Episode 59

Strategies for Leveraging Online Course Marketplaces to Drive Traffic to My Own WP LMS

When you offer online courses through your own WordPress LMS site, you get to keep the majority of that revenue. But there are advantages to offering some of your content on large online course marketplaces as well. In this LMScast Joshua Millage and Chris Badgett explain how you can leverage online course marketplaces to drive traffic to your own WordPress LMS.

Online course marketplaces like Udemy have audiences that may be different and larger than yours, so you can reach more people when you leverage their systems for lead generation. One way to leverage an online course marketplace to drive traffic to your own LMS site is to offer your beginner’s course on their site, but to keep your more advanced courses on your own site. This strategy lets you keep the bulk of what you’re teaching on your own site where you own and control the content, and you can charge a premium for it and keep the majority of that revenue.

Be sure to read the fine print in the terms and conditions of the online course marketplace you use. Some of them don’t allow you to publish your course content elsewhere if you’ve published it on their platform. And there can be other types of restrictions, like whether you can drive people through their email and whether you can send people to a page that’s off their domain.

You can increase engagement with your students on your own site in ways you can’t on online course marketplace platforms. On your own site you can use a LMS plugin like LifterLMS to utilize gamification in your courses and to send automated emails and drip content.

If you already have online course content on your own WP LMS site using a plugin like LifterLMS, you can easily put together a course in a marketplace like Udemy to start getting more leads and driving traffic to your own site.

You can try a demo of LifterLMS and see for yourself what it can do for you, and remember that you can post comments and also subscribe to our newsletter for updates, developments, and future episodes of LMScast.

Thank you for joining us!

And if you’re an already successful expert, teacher or entrepreneur looking to grow, check out the LifterLMS team’s signature service called Boost. It’s a complete done for you set up service where your learning platform goes live in just 5 days.

EPISODE TRANSCRIPT

Joshua: Hello, Everyone. Welcome back to another episode of LMScast, we are still doing international episodes. I’m in Queenstown, New Zealand at this point, and Chris, where are you at in the world?

Chris: I’m in Whitefish, Montana, just got back from Mexico.

Joshua: Right on, cool. Today we are talking about strategies for leveraging online course and marketplaces to drive traffic to your own WordPress LMS system. That’s a mouthful, but we’ve received this question from our audience, so I’m curious, Chris, let’s jump into it.

Chris: I think the important thing to ask at the beginning is, why is this important? Why do we want to look at these MOOCs or massive open online course platforms for the lead generation or driving traffic to our course? If you’re going to build your own WordPress LMS, you’re probably going to use a plugin like LifterLMS to create your own online course platform, so why on earth would you also publish your content on these other places?

The answer is, simply, that they already have an audience. Now maybe you already have an audience, but you probably don’t have exactly their audience, so it’s a way to reach more people. That’s why it’s important to look at your marketing mix and look at these other online course marketplaces as a source of lead generation.

Joshua: I think it’s a great point, and one of the things that I talk to, or talk about with people when they want to use this strategy is, don’t give away the farm elsewhere. Keep the bulk of what you’re teaching on your site so that, for a couple of reasons. One, you own the content, you control the content, you can charge a premium for that content and keep the majority of that money, if that’s your model. You can also increase engagement by implementing a number of different technologies that simply you just can’t on places like Coursera or Udemy, because you can’t install a plug-in like LifterLMS that would help you with gamifaction or sending out automated emails, or all of these things. You’re bound by their system, and that’s okay.

The advantage is, like you mentioned Chris, you can really leverage their audience. Give away module one, but make them come back to your site. One of the things that, as I’m talking about, there’s wrong and right ways to do this. And, Chris, you’ve done this a lot, so what’s been your experience with violating terms and conditions? What does that look like when you do this tag-team of leveraging someone else’s platform and bringing the students that you have there into your platform that you own completely?

Chris: You bring up a really good point, Joshua, of not giving away the farm. What does leveraging an online course marketplace actually look like? I think your example is great. If we were to use traditional terms, maybe your 101, or your beginner’s course is on your site. It’s also on these other sites, but your more advanced, in-depth material, you keep that on your site. You put your hook out there, and you hook people in for the beginner material, and then you bring them into your platform.

I’ve used this before with our online gardening courses, where I publish them on my WordPress LMS site, and I also publish them on Udemy, and going after the broader market on Udemy to reach more people on their platform. The other thing you can do is once you have those people, you can also start cross promoting other courses you have over on that marketplace or on your marketplace, but there are some terms and conditions things you need to be sensitive of, so let me give you a specific example.

