. Plaster Your Proof Wherever You Can
Once you’ve acquired a few solid testimonials, it’s time to spread your social proof like wildfire.
Seriously. A few good testimonials are enough to fuel entire email campaigns, supplement your social strategy and give your landing pages a much-needed boost.
In fact, on-site pages are arguably the most important places to plaster your proof. After all, they’re what your potential students are going to be scouting if they’re considering your course. Given that testimonials are proven to improve conversion rates, they’re a no-brainer on your site’s most important pages.
Your actual course landing page is likewise a crucial place to showcase positive returns and hard numbers, which is exactly what Jonathan Levi does for his Become a Super Learner course:
Remember: the purpose of promoting your proof is positioning. You’re not bragging or shoving your expertise in the face of your prospects, but rather reminding them that what you’re offering is worth their time.
4. Keep in Constant Contact with Your Students
One huge mistake course creators make is that they stop seeking out testimonials and social proof for their course once it’s taken off.
Social proof should represent a snowball effect: the more students who take your course, the more opportunities you have to curate feedback and show it off to the world.
Whether through your email list or social media channels, strive to keep in touch with students and build relationships that will last long after they’ve completed your course.
Not only does this show that you truly care about the wellbeing of your students, but it also provides more opportunities to follow the journeys of potential success stories as a result of your teachings.
Is Your Course Proving Its Worth?
We live in an era of marketing where it’s all about “show, don’t tell.” People want to see firsthand what they’re going to get out of your course before they spend a dime. Meanwhile, such prospective students have every right to be skeptical.
By leveraging social proof throughout your course marketing, you can ease the mind of skeptics and score more students who are hungry for your unique insight.
Now let’s hear it from you:
How do you plan to leverage social proof to improve your course promotion? Let us know in the comments below!
Ivan Kreimer is a content marketer at Foundr, a leading media company that helps entrepreneurs launch and grow their online businesses. His advice has been featured in Entrepreneur, MarketingProfs, KISSmetrics, among others.