On Udemy, you’re not allowed to drive people through their mail system, basically you’re using their broadcast email functionality. If you’re using something like LifterLMS, all that’s built in, or you could use the MailChimp Extension, but on the Udemy platform, if you send a broadcast, you’re not allowed to send people outside of their domain to a page that has an opt-in form on it. That’s against their terms and conditions, which I totally respect and am respectful of. So I’ll send them to, let’s say somebody takes a beekeeping course, I’ll send them to a vegetable gardening course on Udemy. I’m still cross-promoting there, while inside of the course itself, I’m often mentioning the core hub at my WordPress LMS.

An example of that would be, at the very beginning and end of all my videos for the gardening courses, all the video lessons, it says organiclifeguru.com. There’s that branding happening pretty much at the beginning and end of every lesson. Then, I’m just going to throw out a little pro tip for you. One thing I do, like you do on Udemy, is you can set certain lessons to free, so that people can take a test drive, see what you have to offer. Those lessons I set to free, I also put on YouTube, so there I’m driving traffic, I’m taking that same thing that I’m using the online course marketplace for, and I’m also using YouTube as a lead generation. My biggest success story is, a lesson I have on creating a food forest, when I put that video on YouTube, this has been about a year and a half, it has thirty-three thousand views.

Joshua: That’s really good, that’s interesting. You’re creating a web of content in a way, that brings people back to your site and reinforces the brand. I think that’s really good. The other thing that I think that people need to be mindful of is the ascension through, the learning ascension, and I think we’ll probably do a full episode on this idea, but I just want to briefly mention it here is that when someone has, when someone purchases a course on beekeeping, and you hit this right on the nose, but I just want to highlight it, is that what do they want to learn next, and offer that to them. Don’t offer them beekeeping 201 right after they start beekeeping 101.

A lot of people do that, because they’re like, “Well, of course someone wants to be advanced and run through that course, too.” Think about in school, when you went through beekeeping 101, we’ll just stick with the beekeeping example, you’d also go through gardening 101, maybe soil science 101, all of these other things at that level, and people can take multiple courses at a time. We don’t have to take one course.

It’s good to offer and upsell the next course, but it’s not good to do that in the same line, because you cannot take beekeeping 101 and 201 at the same time. But logically a lot of people fall into this trap of going, “Whoa, well maybe I’ll offer them the next more advanced lesson.” You want to bring that up, because one of the things you can do is offer beekeeping 101 over on the Udemy site or the Coursera, and then bring them back over for the gardening 101 which you would then have their email address and their contact info, and of course you’d earn more money.

Correct me if I’m wrong, but it’s not a … Maybe it is a violation of terms and service, maybe it’s not, but to say, “Hey, we have other courses over at our site, along the same line, that you might be interested in.” You can’t hard sell, but I think you can soft sell. Am I right or wrong in thinking that?

Chris: Yeah, that sounds about right. You’d want to look at the terms and condition of whatever online course marketplace you’re using, and I like to be really respectful of that. I’ve always appreciated Udemy’s approach. Some of these online course marketplaces don’t allow you to publish your course elsewhere if you publish it on theirs, but they don’t require you to have an exclusive arrangement, which I’ve always really appreciated.

I’ve also sent a lot of people to a lot of Udemy courses if it made sense for them. It’s important to think about these other platforms as a partner, and just pay attention to the fine print. They’ve got a business to run, but they’re also in the business of helping you, the online course education entrepreneur, be successful, too. Take a look at that.

I want to key in to a point you just made about the beekeeping is another way to leverage online course marketplaces is to do market research. I’ve done that before, a course about building sites with WordPress, where I’ve asked my audience over there, which I have over eight thousand people in courses about WordPress, and how to build just a regular website of like, “Hey, what do you think about building a site about or learning about building a site that sells online courses. We have this software called LifterLMS, and so on.” You can do your market research that way, or you could ask the beekeeper, “Hey, I’m thinking about doing this course, what do you think?” Or just leave it open-ended and send out that email broadcast that says, “What course would you like me to build next?”

Joshua: That’s phenomenal. That’s really good. I think that that will cap it off for today’s episode. I hope that everyone’s enjoyed the strategies that we’ve offered here. Chris, do you have any final thoughts before we sign off?

Chris: Yeah, I just want to leave you with some action plans. If you’re at the very beginning, and you’re intimidated by the software, go just build a course on Udemy, and then come back and purchase something like LifterLMS when you’re ready to own your own content. But don’t let the technology get in the way of you getting started with your online course, education, entrepreneurship project. Go ahead and do it.

If you already have a course on your WordPress power learning management system, I would encourage you to think about also leveraging these other platforms. Now that you already have the content, it’s not very hard to put it together, create an account on one of these other places, and set up your course over there, so that you can start leveraging this opportunity in your sphere of influence and your marketing strategy.

Joshua: Absolutely. Thank you so much for listening everyone, and we’ll talk to you next week.

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